IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Reply
Old 8th January 2021, 06:26 AM   #201
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2,598
Originally Posted by GDon View Post
I actually would disagree. (WARNING: incoming analogy!) If someone asked "What is a good way to get rich over time?", the answer might be "investing wisely". As a general answer, I think most people would agree. Of course, to be successful at investing, you would need to know actual details about stocks, etc. But "investing wisely" is still a good answer, even without knowing the details.

Similarly, "living a good life" might be considered as something "good", without actually knowing exactly what kinds of actions are required.

Heh, I’ll play.

Let’s say a fresh young man, wholly innocent of the ways of the world, does ask you that question, and that you do give him that answer. Whereupon, entirely sincerely and without meaning to yank your chain, he in turn asks you, “But what exactly would ‘investing wisely’ amount to?” You would need to answer him, wouldn’t you?

Thing is, words and brief phrases are often shorthand for implicit ideas. You do need to be clear about what implicit ideas you’re referring to by those words, otherwise you’re simply dealing in empty meaningless platitudes.

Without necessarily going into the small print of detailed investment strategies, you would nevertheless need to give your young friend some indication of what exactly “wise investment” entails, otherwise your advice is meaningless.

Likewise, you do need to be clear, in your mind, exactly what you mean by “doing good” or “living a good life”, in the specific context of these words, even if you don’t actually cross every t and dot every i. Unless you are able to do that your own thoughts on this would appear, I’m sorry, vague, and meaningless. Without necessarily formulating a detailed action plan at this stage, you do still need, as intrinsic part of the terms of the wager, to know what you do mean by “good life”, and “good actions”, and, hell, what the word “good”, in this specific context, amounts to. Otherwise your “good action” and “good life” and “goodness” are no more than vague meaningless platitudes.


Quote:
I think that hits the point I'm making with using the Atheist's Wager. If you tie "good life" into the possible existence of God, does that mean that if there is no God or gods, then there is no such thing as a "good life"?

I’m not tying “good life” into the possible existence of God, you are! That is, Pascal’s Wager is, as is the Atheist’s Wager; and you’re the one championing Pascal’s Wager and you’re the one who brought up the Atheist’s Wager.

Whether I think there is a “good life” in the absence of a God is a non sequitur, it seems to me. (I’m not avoiding the answer, and my personal answer, for what that is worth, is that there’s no necessary link between the one and the other.)

We’re speaking of a good life in the context of a God, because that is explicitly what Pascal’s Wager is about.

And we still need to define what you mean by “good”. I’ve already supplied you my tentative definition, in this specific context, in an earlier post. What’s yours? In this specific context? And how exactly does your definition — if you would sit down and formulate it now — tie in with the Wager? (With Pascal’s Wager, and with this other one as well?)


Quote:
For transparency, the point I'm making is whether there is something that we can consider an objective "good" in the absence of a belief in God. Of course it's part of the old arguments that get made in theistic/atheistic debates. But it is important in terms of the Wager. (Note that I don't mean "you need to believe in God in order to be good"!)

“Is there an objective 'good', separate from God?” is a whole separate discussion.

As far as the context of the wager, this seems straightforward to me. You’re wagering specifically to maximize/optimize your own happiness. Correct? In other words, you’re “doing good” as a means to an end, that end being your own happiness in the context of God. As such, within the terms of the Wager, I don’t see how there can be any definition of “good” beyond “what God wants you to do”. And nor can you leave it at that, you need to flesh that out as best you can, otherwise, again, those are empty platitudes that cannot be translated into action, and as such bring you no closer to winning your Wager.


Quote:
So does that mean the branch of the Atheist's Wager "You may live a good life without believing in a god, and no benevolent god exists, in which case you leave a positive legacy to the world; your gain is finite" is impossible? I.e. "good life" and "positive legacy" become devoid of meaning.

I only heard of this Atheist’s Wager basis your reference and link. Basis a cursory reading, frankly, I’m not a fan, no matter that this one seems to champion atheism. Too many uncalled-for implicit assumptions in there. You’re the one who brought it up, and if you wish to defend its terms, then that is your burden, not mine.

In any case, I think your question is not exactly relevant, I’m afraid, to what we were discussing. And vague as well, unless you first define what a “good life” means for you. Which is not to avoid your question: my personal answer to your question, for what that is worth, is that there is no objective good or bad, quite irrespective of whether there is a God. Good and bad, in my book, are subjective values, and we arrive at common ideas of goodness only in as much as our individual values happen to result in intersubjective consensus (if it does, that is, given some context; that there necessarily would be consensus is not a given, at all).

Oh, and yes, I do think it is entirely possible to live a good life, as I myself define “good”, and leave a positive legacy, as I myself define “positive”, regardless of a God. Although again, my personal thoughts on this seem to be an irrelevancy here.

Whether Pascal’s Wager or this other wager, in as much as a “good life” seems to be merely a means to an end, that end being arriving at happiness by attaining to God’s Grace, I think goodness must necessarily track with the hypothetical God’s wishes, for the wager, either wager, to have any meaning at all.

Ergo, a functional definition of what God wants you do, which amounts to a functional definition of God Himself, becomes necessary for you to play the wager, either wager. And, once that definition is worked out, it is incumbent on you to defend that definition, if only to yourself, if this whole exercise is to be at all reasonable.


Quote:
We need to be clear between two things: what other people claim to believe, and what you and I are claiming exists. Are you saying that people doing bad things in the name of gods is evidence towards showing the gods don't exist? In that case, are people doing good things in the name of gods providing evidence towards those gods' existence? Personally, I don't think we need to go beyond "religious people can be hypocrites".

No, I’m not talking of people doing things in the name of God, at all. I’m talking of things that God Himself wants you do. I’m talking of God’s definition of “good”, as it applies to you in a world where that God exists.

I’ve been asking you to define your God functionally, and to define “good” functionally, within the narrow terms of the wager, because without knowing what is good and what is not, how else will you do good and avoid evil, or for that matter know/decide that you’d even want to? What is it you’re wagering here, what is it you’re committing to? And people who do subscribe to specific Gods and specific religions do find answers to those questions in their holy books and from their holy men (and, in some cases, from their own holy imagination!). Some Gods do command you to kill, in certain circumstances (e.g., the OT God, and Prophet Muhammad’s God as well); while other God and God-ideas prescribe unfailing non-violence, even when faced with provocation. My point was, what is “good” is not self-evident, at all, and needs to be worked out by the one playing the Wager in the context of the God he’s wagering on.


Quote:
I'm sorry, but I can't see Hans Mustermann's posts. But if he writes something you agree with, no worries if you add it into your comments as coming from you. (I'd only ask you use ones that you personally think are good points and are willing to defend.)

That’s a pity, because he’s said some pretty insightful things in this thread. In that particular post he’d provided a whole host of examples of different Gods providing contrasting definitions of “good” for their respective followers, some of which examples I’d not been aware of myself before reading of them here. Those examples, in his post, were way more in number than the one’s I’d myself provided, which is why I’d pointed to his post, in order to emphasize the point I was trying to make with my own solitary example; but I suppose we can make do with my single example if you don’t care to go there.


Quote:
I agree. In the Wager, we need to understand which God or gods we are using; at least enough so that the Wager is useable.

In that case, you do see that the rest of my counter-argument follows, don’t you? You must, as you say, understand which Gods you’re “using”; from that it follows that you need to either put all of those Gods within the columns of your Wager, and go game-theory on them, or else you need to eliminate individual Gods and narrow the field; and, what is more, you need to explain why you’re eliminating God X while retaining God Y, every time, if this exercise is to be reasonable. That exercise, colossal though such a project would be, becomes central to the Wager; certainly not something that can be handwaved away with some cursory statements here and there, as Pascal seems to have done.


Quote:
Agreed. I'm guessing that, if we are using "omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent" as a definition, then it doesn't matter if there is one or more gods. If they are all omniscient, I'm guessing they are think the same.

But why do they need to be any of those things?

I keep asking you to define your God, as a necessary part of playing the Wager. Well okay, you seem to have done that now, at least at your personal subjective level. You’re defining God as tri-omni-max, fair enough.

But now, in order that this be a reasonable exercise, as opposed to random I’ll-pick-whatever-the-heck-I-want arbitrariness, you’ll need to explain why you think your God is all of those things. And why your God is not other things, or lesser things, that other Gods are thought of as being (like Zeus, for instance, who’s powerful but not “omni” anything). And in doing that, you’re already sifting through Gods, you’re already embarked on the project of evaluating individual Gods.

Do you see that?

I could, at this stage, ask you “Why do you think your God is tri-omni, GDon, you personally?” That would be an interesting discussion in itself, and it is to facilitate this kind of a discussion (which is what I believed you’d wanted, over and above this particular exchange here) that I’d started that other thread. But as far as Pascal’s Wager, the point of asking you that would be to work the discussion back to the paragraph preceding this, so I’ll skip that step already. (Unless you do wish to embark on that personal, subjective discussion after all.)


Quote:
Not really. That is, the definition of God for me is "omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent." The universe might have been created by a very powerful being (or beings), but that doesn't make it God (according to my definition). There might be a being that is very very knowledgeable, but that doesn't make it God. There might be a being or beings that are very very good, but that doesn't make it God.

