pascal's wager

The Jesus dvd and rationality?

First, I would like to know about this dvd that is claiming that Jesus never existed? I don't want to waste money on buying it but I would be interested in seeing what it has to say. And i'm not about to submit a video that would ruin my chance for a possible place in eternity for a dvd, so another way to get the dvd would be nice. But beside that, I had a question about the whole blasphemy challenge and the rationality behind it all. Hypothetical question, i guess. Jesus is God or He isn't. So if you are athiest you still have a probability that if you are wrong about there not being a God you would still have a 50 percent change to still have eternal life. If there is no God then it wouldn't matter anyways. So if there is a God and you still had that 50 percent chance to still have eternity you have apparently just screwed yourself, making your once 50 percent to know 100, if the verse quoted on the site is interpreted right. I really hope it was interpreted wrong because I would want you to still have that 50 percent chance. So doing the blasphemy challenge, to me at least, seems like a pretty unrational thing to do. And about the Jesus thing. Do you athiests use science to prove everything about the universe and everything in it. If so how would you prove Jesus, or any other person in history that is now gone. I mean you can't prove scientifically that someone existed. That's why I wanted to know what the video was all about. I have a lot of other questions that would make this way to long so i'll leave you with that. Like I said earlier, I hope the whole blasphemy being an eternal sin isn't right. I would say pray but you wouldn't care as much that way, or would you? Are you offended by prayer? Sorry, i'll stop asking questions. Thanks!
Atheist Answer: 

You're talking about The God Who Wasn't There. It goes past atheism, which merely denies the resurrection as improbable without the existence of God, and examines all the documentation presented as evidence for even a historical man named Jesus.

The idea is to question all the unspoken assumptions that most Christian apologists make when arguing for the resurrection; it's easier for them to start with a real man than from scratch, but are they justified in doing so? I haven't seen the film either so I can't comment on its efficacy, but even if it falls flat it asks questions worth asking.

It's impossible to prove 100% that the deceased existed without physical evidence, human remains for example, but there are other ways to support it. Take the Roman emperors for example: their names and faces are on statues, busts and coins created during their lifetimes, and are visually consistent. Jesus has nothing like this; his only support is a set of documents, chief among them the Gospels, and the first of which were written well after his death. This is why these are so ferociously defended, but they are not above criticism and that's where the movie starts.

Your argument against the Blasphemy Challenge is exactly the reason why it exists, because you've restated Pascal's Wager with its major inherent flaw intact.

Here's the core of the problem: even if atheists are wrong, Christians are not necessarily right. If there is indeed a god, out of the thousands of gods humans have worshipped and the infinite number of gods we haven't even thought of yet, the chances that the real god is the Christian god exactly as described are not just miniscule but negligible.

By throwing in with any god, including Him, one has a far greater chance of offending some other god who happens to be the real one, and being forced to explain one's worship of a popular, well-liked but still false god. Atheists wouldn't have that problem, and might even receive credit for combating belief in false gods.

Even if the probability that there is a god and a Heaven is 0.5, you must multiply that by the probability given the assumption of a god that it's your particular one. To reach that 50 percent you mention, the second bit would have to be a certainty, and it is not. If there are just two other possible gods, then by worshipping yours you have a 1 in 6 chance of Heaven and a 1 in 3 chance of Hell. In fact there are an infinite number, so you're even worse off.

Taking the Blasphemy Challenge, therefore, is not a reckless act. It publicises one's acceptance that Christianity is a poor choice, and there is nothing to fear from renouncing it in what's intended to be an irreversible way.

I'm not offended by prayer, because I think it has no effect except a psychological one, and it mostly affects the praying person anyway.

This is a site built for answering questions, so go ahead and make more questions for us. If you have responses to the above, post a comment under this one. Keep in mind that formatting doesn't work in the question field, so it pays to keep new questions short.

- SmartLX

The Great Big Arguments #6: Pascal's Wager

If God exists and you live as if He does, your reward is infinite. If God does not exist and you live as if He does, you lose nothing. If God does not exist and you live as if He doesn't, you gain nothing. If God exists and you live as if He doesn't, your punishment is infinite. Therefore if there is the slightest chance that God exists, by any analysis of benefit it is better to live as if He does, in other words believe in and worship Him. The same argument is often expressed in shorter form: "What if you're wrong?"
Atheist Answer: 

This is an argument I've been answering constantly ever since I started here. No matter how many times it comes up, there are always those who think it's a brand new, ingenious zinger which will take us by surprise. I'll address it once more and then refer back to here in future.

There are four main issues with the Wager, any one of which would render it nonsensical or inadequate.

1. It presents a false dilemma: that either God exists or no god does.

There is an obvious third option, namely that any deity besides the expected god exists. If the real deity is Thor, for example, the punishment for Christians is infinite (possibly worse than for atheists, who at least do not worship a rival god).

Humans have imagined something like 20,000 different major deities or equivalents so far. Together with the countless ones we haven't thought of yet, there are an infinite number of possible gods. Without evidence for any particular god, all gods share equal probability of practically zero, and the probability of a particular god existing is infinitesimal compared to the probability of one or more rival gods, so worshipping any god is a hugely bad bet.

The response to this, I know, is to argue that there is evidence for your particular god and not for any of the others. That's a valid response, if true. However, if you have proof positive that your god is the one and only there's no need to mess around with probabilities, so you don't need to use Pascal's Wager in the first place. Just push your evidence instead.

2. If there are no gods, you don't lose nothing by living as if there is one. You lose plenty.

You spend hundreds or thousands of hours attending religious services. You give money to organisations whose primary purpose is not to help people but to convert them. You prevent yourself from doing some things you enjoy, not because they hurt anyone but because a book told you to. And so on.

3. Belief in gods is not a choice.

A person either believes there's a god or doesn't. This may change, but it's not a conscious decision by the person. Her or she has to be convinced, or else no longer convinced, one way or the other. The idea that it's beneficial to believe in a god does not support the idea that there is one. They're two independent issues.

4. Any decent god would spot a faker.

This is related to the third point. If an atheist were convinced that it's beneficial to believe in and worship God, he or she could certainly worship, but would still not believe. The worship would therefore be insincere on a fundamental level. It'd be a farce, maintained to give the appearance of belief. Would the Christian god, for example, accept this lip service?

It's said by some religious folks that if you pray with doubt, but pray with sincerity, belief will come. I don't doubt it; if you pray as if there's a god there for long enough, you may manage to forget that there isn't. If brainwashing yourself like this is the only way to believe, however, are you really doing the right thing?

In short, Pascal's Wager uses an incomplete and incorrect premise, and is useless to nonbelievers even if they agree with it. Blaise Pascal was a brilliant mathematician to whom we are all indebted, but his apologetic really let him down. Let this one go, people.

- SmartLX

Syndicate content