Pascal’s Losing Wager

I know a Christian with a really good heart, but not that well-read, who once quoted Pascal’s Wager at me as if he thought it the last word in philosophy. Nobody else takes it seriously, as it can be utterly demolished, for a Christian at least, by pointing out that it works the same way for all possible deities. Believe in Baphomet or Ba’al-Melkart, because if you’re wrong you’ve merely wasted your time, but if you don’t believe and you’re wrong, you may have a problem.

I have just now caught Dag Hammarskjöld doing something similar when he writes, “I would rather live my life as though there is a God and die to find out that there isn’t, than to live my life as though there is no God and die to find out there is.” I see what he is getting at, there is something known as the Philosophy of As If, but formally speaking, he is up a pole. Unless there is no god but nevertheless a life after death, in which you can look round and make rueful remarks, which is not the scenario most people have in mind, the question is how Hammarskjöld expects to find out anything when he is dead.

Another friend writes, “My answer to Pascal’s Wager is to posit a god who loathes sycophants, a god who has better things to do than count the hairs on one’s head or answer one’s silly, self-indulgent prayers. Such a god just might reward atheists and agnostics with eternal bliss and condemn all the annoying god-botherers to the fires.”

Posted on May 21, 2009 at 12:21 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: THE LONGEST CON, Religion And Conceptual Muddle

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