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Old 23rd December 2020, 07:11 PM   #1
JM85
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Does it all come down to pascal's wager for Christians?

It's been quite some time. I didn't know this forum was still around. I'm not an intellectual, as most of the people who remember me know, so please bear with me.

Anyway, something has really been bothering me. I had a friend who was a born again Christian at one time (yes, I capitalize the word Christian, but it's mostly so spell check doesn't correct me,) and he must have sent me youtube clips of Christian testimony stories, and them arguing with people on the street they see who disagree with them. They debate atheists in some of these videos and try to convert them. Their logic is flawed, and very simplistic. "Well, how do you think that plane or car exists. It was made by somebody, right? You wouldn't say it just appeared, or that you didn't know where it came from. The same can be said for us, the universe, everything."

Of course I could talk to somebody who built a plane or a car. I can see them. I can't see God. "Well, I talk to God all the time! Something can't come from nothing, now can it?" Is their counter argument. Of course if you asked Stephen Hawking he would give you a quantum equation that would show you something could come from nothing, but I'm over simplifying this theory to say the least. But even if the "something can't come from nothing" argument had validity, I can still say "How do you jump to the conclusion then that a Christian God is the creator? Why not a Muslim God, or the Flying Spaghetti monster?" Then the friendly Australian man would say "Look at all this creation around you. Now if you died tomorrow in this rebellious phase of your life and haven't accepted Christ you'll go to hell."

It really all comes down to this, doesn't it? They do know they could be wrong it seems, but they never say it, and are just hedging their bets. It can never be about an actual experience they had, or some groundbreaking historical evidence that what the bible said is "The Truth."
But Pascal's Wager is a powerful motivator. It even hooks me in sometimes, and my agnostic mind goes "oh, well..they have got a point there. there's a possibility they're right, even though it's a very slim one."

But I bring this up here, because many of you have a very strong self belief, and aren't swayed by these arguments. And also I may be missing something. Anyway, thanks for listening.

(apologies for grammatical errors. I should have capitalized Pascal in the title. D'oh!)

Last edited by JM85; 23rd December 2020 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 23rd December 2020, 07:27 PM   #2
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The problem I have with Pascal's wager is that it is not an argument for belief, it is just an argument for religion.

It seems to state that if you join a religion, and act as though you believe you get to go to heaven. This assumes that either god doesn't care if you don't actually believe, so long as you go through the motions, or that you can fool god into thinking you are a true believer.

It also doesn't take into account the possibility of a god that will judge you on your behavior, rather than your beliefs. Also, what if it doesn't approve of liars?

Acting according to Pascal could, under that condition, increase your chances of a bad outcome.
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Old 23rd December 2020, 08:08 PM   #3
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Yeah, ^^^this. If you take Pascal's Wager as a dice-throw, you already lost. Christians are big on the faith thing, not the calculated faking-it thing. If you believe in God and love him and want to serve him, great. But if you are playing against a payout, you are pretty low on the celestial totem pole.
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Old 23rd December 2020, 08:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by JM85 View Post
It's been quite some time. I didn't know this forum was still around. I'm not an intellectual, as most of the people who remember me know, so please bear with me.

Anyway, something has really been bothering me. I had a friend who was a born again Christian at one time (yes, I capitalize the word Christian, but it's mostly so spell check doesn't correct me,) and he must have sent me youtube clips of Christian testimony stories, and them arguing with people on the street they see who disagree with them. They debate atheists in some of these videos and try to convert them. Their logic is flawed, and very simplistic. "Well, how do you think that plane or car exists. It was made by somebody, right? You wouldn't say it just appeared, or that you didn't know where it came from. The same can be said for us, the universe, everything."

Of course I could talk to somebody who built a plane or a car. I can see them. I can't see God. "Well, I talk to God all the time! Something can't come from nothing, now can it?" Is their counter argument. Of course if you asked Stephen Hawking he would give you a quantum equation that would show you something could come from nothing, but I'm over simplifying this theory to say the least. But even if the "something can't come from nothing" argument had validity, I can still say "How do you jump to the conclusion then that a Christian God is the creator? Why not a Muslim God, or the Flying Spaghetti monster?" Then the friendly Australian man would say "Look at all this creation around you. Now if you died tomorrow in this rebellious phase of your life and haven't accepted Christ you'll go to hell."

It really all comes down to this, doesn't it? They do know they could be wrong it seems, but they never say it, and are just hedging their bets. It can never be about an actual experience they had, or some groundbreaking historical evidence that what the bible said is "The Truth."
But Pascal's Wager is a powerful motivator. It even hooks me in sometimes, and my agnostic mind goes "oh, well..they have got a point there. there's a possibility they're right, even though it's a very slim one."

But I bring this up here, because many of you have a very strong self belief, and aren't swayed by these arguments. And also I may be missing something. Anyway, thanks for listening.

