Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Failings of Pascal's Wager: Fooling God

Continuing on with more hurdles this ridiculous argument can't swing its dangling fallacy over, today's counter-apologetic depends strongly upon how you answer the "What religion should I pick?" question: Can you fool God?

Pascal's Wager states that it's better to believe (in whatever god you're arguing it for) so that that particular God will bestow his/her/their/its particular blessings/rewards upon you in the afterlife and avoid the punishments. But those rewards and punishments depend greatly upon which religion and deity the argument is advocating.

God Is Not Mocked
Blaise Pascal used the argument as a proponent for Catholicism, and here in the Bible Belt we small-towners will most likely hear it used to sway us toward Christianity. So now we have a deity to plug into the argument and weigh the outcome of believing or not. But before we can do that, we must first determine some characteristics of this God.

It's been said that there are as many versions of God as there are believers, and this is apparent to anyone who has had a discussion with a theist. Christians are no exception. Therefore -- depending upon the convictions of the one using the Wager, of course -- if we consider the majority of fundamentalist Christians who think that their Creator is all-knowing, is it really possible to "just believe" in a God who possesses such a superpower? Such Christians will probably tell you that "God knows what's in your heart", and surly a "true believer" doesn't believe just because they're afraid of hellfire. So how then -- even if you could force yourself to believe -- can you expect to make it to the Judeo-Islamo-Christian God's heaven? Would He really accept that kind of faith?

Won't Get Fooled Again
Of course, I'm not going to do your theologising for you...I don't believe in any version of any of this in the first place. Forcing others to act as if they believe is a form of social control, and any being who uses it isn't worth my time. I'm just using the hypothetical to point out yet another hole in Pascal's argument; an argument that so many Christians are still fond of using to this day.

Keep mind mind that the counter-arguments for the Wager aren't necessarily "atheist" arguments; any religion can use these. It all depends on which religion the argument is proposing you subscribe to. I'll cover more in the next installment.


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