The Instigator
byaka2013
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
DNehlsen
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Pascal's Wager is Flawed

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
DNehlsen
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/8/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 404 times Debate No: 103472
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)

 

byaka2013

Pro

Resolution:
ON BALANCE, PASCAL'S WAGER IS A FLAWED ARGUMENT FOR GOD


This debate discusses the topic of the Pascal's Wager. Pro argues it is flawed, while con argues it is valid.

Burden of Proof
BOP is shared. Pro shows it is flawed, Con shows it is not flawed and is thus valid.

Structure
Round 1- Acceptance
Round 2- Opening Arguments
Round 3- Rebutalls/ More Arguments
Round 4- Rebutalls/ Closing Arguments

Syllogistical Format
If you believe in God and are right, you are rewarded with eternal joy. If you are wrong, you lose/gain nothing. If you don't believe and you're right, you gain/lose nothing. But if you are wrong, you lose everything. So it seems you're better off believing in God, eh?

https://www.youtube.com...

Thank you to anyone who accepts, and good luck.



DNehlsen

Con

I accept this debate, and look forward to a positive discussion.
Debate Round No. 1
byaka2013

Pro

My opening argument will list the fallacies the Wager commits.

False Dichotomy
Pascal's Wager necessarily completely ignores all other mutually exclusive religions. If the number of gods is the main deciding factor of the argument, wouldn't Hinduism or any other polytheistic religion be the safer bet? The existence of those gods is not necessarily mutually inclusive.

Black and White
Pascal's Wager assumes there is either a very specific God (the nature of which changes from person to person), or nothing at all. What if there is no God, but some universal force (different from God) punishes us. What if there is a God but everyone gets into Heaven? There are more than 2 possibilities here.

Ignores Specifics
The argument thus also ignores all religious sub sects, such as Catholicism, Lutheranism, etc.

Inquiry
What if you choose the wrong sub sect of the right religion. There are literally tens of thousands of branches of Christianity. Here are the major ones.


Claims Belief Costs Nothing
This is not true, especially when considering the wide amount of theistic possibilities. Most religions or sometimes aggressively encourage frequent prayer, donations, abstaining from alcohol, and more. Clearly, it costs you lots of time in your life.

Assumptions on Belief
Pascal's Wager assumes people can choose what they believe- not true. To varying degrees, either something makes sense to you, or it doesn't. You cannot choose. One can even pretend, but you will never 100% wholly believe it.

Fooling Omniscience
God is described as being omniscience. This means he knows all- past, present, future. So even if someone takes the safe bet and 'chooses to believe', they're not really believing. This means that, in effect, the individual is lying to their deity. One would think an omniscient God would surely know that.

As you can see, the wager is completely and utterly flawed.

DNehlsen

Con

I find comments need be said on my part, as the Wager itself is sufficient to speak for itself. Because of this, I will respond to my opponents remarks as a means of defense.

1) Your first two points really just boil down to "There are more than 2 possibilities here." Which you wrote conclusively. This, however, is untrue to a certain degree. Every religion and every worldview makes a claim to truth. Truth, by definition, is exclusive. Therefore, every religion makes a claim to exclusivity. Despite this, there is no fallacy as I will explain.

a) The world is filled with different types of religions with all of their ideas. We can exclude most 'gods' from this discussion right now on the basis that they were created. Created Gods, I believe everyone agrees, are absolutely and indisputably false - because we know they were created. This rules out things such as Ancient Mythology and Mormonism.

b) Vedic religions are both unfounded and Eastern. We know that these religions were both created and manifested by men alone with no claims to divinity. Because of this, their word is just as good as any mans and they have no position to be making such drastic claims. Therefore, we can also rule out Vedic religions (Hinduism, Taoism, etc.) from the discussion.

c) I could go on explaining different types of religions, but Abrahamic is the last primary category that I want to focus on. Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) are all unique among other religions in that they have a claim of divine inspiration. The Bible is the only book which claims to be authored exclusively by God, although through the agent of men. This gives these religions a unique position unlike most other religions. Judaism is in reality incomplete Christianity, but they worship the same God. Messianic Jews which accept the full biblical cannon, including the New Testament, are more and more common. Because of this, I would consider Judaism (a religion exclusively for Jews by the way) and Christianity to worship the same God. Yahweh. Islam is a split from Judaism by a man. The Bible says that it is the final prophecy, and that anything added after it is not from God. Muhammad came over a hundred years after this declaration. Because of their distinctions, only one of these two religions could be true - they conflict in too many areas. Islam, as stated before, comes from Judaism, so it doesn't have the advantage of seniority over Christianity and Judaism. For these reasons, along with others that will be discussed later, I also find Islam to be an illegitimate claim to reality.