Atheists generally agree with that definition, as far as I know. The atheist argument that the "omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent" attributes of God clash "therefore God doesn't exist" is predicated on a definition of God that is "omni-max". Omni-max or bust!

This part I’ve already addressed, just above.

Briefly, to paraphrase: Why tri-omni, and why “omni-max or bust!”, exactly ? (If I may treat a jokingly expressed sentiment seriously!) And the questions and discussion that follow from that.


Quote:
No, I don't think we need to know what to do or how to live. The Wager isn't about that. It's like my analogy () of investing wisely: "God" is in the over-all meaning; "the Devil" is in the details. The starting point is "omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence"; one might then look to tradition or philosophy for details.

I guess I’m repeating myself now, and perhaps you’ll agree now with me without my having to belabor the point, when I say that while small-print details may be just that, a detail, but nevertheless, you do “need to know what to do or how to live”. Because how else will you actually play your wager?

Further, your starting point of “omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence” is both arbitrary and vague. As far as the arbitrariness, if you intend to do this reasonably, then you do need to work out, and explain, your reasons for this extravagant (and by no means self-evident) assumption; and further, as far as the vagueness, you need to translate these qualities of your God into what this means for you, broadly at least, in order for this to make any sense in the context of the Wager. Because, as you yourself keep reminding me, Pascal’s Wager is not about belief, it is about acting as if you believe; so that knowing what those actions might be, broadly if not necessarily in full detail, is central to the Wager.


Quote:
It is. But I see the idea of a malevolent God as giving rewards for people's bad behaviour as a defeater of Pascal's Wager and the Atheist's Wager. So this is an important point: Would a hypothetical malevolent God reward people?

Note that this is a similar argument against a benevolent God: Would a benevolent omni-max God punish people?

But you’re not a good person who’s good because your nature is good. You’re a punter who’s playing the odds, right? (I meant that humorously, a joke, not as an insult!! But that’s true as far as the Wager, isn’t it?)

Any God would punish X actions, and reward Y actions. (That punishment might be no more than simply withholding His Grace, for an omnibeneficient God, as I’ve seen some RCC apologists sometimes define hell— but surely that’s punishment too, in effect? And that reward might be no more than a less harsh screw-over, for a malevolent God, but surely that’s reward too, in effect? Not that I see any reason why a God, irrespective of whether He is benevolent or malevolent, might not directly punish those that piss Him off, and reward those that please Him; but even if a benevolent God can only reward, and a malevolent God only punish, even then, these indirect rewards and punishments would still apply, wouldn’t they?)

As a punter, what you are trying to do (or what Pascal is trying to do) is play the odds as best you/he can so that you/he win/s. Seems straightforward to me.

So no, I don’t see that you can strike off all “malevolent” Gods peremptorily from your inventory, no.


Quote:
I'm repeating an earlier point, so no need to respond. But I'll note that it sounds like you are saying that there is no objective good or evil without God. (Again, I'm not referring to that old theist strawman argument "atheists are not good people")

I'm aware that I probably haven't weighed your comments about a functional definition of God enough. I agree that Pascal's Wager and the Atheist's Wager don't explain what we need to do and what we need to believe in order to get the rewards. But to my mind, that isn't the purpose of the Wagers. That is, if you conclude that it is worth wagering, then that conclusion becomes a premise in the next argument: what to actually do to get the rewards? But I don't see that as a flaw in the Wagers. So, for the purposes of the Wager, I don't see anything more needed than "omni-max" as a definition for the God that I (hopefully) am defending in the Wager. But I'll be interested in your thoughts about this.

On the contrary. You are free to believe that if you wish, obviously; but if you intend this to be a reasonable exercise, then you must formulate your reasons for saying this.

In order to conclude that something is worth wagering, you need to know what you’re wagering, and what the odds are; and you can know that only if you work out these answers (broadly if not in full-blown detail).

And further, I don’t see the “omni-max” definition as at all “needed” here, necessarily. It is just an arbitrary feature you’ve chosen to tag on, without explaining why.



You can do that, if you choose, what you’ve said just now in the portion quoted just above. Your faith is your business, and need not answer to anyone at all. But if you intend this to be a reasonable exercise, then you do need to spell out your reasons, and what is more justify them as well, if only to yourself — and to me as well, if you expect me to (evaluate them to see if I) agree that that’s reasonable.



Once you get down to those nitty gritties, then we may agree, or we may agree to disagree, about whether the Wager is worthwhile; but at this stage the terms of the Wager are far too vague to even be meaningful, and we aren’t even in a position where we can, reasonably, either agree or disagree, because you haven’t even spelt out what exactly we are to agree or disagree on — other than at a meta level, that is. At this stage we can only either wait for you to recognize the necessity for spelling this out; and then wait for you to actually spell all that out; and after that to evaluate your reasons, in order to agree or disagree; or else to simply recognize your choice as ad hoc and arbitrary and entirely subjective (which you’ve every right to, let me hasten to add, if that is what you wish), and leave it at that.

Last edited by Chanakya; 8th January 2021 at 06:44 AM.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 06:29 AM   #202
Darat
Lackey
Administrator
 
Darat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: South East, UK
Posts: 97,021
Originally Posted by Lithrael View Post
It sounds to me like GDon is proposing that any proper god will automatically want us to do things that modern kind people find morally pleasant because if it knows everything then it will have reached the same conclusions that modern kind people have.
It’s an even narrower definition than that, this is GDon’s own personal god so it is that their god considers good what just GDon considers good.
__________________
I wish I knew how to quit you
Darat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 06:49 AM   #203
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2,598


Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I can't speak for him, but what I have been saying is that for the purpose of the wager, what matters is what that God will reward or punish, not what your idea of being objectively good is.

Agreed, 100%.


Quote:
Yes, yes, good and evil may exist without God, but that's a different topic than whether a specific God sees it as such.

Agreed, 100%.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 08:04 AM   #204
maximara
Master Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 2,448
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Likewise, you do need to be clear, in your mind, exactly what you mean by “doing good” or “living a good life”, in the specific context of these words, even if you don’t actually cross every t and dot every i. Unless you are able to do that your own thoughts on this would appear, I’m sorry, vague, and meaningless. Without necessarily formulating a detailed action plan at this stage, you do still need, as intrinsic part of the terms of the wager, to know what you do mean by “good life”, and “good actions”, and, hell, what the word “good”, in this specific context, amounts to. Otherwise your “good action” and “good life” and “goodness” are no more than vague meaningless platitudes.
Interestingly these points came up, in of all places, Dragon Magagine. It was "For king and country" (Dragon #101, Sept 1985) and regarded D&D's alignment system.

"In the real world, good and evil are invented concepts. Societies label their own values as good, and those of the enemy (or the threatening or the unknown) as evil."

This can be seen when you really get into the Bible and realize that many things it says are "good" are, from a modern prospective, "evil". The Skeptics Annotated Bible goes into this along with other issues.

Some highlights ("Cruelty and Violence in the Bible" section):

Genesis

God kills everyone (men, women, children, infants, newborns) in Sodom and Gomorrah by raining "fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven." Well, almost everyone -- he spares the "just and righteous" Lot and his family.

God gets angry with king Abimelech, though the king hasn't even touched Sarah. He says to the king, "Behold, thou art but a dead man," and threatens to kill him and all of his people. To compensate for the crime he never committed, Abimelech gives Abraham sheep, oxen, slaves, silver, and land. Finally, after Abraham "prayed unto God," God lifts his punishment to Abimelech, "for the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah."

Exodus

God will make sure that Pharaoh does not listen to Moses, so that he can kill Egyptians with his armies. 7:4

Numbers

Under God's direction, Moses' army defeats the Midianites. They kill all the adult males, but take the women and children captive. When Moses learns that they left some live, he angrily says: "Have you saved all the women alive? Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." So they went back and did as Moses (and presumably God) instructed, killing everyone except for the virgins. In this way they got 32,000 virgins -- Wow! (Even God gets some of the booty -- including the virgins.) 31:1-54

1 Peter

We are all, according to Peter, predestined to be saved or damned. We have no say in the matter. It was all determined by "the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ."1:2

There are 1309 of these And that is just one of the 17 categories.

Last edited by maximara; 8th January 2021 at 08:08 AM.
maximara is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 08:14 AM   #205
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,016
Originally Posted by Lithrael View Post
It sounds to me like GDon is proposing that any proper god will automatically want us to do things that modern kind people find morally pleasant because if it knows everything then it will have reached the same conclusions that modern kind people have.
In addition to that, not even all modern people agree on everything that should count as good or evil. As even a quick look in the politics forums will show. So even out of the modern humans, WHOSE version of good and evil is God supposed to fully agree with?

I mean, seriously, my most lulz example is when about 15 years ago or so I mentioned on Slashdot that in the Roman Empire the slave-owning land owners didn't pay tax. (And I wasn't even going for some social justice angle, but just saying why they had to keep conquering and taking other people's money in order to pay their army.) Some muppet immediately had the knee-jerk reflex to defend those as "job creators" and thus taxing them would be wrong. Yep, slavery is just "creating jobs" for some.

