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Pascal's Wager

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  • Pascal's Wager

    Sometime ago a evangelical friend of mine told me (an atheist), that if I were right, then ''we will all end up in the same place'', but, he continued, ''if Jesus is real and likewise is Heaven, then you have serious odds of going to Hell''.

    I replied that what he proposed is essentially Pascal's Wager re-worded. Was I correct in my assessment? How would you answer this charge (as a skeptic) if it were made to you by a theist?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Seeker View Post
    Sometime ago a evangelical friend of mine told me (an atheist), that if I were right, then ''we will all end up in the same place'', but, he continued, ''if Jesus is real and likewise is Heaven, then you have serious odds of going to Hell''.

    I replied that what he proposed is essentially Pascal's Wager re-worded. Was I correct in my assessment? How would you answer this charge (as a skeptic) if it were made to you by a theist?
    If stated as an argument, with a conclusion similar to "therefore, you should believe that Jesus is real", then it is Pascal's wager. My answer would be that it is simply a fallacious appeal to consequences.

    Alternatively, it could be considered just a statement of fact, in which case no response is really necessary.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Stoic View Post

      If stated as an argument, with a conclusion similar to "therefore, you should believe that Jesus is real", then it is Pascal's wager. My answer would be that it is simply a fallacious appeal to consequences.

      Alternatively, it could be considered just a statement of fact, in which case no response is really necessary.
      Yes, I agree. Appeal to consequences, maybe even Appeal to Fear.

      But it wasn't really an argument (in syllogistic format, as it were), it was more of an 'getting it off the chest' thing.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Seeker View Post

        Yes, I agree. Appeal to consequences, maybe even Appeal to Fear.

        But it wasn't really an argument (in syllogistic format, as it were), it was more of an 'getting it off the chest' thing.
        As I said, if it's just a statement of fact, no problem. You can acknowledge it and move on.

        But I would be surprised if someone made those points without expecting you to draw the fallacious conclusion.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Stoic View Post
          But I would be surprised if someone made those points without expecting you to draw the fallacious conclusion.
          The guy wasn't exactly smart...but he made confused points nonetheless.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Seeker View Post
            Sometime ago a evangelical friend of mine told me (an atheist), that if I were right, then ''we will all end up in the same place'', but, he continued, ''if Jesus is real and likewise is Heaven, then you have serious odds of going to Hell''.

            I replied that what he proposed is essentially Pascal's Wager re-worded. Was I correct in my assessment? How would you answer this charge (as a skeptic) if it were made to you by a theist?


            As Stoic replied, it is essentially Pascal's Wager. That being said, a couple of things about your post:

            1. You could only be right if you are a strong atheist, i.e., say that there is no supreme being. But if you are merely a non-theist who has no belief one way or the other then you could set your friend straight with regard to his comment about being right.

            2. I assume that your friend was suggesting or implying that you had the ability to choose to believe, i.e., engender a belief in a supreme being. Of course that is impossible since beliefs cannot be consciously chosen. And that is the initial flaw of the wager right from start because it is based on the idea that beliefs can simply be obtained by choosing to have them.

            3. And even if they could be chosen, the wager is further flawed since you might choose to believe in the wrong being.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by rstrats View Post



              As Stoic replied, it is essentially Pascal's Wager. That being said, a couple of things about your post:

              1. You could only be right if you are a strong atheist, i.e., say that there is no supreme being. But if you are merely a non-theist who has no belief one way or the other then you could set your friend straight with regard to his comment about being right.

              2. I assume that your friend was suggesting or implying that you had the ability to choose to believe, i.e., engender a belief in a supreme being. Of course that is impossible since beliefs cannot be consciously chosen. And that is the initial flaw of the wager right from start because it is based on the idea that beliefs can simply be obtained by choosing to have them.

              3. And even if they could be chosen, the wager is further flawed since you might choose to believe in the wrong being.
              Those are 3 great points. Thanks for weighing in, considering for how long the thread has been ''dead'' (!).

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