Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pascal’s Wager: Are You Feeling Lucky?

           Okay, so the topic of this post is Pascal’s Wager.  For those of you unfamiliar with this, it is an argument theists use all the time.  Quite simply, it goes something like this: “It is better to believe in/worship God even if he doesn’t exist, than to spend an eternity hell if you are wrong about not believing in him”.  Blaise Pascal was a mathematician and religious philosopher who lived during the mid-1600s. What he was basically saying was that believing that God exists is a safer bet than not believing in him.  If you do believe in God and die and it turns out God doesn’t exist than it won’t matter anyways.  However, if God does exist and you die, by believing in and worshiping God you will go to heaven instead of burning in hell.  Better safe than sorry, right?  Wrong.  I will explain to you why below.

               First off, let me direct you to another blogger’s post and pretty much the main inspiration for this post’s topic.  This blogger tackles Pascal’s Wager in a much more in depth examination than you will get from me here today so I highly suggest you check it out for yourself here:

Now, let’s get down to it.  I hear it all the time, “What if you’re wrong about the existence of God? Are you willing to risk going to hell for your lack of belief?”  In my younger and much less wiser years I actually wrestled with this question quite a bit.  I thought that even if God didn’t exist it would at least be worth it to pretend there was a God “just in case”.  That is, until I started to learn about ancient civilizations and the religions that went along with them.  Most notably would be the Greek and Roman civilizations.  They, for the most part, worshiped the same Gods (notice the “S” at the end of God).  Learn about their mythology got me thinking, “What if they had it right all along?”  What if Zeus, Hades, and the like actually existed and the idea of the singular Christian god was just that, an idea?  It was then that I took notice at the fact that there are many different religions in the world both past and present.  Surely they’re not all right so what makes one set of beliefs more legitimate than the others?  The only real logical approach to this that I could come up with was that more than likely they were all wrong.  I mean, if you’re a Christian and believe without a doubt that your god is the one true god don’t you think the Greeks felt the same way about all of their gods?  All religious people have the same convictions towards their own specific religion.  Someone has to be wrong though.  The question is, who?  Maybe it’s the Christians that were wrong all along.

               Okay, let’s just assume for a minute that there is only one god; the God.  Now, you have another problem.  There are 3 major religions that people follow and all of them believe in the same god:  Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  So then, who has it right?  Although they all worship the same deity they do so by different doctrines.  Christians believe the road toward salvation lies in accepting Jesus Christ as your “lord and savior”.  Does that mean that all the Jews and Muslims are going to hell?  If you’re a Christian who believes in the Bible surely you must have to think that.  What if, though, believing Muhammad was God’s prophet turns out to be true?  Well it looks as though the Christians and Jews are on the “highway to hell”.  Are you getting the point yet?

               So maybe you’re a Christian and have some rebuttal to what I’ve already stated.  Maybe my interpretation of Christianity is all wrong, or maybe Jesus Christ really was the Son of God and so Christians are the ones who are right.  Well then, which form of Christianity gets you into heaven?  Whose doctrine should you follow?  Catholics? Baptists? Lutherans? Methodists?  Choose wisely because only one of them can be right.  The odds are stacked against you and the stakes are higher than you could have ever imagined.

               As I stated before, I highly recommend you read the other blog that I linked to in the beginning of this post.  The graphical representations alone will have you doubting yourself as a “believer”.  I’ve shown you only a couple of examples of other religions.  Take a moment to think about all the other religions that you know exist or have existed in the past.  What about the religions that might exist in the future?  Once you start to tally them all up you soon realize that the odds of being right decrease exponentially.  Now, let’s move back to the beginning.  There are essentially two points of view here: that of the Theist and that of the Atheist.  That’s a fifty-fifty chance.  Those odds aren’t too bad.  The problem arises once you break down all the different Theistic points of view.  You believe God(s) exist but there are many variations of Theistic principles.  So while you might have a one percent chance of being right in your beliefs about God(s), an Atheist has a fifty percent chance of being right.  I’ll take those odds any day.  As Steven F. Roberts once said, “I contend that we are both Atheists.  I just believe in one fewer god than you do.  When you understand why you dismiss all other gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”


No comments:

Post a Comment