And really that's the problem with "generic gods" arguments. Just like with humans, when dealing with one, you deal with that specific one, not with the generic or average. The guy entering your shop could be the nicest guy ever, or be a robber, or even be a serial killer looking for the next victim. Which one you get is a dice roll. Assuming that his views on anything exactly match yours, or even match the average for the species, is unwarranted. Ditto for gods.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

Last edited by HansMustermann; 8th January 2021 at 08:17 AM.
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 08:21 AM   #206
Delvo
Дэлво Δελϝο דֶלְבֹֿ देल्वो
 
Delvo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: North Tonawanda, NY
Posts: 9,296
Originally Posted by Darat View Post
It’s an even narrower definition than that, this is GDon’s own personal god so it is that their god considers good what just GDon considers good.
...which has been shown to apply to believers in general.

Stick a bunch of people in an fMRI machine (one at a time of course). Ask them what they think about on questions of morality. Then ask them what certain other people think on questions of morality. Between these two rounds, you'll see different parts of the brain at work.

Then ask them what God thinks on the same questions. The active part of the brain is then the same as when they're asked about other people's thoughts, not their own... as long as the people you're talking to are not believers. For believers, the active part of the brain when asked about God's morality is the one they use to produce their own answers.

They are literally not distinguishing between themselves and their "moral God".
Delvo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 08:47 AM   #207
Lithrael
Master Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 2,035
Would it be a better wager, then, to find and join a religion whose morals you already sympathize with? Then if it turned out to have a real god behind it, you might get points for doing what you already felt was right.

Unless you feel like intentionally gaming systems for personal gain is immoral behavior. Then you’d better not.
Lithrael is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 12:05 PM   #208
Dr. Keith
Not a doctor.
 
Dr. Keith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 22,552
Originally Posted by dejudge View Post
Your post doesn't make sense.

A good answer is of no use if one has no idea how to invest wisely.
Just follow the Golden Rule: Buy low, sell high.
__________________
Suffering is not a punishment not a fruit of sin, it is a gift of God.
He allows us to share in His suffering and to make up for the sins of the world. -Mother Teresa

If I had a pet panda I would name it Snowflake.
Dr. Keith is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 01:44 PM   #209
dejudge
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 5,825
Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
Just follow the Golden Rule: Buy low, sell high.
How does one "buy low and sell high" with respect to Pascal's wager?

Pascal's wager is just ridiculous. It is irrational to invent an imaginary God and then live as if your God exists.
dejudge is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 02:08 PM   #210
GDon
Graduate Poster
 
GDon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 1,288
Originally Posted by Darat View Post
It’s an even narrower definition than that, this is GDon’s own personal god so it is that their god considers good what just GDon considers good.
GDon is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 02:23 PM   #211
Thor 2
Philosopher
 
Thor 2's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brisbane, Aust.
Posts: 6,608
Originally Posted by GDon View Post

Perhaps you should give us a list of the good things you endorse, and we can compare these, with the attributes of so called existing gods. We might find your god for you GDon.
__________________
Thinking is a faith hazard.
Thor 2 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 02:23 PM   #212
Dr. Keith
Not a doctor.
 
Dr. Keith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 22,552
Originally Posted by dejudge View Post
How does one "buy low and sell high" with respect to Pascal's wager?

Pascal's wager is just ridiculous. It is irrational to invent an imaginary God and then live as if your God exists.
That was my expansion on "invest wisely" to include a more detailed sounding, but equally useless phrase.

I couched it as the "Golden Rule" because it is so well known to be true and yet completely useless when actually making decisions.

That is common tactic to show that the analogy may have been a bit more revealing than the person who offered it intended.

I thought it was a bit transparent, but R&P seems to be a part of the forum where transparency is much harder to achieve
__________________
Suffering is not a punishment not a fruit of sin, it is a gift of God.
He allows us to share in His suffering and to make up for the sins of the world. -Mother Teresa

If I had a pet panda I would name it Snowflake.
Dr. Keith is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 02:40 PM   #213
GDon
Graduate Poster
 
GDon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 1,288
Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Perhaps you should give us a list of the good things you endorse, and we can compare these, with the attributes of so called existing gods.
That would fit in with the traditional theist approach:
http://www.tfdixie.com/parshat/korach/013.htm

Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
We might find your god for you GDon.
I think everyone has their own individual god, just as we all have our own perspectives even when looking at the same things. Two people can't stare out the same set of eye-balls. When it comes to gods, at the end of the day we see ourselves staring back (to paraphrase Dr Schweitzer).

Last edited by GDon; 8th January 2021 at 03:42 PM.
GDon is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 03:12 PM   #214
GDon
Graduate Poster
 
GDon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 1,288
Hi Chanakya, you've raised some very good points, and I don't want to miss anything so I'll break up my responses and reply over the next couple of days. As I've said, this may become a loooong discussion, and some points we'll probably drop and come back to, others will pop up. Arguments contain premises, which are conclusions to other arguments with premises, etc. Each turtle has its own set of premises going down!

I'll respond to the first point, and come back later to respond to the others separately.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Heh, I’ll play.

Let’s say a fresh young man, wholly innocent of the ways of the world, does ask you that question, and that you do give him that answer. Whereupon, entirely sincerely and without meaning to yank your chain, he in turn asks you, “But what exactly would ‘investing wisely’ amount to?” You would need to answer him, wouldn’t you?
You would, but the point is whether "investing wisely" is the correct answer or not. So even if my specific advice is wrong, "investing wisely" is still the correct answer.

I see what you're saying: if "a good life"/"acting as though god exists" leads to rewards, then we need to know how to do those things. Otherwise what good is deciding that something leads to rewards if you don't know how to get there?

I agree with you on that. Keep in mind though that my point is that "it's turtles (premises) all the way down." I'm defending the turtle at the level of the Wager. I'll agree that the Wager doesn't tell you how to act; it just tells you that it is in your interests to act. But more on that in my next point below.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Thing is, words and brief phrases are often shorthand for implicit ideas. You do need to be clear about what implicit ideas you’re referring to by those words, otherwise you’re simply dealing in empty meaningless platitudes.

Without necessarily going into the small print of detailed investment strategies, you would nevertheless need to give your young friend some indication of what exactly “wise investment” entails, otherwise your advice is meaningless.

Likewise, you do need to be clear, in your mind, exactly what you mean by “doing good” or “living a good life”, in the specific context of these words, even if you don’t actually cross every t and dot every i. Unless you are able to do that your own thoughts on this would appear, I’m sorry, vague, and meaningless. Without necessarily formulating a detailed action plan at this stage, you do still need, as intrinsic part of the terms of the wager, to know what you do mean by “good life”, and “good actions”, and, hell, what the word “good”, in this specific context, amounts to. Otherwise your “good action” and “good life” and “goodness” are no more than vague meaningless platitudes.
No, I disagree there. To go back to my "invest wisely" example: If I don't agree that "invest wisely" is the correct answer, then there is no point in you describing how to act wisely. Creating the detailed action plan is moot.

Similarly, there is no point in telling someone how to act as though god exists, unless they have first decided that it is in their best interests to do that. The detailed action plan can then be built. I'm not saying you're wrong, but it's just that the detailed action plan is a different turtle.

Last edited by GDon; 8th January 2021 at 03:17 PM.
GDon is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 03:57 PM   #215
Thor 2
Philosopher
 
Thor 2's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brisbane, Aust.
Posts: 6,608
Originally Posted by GDon View Post
That would fit in with the traditional theist approach:
http://www.tfdixie.com/parshat/korach/013.htm
Yes I have read this before.

Quote:
I think everyone has their own individual god, just as we all have our own perspectives even when looking at the same things. Two people can't stare out the same set of eye-balls. When it comes to gods, at the end of the day we see ourselves staring back (to paraphrase Dr Schweitzer).
We have agreement here GDon. It is my opinion there are billions of gods, all residing in the minds of individual believers. Everyone of these gods is slightly different from all others. Different appearance, tastes, and hangups. Coincidently very much the same as those of the believer.
__________________
Thinking is a faith hazard.
Thor 2 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 04:27 PM   #216
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,016
Well, here's the problem, though: if you have billions of possible gods, then you kind of need billions of columns in Pascal's matrix to cover them all. And that's when game theory breaks. Because essentially to compare those, you're comparing infinity to infinity.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 04:42 PM   #217
Thor 2
Philosopher
 
Thor 2's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brisbane, Aust.
Posts: 6,608
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Well, here's the problem, though: if you have billions of possible gods, then you kind of need billions of columns in Pascal's matrix to cover them all. And that's when game theory breaks. Because essentially to compare those, you're comparing infinity to infinity.

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Seriously, do you really think Pascal was serious about this wager? I think he was too smart for that, and was just pulling the legs of folk.
__________________
Thinking is a faith hazard.
Thor 2 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 05:06 PM   #218
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,016
Originally Posted by GDon View Post
No, I disagree there. To go back to my "invest wisely" example: If I don't agree that "invest wisely" is the correct answer, then there is no point in you describing how to act wisely. Creating the detailed action plan is moot.

