Belief in God (Abrahamic) is Logical
- To not believe in God is illogical and shortsighted for the following reason(s).
- Belief in God does not require a significant decrease in quality of life or change in lifestyle, as compared to the life of a "non-believer." Therefore, we establish that both parties reap an equal benefit during their traditional lives, regardless of whether or not "God" exists.
- If God "isn't real", nobody "wins", as we all are fated to spend an eternity as unaware dirt, regardless of whether we "believed" or not. We establish that both parties reap equal "benefit" during an eternity of death, if God doesn't exist.
-However, IF God exists, true believers are promised a heaven that surpasses the greatest good we could imagine on Earth. Conversely, non-believers are promised a torturous hell, the evil of which they also can't imagine on Earth. We establish that believers reap an infinitely greater advantage over nonbelievers for all eternity (in death), if God exists.
- The choice seems clear. Why would you risk an eternity of damnation, the likes of which we allegedly can't comprehend, for what basically amounts to a, "I told you so"?
Keep it civil, and good luck.
Hello, and welcome to debate.org.
This is a form of Pascal’s Wager, which has been well refuted. You have not actually argued that it is logical to believe in God. That there are potential benefits to a belief has nothing to do with whether a belief is logical.
You have made no logical arguments for God
It is not logical to believe until you find evidence or a logical argument that reasonably concludes there is a God. Until you do the belief is not logical even if the belief provides potential benefits by hedging your bets.
Problems with Pascal’s Wager:
You are assuming there are only two options
There is no telling how many religions have gone extinct and there are currently around 42,000 distinct religions . In recorded history there have been hundreds, even thousands of God’s. This site lists only some and I counted around 100 gods that begin with the letter ‘A’. Even among devout followers of a single religion there are many versions that contradict each other. There are around 41,000  denominations of Christianity and 73 distinct sects of Islam .
Egypt is now predominantly Muslim but for 3000 years they practiced a polytheistic religion and there are many God’s that are no longer worshipped . This is also true of the Celts  who are now largely Christian and the ancient Greeks . Choose a country, look into their history and you will likely find several Gods.
It is not a choice between belief and disbelief in one single God. If it were even possible to force a belief it would take a great deal of effort to research all the possible options and new religions are invented all the time. Look into Cargo Cults, Scientology and Mormonism.
There are additional requirements for entrance into heaven beyond belief
Core requirements of many versions of Islam are that you must worship Allah and accept Muhammad as a prophet  and Muslims do not accept that Jesus is necessary for salvation. Christians do not Accept Muhammad as a prophet or worship Allah.
According to Christianity you must receive salvation from Jesus. Acts 7:11-12 states, “Jesus is, ‘the stone you builders rejected... Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Jews typically reject Jesus as the Messiah, do not worship Allah and reject Muhammad as a prophet.
Even these three versions of the Abrahamic God are completely incompatible. By practicing one religion you violate the commands of the other risking hell. Since there are so many Gods by accepting one religion you are statistically more likely to anger a God then please one.
You frame religion as costing nothing
Each religion has a specific code of conduct and additional behavior requirements that take a lot of time and energy to learn and practice. The bible is around 1700 pages and is difficult to understand and practice which led to the 41,000 denominations. Many religions have rules that prohibit normal sexual behavior and some, such as Judaism, have detailed dietary restrictions. Muslims often pray five times a day and fast from food and water for the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan.
Religions are a way of life and adopting one religion requires a lot of study and dedication. Joining one religion is very costly and requires a lot of energy and discipline to follow. If this is the single life you have then all this time is wasted.
Why are you convinced that belief is a matter of will?
Even if I agreed with you, how would you suggest that non-theists believe? You have in no way proven that it is possible to force yourself to believe. How would someone with a background of religious indoctrination be able to readopt these beliefs that they have carefully considered and rejected. You are assuming that you can will yourself to believe something but this is counter intuitive and is a claim you will need to prove.
If someone claims to believe without being legitimate how would this please God? Jeremiah 17:10 describes the Abrahamic God, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Are you suggesting that God would be pleased if I pretend to believe in him as a form of insurance? If God is willing to punish me forever because I don’t believe, what would he do if I lied to avoid hell?
Your argument can be used to support many, in fact, an infinite number of religious claims
Your argument supports any religion that commits this sort of blackmail. Agree to do this and you get an infinite reward, refuse and you will be punished forever. An argument that works for an infinite number of possible conclusions is not an argument that can be used to support any conclusion.
Religions all use the same standards of proof
Please correct me if I am wrong but there are no sound logical arguments or evidence for any kind of God. All religions use some version of faith to support their validity so one religion is as good as the next. This is equally true of all extinct religions.
Since religions use the same standard of evidence and contradict each other it is logical to withhold belief until sound logical arguments and evidence are found for one particular religion.