(apologies for grammatical errors. I should have capitalized Pascal in the title. D'oh!)
Honestly, I don't think it's about any argument at all.

Embrace of religion is because it structures life and gives such a deep group identity, that questioning their religion is like attacking their validity as a human being.

All the other arguments, even fear of the afterlife are just post-hoc justifications of that emotional connection with personal, social and cultural elements.

That's why you get the same strong adherence even in religions that don't have the same afterlife threat. Orthodox Jews don't believe in hell, but they're just as committed as any evangelical Christian. The afterlife argument is a red herring. They use it on unbelievers because the carrot/stick of an afterlife of punishment or reward feels like it should be convincing, but it's not really why they believe.
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Old 23rd December 2020, 09:17 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by JM85 View Post
Does it all come down to pascal's wager for Christians?
Finding wisdom on questions like these from a heathen website isn't very logical.
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Old 23rd December 2020, 09:30 PM   #6
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The probability of a God who will reward me for believing is exactly the same as the probability of a God who will punish me for believing.
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Old 23rd December 2020, 09:44 PM   #7
Roger Ramjets
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
All the other arguments, even fear of the afterlife are just post-hoc justifications of that emotional connection with personal, social and cultural elements.
But religion isn't just an 'emotional connection with personal, social and cultural elements'. The conscious mind has extreme difficulty dealing with the concept of the end of its existence. The closer to inevitable death people get the more they think about it, and the more incentive to believe that it cannot be the end. That is one reason many people become more religious as they get older - and ripe for being sucked into a religion.

Quote:
That's why you get the same strong adherence even in religions that don't have the same afterlife threat. Orthodox Jews don't believe in hell, but they're just as committed as any evangelical Christian.
People can also be just as committed to a nonreligious belief or culture etc., so it's not just about religion. But religion has elements that others don't, the primary one being belief in the Supernatural.

Quote:
The afterlife argument is a red herring. They use it on unbelievers because the carrot/stick of an afterlife of punishment or reward feels like it should be convincing, but it's not really why they believe.
In many cases I think it is why they believe, but mostly in older believers. They have created an imaginary worldview that allows them to continue to exist after death, and everything else follows on from that.

Young proselytizers generally believe the dogma simply because they were taught it. They don't worry about death because it is far in the distance, but they do worry about losing their faith and what that would mean for them. Some will eventually question the dogma and leave their religion, while others (the ones you may be talking about) become even more dogmatic in an attempt to shore up their own faith.

When you have committed to something so completely that it defines your life, giving it up may be too hard even if at some level you know it's all a lie. This doesn't just apply to religious believers, but it's often harder for them because they have bought into the idea that the physical world is an illusion and reality is supernatural. The mind cannot believe that it is merely a collection of subatomic particles acting according to the laws of quantum physics. There has to be more to that that, it thinks. And there lies the emotional core of religious belief. It's not about logic.
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Old 24th December 2020, 06:05 AM   #8
JM85
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Finding wisdom on questions like these from a heathen website isn't very logical.
Well, I was looking for an unbiased opinion that was more scientific. Also I need a counter. Christians have been tougher to deal with now, and I'm guessing that's because of covid, and the world being more unstable right now. Their fear mongering has been at an all time high, and I have to admit that it's been getting to me a little. My hidden agenda may have been to see how you all deal with this sort of thing.

(Also, nice avatar. I used to like Scott Adams)

But religion isn't just an 'emotional connection with personal, social and cultural elements'. The conscious mind has extreme difficulty dealing with the concept of the end of its existence. The closer to inevitable death people get the more they think about it, and the more incentive to believe that it cannot be the end. That is one reason many people become more religious as they get older - and ripe for being sucked into a religion. -Roger Ramjets


I really do believe this myself, because I have an anxiety disorder. Closer to the end some neurons in my brain might force me to believe in the afterlife with such conviction that none of you would want anything to do with me! Yet I also think this is where the obsession with the paranormal comes from, and people wanting an actual experience rather than religion. But this is a very eloquent argument that I couldn't formulate.

Last edited by JM85; 24th December 2020 at 06:07 AM. Reason: clarification, terrible grammar.
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Old 24th December 2020, 06:11 AM   #9
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Pascal's Wager is a poor argument for Christians. Maybe some other deities would be happy to have you on board no matter how you made it there, but do you really think Yahweh the god of Abraham and Isaac will be cool with you spinning a wheel and pretending to believe? You'll be made an example of faster than you can say Onan.
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Old 24th December 2020, 06:25 AM   #10
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TBH my impression is that Pascal's Wager is not WHY they believe. And when you say your friend brings up stuff like "all this stuff can't have come from nothing", you're already illustrating just that: they have more rationales than Pascal's Wager for themselves.