Similarly, there is no point in telling someone how to act as though god exists, unless they have first decided that it is in their best interests to do that. The detailed action plan can then be built. I'm not saying you're wrong, but it's just that the detailed action plan is a different turtle.
I would disagree. You're saying that one should agree and in fact commit to a plan of action, before knowing what the plan of action you're proposing IS.

That's a plain old stupid thing to do.

The fact is, at that point not only I'd have no idea if you're even capable of helping with a good plan (for investing or pleasing god or whatever), but I have no idea if any plan we could come up with is actually better than not doing anything at all. Because that's one thing I learned from playing Go: sometimes the winning move is NOT to make a move. Unlike chess, where you MUST make a move if one is even possible, in Go actually if any available move only makes your situation worse, you can simply pass.

But it's not just Go. Generally, "we must do SOMETHING" is a fallacy. No you don't. You only do it if the ROI is greater than one. And at the very least you must make sure you're not getting a NEGATIVE ROI.

Even in your investment analogy, if the economy is in a deflation, the smartest thing to do might be to NOT invest at all. (That's in fact why a deflation is so destructive.)

But the same goes for any other domain. E.g., if you're sick, sometimes the best thing you can do is NOT to take any medicine. (E.g., if it's a flu. Yes, anti-retrovirals exist, and would help with the flu, but they do more harm than the flu.)

And that's why I'd want to know what the plan is, before I agree to it.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 05:08 PM   #219
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,016
Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Seriously, do you really think Pascal was serious about this wager? I think he was too smart for that, and was just pulling the legs of folk.
Sadly, I think he was. Obviously he didn't feel quite convinced himself, but he was obviously trying to rationalize his faith. As I was saying, the problem with religion is that it can make even otherwise highly intelligent people go wilfully stupid or wilfully schizophrenic. Well, ONE of the problems with religion.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 11:41 PM   #220
GDon
Graduate Poster
 
GDon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 1,288
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I’m not tying “good life” into the possible existence of God, you are! That is, Pascal’s Wager is, as is the Atheist’s Wager; and you’re the one championing Pascal’s Wager and you’re the one who brought up the Atheist’s Wager.
Earlier you defined "good" and a "good life" as:

"I'll define a good life, and good actions -- in the context of these wagers -- as that kind of life and those kinds of actions that are in consonance with what God wants (assuming there is a God), so that as a result of our doing these things and leading this kind of life we attain to whatever rewards this God has in store."

You also write in your latest response:

... my personal answer to your question, for what that is worth, is that there is no objective good or bad, quite irrespective of whether there is a God. Good and bad, in my book, are subjective values, and we arrive at common ideas of goodness only in as much as our individual values happen to result in intersubjective consensus (if it does, that is, given some context; that there necessarily would be consensus is not a given, at all).

This to me is one of those key points: whether or not there is an objective 'good'. It's consistent for atheists to hold that 'good' and 'evil' are subjective. It is consistent for theists to hold that 'good' and 'evil' are objective, grounded in an omnibenevolent and omniscient god.

I'll define a 'good life' as 'acting selflessly', and 'good actions' as 'selfless actions that benefit others'.

(I'll also define 'love' in the same way. 1 Cor 13:13 is: "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." The Greek word 'charity' is 'agape', which is also translated as 'love'. That is, 'love' is an action rather than an emotion.)

Would you say then, for an atheist, there is no need to live a 'good life', if it doesn't benefit the atheist? Is there a reason for an atheist to act selflessly? (Again, I'll repeat here for everybody that I'm not saying that there are no good atheists.)

For transparency: the reason I bring this up is that an objective good implies an omnibenevolent god, though we are still a few turtles away from getting there!

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Whether I think there is a “good life” in the absence of a God is a non sequitur, it seems to me. (I’m not avoiding the answer, and my personal answer, for what that is worth, is that there’s no necessary link between the one and the other.)

We’re speaking of a good life in the context of a God, because that is explicitly what Pascal’s Wager is about.

And we still need to define what you mean by “good”. I’ve already supplied you my tentative definition, in this specific context, in an earlier post. What’s yours? In this specific context? And how exactly does your definition — if you would sit down and formulate it now — tie in with the Wager? (With Pascal’s Wager, and with this other one as well?)
If we go back to my original two premises for Pascal's Wager:

1. Reason can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God;
2. The only god is the RCC God (or in my case, "an omnibenevolent God")


To my mind, the existence of an objective 'good' implies an omnibenevolent God. So it is important for the turtle that leads to Pascal's Wager and the Atheist's Wager.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
“Is there an objective 'good', separate from God?” is a whole separate discussion.
I'm afraid for me it is a key question!

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
As far as the context of the wager, this seems straightforward to me. You’re wagering specifically to maximize/optimize your own happiness. Correct? In other words, you’re “doing good” as a means to an end, that end being your own happiness in the context of God. As such, within the terms of the Wager, I don’t see how there can be any definition of “good” beyond “what God wants you to do”. And nor can you leave it at that, you need to flesh that out as best you can, otherwise, again, those are empty platitudes that cannot be translated into action, and as such bring you no closer to winning your Wager.
I agree, but it need not be anything more than to act selflessly. Here I'm talking about intentions rather than results. Good intentions can bring bad results, and bad intentions can bring good results.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
In any case, I think your question is not exactly relevant, I’m afraid, to what we were discussing. And vague as well, unless you first define what a “good life” means for you. Which is not to avoid your question: my personal answer to your question, for what that is worth, is that there is no objective good or bad, quite irrespective of whether there is a God. Good and bad, in my book, are subjective values, and we arrive at common ideas of goodness only in as much as our individual values happen to result in intersubjective consensus (if it does, that is, given some context; that there necessarily would be consensus is not a given, at all).

Oh, and yes, I do think it is entirely possible to live a good life, as I myself define “good”, and leave a positive legacy, as I myself define “positive”, regardless of a God. Although again, my personal thoughts on this seem to be an irrelevancy here.

Whether Pascal’s Wager or this other wager, in as much as a “good life” seems to be merely a means to an end, that end being arriving at happiness by attaining to God’s Grace, I think goodness must necessarily track with the hypothetical God’s wishes, for the wager, either wager, to have any meaning at all.

Ergo, a functional definition of what God wants you do, which amounts to a functional definition of God Himself, becomes necessary for you to play the wager, either wager. And, once that definition is worked out, it is incumbent on you to defend that definition, if only to yourself, if this whole exercise is to be at all reasonable.
"Living a selfless life" is my definition of a good life, and to me it is the one that wins the Wager. You don't even need to believe in God, as the Atheist's Wager points out, as long as there is an omnibenevolent god.

Pascal's version of a good life is a little different, but fundamentally it is to live in accordance with a God he believes is an omnibenevolent one. The benefits of living in such accordance he lists below:
Now, what harm will befall you in taking this side? You will be faithful, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful. Certainly you will not have those poisonous pleasures, glory and luxury; but will you not have others? I will tell you that you will thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you take on this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognise that you have wagered for something certain and infinite, for which you have given nothing. (Page 40)

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I’ve been asking you to define your God functionally, and to define “good” functionally, within the narrow terms of the wager, because without knowing what is good and what is not, how else will you do good and avoid evil, or for that matter know/decide that you’d even want to? What is it you’re wagering here, what is it you’re committing to? And people who do subscribe to specific Gods and specific religions do find answers to those questions in their holy books and from their holy men (and, in some cases, from their own holy imagination!). Some Gods do command you to kill, in certain circumstances (e.g., the OT God, and Prophet Muhammad’s God as well); while other God and God-ideas prescribe unfailing non-violence, even when faced with provocation. My point was, what is “good” is not self-evident, at all, and needs to be worked out by the one playing the Wager in the context of the God he’s wagering on.
I agree. The Wager I'm defending is the one with a generic omnibenevolent god. This is just one god among many others. My Wager rules out a malevolent god, since if one exists, no wagering is possible. So we are left with an omnibenevolent god/s, or none. (You address that later in your post, so I expect I'll be addressing it in my next response. No worries if you wait to respond once I reach the end of responding to the last of your last post)

Last edited by GDon; 8th January 2021 at 11:49 PM.
GDon is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th January 2021, 11:53 PM   #221
dejudge
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 5,825
Originally Posted by GDon View Post
... The Wager I'm defending is the one with a generic omnibenevolent god. This is just one god among many others. My Wager rules out a malevolent god, since if one exists, no wagering is possible. So we are left with an omnibenevolent god/s, or none.
Your post is irrational. You invent your own imaginary generic God/Gods and then imagine you can wager.
dejudge is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 06:35 AM   #222
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2,598
Originally Posted by GDon View Post
Hi Chanakya, you've raised some very good points, and I don't want to miss anything so I'll break up my responses and reply over the next couple of days. As I've said, this may become a loooong discussion, and some points we'll probably drop and come back to, others will pop up. Arguments contain premises, which are conclusions to other arguments with premises, etc. Each turtle has its own set of premises going down!

I'll respond to the first point, and come back later to respond to the others separately.

And I will, like you suggest, respond to all of your posts after you’ve finished doing that. My response will likely be more cohesive that way.

