The Instigator
Spiral
Con (against)
Winning
36 Points
The Contender
Toucan_Sam
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points

Pascal's Wager

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Con Tied Pro
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/23/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,750 times Debate No: 3349
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (14)

 

Spiral

Con

Pascal's Wager ~That it is a better to believe that God exists than not to believe, because the expected value of believing is always greater than the expected value of not believing.

In essence, atheists may as well believe in case they are wrong, and if they are right, no harm done.

This is an argument still used by theists today, I'm hoping one will pick up this debate and run with it, unless someone wishes to play Devil's Advocate :)
Toucan_Sam

Pro

Really neither of us can make any head way on this topic because it relies on us to prove if god exists (for the benifit of either side).
Debate Round No. 1
Spiral

Con

It does not so much on rely on proving the existence of god, so much as the chance he exists is a valid reason for belief.

I will just make 3 quick points as to why this stance should not be taken.

1.Pascal has to make a fundamental assumption: that the a priori probabilities of God's existence or inexistence are the same, 50-50. Well, but if the probability of winning the lotto were indeed 50%, you would be a fool not to plan your retirement on it. The reason you do not is exactly because you know that while the reward may be very high, the likelihood of actually getting it is incredibly small.

2.Faith on the basis of "I may as well" is not true faith, and as such punishable the same as non belief

3.There are countless gods to pick from. One cannot be sure they correctly choose the right god to 'believe'.
Toucan_Sam

Pro

All those statements though rely on Gods supposed existence. A 50/50 chance relies even on the possibility that god exists. Therefore until we prove god exists or a higher power it is impossible to assume that Pascal Wager is a true.

Really its kind of hard to run with this. Now if Pascal had proved Gods existence (which was his goal before he died) we might be able to have a clearer answer.
Debate Round No. 2
Spiral

Con

Firstly I guess, thank you for conceding your position. I was however hoping for a more lively discourse.

Belief and faith cannot exist with the absolute knowledge of god, which is why it is called a wager. One does not need to prove the existence of god to defend the wager. Arguing against the existence certainly helps though (lowering the odds). The very fact you concede the difficulty in proving gods' existence only strengthens my own argument; that the wager is unacceptable. The odds are not at all favourable.

How the wager works:
a) If God exists, then whoever does not believe in him, will end up being eternally tormented or at least annihilated.
(b) If God exists, then whoever believes in him will gain eternal life in Heaven.
(c) If God does not exist, then whether or not people believe in him is irrelevant.
(d) Therefore [from (a)-(c)], atheists are running a severe risk. At the very least, the expected utility of their belief situation is infinitely worse than that of theists.
(e) But such people are able to self-induce theistic belief.
(f) Therefore [from (d) & (e)], all atheists ought to swap their beliefs and become theists.

It is erroneous to assume an individual who chooses to follow, based on Pascal's Wager, can then somehow make the transition to truly believe. Unfortunately, most atheists don't find it possible, nor are they willing to make that leap. Therefore the wager fails. In addition, this hypothetical God may require more than simple belief; the majority of Christians believe that the Christian God requires an element of trust, faith and obedience from his followers. That destroys the assertion that if you believe but are wrong, you lose nothing. Belief is not enough. Therefore the wager fails.

Pascal's wager was as such directed at the Christian god, arguing an individual case against all gods is unfeasible so my arguments are directed to the god in the mind of Pascal.