d) Jesus and the Bible are unique. No other book was written by over 40 authors over a period of 1,600 years over 3 continents, in 3 different languages, containing over 15 different literary styles, all with 0 contradiction and 1 theme - Christ. No other book has been translated into 2,000 languages, or >90% of the world's primary means of communication. No other book has over 25,000 manuscripts in partial or in whole, some of which date back to approximately 300 B.C.. No other book contains prophecy about the future which has been proven correct time and time again without fail. In regard to Christ, no other person in such distant history has such extravegant records of existence. No other person has had so much hype or recognition amongst the world. No other person has ever impacted the world in the way Christ did. Let's just appreciate the words of Mark 12:31 for a moment: "Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my word will stand forever!" (Emphasis mine) No other book or person has been more unique, influencial, and important to the history of this world. This is in no way proof of their divinity, or divine inspiration, but it is proof that nothing else can even compare when they make a claim for divinity.

e) In Conclusion: In regards to religion, no other religion even comes close to Christianity. So the options really can be narrowed down to two - God's religion, or not God's religion. God or Man. There really are only two serious possibilities here. Therefore there is no False Dichotomy or Black and White Falacy within this wager.

2) This wager does not ignore the specifics. It simply understands that the specifics are not necessary. Remember what made Christianity unique from my last point? Jesus and the Bible. Therefore, there is no such thing as a denomination in God's eyes. In God's eyes there are those who follow his word and his teachings, and those who don't. What matters is the Bible, nothing else. You may call this a No True Scottsman fallacy, but it's still true. If any sect or denomination is teaching anything not found in the bible, then it is not real Christianity. Christianity - See the word Christ hidden in there? That's the big focus. One thing all Christians agree on is that Christ is the focus, he is the big picture, and he is the means of salvation. If they do not, they not only reject the Christ in Christianity but they also reject the Bible and it's clear teachings. The secondary details are just that - secondary. Every single Protestant Christian believes the same thing about salvation, and anything that isn't salvation is secondary doctrine and thus unimportant in regard to Pascal's Wager which only deals with the issue of salvation.

3) I reccomend you read the book Medicine, Religion, and Health: Where Science and Spirituality Meet by Harlod G. Koenig. This, along with countless other sources, attest to the fact that Christians, as a whole, live happier lives than those who are secular. There are speculated reasons as to why this may be, but one of the big things is Hope. One thing every christian has that an athiest cannot have is hope for the future, for the afterlife, and for a better tomorrow. This is irrelevent though. Pascal's Wager is referring to in the afterlife. If the athiest is right, when you die you cease to exist and forget everything in your life. Because of this, you lose nothing in regard to eternity. Living a good life also gains you nothing in regard to eternity if this were true as well. Therefore, in regard to eternity, there is no falacy or false claim here. You do indeed lose nothing from being wrong as a Christian.

4) I'm going to ignore the fact that your point 'Assumptions on Belief' is completely wrong. We know it's wrong because if anyone lies to themself long enough they begin to beleive it. This is such a well founded believe that secularists usually claim religious folk do just that - lie to themselves until they believe it. I do agree with you though, in that true salvation would only come from true belief. Pascal's Wager isn't referring to a fake or pretend faith, it's talking about a commited faith as though you believed it to be true. Pascal's Wager is simply another means of justification of faith - something you can look at and say "Yep, that's true...in fact it's so true that I'm willing to commit my life to this idea, since the alternative is far more risky than what I'm doing right now."

5) Your point 'Fooling Omniscience' statement is only an issue if the faith you have is indeed a fake. As stated before, Pascals Wager is not calling us to a fake faith, it's simply telling us we need to make a decision, and one decision is a hell of a lot less risky than the other. (pun intended)

In conclusion, my opponent has provided no real evidence as to why Pascal's Wager is insufficient or in any way flawed. The wager simply puts a new perspective on the eternal choices we make in our transient lives. I look forward to seeing my opponents response, as perhaps we will be able to reach some sort of conclusion with the provided information in mind. Towards the spectator, thank you for bearing with me thus far.
Debate Round No. 2
byaka2013

Pro

I apologize, but I must deliver this in a rush.