However, this first portion of your response kinds of leaps out, in terms of missing the point I had myself tried to convey. I’d like to respond to that much for now, since no doubt the rest of your responses will draw significantly on what you say here. I’ll hold my comments to you after that, like you suggest, until you’ve had time to respond to the rest of my earlier post, and to this post as well.



Quote:
You would, but the point is whether "investing wisely" is the correct answer or not. So even if my specific advice is wrong, "investing wisely" is still the correct answer.

I see what you're saying: if "a good life"/"acting as though god exists" leads to rewards, then we need to know how to do those things. Otherwise what good is deciding that something leads to rewards if you don't know how to get there?

I agree with you on that. Keep in mind though that my point is that "it's turtles (premises) all the way down." I'm defending the turtle at the level of the Wager. I'll agree that the Wager doesn't tell you how to act; it just tells you that it is in your interests to act. But more on that in my next point below.


No, I disagree there. To go back to my "invest wisely" example: If I don't agree that "invest wisely" is the correct answer, then there is no point in you describing how to act wisely. Creating the detailed action plan is moot.

Similarly, there is no point in telling someone how to act as though god exists, unless they have first decided that it is in their best interests to do that. The detailed action plan can then be built. I'm not saying you're wrong, but it's just that the detailed action plan is a different turtle.

True, even after having decided to fall in with the Wager, you cannot actually translate that into action without a detailed plan of what you must do. And I agree, you may choose to see this as a separate, subsequent step in how you think about the Wager, that is distinct from deciding whether to accept the Wager.

However, that isn’t (all of) what I was referring to. I’d tried to say as much in my previous post as well, but since I was apparently unable to get my meaning across, I’ll try one more time now, at greater length.

Like I’d said, a detailed “action plan” can follow, later on, but right at this point, right now, you do need a certain minimal clarity, if your decision itself is to be at all meaningful. Otherwise your decision can only be random, or at least unthinking (that is, based on implicit and unexamined assumptions).



Let’s go back to your investment-strategy analogy. Your young friend, whom you’re advising about “investing wisely”, is in no position to either agree or disagree with you in any meaningful sense, unless he knows what you mean by those two words.

Let me put myself in your place, and actually explain to your friend what “investing wisely” means, to me. It means starting to save early on, even if initial savings are paltry; it means avoiding debt-fueled profligacy; it will mean pointing him towards building up a portfolio comprising mixed asset classes; and it will include an overview of the impact of taxation.

Too detailed, right? I agree. Depending on the knowledge base of your friend, as well as their attention span, you may want to simply touch on these things, lightly, or else even leave out one or more of the above. But the point is, you do need to ensure that your friend, whom you’re advising, understands what you mean by the words “investing wisely”.

Only if he understands what you mean by those two words, will your friend be able to make an informed decision about whether or not he agrees with your advice.



You’d described this exploring of what it means to lead a good life, in the context of the wager, as a “rabbit hole”, and I kind of agree. As far as your analogy, the outer end of the rabbit hole is just the bald phrase, “invest wisely”. The inner end would be a detailed action plan, a detailed investment strategy. And how deep you’ll go down will depend on you, and on your audience: but you certainly will need to go in that minimal distance, that enables you to express, and your friend/audience to understand, what the rabbit hole is about. Otherwise any decision he takes, about following your advice, will not be an informed one.



I hope I’ve been able to make my point, via your own analogy. How this applies to our discussion, about defining “a good life” is obvious, hopefully, and hopefully will not need to be spelt out.



Note one thing, though. I’d said earlier that you need to not only formulate your definition, but to defend it as well. Going back to our analogy of “investing wisely”: You do need to justify all of the definitions you’re providing, the brief description of what you’re referring to as wise investments.

For instance, should your friend ask you why on earth you’re asking him to start investing early, given that the amounts are likely to be small starting out, rather than wait until his income has increased to more respectable levels; and why you’re asking him to avoid topping up his (likely small) initial levels of income with the credit card spends that everyone generally relies on: well then you’ll explain to him about compounding returns as well as compounded debt liabilities. If he asks you why you’re asking him to aim for a mix of asset classes in his tiny portfolio, then you’ll explain to him about diversification, and about risks and returns.



What level of detail you’ll actually end up discussing will depend, obviously, on the specific circumstances. But my point is — and hopefully that point I’ve now been able to make clear! — a clear definition of what “invest wisely” means, some basic level of detail in describing what it entails, as well as justification for all that you’re saying, is absolutely necessary, if your friend is to make an informed decision, a meaningful decision, on whether he agrees with your advice to “invest wisely”.

All of that is the first turtle. Without that much resolution of your first “turtle”, I’m afraid you’re only dealing in empty platitudes (and/or unexamined assumptions).

Last edited by Chanakya; 9th January 2021 at 06:36 AM.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 08:55 AM   #223
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,016
I still say that sometimes the best thing to do is not to invest at all, or not in stocks. That's just one way to put some money into making more money.

Trivial example, JK Rowling at one point used her money and even some unemployment benefits to sit at home and write what turned out to be a major bestseller. Now she's worth an estimated 60 million. If you think you can get there from an unemployed position by just playing the stock market, yeah, no, the chances are about the same as playing the roulette in Vegas as your retirement plan.

Or you might want to put your money into getting a degree or some more marketable skills, and guarantee yourself a higher income for the next few decades. E.g., if you're 18 and assuming you could just get the equivalent of that student loan as just a normal loan instead, getting a degree in law or medicine or biotech will generally beat the average returns from just buying some stocks with that money.

Even getting the most expensive gaming computer and broadband package paid millions for some people who caught the start of the whole streamer phenomenon.

Or start a company. Or a few other options.

Hell, even just investing in your own health, or making yourself more presentable for a job interview, or, hell, even plastic surgery if you're a woman (because, sadly, their competence tends to be judged by their looks, according to studies) can actually net you a better return on investment. Or not.

"Investing wisely" is just one of many things you could be doing with your money. It may be the better option, or it may be worse. Unless someone can actually shows that they actually know how to beat the just the average GDP growth, which is what most investment follows, no, you shouldn't automatically agree even to "invest wisely". They should first prove that they have a plan, and that their plan beats the other possible uses of your money.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

Last edited by HansMustermann; 9th January 2021 at 09:08 AM.
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 09:50 AM   #224
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2,598
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I still say that sometimes the best thing to do is not to invest at all, or not in stocks. That's just one way to put some money into making more money.

Trivial example, JK Rowling at one point used her money and even some unemployment benefits to sit at home and write what turned out to be a major bestseller. Now she's worth an estimated 60 million. If you think you can get there from an unemployed position by just playing the stock market, yeah, no, the chances are about the same as playing the roulette in Vegas as your retirement plan.

Or you might want to put your money into getting a degree or some more marketable skills, and guarantee yourself a higher income for the next few decades. E.g., if you're 18 and assuming you could just get the equivalent of that student loan as just a normal loan instead, getting a degree in law or medicine or biotech will generally beat the average returns from just buying some stocks with that money.

Even getting the most expensive gaming computer and broadband package paid millions for some people who caught the start of the whole streamer phenomenon.

Or start a company. Or a few other options.

Hell, even just investing in your own health, or making yourself more presentable for a job interview, or, hell, even plastic surgery if you're a woman (because, sadly, their competence tends to be judged by their looks, according to studies) can actually net you a better return on investment. Or not.

"Investing wisely" is just one of many things you could be doing with your money. It may be the better option, or it may be worse. Unless someone can actually shows that they actually know how to beat the just the average GDP growth, which is what most investment follows, no, you shouldn't automatically agree even to "invest wisely". They should first prove that they have a plan, and that their plan beats the other possible uses of your money.

Agreed, 100%.

To not invest in stock is to invest in some other asset class, if only money markets, or low-interest savings accounts, or even just cash.

And you're right, there's other ways of skinning the cat than just "investing wisely". Agreed, absolutely.



GDon had said, in his analogy, that he would advise his friend that the way to get rich is to invest wisely. Whether that is the only way of getting rich; or even whether that is the right course of action in order to get rich; these are separate questions. Those separate questions will help you decide whether you agree with his advice, or you disagree, or you offer qualified agreement.

But regardless of that, when he says to his friend, "invest wisely", then he absolutely does need to know what he means by those two words; and if questioned he should be able to formulate an explanation of what he does mean, if only broadly; and finally he must be able to justify his explanation. Whereupon his friend may, basis that explanation and those justifications, take an informed decision about whether he agrees with this advice. And then a more detailed action plan can be worked out, which last of course would be the next "turtle".

If GDon does not even deign to explain what the words "invest wisely" mean to him, then that's just a meaningless platitude. It is not even possible to either agree or disagree with such a platitude, all one can do is set it aside as someone's subjective and unsupported opinion. That he provides his explanation, and his justification for his explanation, is not to say that that explanation and those justifications have to be acceptable to all; but at least if that explanation and those justifications are internally consistent and sound, then they do provide the basis for (informed, meaningful) agreement or disagreement.

Likewise with his "good life", as far as Pascal's Wager (or that other Wager).