Pascal's Wager is just one of the main fallbacks they use when they try to convince others and it doesn't work. And from my impression it's not even supposed to be a logically valid argument. Rather it's a bit of a case of the Argumentum Ad Baculum.

The other main argument they fall back to, usually before Pascal, is basically the "look how much of a better/happier/whatever person X is after finding Jesus." (Where X can be "me" or whatever.) If you will, this is the carrot argument, while Pascal is more like the stick.
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Old 24th December 2020, 06:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Beelzebuddy View Post
Pascal's Wager is a poor argument for Christians. Maybe some other deities would be happy to have you on board no matter how you made it there, but do you really think Yahweh the god of Abraham and Isaac will be cool with you spinning a wheel and pretending to believe? You'll be made an example of faster than you can say Onan.
Forget the God of Isaac and Abraham. Think more about Xian half of the book: the Jesus of Revelation. You know, the one who threatens some people just for being "lukewarm" about actually believing in him. Just faking it? Ooerr.. I don't think that's gonna fly.
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Old 24th December 2020, 06:46 AM   #12
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I'm not sure. That's all it came down to when I was a kid, which was the only time I was a believer - I was scared of hell. I hated church, I didn't feel any excitement about God, in fact I found all the God stuff pretty annoying and dark. My religious books and tapes were my least preferred entertainment. I was just scared that if I didn't remember to pray before bed, and didn't do it correctly with hands folded in the proper way and all, I'd go to hell.

I remember one time; I was about eight, and I'd recently had my first communion. So I went to communion at mass for one of the first times, and GASP - I dropped the christ cracker. I was positive that I was going to hell. I rushed to confession as soon as possible, and I was still worried afterward. I'm not reaching when I tell you this **** is the reason I have OCD as an adult.

Anyway, when I got a little older (pre-teen) and my logical mind had begun to develop a bit more, I decided the whole thing was bogus. I guess I could be wrong, but eh. Why would God give me a logical mind and then demand I deny it with regard to anything pertaining to him and his existence? I'll take my chances.

Roger Ramjets may have something there about older people becoming vulnerable to religious ideas due to impending mortality. I don't think it will happen to me, though. I've become more existentially acrid every year of my life, I guess you'd say. "Apatheist" describes me pretty well.
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Old 24th December 2020, 07:08 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
TBH my impression is that Pascal's Wager is not WHY they believe. And when you say your friend brings up stuff like "all this stuff can't have come from nothing", you're already illustrating just that: they have more rationales than Pascal's Wager for themselves.

Pascal's Wager is just one of the main fallbacks they use when they try to convince others and it doesn't work. And from my impression it's not even supposed to be a logically valid argument. Rather it's a bit of a case of the Argumentum Ad Baculum.

The other main argument they fall back to, usually before Pascal, is basically the "look how much of a better/happier/whatever person X is after finding Jesus." (Where X can be "me" or whatever.) If you will, this is the carrot argument, while Pascal is more like the stick.

Well, here's the thing: Their other rationales can't stand up to the basic laws of cause and effect. So a creator would need a cause right? Maybe the creator is the effect. Their argument then is "The bible says there will no longer excuses for man.." or something like that. A page in a book. How is that logically making sense when they have to fall back on that? And the smart religious people know they'll be backed into a corner sooner or later in these arguments. It's because they have to eventually have faith in something that they can not prove, because science can't prove it either. And even the most basic of reasoning falls short.

They're left with nothing in their arguments besides sweet platitudes. But they're certain! The certainty is what bothers me in their illogical arguments. That's why when I say they know they're wrong, maybe they don't? Or maybe they just seem certain. But I digress. Eventually the argument comes down to: What if in the end you haven't repented your sins? Don't you want to go to to heaven? I mean, they eventually fall back on that, which leads me to believe their initial arguments have no basis in fact, and they do know this.

But coming full circle, because they know this I think they believe in what they do not because of logic, but fear. Pascal got backed into a corner, and so did they.

Last edited by JM85; 24th December 2020 at 07:13 AM. Reason: terrible grammar, as usual.
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Old 24th December 2020, 07:16 AM   #14
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IMHO Pascal wager is practically useless. It's almost impossible to force yourself to believe something. Mind is not like a switch that you can toggle. It's almost like to believe that 2 + 2 = 22. You are either convinced or not. Given the number of Christian denominations, a question arises which version of Christianity is correct.

Also keep in mind that justification by faith alone (Sola fide) is a protestant invention, around 1500s.

Last edited by suren; 24th December 2020 at 08:06 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 24th December 2020, 07:30 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by JM85 View Post
It's been quite some time. I didn't know this forum was still around. I'm not an intellectual, as most of the people who remember me know, so please bear with me.