Subset A is flawed. On which grounds is the exception of ancient religions substantiated? Why are they automatically false?
Subset B is not really flawed.

The rest is strange. If the argument works for many mutually exclusive religions, that is already a flaw. The way the Bible is unique does not matter to the legitimacy of the wager, as they are only loosely related.

You discussed other religions but never really thought about no gods but still means of punishment, the point of what I was discussing. Additionally, during the ancient times when people thought Zeus was real, they had the same mentality as near all religions (certainly all Abrahamic ones) today. So if they were wrong, can't you be wrong?

The specifics are quite necessary. Some sects are mutually exclusive and some focus on certain things more so than others.
All christians may accept Christ, but doesn't say much about the wager itself. Again, the wager works for all sects and all religions.

Many atheists including myself want to believe in a heaven or hell, to think there could be something after we die. But we cannot, for, to counteract a later point of yours, we truly cannot force ourself to believe something. Believe me- I've tried.

Although you may lose nothing from being a Christian if God is real in terms of the afterlife (unless it is Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster), you still lose plenty in life. And I would rather not die with those life terms.
Also, if the argument is trying to convince atheists to convert, it won't work because the argument itself near forbids it. I could not truly believe in a God or have true divine faith. So if we make a descision because our chances are better, not because we truly believe, we shall still be punished.

Your points have been interesting, but I believe I may have began rambling.

I sincerely apologize for any grammatical errors or anything like that. I am typing as fast as I can with little time left. Next round, I may be able to offer a more substantive response.

Thank you.
DNehlsen

Con

I'll take your position of time into account as I respond to your countpoints, giving you the benefit of the doubt whenever applicable or neccesary.

You claim subset A is flawed, but you then proceed to ignore the points I presented within that point. Perhaps an expansion of what I was getting at will help. I had said we can rule out any God's we know that were created. I say this because they were man-made. It wasn't that God came to man proclaiming his existence, it was a man proclaiming a God's existence. This is very different from Abrahamic religions which claim that God is the ultimate authority of what they say, and it is not their own message.

You say subset B is not flawed, but it follows the same logic that subset A does. Just like Vedic religions, we know ancient mythologies were both created by the men to explain things they didn't understand, and, just as the name implies, mythology in nature.

You claim many other mutually exclusive religions can borrow from my argument, but I do not believe this to be true. I understand that you may not have had time to create an example, but this also does bring void to your point. In my original argument I wrote the phrase "No other (Book/Person" 8 times, each having mulitple points within each use of the phrase. No other religion can claim what I just claimed, thus the phrase "No other..."

The whole point of Christianity is Salvation from our alleged sin problem. Therefore, the only doctrine of primary important is Soteriology - The Study, or Theology, of Salvation. If, as I stated, they all make the same general claims as to Salvation, then the basic don't really matter. The purpose of the wager is not to define what specific doctrines of sects you follow, it is to bring you to the umbrella that is Christianity itself.

"Many atheists including myself want to believe in a heaven or hell, to think there could be something after we die. But we cannot, for, to counteract a later point of yours, we truly cannot force ourself to believe something."
Believe it or not, we all have the same evidence. We have the same evidence for God, for his Creation, for the accounts of Scripture, for the age of the Earth, and for its' history. Unfortunately, this evidence can be read in many different ways. Did you know Christianity isn't a blind faith? It actually makes complete sense in today's modern scientific world. There is absolutely no conflict between the Bible and the World. The only thing that is different is where we start. If we start from the worldview of the Bible, everything fits perfectly and makes sense. I'm leading into a topic for another debate altogether, but this is important to understand. You don't force yourself to believe something that is completely illogical, (That I agree is hard, if not impossible) you have to choose to look at our world and evidences a certain way.

"Although you may lose nothing from being a Christian if God is real in terms of the afterlife (unless it is Allah or the Flying Spaghetti Monster), you still lose plenty in life. And I would rather not die with those life terms."
To this I'll simply ask - What's more important? Eternity or Transient? To me, I feel like I'd rather be safe Eternally (even safe from possibly nothing) than be safe Transiently. (with the possibility of eternity coming back to bite me still on the table)

"I could not truly believe in a God or have true divine faith. So if we make a descision because our chances are better, not because we truly believe, we shall still be punished."
As stated before, this isn't a call to blind faith, it's a call to change your perspective. As I surrendered before, I agree that you can't force yourself to believe something totally illogical, but that's not what this wager, or Christianity for that matter, is calling you to do.