GDon was insisting that a definition, and/or an explanation, and/or justification for those explanations, are not called for at this stage. That is what I was arguing against. And those elements to investing wisely that I'd mentioned, were examples specifically of how I might define, explain, and justify "investing wisely". (Just the "investing wisely" part, not the larger "getting rich" thing.)
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 10:02 AM   #225
theprestige
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 49,650
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Sadly, I think he was. Obviously he didn't feel quite convinced himself, but he was obviously trying to rationalize his faith. As I was saying, the problem with religion is that it can make even otherwise highly intelligent people go wilfully stupid or wilfully schizophrenic. Well, ONE of the problems with religion.
I wonder how much of his approach to the wager was "gosh I hope this is rationalization I'm looking for", and how much was "it's probably not, but as a conscientious philosopher I should properly examine all the pros and cons."
theprestige is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 10:05 AM   #226
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,016
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I wonder how much of his approach to the wager was "gosh I hope this is rationalization I'm looking for", and how much was "it's probably not, but as a conscientious philosopher I should properly examine all the pros and cons."
Probably a bit from column A, a bit from column B, as is usually the case in most things.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 10:20 AM   #227
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2,598
Deleted.

Last edited by Chanakya; 9th January 2021 at 10:51 AM.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 12:17 PM   #228
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,016
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Agreed, 100%.

To not invest in stock is to invest in some other asset class, if only money markets, or low-interest savings accounts, or even just cash.

And you're right, there's other ways of skinning the cat than just "investing wisely". Agreed, absolutely.



GDon had said, in his analogy, that he would advise his friend that the way to get rich is to invest wisely. Whether that is the only way of getting rich; or even whether that is the right course of action in order to get rich; these are separate questions. Those separate questions will help you decide whether you agree with his advice, or you disagree, or you offer qualified agreement.

But regardless of that, when he says to his friend, "invest wisely", then he absolutely does need to know what he means by those two words; and if questioned he should be able to formulate an explanation of what he does mean, if only broadly; and finally he must be able to justify his explanation. Whereupon his friend may, basis that explanation and those justifications, take an informed decision about whether he agrees with this advice. And then a more detailed action plan can be worked out, which last of course would be the next "turtle".

If GDon does not even deign to explain what the words "invest wisely" mean to him, then that's just a meaningless platitude. It is not even possible to either agree or disagree with such a platitude, all one can do is set it aside as someone's subjective and unsupported opinion. That he provides his explanation, and his justification for his explanation, is not to say that that explanation and those justifications have to be acceptable to all; but at least if that explanation and those justifications are internally consistent and sound, then they do provide the basis for (informed, meaningful) agreement or disagreement.

Likewise with his "good life", as far as Pascal's Wager (or that other Wager).



GDon was insisting that a definition, and/or an explanation, and/or justification for those explanations, are not called for at this stage. That is what I was arguing against. And those elements to investing wisely that I'd mentioned, were examples specifically of how I might define, explain, and justify "investing wisely". (Just the "investing wisely" part, not the larger "getting rich" thing.)
Not disagreeing any of that. In fact I would agree wholeheartedly. It's indeed just some platitude. I was just expanding on why one should indeed first see the plan before agreeing to any particular course of action.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 12:51 PM   #229
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,016
In fact, to give it its proper name, what you're seeing in action is a fallacy I've mentioned before: the motte and bailey fallacy.

Note how the argument, while presumably still supporting Pascal's Wager, has gradually moved from being about Pascal's God, to being about some "generic omni-everything god", to essentially dropping even the omni part from that for all practical purposes, to being just about some generic "living a good life". In fact, by now apparently even defining what it means moved first to being the next step, then to outright being "moot."

It's been a continuous retreat from a proposition that even means anything, to some easier to defend platitude. (Because nobody ever actually intended to live a bad life. Even the greatest villains in history, most of them seem to have thought they're doing the right thing.)

All while still pretending that it's still about the original proposition.

If anyone actually needed an example of Motte And Bailey in action, yeah, I'd say this thread provides a perfect example.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 03:41 PM   #230
dejudge
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 5,825
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
In fact, to give it its proper name, what you're seeing in action is a fallacy I've mentioned before: the motte and bailey fallacy.

Note how the argument, while presumably still supporting Pascal's Wager, has gradually moved from being about Pascal's God, to being about some "generic omni-everything god", to essentially dropping even the omni part from that for all practical purposes, to being just about some generic "living a good life". In fact, by now apparently even defining what it means moved first to being the next step, then to outright being "moot."

It's been a continuous retreat from a proposition that even means anything, to some easier to defend platitude. (Because nobody ever actually intended to live a bad life. Even the greatest villains in history, most of them seem to have thought they're doing the right thing.)

All while still pretending that it's still about the original proposition.

If anyone actually needed an example of Motte And Bailey in action, yeah, I'd say this thread provides a perfect example.
GDon's argument is definitely a perfect example of the Motte and Bailey fallacy.
dejudge is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 04:56 PM   #231
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2,598
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
In fact, to give it its proper name, what you're seeing in action is a fallacy I've mentioned before: the motte and bailey fallacy.

Note how the argument, while presumably still supporting Pascal's Wager, has gradually moved from being about Pascal's God, to being about some "generic omni-everything god", to essentially dropping even the omni part from that for all practical purposes, to being just about some generic "living a good life". In fact, by now apparently even defining what it means moved first to being the next step, then to outright being "moot."

It's been a continuous retreat from a proposition that even means anything, to some easier to defend platitude. (Because nobody ever actually intended to live a bad life. Even the greatest villains in history, most of them seem to have thought they're doing the right thing.)

All while still pretending that it's still about the original proposition.

If anyone actually needed an example of Motte And Bailey in action, yeah, I'd say this thread provides a perfect example.

I'm not sure that's the case. It could be, I can't speak for another; but I think it's more a case of two separate discussions, run simultaneously but separately: on one hand, Pascal's Wager, and on the other, a discussion of his own theism.

It is to disentangle those two separate strands, conflated and intertwined away here, that I'd branched that second thread off. But that didn't end well. For which I don't blame GDon: that whole cacophony of pre-emptive howling on that thread, before the man had even said a single word -- in a few cases focusing on what he'd said here, which is fair; but mostly attacking strawmen about what people expected he would end up saying -- is enough to put anyone off from discussing their personal views and ideas and reasons!

(But of course, that's what my impression was and is, and that is just one possible interpretation. I can't read his mind after all, and it is possible that what you're suggesting is what's happening here. That's possible too.)


Quote:
(Because nobody ever actually intended to live a bad life. Even the greatest villains in history, most of them seem to have thought they're doing the right thing.)

Without reference to GDon, and as a stand-alone observation, that's a fascinating insight you've presented. You're suggesting the evil things people do, they might simply be rationalizing to themselves, doing a Motte & Bailey with their own minds, deluding themselves. Fascinating, that insight!

Leaving vegetarian painters with odd political views aside, and turning this to focus on ourselves, it's ...fascinating, that word keeps suggesting itself insistently to me... the tricks our minds can play on us. Which is why it's good to examine as many of our implicit unstated thoughts and assumptions as we can, every opportunity we get, generally speaking, to make sure we're ourselves thinking straight!



eta: Another one of those "fascinating" insights that keep coming up here, is what you'd said, earlier, about doing nothing. As it applies to investments, and more generally as it applies to life, it's easy to forget, it's easy to not consider, that not doing anything is an option too, and sometimes the best course of (in)action!

Thinking this through, perhaps doing nothing should be our default mode, rather than constantly seeking some kind of 'action', a default to be departed from only when the returns are likely to exceed the costs and the risks.

Last edited by Chanakya; 9th January 2021 at 05:23 PM.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 06:03 PM   #232
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,016
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Without reference to GDon, and as a stand-alone observation, that's a fascinating insight you've presented. You're suggesting the evil things people do, they might simply be rationalizing to themselves, doing a Motte & Bailey with their own minds, deluding themselves. Fascinating, that insight!
I wouldn't say they're doing a motte and bailey on themselves. More like, based on what premises you believe or can rationalize, you can reach very different conclusions about what is good, or evil, or leading a good life. The same things that would look like being the villain to someone else, working off a different set of premises, may make one seem more like the hero in their own set of premises. Or at the very least like a necessary evil, to prevent a much greater evil.

We could even get into the premises of the teetotaller painter you mentioned, if you wish to Goodwin the thread (or you could start another one in the history forum, I guess,) but yeah, he seemed to actually think he's the hero about to save his country and even the world.

But yeah, if you look at the worst excesses of the likes of Torquemada, Pol Pot, Vlad Dracula, or whatever, you often find that they seem to have really believed that they're solving a problem. They didn't set out to be cartoonish stache-twirling villains, for villainy sake.

The premises may have been false, but they believed them to be true, and the conclusion followed from them.