Anyway, something has really been bothering me. I had a friend who was a born again Christian at one time (yes, I capitalize the word Christian, but it's mostly so spell check doesn't correct me,) and he must have sent me youtube clips of Christian testimony stories, and them arguing with people on the street they see who disagree with them. They debate atheists in some of these videos and try to convert them. Their logic is flawed, and very simplistic. "Well, how do you think that plane or car exists. It was made by somebody, right? You wouldn't say it just appeared, or that you didn't know where it came from. The same can be said for us, the universe, everything."

Of course I could talk to somebody who built a plane or a car. I can see them. I can't see God. "Well, I talk to God all the time! Something can't come from nothing, now can it?" Is their counter argument. Of course if you asked Stephen Hawking he would give you a quantum equation that would show you something could come from nothing, but I'm over simplifying this theory to say the least. But even if the "something can't come from nothing" argument had validity, I can still say "How do you jump to the conclusion then that a Christian God is the creator? Why not a Muslim God, or the Flying Spaghetti monster?" Then the friendly Australian man would say "Look at all this creation around you. Now if you died tomorrow in this rebellious phase of your life and haven't accepted Christ you'll go to hell."

It really all comes down to this, doesn't it? They do know they could be wrong it seems, but they never say it, and are just hedging their bets. It can never be about an actual experience they had, or some groundbreaking historical evidence that what the bible said is "The Truth."
But Pascal's Wager is a powerful motivator. It even hooks me in sometimes, and my agnostic mind goes "oh, well..they have got a point there. there's a possibility they're right, even though it's a very slim one."

But I bring this up here, because many of you have a very strong self belief, and aren't swayed by these arguments. And also I may be missing something. Anyway, thanks for listening.

(apologies for grammatical errors. I should have capitalized Pascal in the title. D'oh!)

It's difficult to tell, when the written word is all one has to go by, but you seem to be asking seriously, as opposed to joking about this. So, serious answer to what does not, in fact, deserve to be treated as anything other than a joke:

Why Pascal's Wager is bull:

1) Lots of Gods around. Like, lots, heaps. Which God do you wager on? The wrong wager, and you're fried. Far safer to go with an empty ticker, than the potentially wrong one.

2) God, if he's real, is not some naive idiot, right? He knows your thoughts, and all. So he'll know that you don't actually, spontaneously believe. He'll know that you're just trying to BS him, and he'll fry your backside good. Much better leave it at no belief, that way he'll only roast you (as opposed to completely eviscerating you for eternity, for trying to BS him).

3) You can't will yourself to believe things, just because doing that might be beneficial to you. Belief simply doesn't work that way. If I offer you a million dollars to believe that I'm Jesus come back to earth, then you might, if you were a dishonest *******, pretend to go along just to relieve me of that million, but there's no way you can will yourself to actually believe. So the question of the wager is moot anyway: the question, in order to be at all reasonable, can only be phrased as: Might it make sense to pretend to believe?


Conclusion:
(a) Going by this Wager thing, Pascal was a moron
or b) The whole thing's apocryphal
or (c) The man was kidding. It was a joke. It should've been called Pascal's Joke. Those who take it literally and consider it seriously -- except for sport, for fun -- are idiots.



That said, do Christians actually set store by this Wager kind of reasoning? The answer is a resounding Yes. Yes, they often do. Idiotic though it is. (Even if they've never heard of Pascal, people sometimes do suddenly turn religious when approaching death. That's -- often -- the same reasoning. Despite that gravitas that death, or impending death, tends to lend to people's actions, the reasoning itself, implicit or otherwise, remains not just faulty but entirely wholly fully laugh-out-loud, a joke.)



eta: Nor are they actually idiots, the people who think this way, although the reasoning itself is idiotic. I suppose people simply do not think this through, is all. So then, if you think this through for them, will then stop subscribing to this nonsense? Try it and see. I've never tried, myself, because I don't like the idea of imposing my own thoughts on others, even if I believe I'm right -- it's enough for me to realize, for myself, what's reasonable and what not. And to share it, for what it is worth, should someone go out of their way to ask.

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Old 24th December 2020, 08:45 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by JM85 View Post
Well, I was looking for an unbiased opinion that was more scientific. Also I need a counter.

< --- remainder snipped for brevity --->
If you want to be talked into being a total atheist then this forum might be the right place for you.

Otherwise, you will have to be willing to consider other sources of information. I know that is difficult. Too many people are willing to make up their own theories (backed by some biblical cherry pickings) and call it "the word of God".

As for whether something came from nothing or a creator, we don't have a definitive answer - scientific or otherwise.
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Old 24th December 2020, 09:06 AM   #17
JM85
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
If you want to be talked into being a total atheist then this forum might be the right place for you.

Otherwise, you will have to be willing to consider other sources of information. I know that is difficult. Too many people are willing to make up their own theories (backed by some biblical cherry pickings) and call it "the word of God".

