10.18.2010 – On Being Wrong (Pascal’s Wager-ish)
Pascal’s Wager is probably the most popular tool that believers use to try to use to get non-believers to reconsider their positions. It’s also one of the easiest to refute. So, I’m not going to go into the arguments in either direction, as there are literally gazillions (I love hyperbole) of articles out on the web that do just that. Go look them up if you’re curious.
What I would like to do in this post, however, is discuss the hypothetical situation where I find out that I’m wrong. First though, here’s a definition of Pascal’s Wager for those that don’t actually know what it is:
An argument according to which belief in God is rational whether or not God exists, since falsely believing that God exists leads to no harm whereas falsely believing that God does not exist may lead to eternal damnation.
Look, if I end up being wrong, and there IS a god that I have to meet after I die, I would expect that he’s probably a reasonable guy (wouldn’t you expect that the creator of all that is would be?). I hope that he examines me honestly and understands that I went out of my way in life trying to learn the things that I needed to learn to believe that he existed. It wasn’t like I just turned my back and said ‘screw you’. I know myself, and I know that I’ve examined the possibility honestly and with massive amounts of thought and research. If that isn’t enough to convince him to spare me of some eternal torture based on rules that he put into a book several thousand years ago, then there’s not much I can do about that. I can’t force myself to believe something when all of the logical and rational processes of my mind tell me it’s untrue. But before he damned me to eternal hellfire, I would hope I could at least ask him a few questions. Questions like:
“What was with all the hiding?”
“Where’s the evidence?”
“What’s your hangup with foreskins?”
“Slavery? Slavery is ACTUALLY ok in your view? please explain!”
“You created women, and immediately turned around and wrote a book that demeans them in every possible way. What’s up with that?”
“Thou shalt not kill, but wiping out entire civilizations is ok as long as YOU command it?”
“If your book is divinely inspired, why are there so many inconsistencies and contradictions?”
Seriously, though, Pascals Wager is so tired that I can’t believe it’s even used anymore. But, alas, I hear it all the time.