And I'm saying that because it ties in with the whole platitude about just agreeing to "live a good life", and leaving the details for later. The devil is exactly in those details.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 06:06 PM   #233
dejudge
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 5,825
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I'm not sure that's the case. It could be, I can't speak for another; but I think it's more a case of two separate discussions, run simultaneously but separately: on one hand, Pascal's Wager, and on the other, a discussion of his own theism.
Pascal's wager deals specifically with the supposed Christian deities - not GDon's unknown imaginary deity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pens%C3%A9es
Quote:
The Pensées ("Thoughts") is a collection of fragments written by the French 17th-century philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal. Pascal's religious conversion led him into a life of asceticism, and the Pensées was in many ways his life's work.[1] It represented Pascal's defense of the Christian religion, and the concept of "Pascal's wager" stems from a portion of this work.[2]....
Around the time of Pascal and later people who claimed to be deist were likely to be executed.

Examine details of the execution of a deist around the 18-19th century.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayetano_Ripoll

Quote:
Cayetano Ripoll (allegedly from Solsona 1778 – Valencia, 26 July 1826) was a schoolmaster in Valencia, Spain, who was executed for teaching deist principles...
Based on Pascal's wager if the Christian deities exist then GDon [an admitted non-Christian] will lose and go to hell.

Matthew 10:33
Quote:
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
dejudge is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 07:15 PM   #234
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2,598
Originally Posted by dejudge View Post
Pascal's wager deals specifically with the supposed Christian deities - not GDon's unknown imaginary deity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pens%C3%A9es


Around the time of Pascal and later people who claimed to be deist were likely to be executed.

Examine details of the execution of a deist around the 18-19th century.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayetano_Ripoll



Based on Pascal's wager if the Christian deities exist then GDon [an admitted non-Christian] will lose and go to hell.

Matthew 10:33

I agree. I haven't read all of GDon's link to Pascal's work, but I expect what he was championing was either the RCC God exclusively, or else at least a general conception of God that would include the RCC God. Advocacy of belief in a general idea of God that explicitly excludes the Christian/RCC God, which is what this discussion amounts to at this point, isn't likely to have been what Pascal himself had in mind.

GDon's discussion of his reasons for theism isn't a general discussion of Pascal's Wager. It is his application of what he believes is Pascal's logic to his personal, subjective conception of God; and/or depending on how this evolves, it is a discussion of his theism that riffs off, but isn't directly about, Pascal's Wager.

Which is why I'd thought -- and I'd thought that he himself thought and had suggested -- that a separate thread might be apt for this part of the discussion.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 08:01 PM   #235
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 2,598
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
I wouldn't say they're doing a motte and bailey on themselves. More like, based on what premises you believe or can rationalize, you can reach very different conclusions about what is good, or evil, or leading a good life. The same things that would look like being the villain to someone else, working off a different set of premises, may make one seem more like the hero in their own set of premises. Or at the very least like a necessary evil, to prevent a much greater evil.

We could even get into the premises of the teetotaller painter you mentioned, if you wish to Goodwin the thread (or you could start another one in the history forum, I guess,) but yeah, he seemed to actually think he's the hero about to save his country and even the world.

But yeah, if you look at the worst excesses of the likes of Torquemada, Pol Pot, Vlad Dracula, or whatever, you often find that they seem to have really believed that they're solving a problem. They didn't set out to be cartoonish stache-twirling villains, for villainy sake.

The premises may have been false, but they believed them to be true, and the conclusion followed from them...

These "villains", I agree, they're unlikely to have set off to deliberately be villainous. It could be their values happened to be different from ours; in which case it isn't a fallacy, at least not a logical one.

Or else it could well be, like you say, that they were rationalizing away, with one or more Motte & Bailey steps, what would be reprehensible even in their own eyes if only they were thinking clearly. Which suggests they were, in effect, deluding themselves.

Reminds me of an old movie I'd seen. Full details are hazy, but, from (imperfect) memory, this guy, played by Michael Douglas, gets laid off by an evil boss, and sets off to settle the score. He ends up kidnaping a child, and then near the end, there's this sudden realization: "Wait, so I am the bad guy in this story, as opposed to the swashbuckling hero?!" Whereupon he kills himself, suicide by cop.

Which suggests that, had he not deluded himself, his own values would have kept him from doing those things. Thus with some -- not all, not the out-and-out psychopaths -- of these epic villains as well? Maybe some clear thinking, maybe some introspection, some counseling, some hours on the right shrink's couch, may have kept them from the excesses they ended up committing?

Last edited by Chanakya; 9th January 2021 at 08:13 PM.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 08:37 PM   #236
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,016
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
These "villains", I agree, they're unlikely to have set off to deliberately be villainous. It could be their values happened to be different from ours; in which case it isn't a fallacy, at least not a logical one.
Indeed, it isn't. As I was saying, their conclusion generally does follow from their premises, if you can figure those out. It's usually more about it being unsound logic, than being blatantly invalid.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Thus with some -- not all, not the out-and-out psychopaths -- of these epic villains as well? Maybe some clear thinking, maybe some introspection, some counseling, some hours on the right shrink's couch, may have kept them from the excesses they ended up committing?
Some, probably, but at the very least not all.

Still, I was only bringing it up as an example of how even people who agree to GDon's "live a good life" and leave figuring out the details for later, might figure out a wildly different set of details. Even if some intervention could change that, well, it just shows that someone needs to somehow give them a better plan, rather than just tell them to live a good life and call the rest moot.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 09:11 PM   #237
dejudge
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 5,825
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I agree. I haven't read all of GDon's link to Pascal's work, but I expect what he was championing was either the RCC God exclusively, or else at least a general conception of God that would include the RCC God. Advocacy of belief in a general idea of God that explicitly excludes the Christian/RCC God, which is what this discussion amounts to at this point, isn't likely to have been what Pascal himself had in mind....
GDon did in fact champion Pascal's wager.

In his early post about Pascal's wager he stated


Originally Posted by GDon
Pascal points out that the Wager is about more than just belief, but happiness.......

Pascal concludes that the Wager is more than just about getting a reward in the afterlife, but has real-world implications also.....

I find that brilliant and convincing.....
After finding Pascal's wager brilliant and convincing he then introduces a blatant fallacy that Pascal's wager is valid for other Gods when such a claim is erroneous.

Pascal's wager deals specifically with Christian dieties -God the father, Jesus Christ, the son of God and the Holy Ghost.

Pascal believed that Jesus Christ actually lived and is the source of salvation for mankind.

Examine Pascal's "Pensees"

http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Book...%20Pensees.pdf

Quote:
For the Christian faith goes mainly to establish these two facts: the corruption of nature, and redemption by Jesus Christ.
Essentially based on Pascal's wager, , all non-Christians (theists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and others ) will lose since they do not believe in the redemption of Jesus Christ.

Last edited by dejudge; 9th January 2021 at 09:13 PM.
dejudge is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th January 2021, 10:29 PM   #238
GDon
Graduate Poster
 
GDon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 1,288
Final part! (3/3)

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
But why do they need to be any of those things?

I keep asking you to define your God, as a necessary part of playing the Wager. Well okay, you seem to have done that now, at least at your personal subjective level. You’re defining God as tri-omni-max, fair enough.

But now, in order that this be a reasonable exercise, as opposed to random I’ll-pick-whatever-the-heck-I-want arbitrariness, you’ll need to explain why you think your God is all of those things. And why your God is not other things, or lesser things, that other Gods are thought of as being (like Zeus, for instance, who’s powerful but not “omni” anything). And in doing that, you’re already sifting through Gods, you’re already embarked on the project of evaluating individual Gods.

Do you see that?
Yes, that's a fair point.

But rather than sifting through existing gods, let's start with the premise that all gods are individually tailored. That is, no two people believe in the same god, because each person has their own ideas about god. It's hard to hand wave those gods out, because each god has it's own subjective characteristics.

Is there a more general definition for God? Yes. If we look up the definition, the one most often used is "omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent." That's the generic one that a lot of people use. And you're right that I have to justify that as my starting point.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Further, your starting point of “omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence” is both arbitrary and vague. As far as the arbitrariness, if you intend to do this reasonably, then you do need to work out, and explain, your reasons for this extravagant (and by no means self-evident) assumption; and further, as far as the vagueness, you need to translate these qualities of your God into what this means for you, broadly at least, in order for this to make any sense in the context of the Wager. Because, as you yourself keep reminding me, Pascal’s Wager is not about belief, it is about acting as if you believe; so that knowing what those actions might be, broadly if not necessarily in full detail, is central to the Wager.
Keep in mind that the first premise of the Wager is that "reason can't decide whether or not a God exists."

Perhaps space-time is eternal and the physical universe came into being spontaneously (say, from quantum foam, whatever that means). For the person who believes quantum foam is the answer, then the Wager ends. It's not applicable to that person, since he believes reason provides the answer. Thus if the person believes that reason can provide a solution other than a creator, then the Wager is not applicable.

For the person who thinks the answer might be a creator, what can we infer from such a creator? It created the universe, therefore it is very powerful. Does that make it omnipotent? No. Could it be omnipotent? Yes. We can't decide one way or the other. You'd be wagering that it is omnipotent.

Similarly with omniscience. You don't know whether the creator is intelligent in any sense. You're wagering on that it is omniscient.