As for whether something came from nothing or a creator, we don't have a definitive answer - scientific or otherwise.
Oh, you misunderstood my argument. I'm not looking to challenge the viewpoints of anyone here. I am looking for a more through understanding of the counter argument, because it's hard to find one. And a real time discussion is a good way to get an idea.

And also, Christians have become quite bold lately. I'm not a hostile person, and they usually take this as me agreeing with them. But I'd like to have an honest discussion with them without being stonewalled myself. Politeness is my downfall, you see.

And some counter points to Pascal's wager are very good here by the way. I just need some time to ponder them, because these Christians then go digging around in "the good book" to back up their arguments when these ones are presented to them that were brought up in the topic here. I don't understand this counter.
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Old 24th December 2020, 09:14 AM   #18
HansMustermann
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Originally Posted by JM85 View Post
But coming full circle, because they know this I think they believe in what they do not because of logic, but fear. Pascal got backed into a corner, and so did they.
Or because of wishful thinking, or whatever.

One believer (well, now ex-believer) whose story I got to hear more than once was mom. Who apparently promptly discovered religion (even if she had to make one up on the spot) when she gave birth, apparently just because she wanted to think SOMEONE will watch over me. The notion of where the hell SHE's going after death never entered that picture at any point.

So, again, don't confuse what reasons someone has for their own belief, with what arguments they're giving YOU. Sometimes they ARE the same, sometimes they're not.

And saying that everyone is playing Pascal's Wager is really a gross oversimplification.
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Old 24th December 2020, 09:16 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
If you want to be talked into being a total atheist then this forum might be the right place for you.

Otherwise, you will have to be willing to consider other sources of information. I know that is difficult. Too many people are willing to make up their own theories (backed by some biblical cherry pickings) and call it "the word of God".

As for whether something came from nothing or a creator, we don't have a definitive answer - scientific or otherwise.
No sir. No. I interpret the Bible. You pervert the Holy Word of God.

Or is it the other way around?
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Old 24th December 2020, 09:17 AM   #20
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Considering that modern homo sapiens have been around for over 100,000 years, isn't it strange that only in the last thousand years we have the Bible, the supposed revelations, angels, prophets, miracles, resurrection, etc.?

Also think the following, if your friend thinks that believing in Christian God/Jesus is the only way for salvation, then how would people who have never heard about Jesus or were born in cultures with other religions be saved? Do you think that an omnibenevolent God would only care about people born in the last 2020 years (assuming that all people lived in the last 2020 years heard about him, which is absurd)? Some Christians might say that people who have never heard about Jesus and his teachings will be judged differently, but in this case this makes Jesus incarnation somewhat pointless.

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Old 24th December 2020, 09:35 AM   #21
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Or because of wishful thinking, or whatever.

One believer (well, now ex-believer) whose story I got to hear more than once was mom. Who apparently promptly discovered religion (even if she had to make one up on the spot) when she gave birth, apparently just because she wanted to think SOMEONE will watch over me. The notion of where the hell SHE's going after death never entered that picture at any point.

So, again, don't confuse what reasons someone has for their own belief, with what arguments they're giving YOU. Sometimes they ARE the same, sometimes they're not.

And saying that everyone is playing Pascal's Wager is really a gross oversimplification. -HansMustermann

Yes, there are a variety of reasons, and generalizations are called generalizations for a reason. I do see this argument coming about with the majority of these preachers though towards the end of their diatribe. Which leads me to believe that their entire argument hinges on "just in case." the majority of the time. I can't speak for all Christians though, and you are right. Structure, rules, and other imaginary ideas of security definitely play a rule.

Also think the following, if your friend thinks that believing in Christian God/Jesus is the only way for salvation, then how would people who have never heard about Jesus or were born in cultures with other religions be saved? Do you think that an omnibenevolent God would only care about people born in the last 2020 years (assuming that all people lived in the last 2020 years heard about him, which is absurd)? Some Christians might say that people who have never heard about Jesus and his teachings will be judged differently, but in this case this makes Jesus incarnation somewhat pointless. -suren

This I was able to bring up with him. He said that they either come to their own realization of a Christian God by looking at the natural world, or they go to hell. I countered with "Wow that sounds pretty awful. What kind of loving God would do that?" And he said something about the claypot and the clay maker..I mean, it always comes back to the bible being divinely inspired, and then "Nobody knows when the bell tolles. Better repent now." It's an emotional argument that kind of stalls me, and I can't think of any retort.

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Old 24th December 2020, 09:46 AM   #22
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I've never heard my mother mention hell or judgment. She's ridiculously religious, to the point that it's impossible to talk to her about many subjects, but she seems to genuinely enjoy praying and thinking about God and stuff. She's been very distressed that she can't go to church during the pandemic, while my dad is more like "sweet, got my Sunday mornings back." He believes, but in a very "meh" kind of casual way.