You argue that there are potential benefits to a belief in God, which does not support your resolution. Not only that but there are no such benefits to a belief in the Abrahamic God. It’s not possible to believe on cue and if you could, following one single God would only offend the thousands of other possible Gods.
"Until you (prove God exists) the belief is not logical even if the belief provides potential benefits by hedging your bets."
I don"t think proof of existence is necessary for logical belief. If somebody comes along with a closed box, and offers me a trillion dollars if I can guess what"s in it, I"m guessing. Sure, I don"t actually know what"s in the box. Heck, I don"t even know if there IS anything in the box, or if the guy is good for the wager. But it would be LOGICAL to at least venture a guess, as it costs me essentially nothing to do so, but could potentially reward me with everything.
"Your next paragraph is essentially saying there too many religions for us to accurately choose the right one to worship."
-Unless there were an infinite amount of religions (which there aren"t), then it"s still statistically favorable to pick one and believe, as you are gambling with infinite happiness/pain (heaven/hell).
-This is a common fallacy, to assume that because we can"t prove any religion is true, then they are all equally false. If we are attempting to seek out the "best" religion to believe in, we could significantly narrow the field. Most religions have tenants/claims that are demonstrably false, as they clash with basic scientific laws that we know to be true. Assuming an omniscient God is logical, we can rule out religions that aren"t widely available/known, or those that simply don"t exist yet.
-This "narrowing down" is actually not nearly as difficult as you portrayed, and would likely end with a choice among the major Abrahamic faiths.
"Since there are so many Gods by accepting one religion you are statistically more likely to anger a God then please one."
-You would be angering EVERY God by not believing in any religion. By choosing even a random religion, you have just decreased your chances that you have angered a "God", and will be sent to hell. Ergo, logical.
-As mentioned earlier though, we can disqualify a significant number of religions almost immediately, and by choosing one of the more "reliable" ones, you can significantly increase the probability of success (not going to hell).
"You frame religion as costing nothing"
It has a NET cost of nothing. As you clearly state, being a religious believer entails a certain amount of time and studying, thought nothing to strenuous. The question is, would that time invested take away from something infinitely amazing you would otherwise be doing? Remember, this is a risk-free gamble to avoid eternal suffering, and achieve eternal happiness. Its safe to say the few minutes/hours a day devoted to religion isn"t robbing you of an everyday activity, that rivals heaven/hell.
"Why are you convinced that belief is a matter of will?"
Belief in religions, especially Abrahamic, isn"t so much a deep profound feeling for God, as much as its the following of written guidelines, something almost everyone is capable of. While the "feeling" of belief is certainly a part of it, and something that can"t be contrived, I don"t think a lack of this profound feeling would damn you. A common theme in the Abrahamic faiths, is "God" commanding his subjects to do the best they can, and leave the rest to the infinite mercy of God.
Again, this tact doesn"t need to give you a 100% chance of getting to heaven (assuming you chose the correct religion, and it actually exists). As long as it has ANY chance (which based on scripture, it does), then its logically favorable to take up the wager, and try.
"An argument that works for an infinite number of possible conclusions is not an argument that can be used to support any conclusion."
I don"t see how that follows.
I address your closing statement throughout the body of my response.
You still haven’t made a case for the Abrahamic God. To support Pascal’s Wager you still need to make logical arguments for the specific god or why would we choose one over all the others? You indicate how this might be done but do not demonstrate that one god is better than the next.
For one it does not require any belief, which is the main requirement of your resolution. You essentially admit it would not be rational to believe the stranger. Also it would take you two seconds not a lifetime of dedication and we know that millionaires exist so the scenario is possible.
There are an infinite number of possible religions. The general definition from Merriam Webster for religion is:
1. The belief in a god or in a group of gods
2. An organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
I demonstrated that religions are arbitrarily invented all the time so there are an infinite number of possible religions. With all the advancements in knowledge over the last century why do you assume we would be aware of the correct god? Since they are all arbitrarily invented what makes Jehovah unique?
Suggesting that you can narrow out all other gods is the same as suggesting that you have a great strategy for this debate without using it. If you can eliminate other gods why is Pascal’s Wager necessary or relevant? You are only asserting a particular God but you have not provided any evidence that suggests that the end result would be the Abrahamic Faiths.
Why would you rule out religions that are not widely known or those that don’t exist? Just because something is popular in no way suggests that it is truer and our knowledge has drastically increased over the last hundred years. Your pet God does violate scientific laws which I’ll address later.
Another assumption, are all gods desperately in need our belief to massage their ego? Pretending to believe in one god for no good reason could just as easily anger the majority of possible gods. How do you know so much about the thousands of deities out there, none of them value intellectual honesty? Correctly identifying and accepting the truth is the basis of science and all inquiry and human progress.