Similarly with omnibenevolence. If there is a creator, it might be slightly benevolent, or neutral or even malevolent. In that case, the Wager is meaningless. We can't predict the outcome as we arguably can with an omnibenevolent god. I think the benefit of thinking that there is an omnibenevolent god is that it provides an objective grounding in the idea of "good",

So, for the Wager to work, you have an omni-max God. A non omni-max being may work, but we can't really know since it is based on the characteristics of that god, as you have pointed out.

One might argue that this is a flaw in the Wager, that it is meant to work for ANY god. But I argue that this is a strawman version of the Wager. It's not meant to work for malevolent gods, for example. The clue is in the rewards that Pascal lists both in the after-line and on earth. As Pascal said, if the person wagers that God exists he will be "faithful, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful". Obviously he has in mind a god in whom belief brings about those characteristics. He can't have a malevolent god in mind.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Any God would punish X actions, and reward Y actions. (That punishment might be no more than simply withholding His Grace, for an omnibeneficient God, as I’ve seen some RCC apologists sometimes define hell— but surely that’s punishment too, in effect? And that reward might be no more than a less harsh screw-over, for a malevolent God, but surely that’s reward too, in effect? Not that I see any reason why a God, irrespective of whether He is benevolent or malevolent, might not directly punish those that piss Him off, and reward those that please Him; but even if a benevolent God can only reward, and a malevolent God only punish, even then, these indirect rewards and punishments would still apply, wouldn’t they?)

As a punter, what you are trying to do (or what Pascal is trying to do) is play the odds as best you/he can so that you/he win/s. Seems straightforward to me.

So no, I don’t see that you can strike off all “malevolent” Gods peremptorily from your inventory, no.
You'd have to show me a formulation of the Wager that uses a malevolent god, while remembering to keep in mind the points that you've raised against my formulation.

But anyway, the Wagers -- Pascal's and the Atheist's -- are simply set up with a benevolent god in mind. If you think that is an invalid assumption -- that the Wagers should incorporate any god -- then we are at a point where we'll need to agree to disagree.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
In order to conclude that something is worth wagering, you need to know what you’re wagering, and what the odds are; and you can know that only if you work out these answers (broadly if not in full-blown detail).
You're wagering your potential happiness. Since reason can't decide the answer (if you believe that reason can decide the answer either for or against God then the Wager isn't applicable) the odds would be 50/50, I guess. If you win, you win 'all'. If you lose, you lose 'nothing'. To win the Wager, assuming a benevolent god, you need to live a good life. A good life would be one of acting selflessly.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Once you get down to those nitty gritties, then we may agree, or we may agree to disagree, about whether the Wager is worthwhile; but at this stage the terms of the Wager are far too vague to even be meaningful, and we aren’t even in a position where we can, reasonably, either agree or disagree, because you haven’t even spelt out what exactly we are to agree or disagree on — other than at a meta level, that is. At this stage we can only either wait for you to recognize the necessity for spelling this out; and then wait for you to actually spell all that out; and after that to evaluate your reasons, in order to agree or disagree; or else to simply recognize your choice as ad hoc and arbitrary and entirely subjective (which you’ve every right to, let me hasten to add, if that is what you wish), and leave it at that.
I hope we've progressed along the path a little bit. At this stage I've started bringing in assumptions and what amount to be faith positions, so there will be areas we can agree to disagree on.

Some of my points I've repeated, so no need to respond to all my comments, just the ones you think are pertinent. If, like mine, you plan to break up the responses into separate posts, let me know when your final one is posted and I'll being my responses. Thanks!

Last edited by GDon; 9th January 2021 at 10:39 PM.
GDon is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th January 2021, 07:39 AM   #239
dejudge
Philosopher
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 5,825
Originally Posted by GDon View Post
.....But rather than sifting through existing gods, let's start with the premise that all gods are individually tailored. That is, no two people believe in the same god, because each person has their own ideas about god. It's hard to hand wave those gods out, because each god has it's own subjective characteristics.
Again, Pascal's wager deals specifically with Christian deities God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity- not individually "tailored gods".

http://www.ntslibrary.com/PDF%20Book...%20Pensees.pdf

Pascal's Pensees
Quote:
We love ourselves, because we are members of Jesus Christ. We love Jesus Christ, because He is the body of which we are members. All is one, one is in the other, like the Three Persons..

Pascal's Pensee .....God is a hidden God, and that, since the corruption of nature, He has left men in a darkness from which they can escape only through Jesus Christ, without whom all communion with God is cut off.[/quote]

Pascal's Pensees --287- For God having said in His prophecies (which are undoubtedly prophecies) that in the reign of Jesus Christ He would spread His spirit abroad among nations, and that the youths and maidens and children of the Church would prophesy; it is certain that the Spirit of God is in these and not in the others.

Pasca'sl Pensees --435- ............The Christian religion alone has been able to cure these two vices, not by expelling the one through means of the other according to the wisdom of the world, but by expelling both according to the simplicity of the Gospel.

Pascal's Pensees 466. Had Epictetus seen the way perfectly, he would have said to men, "You follow a wrong road"; he shows that there is another, but he does not lead to it. It is the way of willing what God wills. Jesus Christ alone leads to it..

Originally Posted by GDon

You're wagering your potential happiness. Since reason can't decide the answer (if you believe that reason can decide the answer either for or against God then the Wager isn't applicable) the odds would be 50/50, I guess. If you win, you win 'all'. If you lose, you lose 'nothing'. To win the Wager, assuming a benevolent god, you need to live a good life. A good life would be one of acting selflessly.
A theist will lose all if Pascal's Christian deities exist. Only Jesus Christ can make one happy according to Pascal.

Pascal's Pensees 546.
Quote:
Without Jesus Christ man must be in vice and misery; with Jesus Christ man is free from vice and misery; in Him is all our virtue and all our happiness. Apart from Him there is but vice, misery, darkness, death, despair.
dejudge is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th January 2021, 09:31 AM   #240
HansMustermann
Penultimate Amazing
 
HansMustermann's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 18,016
Originally Posted by GDon View Post
Is there a more general definition for God? Yes. If we look up the definition, the one most often used is "omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent." That's the generic one that a lot of people use. And you're right that I have to justify that as my starting point.
But that's pretty much a textbook case of the No True Scotsman fallacy. You limit it to your own version of God, by arbitrarily redefining it with whatever attributes you gave that God. It's like saying that all cats are black, by arbitrarily defining that a cat is defined as anything orange and striped.

I mean, for a start that's not even a definition of a god, it's some attributes that Xians claimed for theirs. It's as spurious as defining a cat as anything orange and striped, just because mine happens to be.

But more generally, just because Christians went omni with their god -- and never figured out a logically consistent way for it to be that, either -- it doesn't mean that other people did. Hell, even for followers of supposedly the same God, Jews never really had their god be omni-anything, or at least not before the Xians came along.

Hell, even a lot of historical Xian cults never did that. The gnostics for example.

So essentially you're just arbitrarily redefining stuff, for no obvious reason other than your being too... intellectually unequipped to deal with the general case.

Originally Posted by GDon View Post
Keep in mind that the first premise of the Wager is that "reason can't decide whether or not a God exists."
Yes, how about you keep that in mind too.

Originally Posted by GDon View Post
So, for the Wager to work, you have an omni-max God. A non omni-max being may work, but we can't really know since it is based on the characteristics of that god, as you have pointed out.
Again, that's just your No True Scotsman redefinition, which is to say: Bullcrap. For the Wager to work, all you need is a god who can give you a reward or punishment at all, if you meet certain criteria. That's literally all you need for Pascal's mis-use of game theory.

Even for it to yield infinity, said God only needs to be eternal. Note that even omnipotence isn't actually needed for that. Said God isn't required to be able to do everything and anything. He just has to be able to offer SOME reward or punishment, but do it for an infinite duration.

Hell, even an eternal Santa would qualify. You could have a God who literally can't do anything except give you a present or a lump of coal once a year for all eternity -- not to do miracles, not to create universes, not even to reveal himself to anyone -- and that's enough for Pascal's 2x2 matrix to work.

So, please. Address the problem as it is... or don't. But watching you try to redefine it in the most nonsensical ways for several pages is getting old.

Originally Posted by GDon View Post
One might argue that this is a flaw in the Wager, that it is meant to work for ANY god. But I argue that this is a strawman version of the Wager. It's not meant to work for malevolent gods, for example. The clue is in the rewards that Pascal lists both in the after-line and on earth. As Pascal said, if the person wagers that God exists he will be "faithful, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful". Obviously he has in mind a god in whom belief brings about those characteristics. He can't have a malevolent god in mind.
Again: bullcrap. Just because you're unable to address it, doesn't make it a strawman. That's not just some magical word to make your invalid logic right.

But basically, who cares? The question is whether game theory can be applied to such a god as well, since that's all that Pascal brought to the table there. And it does.

His matrix would work for a god of rape and murder just as well. If a God can give you infinite length reward for those, or a punishment for not doing those, game theory maths applies just as well.

But basically: make up your mind. Do you want to even pretend to use Pascal's maths -- and maths is oblivious to such ideas as humility or goodness -- or do you want to do some dumb handwaving instead? Becaiuse so far all you seem to do is the latter.
__________________
Which part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?
HansMustermann is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 12:09 AM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.