The Christian God is defined as a personal being who knows all. Christians state, personal beings have free will. In order to have free will, it requires more than one option, each of which is not inevitable. Before you make a choice, therefore, there must be a state of indecision during a period of potential, you cannot know the future. Even if you think you can predict your decision, if you claim to have free will, you must admit the potential to change your mind before the decision is final. An entity who knows everything cannot have a "state of uncertainty." It knows its choices in advance. Therefore it has no potential to avoid its choices, and therefore lacks free will. Since a being that lacks free will is not a personal being, a personal being who knows everything cannot exist. You can object that God, being all powerful, can change his mind. But if he does, then he did not know the future in the first place. If he really knows the future, then the future is fixed and not even God can change it. If he changes his mind anyway, then his knowledge was limited. You can't have it both ways: no being can be omniscient and omnipotent at the same time. If God always acts in accordance with his nature, then he still must have more than one viable option that does not contradict his nature if he is to claim free will. Otherwise, he is a slave to his nature, automaton, and not a free personal agent. No objection can save the Christian God. Perhaps a modest deity can be fantasised, one that is not both personal and all-knowing, both all-knowing and all-powerful, both perfect and free. But until a god is defined coherently, and then proven to exist with evidence and sound reasoning, it is sensible not to think that such a being exists.

Therefore, the Christian God does not exist.

William of Occam formulated a principle which has become known as Occam's Razor. In its original form, it said "Do not multiply entities unnecessarily." That is, if you can explain something without supposing the existence of some entity, then do so. Nowadays when people refer to Occam's Razor, they often express it more generally, for example as "Take the simplest solution." or "The simplest answer is often correct." The non existence of god is by far the simpler option; god is seen as existing beyond time and space (another debate, another time maybe) as incomprehensible to the human mind, therefore any solution that we can comprehend is a simpler one.

The wager is not as simple as Pascal proposed, the odds are low, and the nature of god itself, as defined by its one source, is contradictory. Perhaps the most damning, is acceptance of the wager itself, is no guarantee of the rewards offered, even if we assume the premise of God as true.
Toucan_Sam

Pro

Toucan_Sam forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by DarkLogic 4 years ago
DarkLogic
Everything depends on the definition of God. If God is the Immortality of the Intelligence in the Universe (the know-how of the ILFs could be preserved) in General, and the Immortality of the Human Species in particular, the Pascal's Wager is valid as logic.
If we define:
G - God exists (our immortality is achievable)
B - we beleive that our immortality is achievable
The wager becomes:
IF G & B - Infinite Gain: we will become immortal as species and will conquer the Universe
IF ~G & B - Finite Gain: we will extend the existence of our species
IF G & ~B - Infinite Loss: we will lose the option to become immortal and will get extinct
IF ~G & ~B - Finite Loss: we will reduce the existence of our species
So,
If B we have: I-Gain & F-Gain
If ~B: I-Loss & F-Loss
Actually we really don't know whether the option to become immortal as species exists for us as a technical feasibility in the world of physics & biology, and math, etc.
Posted by Paradigm_Lost 9 years ago
Paradigm_Lost
Pascal's Wager also over-simplifies what a relationship with God, in the Judeo-Christian ethic, is supposed to entail.
Posted by Rob1Billion 9 years ago
Rob1Billion
Continued from below...

Technically there hasn't been an infinite amount of time, and since time does not exist outside our universe there is really no way to prove anything, but it is safe to say that the real Pascal's wager should be something like this:

"Since there is no good evidence for any of the supernatural events described by religion, or a lack thereof for that matter, only a fool would purport to have any idea of what is happening at some "deeper" level to the universe, or try to describe heaven or God (or postulate the existence of them or the lack thereof). The only logical approach is an agnostic one, where a person admits their ignorance of the supernatural and accepts that any, all, or none of the world's religions have any idea of what they are talking about. Mutually exclusive supernatural beliefs of any kind (theist or atheist) are totally without evidence and only work to describe the selfishness and ignorance of the individual who tries to apply them."