It’s not logical to believe in an afterlife which is needed to support your resolution
Its safe to say the few minutes/hours a day devoted to religion isn’t robbing you of an everyday activity, that rivals heaven/hell.
Your time commitment is going up. The Old Testament introduces us to the Abrahamic God and His 613  commandments that govern every aspect of life. You are instructed to spend the majority of your time meditating on the law (Deut. 6:7), give a significant amount of your money to the priesthood (Num. 18: 21), not cross breed cattle (Lev. 19:19) and not to wear garments of wool mixed with linen (Deut. 22:11).
There are around 100 commands about various required animal sacrifices, 25 that cover dietary restrictions and 24 that govern sexual practices. Where are you getting this laid back easy going God that does not require any time? This is completely inconsistent with the revealed control freak.
Belief in religions, especially Abrahamic, isn’t so much a deep profound feeling for God, as much as it’s the following of written guidelines
I thought the changes to my lifestyle would be minimal. Belief is not a feeling or a choice. You’re trying to squirm out of your resolution. Now belief is following a set of commands? Since you did not supply your unique definition initially standard dictionary definitions of belief apply:
1: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing 
2: something believed; especially: a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
3: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence
Since I can’t trust something that doesn’t exist you’re left with definition three and this is clearly what you were referring to in your resolution. If it is logical to believe than it needs to be possible. Belief without evidence is not a choice.
As long as it has ANY chance (which based on scripture, it does), then its logically favorable to take up the wager, and try.
No you’re advocating intellectual dishonesty that would somehow please an omniscient God. Wishful thinking has consequences. You are essentially arguing that the truth is not important but every area of advancement in the modern era has been due to accepting the facts we learn about reality not pretending.
-His miracles violate scientific laws
We are introduced to the Abrahamic God in the Old Testament, which makes several miracle claims that violate the laws of science. For 40 years God fed the wandering Israelites with bread that fell from heaven, see Exodus 16. Around 5,000 years ago in Genesis 6 God floods the entire earth without leaving geological evidence.
In Joshua 10 Joshua commands the Sun to stand still and it does for around a full day. God creates the universe and all of life in 7 days in Genesis 1-2 contradicting what we know to be true about evolution.
-He does not grasp basic morality
God condones sexual slavery in Exodus 21:7-11 and general slavery in Leviticus 25:44-46. Exodus 21:20-21 says that you are allowed to beat your slave as long as he does not die within a couple days.
The death penalty was commanded for minor offenses: anyone who worked on Saturday (Exodus 31:15), worshiped another god (Deuteronomy 17:1-5) or ‘cursed’ his or her parents (Exodus 21:17). The Old Testament condones genocide on multiple occasions. In First Samuel 15:3 God commands the Israelites to kill the Amalekites making sure also to kill the children and infants.
Not only is God ignorant of basic morality but also why should I pick the evil untrustworthy God?
-He created a hell when there are more humane options
For an all-powerful creator there are better options: completely destroy sinners avoiding suffering, create a world where sin and punishment are not necessary or punish sinners individually based on what they deserve etc.
His choice is unnecessarily cruel or incompetent and is inconsistent with his supposed concern for mankind.
-He is completely incompetent with a series of failed schemes to help mankind
God creates man. Man immediately sins and God kicks them out of the paradise Garden of Eden. Mankind quickly becomes so evil that God just decides to kill all of mankind except Noah and his family in Genesis 6. 150 years later God is concerned that mankind is challenging his authority so he decides to mix up their languages so they can no longer talk to each other (Genesis 11).
Next God decides to make a covenant with a chosen people who are promptly enslaved by Egypt (Ex 1). God frees the Jews from slavery after a series of miraculous signs and supernatural plagues. Moses leaves for a few weeks and they immediately start worshipping a golden calf so God commanded the Levites (priesthood) to slaughter several thousand Jews.
The Old Testament continues like this with every other generation rebelling and receiving God’s wrath until they are conquered and enslaved. How are these the plausible plans of an omniscient, all knowing omnibenevolent God?
I can't really win regardless. I structured my initial resolution from a place that's nearly indefensible, and although I could score points by picking holes in my opponent's criticisms, the whole debate is somewhat depressing considering I don't technically agree with my own position.
2D was a great, both in terms of logic and civility, and should get the votes. I'd like to continue this type of debate some other time, but now is simply not the time.
Ok, no harm no foul. Now I have a personal version of Pascal's Wager objections that I can use. If you're interested in general God arguments here is a link to a decent counter apologetics Wiki: http://wiki.ironchariots.org...
At the bottom of the page is a list to the common arguments for a god. These are linked to an argument summary and common objections.
Thanks for the debate!
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