I was thinking of a thought experiment to try and teach my child when she comes of age about the very basics of religion and atheism and why I stand where I do. This is what came to me as I lay trying to fall asleep last night.

Take two cups, one clear and one opaque, fill the clear one up with stones, beads, etc.. or a wide range of colors, have the opaque cup upside-down on a table. Tell the person that under this cup there may or may not be a stone under the cup and then ask them if there is a stone, what color is it?

It is a fairly simple way of looking at the question of religion, this could be expanded in a classroom to offer some sort of reward at the end of a day to the group who convinces the most people that their choice of color is the correct one... this would more accurately simulate the state of affairs in world religion, that some people would refuse to really participate (thinking it's just a silly experiment) at all would also be accurate.

Some folks may even look at the glass filled with pebbles and try and determine what color the pebble under the glass is by looking at ratios of the different colors represented in the glass, some people may deduce because there's so few of one color that one of that color has to be the one under the glass.. of course it's just as likely that it's any color that there is no pebble at all.

Call it the inverse of pascal's wager (and indeed it shows the very flaw in that wager we're all familiar with), but the safest "bet" is that there is no pebble...

Of course if anyone knows of social experiments like this one that have been carried out I'd love to hear about them, this is my first blog post because, well, it's more my own musings than anything else.

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Tags: experiment, kids, pascal's wager, psychology

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