I never hear my mother talking about people going to hell. Her constant mantra is telling me "pray" as an answer to everything. It can get really annoying. I'll tell her I'm nervous about something, and she'll say that I clearly haven't prayed about it, and if I did, everything would be made clear. Pray, pray, pray. I've just given up on sharing certain things with her, because there's no point. The "pray / trust God" program will kick on, and she'll just loop through it until somebody leaves the room.

She used to say rosaries constantly when I was a kid, and the sound of the beads clicking together (or any similar sound) makes me crazy angry when I hear it now. It's that stress-infused type of anger.
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Old 24th December 2020, 09:52 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by JM85 View Post
He said that they either come to their own realization of a Christian God by looking at the natural world, or they go to hell.
As I mentioned, justification by faith alone (Sola fide) is a protestant invention in 1500s. Yeah, I understand your feelings, this is a classical example of an evangelical fundamentalism, and unfortunately it's not even fun to argue with such people.

PS:
Also if he is such stubborn then what's the reason to argue with him if these are just his beliefs? Are these religious topics unavoidable?

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Old 24th December 2020, 10:36 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by suren View Post
As I mentioned, justification by faith alone (Sola fide) is a protestant invention in 1500s. Yeah, I understand your feelings, this is a classical example of an evangelical fundamentalism, and unfortunately it's not even fun to argue with such people.

PS:
Also if he is such stubborn then what's the reason to argue with him if these are just his beliefs? Are these religious topics unavoidable?
Unfortunately they are. It's beyond the scope of this topic, but this particular person is out of my life for the most part apart from conversations had once or twice every couple of years. But there was a lasting effect that just isn't escaping my consciousness, and sometimes people approach me with similar agendas. It got me to research the subject on my own on youtube.

And to add, this point belies many of their arguments.

Also I forgot to add the justification by faith thing. Yes, this was huge for him, and it's interesting you picked up on that. Although Calvinism isn't what all of these "man on the street" confrontations are centered on, it could be a central belief of theirs as well.

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Old 24th December 2020, 10:42 AM   #25
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Chanakya-I'll address what you said later, because this is really a very good counter.
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Old 24th December 2020, 10:44 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by JM85 View Post
Oh, you misunderstood my argument. I'm not looking to challenge the viewpoints of anyone here. I am looking for a more through understanding of the counter argument, because it's hard to find one. And a real time discussion is a good way to get an idea.
Counter argument to what? I agree that Pascal's wager doesn't seem like a good reason to be a believer.

Originally Posted by JM85 View Post
And also, Christians have become quite bold lately. I'm not a hostile person, and they usually take this as me agreeing with them. But I'd like to have an honest discussion with them without being stonewalled myself. Politeness is my downfall, you see.
If you want material to knock evangelists' arguments down you will get plenty in this thread.
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Old 24th December 2020, 11:24 AM   #27
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A couple things to respond to here

1) Pascal's Wager
"But Marge, what if we picked the wrong god? Then each week, the real god gets madder and madder...." - Homer Simpson

I realize it was the writers, but anything that can be utterly destroyed by Homer Simpson shouldn't impress anyone all that much.

2) I listen to The Atheist Experience youtube call-in show, and, ultimately, Pascal's wager doesn't get a lot of play there. Probably because most of the callers know it will get laughed out of the room. It pops up on occasion, and usually it's for those who are unwilling to shed their belief ("I can't get over the nagging worry about hell...."). It's not the hardcore theists that go this direction.

3) On the other hand, the whole "who created everything" thing DOES show up. A lot. Based on what I hear there, if there any one argument that underlies the majority of Christian belief, it's that there must be a creator. Hence, Jesus, somehow.
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Old 24th December 2020, 12:14 PM   #28
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If a deity is omniscient then Pascal's Wager or anything of the type is redundant as the deity KNOWS...
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Old 24th December 2020, 01:24 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by JM85 View Post
It's been quite some time. I didn't know this forum was still around. I'm not an intellectual, as most of the people who remember me know, so please bear with me.

Anyway, something has really been bothering me. I had a friend who was a born again Christian at one time (yes, I capitalize the word Christian, but it's mostly so spell check doesn't correct me,) and he must have sent me youtube clips of Christian testimony stories, and them arguing with people on the street they see who disagree with them. They debate atheists in some of these videos and try to convert them. Their logic is flawed, and very simplistic. "Well, how do you think that plane or car exists. It was made by somebody, right? You wouldn't say it just appeared, or that you didn't know where it came from. The same can be said for us, the universe, everything."