Thank you for taking the time, as valuable and scarce as it seems to be at the moment, to further address this debate topic. I sincerely hope you'll be able to respond again, to which I look forward with anticipation.
Debate Round No. 3
byaka2013

Pro

Here are the main points:

Claims Belief Costs Nothing
This is not true, especially when considering the wide amount of theistic possibilities. Most religions or sometimes aggressively encourage frequent prayer, donations, abstaining from alcohol, and more. Clearly, it costs you lots of time in your life.

Assumptions on Belief
Pascal's Wager assumes people can choose what they believe- not true. To varying degrees, either something makes sense to you, or it doesn't. You cannot choose. One can even pretend, but you will never 100% wholly believe it.

Fooling Omniscience
God is described as being omniscience. This means he knows all- past, present, future. So even if someone takes the safe bet and 'chooses to believe', they're not really believing. This means that, in effect, the individual is lying to their deity. One would think an omniscient God would surely know that.

Allow me to work backwards. I must rephrase fooling. This argument is built to fail based on its own principles. If we accept the resolution, and an atheist is 'converted', they still likely won't believe, as there's no evidence. Even if they truly did, an omnipresent, omniscient God would surely know that your only reason of 'belief' was of better chances. That is not the requirement for heaven. True faith and true belief, however, is.

We CANNOT choose what our beliefs are. Go ahead, choose to believe that you are a dog or Queen Elizabeth or that you are on Mars right now. It"s impossible. Sure, you can pretend, but that"s not the same thing (lost the source link- deduct points as necessary).

My first point, a refutation of the absurd claim that belief costs nothing has only barely been discussed. But it is still very present and valid.

You did mention eternity and how nobody loses anything there. Not only is that slightly irrelevant, but it is just wrong. As far as eternity goes, nobody loses anything. But in life, the religious individual is the one that loses.

As you can see, we have had an intelligent debate and discussion. But I believe the winner should be clear.

Please vote pro.

Thank you.
DNehlsen

Con

My Opponents point: "Belief Costs You!" (Further on it is claimed I did not answer this point.)
The Bible says that believing in Christ will cost you, I've already agreed with this point. That cost, however, is miniscule at best when you put the potential of eternity into the equation. This has already been stated but ignored by my opponent.

My Opponents point: Pascal's Wager assumes people can choose what they believe.
This simply isn't true. I've already addressed this point in the last round, but my opponent has effectively ignored my comments made on the subject.

My Opponents point: God is omniscient therefore you can't fool him.
No duh - the point isn't to fool God. This, again, was already addressed in my last point but ignored by my opponent. The goal is to change your perspective of the evidence that we have to see God in it. Pascal's Wager isn't calling us to have blind faith nor is it calling us to pretend to.

My Opponents point: An athiest won't believe because there is no evidence.
Well this is simply untrue. We all have the same evidence - it's only our interpretation of said evidence that is different. There is absolutely no contradiction between the Bible and Science, so the evidence matches up with Christianity. Therefore, the athiest should have no issue changing his point of view, as it is a logical faith in the biblical account of history.

My Opponents point: Try to pretend you're something else - you can't.
From whence then, does transgeneder, transracial, transabled, and transspecies come from? There are plenty of these people living in the delusion that they are someone that they're not. Regardless, that's not what the Wager is about. I'm simply refuting this comment because it is stupid.

My Opponents point: "You did mention eternity and how nobody loses anything there. Not only is that slightly irrelevant, but it is just wrong. As far as eternity goes, nobody loses anything. But in life, the religious individual is the one that loses."
There is so much wrong with this statement. I made the point that it is far better to have assurance in eternity, (which is eternal by the way!) than it is to have assurance in the transient. (which isn't eternal...) How much more are you risking by putting your faith in what will end than what could possibly never end? Therefore, that statement is by no means irrelevent, so don't try to pretend it is. The Bible says that the sinner loses everything - he loses comfort, God, heaven, his inheritence as a human - everything! So you can't say nobody loses anything either. (To the audience: Please note how my opponent presupposed his own position to make that claim.) In this life, the religious can lose...but if God is real then the Bible says the Christian has him by his side. The Bible says the christian has the love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (among other qualities) of Gods spirit. What's better than that in this life? Therefore, to say the religious man loses in life is to presuppose your own point. If the Christian is right, he wins in life and in death. If the athiest is right he wins in life but loses in death. Please be careful with your pick.

