C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Does One Really Wager Everything

Recently a blog posted their version of “Pascal's D--n Wager: Sidestepping Reason and Rational Thinking”.

They present the following:


To summarize, Pascal wager states two major suppositions:

1. If you believe in God:
i. If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.
ii. If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.

2. If you do not believe in God:
i. If God exists, you go to hell, your loss is infinite.
ii. If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.


They also posted this:


The mathematical calculations are as follows:

God exists (G)

God does not exist (~G)

Living as if God exists (B)

+∞ (heaven)

−N (none)

Living as if God does not exist (~B)

−∞ (hell)

−N (none)





The problem I found was with their assumptions. They have hence *amended their original post, in stating: “Mathematically speaking, using the parameters as set by Pascal, Pascal's Wager (based on playing on the safe side of belief) is a bet based pretty much on common sense and a great dose of pragmatism: Regardless whether God exists or not, you do not stand to lose everything.”

The original did not contain, “Mathematically speaking, using the parameters as set by Pascal.” Nevertheless, the idea of “Regardless whether God exists or not, you do not stand to lose everything” does not follow the reasoning behind, “Pascal wager states two major suppositions” presented by the blog author.

As posted at their blog, I present why I believe the statement, “Regardless whether God exists or not, you do not stand to lose everything” is without warrant, and against reason and logic concerning the presentation of Pascal’s Wager in their writing.



Based on Pascal's Wager, in fact, as you present it, you do have the "chance" that "your loss is infinite".
----------

1. If you believe in God:
i. If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.
ii. If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.

You don't believe in (1), so you don't get (i) and (ii) wouldn't matter. You are betting on (ii), hoping (i) isn't true. 1/1 50% wager, whereas a Christian is 100% either getting heaven or getting nothing.
----------

2. If You do not believe in God:
i. If God exists, you go to hell, your loss is infinite.
ii. If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.

You do believe in (2), you definitely do not want (i), and (ii) wouldn't matter. You are betting on (ii), hoping (i) isn't true. 1/1 50% wager, whereas as a Christians gets 100% escaping hell or getting nothing.
----------

Basically you are wagering an eternity of hell ("your loss is infinite") on whether God exist or not, when you say, "You do not believe in God". So, in fact, "you [do] stand to lose everything".


* Originally wrote "corrected".

3 comments:

BEAST said...

Tim:

Apparently you haven't read my comments to what you said on my blog.

Basically, I have no problems with Pascal's mathematical calculations, and I will even go further than most atheists in saying that Pascal's wager is mathematically a sound, common-sense bet in its own terms.

Having said that, my problems are more to do with the rational aspects of the wager's practicality. Pascal based his calculations on two choices: The belief of christianity and its god, vs non-belief.

In reality, there is a whole pantheon of gods and religions to choose from, not just one viable option vs non belief. Even Pascal admitted in his unfinished work that this was definitely not a rational bet to hedge upon.

I don't want to lampoon Pascal: He was a brilliant mathematical genius in his time, but Pascal's wager, if anything else, shows us how irrational a bet of this kind can be.

Hope I have elucidated my point.

Beast

BEAST said...

Tim:

I don't think I have "corrected" my post.

I was merely trying to help you understand what I was writing about.

In fact, in an earlier paragraph, I wrote:

"Written by Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, Pascal sought to reconcile the belief in God with mathematical probability as well as a somewhat cheesy, one-sided view of belief: That a belief in something is better than a belief in nothing, since a belief is considered "infinite" in comparison to non-belief."

Kindly amend your post. I think this is a misunderstanding. That's all.

Beast

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Beast,

I wrote this before seeing your reply to my comment. I have amended my post as to changing "corrected" to amended. As for as my choice to censor the title of your original post is simply a choice of personal preference on my part, as the title was yours. I have linked it directly to your blog, so any reader has the availability to read the source from which I quote.

The point of my post still reamins as the title, "Does One Really Wager Everything".

In the scope of faith vs. unbelief, in the Christian God [the only God], we "wager" where we will be for all eternity.

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.