Of course I could talk to somebody who built a plane or a car. I can see them. I can't see God. "Well, I talk to God all the time! Something can't come from nothing, now can it?" Is their counter argument. Of course if you asked Stephen Hawking he would give you a quantum equation that would show you something could come from nothing, but I'm over simplifying this theory to say the least. But even if the "something can't come from nothing" argument had validity, I can still say "How do you jump to the conclusion then that a Christian God is the creator? Why not a Muslim God, or the Flying Spaghetti monster?" Then the friendly Australian man would say "Look at all this creation around you. Now if you died tomorrow in this rebellious phase of your life and haven't accepted Christ you'll go to hell."

It really all comes down to this, doesn't it? They do know they could be wrong it seems, but they never say it, and are just hedging their bets. It can never be about an actual experience they had, or some groundbreaking historical evidence that what the bible said is "The Truth."
But Pascal's Wager is a powerful motivator. It even hooks me in sometimes, and my agnostic mind goes "oh, well..they have got a point there. there's a possibility they're right, even though it's a very slim one."

But I bring this up here, because many of you have a very strong self belief, and aren't swayed by these arguments. And also I may be missing something. Anyway, thanks for listening.

(apologies for grammatical errors. I should have capitalized Pascal in the title. D'oh!)
There's a non-zero probability that universalism is true. Which means that you, me, and everybody else have already won Pascal's wager.

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Old 24th December 2020, 01:40 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by JM85 View Post
It's been quite some time. I didn't know this forum was still around. I'm not an intellectual, as most of the people who remember me know, so please bear with me.

Anyway, something has really been bothering me. I had a friend who was a born again Christian at one time (yes, I capitalize the word Christian, but it's mostly so spell check doesn't correct me,) and he must have sent me youtube clips of Christian testimony stories, and them arguing with people on the street they see who disagree with them. They debate atheists in some of these videos and try to convert them. Their logic is flawed, and very simplistic. "Well, how do you think that plane or car exists. It was made by somebody, right? You wouldn't say it just appeared, or that you didn't know where it came from. The same can be said for us, the universe, everything."

Of course I could talk to somebody who built a plane or a car. I can see them. I can't see God. "Well, I talk to God all the time! Something can't come from nothing, now can it?" Is their counter argument. Of course if you asked Stephen Hawking he would give you a quantum equation that would show you something could come from nothing, but I'm over simplifying this theory to say the least. But even if the "something can't come from nothing" argument had validity, I can still say "How do you jump to the conclusion then that a Christian God is the creator? Why not a Muslim God, or the Flying Spaghetti monster?" Then the friendly Australian man would say "Look at all this creation around you. Now if you died tomorrow in this rebellious phase of your life and haven't accepted Christ you'll go to hell."

It really all comes down to this, doesn't it? They do know they could be wrong it seems, but they never say it, and are just hedging their bets. It can never be about an actual experience they had, or some groundbreaking historical evidence that what the bible said is "The Truth."
But Pascal's Wager is a powerful motivator. It even hooks me in sometimes, and my agnostic mind goes "oh, well..they have got a point there. there's a possibility they're right, even though it's a very slim one."

But I bring this up here, because many of you have a very strong self belief, and aren't swayed by these arguments. And also I may be missing something. Anyway, thanks for listening.

(apologies for grammatical errors. I should have capitalized Pascal in the title. D'oh!)
Notably absent from this analysis is any conversations you've had with actual Christians about the nature of their belief and whether it comes down to Pascal's Wager for them. The question you're asking here is one that by its very nature cannot be answered by this audience.
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Old 24th December 2020, 01:42 PM   #31
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I get that Pascal’s Wager is a poor, non-rational justification for turning to religion, but I know of a number of quite intelligent lapsed Catholics who died with rosary beads in hands after being given the Last Rites. Including my father.

My guess is that they honestly believe “God will understand that I’m serious now”.
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Old 24th December 2020, 01:57 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
I get that Pascal’s Wager is a poor, non-rational justification for turning to religion,
Which makes me think that Pascal probably wasn't serious about it, and for the past 350 years people have been engaged in the incredibly tiresome activity of deconstructing a joke.

Quote:
but I know of a number of quite intelligent lapsed Catholics who died with rosary beads in hands after being given the Last Rites. Including my father.

My guess is that they honestly believe “God will understand that I’m serious now”.
I'm pretty sure the validity of last-minute repentance is a basic part of Christian doctrine.
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Old 24th December 2020, 05:47 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by JM85 View Post
Yes, there are a variety of reasons, and generalizations are called generalizations for a reason. I do see this argument coming about with the majority of these preachers though towards the end of their diatribe.
Yes, because as I was saying, it's the fallback argumentum ad baculum. Usually coming after the "look how much better I am / life is" fallback, if that one failed.

It doesn't mean that's why they believe.

In fact, I'd wager more believe because they're afraid of death, rather than being afraid of hell. The latter is actually a non-issue if you don't believe in life after death in the first place. If you don't believe you need to make any post-mortem travel plans at all, hell is just another non existent destination that you don't need to worry about. You just die, and stop existing, and that's it. Whereas if stopping existing is what scares the crap out of you in the first place, that's not the solution, it's the problem.