In Conclusion, my opponent has effectively ignored all of my arguments, restated the same arguments I've already answered, and then proclaimed "The winner should be clear" as if he had pulled some extraordinary zinger on me. No such zinger has been made. I was hoping for some substance from the final round but I feel as though none has been presented.

Despite the apparent anticlimax of this debate, it was enjoyable, civil, and productive for all parties. I appreciate the opportunity to have this discussion with my opponent. With this in mind, I would like to extend an invitation for a follow-up discussion on the same or another topic regarding Christianity with my opponent, or any observer who feels as though they have more to add.
Thank You.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by DNehlsen 8 months ago
DNehlsen
It seems that I forgot about sourcing as a whole for this discussion. Interesting observation - Thank You
Posted by LostintheEcho1498 8 months ago
LostintheEcho1498
Overall in the category, I give it to Con. Con makes the point the point of transient vs. eternal which Pro ignores and only repeats himself. The point Con makes is valid in this case and is in less need of sourcing than of a response as it was opinion. 4. Assumptions of belief: The whole of this argument begged, pleaded, and implored for sources and yet was denied. No point to either side for a blatant lack of anything truly factual. 5. Fooling Omniscience: This was a direct attempt at a philosophical direction for the debate, which would require sources,facts, or some level of real substantiated claim. Semantics will not win my vote. Tie in this category. This wins Con the vote for argument 0-2. Both of you need to work on taking firmer stances, including sources, and using real facts not whatever you happen to think of or remember hearing one time from some dude. Research, cite, get points. Don't get me wrong, your opinion and arguments are important, but they mean nothing to me or anyone else if they aren't affirmed by sources of some kind.
Posted by LostintheEcho1498 8 months ago
LostintheEcho1498
RFD on this is pretty much impossible. To start, no one used any kind of credible sourcing. The Bible does not count as a source when it is a central topic of the debate, as such you cannot use it in this setting and maintain credibility. Since we have no facts, no sourcing, that makes 99% of this debate semantics. No one has definitively proven anything in this debate. Literally, there is nothing proven here. Ignoring this and attempting to grade based only on persuasiveness, I will grade based on the given sub-categories. 1. False Dichotomy: Pro leads, Con attempts a rebuttal. Pro asks 'why are they automatically false' and Con responds with no new content, facts, or sources. Con claims to know which religions are man-made and which are not, but since Pro fails to challenge this position I give this category to Con. 'Subset B is not really flawed.' This is a wholly wasted statement Pro. Never again do I want to see 'not really' 'kinda sorta' 'possibly' 'mostly' 'generally' or any other word/grouping of words that makes no real point. That applies to both of you. Next, 2. Black and White/Specifics(these are close enough to clump together): this goes to neither. It was equally argued and both sides equally failed to substantiate any claims they made. Both sides simply assumed the voter would agree with their side and made no attempt to gain any kind of validation to their points. 3. Cost of Belief: Here we get the only reference even close to a valid source from Con when mentioning, not even quoting or linking, but mentioning a book that supported his position. For this alone I'm tempted to give Con the category. Unfortunately for Con, he claims his only source is irrelevant and makes the position that as a Christian there is nothing to lose, even from an atheistic standpoint which is exactly what Pro stated earlier was wrong. Both continue to disagree.
Posted by LostintheEcho1498 8 months ago
LostintheEcho1498
'This rules out things such as Ancient Mythology and Mormonism.'
I think you misunderstand Mormonism my friend, lol. The actual name of the Mormon Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, not the Church of Zeus, Joseph Smith, or Mormon.
Posted by byaka2013 8 months ago
byaka2013
@Masterful

Thank you, but I wouldn't goes as far to call Purushadasha 'cancer'
Posted by Masterful 8 months ago
Masterful
Purushadasa is the manifestation of cancer, don't listen to him. he has no substance.

I think that byaka made a good point and should stick to it.

If God is omniscience then you can't pretend to believe in him, as he'd know you're pretending. You can only pretend to support the church, which is exactly what pascals wager attempts to gain.
Posted by Purushadasa 8 months ago
Purushadasa
According to some of the members on this site, BOP is 100% on the Pro side, not shared, so you're at odds with them from the outset: You'll first have to prove to them that BOP is shared, unless those intellectually dishonest knuckleheads were just lying about that because they knew they had no chance of defeating my Pro-God arguments, that is! LOL SMH

Believers in atheist Dogma are natural-born liars. =)
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by LostintheEcho1498 8 months ago
LostintheEcho1498
byaka2013DNehlsenTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments