The Instigator
Poparino
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Magicr
Con (against)
Winning
16 Points

Pascal's Wager Stands to Reason

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Magicr
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/3/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,163 times Debate No: 27753
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (5)

 

Poparino

Pro

Pascal's Wager Stands to Reason

Pascal's Wager stands to say that it is of greater value to believe in God than not to. If one believes in God and is wrong about his beliefs, He loses nothing. Though, if one doesn't believe in God and is wrong about his beliefs, he loses everything; namely God, eternity, heaven, and infinite gain. Pascal is wagering that it is greater to believe in God than it is not to.

If you would like to debate me I'm all for the idea. We'll be discussing topics and arguments that prove one's standing on whether it is better to believe in the existence of God than not to.
Magicr

Con

I accept.

In this debate I will argue that Pascal's Wager (PW) does not justify faith in a God.

The main problem with PW is that it presents a false dichotemy in assuming that there are only two choices, God, or not God.

The reality is that there are thousands of choices, if not more, choices between all of the different gods that have been present throughout history. In fact, the choices are almost infinite when one takes into account the possible deities that could exist, whether they are worshiped or not.

The question does not just apply to the atheist "What happnes if you're wrong?" but to the theist as well. A person of any fatih might be wrong about all of the other religions, thus limiting their access to eternal happiness.

Additionally, what happens if there exists a God who punishes theists and rewards atheists? Because of this possiblity, PW provides no more of an advantage to theists than to atheists.


Debate Round No. 1
Poparino

Pro

Thank you indeed, Magicr for accepting my first debate on debate.org. I will take the BoP as well.

"The reality is that there are thousands of choices, if not more, choices between all of the different gods that have been present throughout history."

Very true statement in saying there are many choices of gods. In retrospect, they are all gods, therefore saying that the beliefs in gods can be summed up in the belief in God. Then fact stands to reason in presupposing the claim that there are only two choices: God, or not God.

All of the different Gods that are presently glorified or acknowledged are in fact, Gods. Those who choose to believe in the existence of the several varying possibilities of the gods (which some, in further detail, can be proved false from different arguments), do in fact, believe in a God. Although, Pascal is specifically discussing the God of Christianity in his context, which I would like to stress.

1. There are hundreds of possibilities of gods.
2. Either people believe one exists, or is non-existent, even if one is undecided on one's stand on a God.
3. Thus, one may either believe in the existence of a God or not.
4. Therefore, there are only two central beliefs in choosing if God exists or not.


"The question does not just apply to the atheist, 'what happen if you're wrong?' but to the theist as well."

You make a great point, Magicr. We all must ask ourselves, ostracizing our personal beliefs to examine our own standing unbiased, "What if I'm wrong?" Nonetheless, the argument may also stand to reason.

Let's suppose Pascal was wrong about believing in the existence of God (specifically his belief in the Christian God). He is dead and living in eternal non-existence. What has he lost? Actually, everything that the atheist does. Eternal hope and happiness are gone, he was wrong. But was it still a good bet? Of course. He puts it this way, "I should be much more afraid of being mistaken and then finding out that Christianity is true than of being mistaken in believing it to be true." If he is right, he wins everything. If he is wrong, he loses everything. In light of that, if the atheist is right, he loses everything. If he is wrong, he loses everything. Would you rather lose by default or have a chance at winning?

If God does not exist, it is needless how you wager, for there is nothing to win after death and nothing to lose after death. On the other hand, if God were to exist, the only possible way to win eternal happiness is to believe, and your only possible way of losing it is refusing to believe (Peter Kreeft on Pascal's Wager). As also put by Kreeft, "Atheism is a terrible bet. It gives you no chance of winning the prize." No matter how you put it, the theist has an invaluably greater chance at eternal life and happiness than the atheist because the theist has a bet with even guarantees and the atheist bets on no guarantees whatsoever.

"Additionally, what happens if there exists a God who punishes theists and rewards atheists? ...."

I've had the opportunity of looking over this question myself. Indeed, what if there existed a God who punished those who believed and loved Him and rewarded those who despised and rejected Him?

1. God is, "that than which a greater cannot be thought."
2. In partiality of being greater than any other, God must be morally perfect.
3. If a morally perfect God existed, God would reward those who believed in His existence because of their goodness towards Him.
4. Therefore, if God existed, He would reward in those who believed in His existence.

Then the possibility of the Christian God punishing Christians would be preposterous. The argument does not include punishing atheists, but it wouldn't make as much logical sense to say that God would reward those who rejected Him. Therefore, the advantage would be for the theist in all aspects of his bet over the bet for the atheist.




Magicr

Con

In the first part of his argument, Pro makes the assumption that it does not matter in which God one believes in order for one to receive eternal happiness. This makes little sense as Christians would be unlikely to receive eternal happiness if Islam were true or vice versa. So although we can say that there are two possibilities, belief or non-belief in a God, one's fate in a possible afterlife would likely depend on a more detailed set of choices than the two-fold dichotomy Pro has presented.

Pro wrote: "Let's suppose Pascal was wrong about believing in the existence of God (specifically his belief in the Christian God). He is dead and living in eternal non-existence."

This statement continues to assume this false dichotomy. We must not only consider what happens if Pascal is wrong regarding his belief in a deity, but also what happens if he is wrong concerning Judaism or Islam or Pastafarianism. In the case the one of these religions were to be true, it is possible that Pascal has lost everything and is suffering eternally.

Regarding my argument about a God rewarding atheists and punishing theists, Pro argues that the Christian God would not do this. I am not referring to the Christian God in this case, but rather some other possible God, a God who does not have the same perfect morality as the Christian God, therefore his logic fails.

This possibility of such a God also addresses the chunk of Pro's argument in which he claimed that atheists have nothing to gain whether they are right or wrong, but theists have everything to gain if they are right and nothing to lose if they are wrong. The chances of a theist choosing the right God out of near infinite possibilities are next to nothing. When we take into account the possibility of a theist punishing God, the chances of a theist receiving a reward in the afterlife are equal to the chances of an atheist receiving such a reward.
Debate Round No. 2
Poparino

Pro

Once again, thank you Magicr for replying to my argument.

Believing in the Christian God Opposed to The Several Others

Con makes a logical point in saying that a Christian wouldn't receive eternal happiness if Islam were true or vice versa. If the Islamic God existed, which is refutable due to several facts that contradict the definition of God and within the Qur'an, Christians would be forever lost without hope. So would atheists as well. This is precisely why PW stands to reason, which is key in my argument. No matter what, atheists lose. Christians on the other hand, whom most theists belong to, still have a shot at winning the prize of eternal hope.
Christians make a number of good arguments for there existing a God, specifically the Christian God, within philosophy and physical evidence regarding the Bible. If you haven't found any, you haven't searched hard enough. Then even if Pascal was wrong regarding his belief in his God, or any other God as Con rightly previously mentioned, he still had a chance within his uncertainty. Atheists have no chance in their uncertainty according to every possible, logical God. Pascal simply argued that it is of greater value to believe in God, once again the Christian God, than not to.
Con also makes another point in reaffirming his stand in saying that he was not referring to the Christian God in the case of a God rewarding atheists and punishing theists.

1. In what case has a belief in a God punished those who've believed?
2. It is also possible that the Christian God rewards theists.

Though it seems possible that a God would punish His believers and reward his rejectors, there isn't a case of this in any religion. If there did exist one, nobody would have a reason to believe it. There is no logical evidence for the existence of such a God, therefore we have no reason to believe it to be true. And if an atheist did believe in such a God, he would be no atheist. Also, grant it were possible, there also exists the discussed possibility. As of now, they remain possibilities, making every possibility obviously possible. Therefore, the possibility that the Christian God exists and rewards theists still remains a possibility in the case that Con makes. There still exists the possibility that the Christian will receive eternal hope, yet also the possibility that the Christian will receive eternal suffering. The possibility, grant it that it is even possible for a God to reward atheists, exists in the minor that an atheist would receive eternal hope and life, yet a greater possibility in there existing no God that there be no hope and eternal suffering if said atheist was wrong.

The stand that it is greater to believe in God remains. The Christian has a greater logical possibility that God exists and would receive eternal life, and the possibility that they are wrong and also lose everything. The atheist has an awkward, illogical possibility that a God who rewards atheists exists, and would receive eternal life, yet a quite possible chance that either way the Christian God or any other God exists in which case the atheist loses everything. Vote PRO
Magicr

Con

As Pro stated in R1, "Pascal's Wager stands to say that it is of greater value to believe in God than not to. If one believes in God and is wrong about his beliefs, He loses nothing. Though, if one doesn't believe in God and is wrong about his beliefs, he loses everything; namely God, eternity, heaven, and infinite gain. Pascal is wagering that it is greater to believe in God than it is not to."
PW makes no claims about the nature of a possible God.