Another reason is that basically a lot of people wants someone to be watching out for them. In fact, it's probably the most common denominator of pretty much all religions.

Yet another reason is dealing with grief and remorse. Yeah, your goldfish went to heaven, not down the toilet. So did grandma, actually.

Etc.

So, anyway, Pascal's Wager... It just means that they're used to a circle-jerk kind of argumentation among fellow believers, where you can say almost any nonsense and everyone will just nod and agree, just to be a part of the community. It doesn't have to be logical. It can be any fallacy or just wishful thinking. (And it's even in the bible. See Paul's appeal to consequences to argue that Jesus is real and did rise.) But when people really really want the conclusion to be true, they're not gonna challenge the argument for it.

When they have to explain to someone who doesn't, well, they're kinda lost. If you challenge them on logic of their arguments, they don't have either an argument that holds any water, nor the experience with actually defending one.

So out comes the argumentum ad baculum: agree, or you'll burn in hell.
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Old 24th December 2020, 06:46 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
... argumentum ad baculum...

That's a(nother) new one, that I've now picked up from your posts! Argumentum ad baculum, (the fallacy of) appeal to consequences, does sum up, concisely, the very many words that make up my #3 in my post no. 15 upthread.

And it's clear, all arguments that argue in favor of religion, fall in some sub-category or other of the umbrella term argumentum ad ********um. These guys are all either cross-eyed idiots that cannot think straight, or crafty dishonest souls out to ******** you, out to gaslight the rubes, into thinking they're saying something worthwhile and profound.
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Old 24th December 2020, 10:04 PM   #35
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Old 24th December 2020, 10:15 PM   #36
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Pascal's Wager is just negotiating with a terrorist in more esoteric language, along with everything else that is wrong with it.

Along with the fact that if there is an omnipotent being out there he's not going to be followed by you "believing" in him only as some sort of cost-benefit analysis.

Believing and hedging your bets aren't the same thing. No version of God anyone actually believes in you (you know the one type of God we never actually talk about int these discussions) aren't going to let you into heaven on a technicality.
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Old 25th December 2020, 01:26 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
That's a(nother) new one, that I've now picked up from your posts! Argumentum ad baculum, (the fallacy of) appeal to consequences
Err, they're different fallacies.


Appeal to consequences is basically, X must be true true, because if X then Y, and we really really want to believe Y. So X must be true.

Or conversely, X must be false, because if X then Y, and we really really don't want Y. So X is false.

Example: "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." (1 Cor 15:17) Continued in the next paragraph, with the positive alternative, a long winded version of then you too can get eternal life. And you surely want to. Therefore he did rise.

But really, the fallacy is pretty much "X must be true, because we really like the consequences of X".


Argumentum ad baculum is not about the consequence of X per se, but about the consequences of your disagreeing about X. E.g., if you disagree that communism is the best system, well, the NKVD knows where you live, comrade.

More mild examples are basically various attempts at browbeating that you can see dumbasses do on the web when they can't support their case. Typically some form of "if you disagree, here's what bad things 'we' will think about you." (And imagine the 'we' in conspicuous air quotes, because usually it's only in the mind of that idiot trying to do that browbeating.)


Anyway, in the context of Pascal's Wager, it doesn't work as an appeal to consequences. In the context of religion, the proposition X would be "God is real". And an appeal to consequences must appeal to a consequence of X. So basically an appeal to consequences would be something like "if there is a God, then <insert good stuff>" or conversely "if there's no God, then insert <bad stuff>".

But when the consequence is going to heaven or hell, well, that doesn't really work on an atheist, does it? I mean, if God and eternal life are false, the consequence is that then you're obviously not going to hell, so that's not much of a consequence to dislike. You already knew you're not making any post-mortem travel plans, right?

What it does work as is an argumentum ad baculum. There the threat is not as a consequence of X, but of your disagreeing about X. Which is to say, not believing that God is real.

What does Pascal basically say? "If you disagree that God is real, then you might go to hell". Yep, that's a threat for disagreeing all right.
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Old 25th December 2020, 01:42 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post


I'm pretty sure the validity of last-minute repentance is a basic part of Christian doctrine.
Yes I’m certain you’re right.
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Old 25th December 2020, 02:41 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Yes I’m certain you’re right.
Hmm, but that also means that if you kill an unrepentant person you send him to hell in some sense.
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Old 25th December 2020, 05:19 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by suren View Post
Hmm, but that also means that if you kill an unrepentant person you send him to hell in some sense.
To a first approximation, death could come at any time, from any direction, and the matter of his repentance and final destination is a matter of his own choices. You're not the guardian of his soul; he is.
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