Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Failings of Pascal's Wager: Atheist's Wager

So far now I've show how Pascal's Wager uses fundamentally flawed logic and ignorant deductions to coerce you into accepting a religion and/or deity. But now let's turn that around.

The Atheist's Wager is a variant of Pascal's Wager in which you divide the gods who reward faith from the gods who reward works. Upon doing this, we find that it is better to not believe and do good works, for maximum benefit.

An All-Loving Pyromaniac
If you discount the possibility of a God who sends good people to hell for bad reasons, we are left with a completely different payoff table. Now, regardless of your belief about a benevolent God, the results still favor a "good life". Pascal's Wager relies on the judgments of an evil God who sends good people to hell for not believing in him/her/them/it. But there's an infinite number of such possible gods, and picking the right one out of infinity is the long-shot of all long-shots. Even if a faith-rewarding God existed, believing in an incorrect faith-rewarding God might anger such a deity more than not believing in any gods with good reasons (ie, evidence).

And for me, it all comes down to evidence. I don't believe in something without a good reason to do so, and telling me that I'll be tortured forever isn't going to work. It's important to understand how humanity knows the things it does, and how we go about uncovering the truth about all things (and I'll give you a hint in case you don't know: it do not involve uncredited stories of wandering desert tribesmen from the Bronze Age).

Epic Fail
Pascal's Wager fails on every single level. It's logically flawed and ignorantly applied, but it's so common (to any religion) and it is even used by otherwise intelligent individuals. You just have to take a moment to look at it to see its glaring holes.


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