Call it Rob1Billion's Agnostic Wager :D

- Although I have the nagging feeling that maybe my agnostic belief is mutually exclusive in a way...
Posted by Rob1Billion 9 years ago
Rob1Billion
Persuasion - You are using Pascal's wager in your comment to demonstrate the utility of Christianity, are you not? How exactly does Pascal's wager work for Christianity, and not any other religion? "It is safer to believe in Allah, because if you don't you will be damned". The fact that religions are mutually exclusive is the prime reason for their fallacious nature. I will accept Christians' arguments (or any religions) that are NOT mutually exclusive, and ONLY those of which that are not mutually exclusive. If you have a mutually exclusive religion, you are logically dead in the water right away. Religion is not about "I'm right you're wrong", it is about finding ways to unify our beliefs because no one person, regardless of intelligence, spirituality or wisdom, has any edge over any other in matters of the supernatural. The true believer is the one who believes that we are all on the same common ground. For example, look at intelligent design vs. happenstance or accidental creation. Could there really be one without the other? If there IS another level beyond this one, let's say "heaven" for instance, then there must be a level above that one as well. Maybe heaven/god/christianity is 100% true, but at a higher level I would argue that they were all created by happenstance. Furthermore, an accidental, purely scientific creation of the universe that creates intelligence would logically imply infinite intelligences created through time and space (and other universes for that matter) and at some point the infinite chance for intelligence leads logically to a deity of some sort. Scientifically, given enough time, anything is possible. When I say anything, I mean ANYTHING. Stretching time out infinitely gives you 100% chance for anything in your wildest dreams to come true, and necessarily dictates that everything in your wildest dreams DOES come true.

continued...
Posted by Derek.Gunn 9 years ago
Derek.Gunn
Actually, an atheist deciding to pretend to believe in god (just in case god exists) is surely doomed to fail...

This "fire insurance" would immediately be seen through by any omnicient god. ;-)

Much better the atheist (or anyone else for that matter) would do much better to remain true to their beliefs.
Posted by Tatarize 9 years ago
Tatarize
Unless the chance that God exists is 0, which it is. Then you have atheists living their lives and theists wasting the only life they get on prattlings of goat-sacrificing primitives.
Posted by Persuasion 9 years ago
Persuasion
You all seem to forget that many religions, including Christianity and Islam, are exclusive. You can't just borrow from several different religions and hope you've covered all the bases, because both Christianity and Islam state "there is no God but YHWH/Allah..."

Believing in "...Allah, the Roman Gods, and every possible other (god)..." is thus pointless.

Plus, "Even the demons believe and shudder," so Christian salvation is not just about believing.

However, becoming a true Christian is safer than being an Atheist; that is undeniable.
Posted by Rob1Billion 9 years ago
Rob1Billion
You better believe in Allah, the Roman Gods, and every possible other notion of anything that could exist because if you don't, they just might exist and you will have to pay for it. If you are wrong, of course, no harm done...
Posted by Spiral 9 years ago
Spiral
It is the theists own description of their god. As such it works
Posted by Samacado 9 years ago
Samacado
Oh God... this thing is completley flawed. You can use it to prove just abouit anything...

"Okay, imagine the most perfect thing"
"Alright."
"Now. Is that perfect thing real?"
"No, it is only in my head."
"Therfore it is not perfect and any perfect thing can not exist in reality, so therfore God exists. Haha, all atheists are fools."

Like I said it doesen't work.
14 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by lisaamey 9 years ago
lisaamey
SpiralToucan_SamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by JUDGE 9 years ago
JUDGE
SpiralToucan_SamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by SteamPunk 9 years ago
SteamPunk
SpiralToucan_SamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by paul_tigger 9 years ago
paul_tigger
SpiralToucan_SamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by ghegeman 9 years ago
ghegeman
SpiralToucan_SamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by MaxHayslip 9 years ago
MaxHayslip
SpiralToucan_SamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by liberalconservative 9 years ago
liberalconservative
SpiralToucan_SamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Oolon_Colluphid 9 years ago
Oolon_Colluphid
SpiralToucan_SamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Evan_MacIan 9 years ago
Evan_MacIan
SpiralToucan_SamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by Vi_Veri 9 years ago
Vi_Veri
SpiralToucan_SamTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30