Yet, Pro goes through his final round by stepping outside of the topicality of PW as he tries to claim Christianities superiority over Islam or other religions. PW does not make any claims about one religion over another, therefore I am under no obligation to refute arguments of this sort. Not only does he go outside of the topic at hand, but his argument has multiple flaws.

First, he argues that the Qu'ran's description of God contradicts the definition of God. Pro mentions no specifics regarding this claim and in then raises questions about a definition of God without saying what this definition is.

Next, Pro says that "Christians make a number of good arguments for there existing a God, specifically, the Christian God." Once again he mentions no specific arguments and has gone outside the realm of the reasoning of PW.

These unproved and untopical premises serves as the bases for his argument that Christians have better odds at "winning the prize of eternal hope," than atheists. Because of their unsound footing, they can be discarded.

Continuing on, Pro raises the following point: "In what case has a belief in a God punished those who've believed." The answer is that there is no evidence for this, but there is also no evidence for a God of a different nature that has been presented in this debate. More importantly, as I have previously said, PW makes no claims about the nature of a possible God, therefore all possibilities should be valued equally when analyzing the soundness of PW.

While Pro has inadequately proved the sound reasoning of PW, I have demonstrated that it does not stand up to reason and offers a completely false dichotomy.

Vote Con!!
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Poparino 4 years ago
Poparino
I just wanted to thank Magicr for my first and a great debate. Although I may regret bringing addendum into my arguments, it's part of the debate process. Thank you
Posted by GorefordMaximillion 4 years ago
GorefordMaximillion
GREAT debate!

I would add:

I one believes in God, and there is a God, it might not "mean" anything at all... in terms of meaning anything to the God or in terms of humans ceasing to exist at death (despite an eternal God). I can believe anything. Belief itself is only that.

Same goes for not believing and there is a God.

If one believes in God, and there is no God (assuming there is no eternity or corresponding afterlife because you can't possibly have one without the other (sarcasm). (No I don't believe in an afterlife, but this is a separate argument))

Let me start that one over :)

If one believes in God, and there is no God, the one has wasted the finite moments of his/her life expressing and acting on this belief.

There are truly a LOT of variables beyond the 4 possible combinations of belief and existence.

Still though... EXCELLENT debate!
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by iamnotwhoiam 4 years ago
iamnotwhoiam
PoparinoMagicrTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: PW=false dichotomy. Debate won.
Vote Placed by GorefordMaximillion 4 years ago
GorefordMaximillion
PoparinoMagicrTied
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Reasons for voting decision: See my comments
Vote Placed by DeFool 4 years ago
DeFool
PoparinoMagicrTied
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pascal's Wager attempts to reduce the odds that any particular god exists to 50/50, with the benefit/loss ratio skewed towards allegiance to a certain deity. As Con successfully points out, the sheer number of gods that have been worshiped, combined with the capricious (and often mad) behavior that they exhibit makes Pascal's Wager a losing gamble - and therefore completely unreasonable. Pro's argument veers far afield in the later rounds, devolving into little more than an unformed rant. Neither side bothered with sourcing, which was fine - this was a thought exercise, and sources would have created a distraction for me. I found Con's language to be simple and clear, and easy to follow, and awarded him the S&G score as well, even though neither side committed many errors. This was not a fully-formed debate in my view - but a humiliating reminder the Pascal's Wager is a based on a fallacy. (Reductionist and bifurcation )
Vote Placed by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
PoparinoMagicrTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con pointed out the problem with Pascal's wager. Pro equivocated, and was sometimes short on coherence. When PW was challenge, Pro retreated to claiming that _other arguments_, not PW, provide the actual reasons we should believe in god. Persuasion: Con.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 4 years ago
Maikuru
PoparinoMagicrTied
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Reasons for voting decision: If the existence of any and all possible gods are considered equal, which the presented version of PW holds, and the gifts, views, and whims of such gods are necessarily unknowable, no one position can be considered superior. Pro claims that belief in any one such god still gives better odds of salvation than non-belief, but does not adequately refute the possibility of a belief-punishing god. The fact that no such gods were presented is irrelevant, as Pro already conceded that an infinite number of possible gods may exist.