The Instigator
TruthHurts
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
Truth_seeker
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Pascal's Wager is not a convincing reason to believe in the Judeo-Christian God.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
TruthHurts
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/14/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 667 times Debate No: 58954
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)

 

TruthHurts

Pro

I will be arguing that Pascal's Wager is not a convincing reason to believe in the Judeo-Christian God. I will be discussing the calculus involved with the wager, characterizations of the Judeo-Christian God, and results of belief based upon the wager.

Pascal's Wager, for this round, shall be characterized as the argument that because belief in God holds infinitely good consequences (i.e. Heaven), and disbelief has very bad consequences (i.e. Hell), you should believe in God.

The Judeo-Christian God shall be defined as the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent creator of the Universe, as characterized in the Bible. (Note that I am defining characteristics of God, not caveating his existence).

Rules:

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Constructive arguments (no rebuttals)
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Concluding statement (no new arguments; only new material allowed is reponses to new arguments from Round 3).

Debate Round No. 1
TruthHurts

Pro

Thank you. I shall give five arguments with demonstrating that Pascal's Wager is not convincing. Two shall deal with possibilities outside the scope of a Judeo-Christian God, while three shall be concerned with the Judeo-Christian God himself.

I. There is no evidence that God exists.

Pascal's Wager assumes that belief in a God and disbelief are similar entities with similar probabilities. However, this is clearly not the case. The probability that God does not exist far outweighs the probability that a god does exist, thus completely changing the calculus involved with the wager.

Note that no (read: no) evidence has cropped up that God exists. Science is inching closer, every day, to finding the explanation for the origin of the universe, including a recent proof that the Universe could have been self-creating [1]. Famous scientist Stephen Hawking has reaffirmed this view [2].

This means that the side of Pascal's Wager dealing with the existence of God is cognitively meaningless, because we have no reason to believe that such a possibility could reasonably occur.

I will expound upon this further, in later argumentation, if required.

Half of the wager is not philosophically serious.

II. The Judeo-Christian God is (probabilistically) the wrong one.

Humankind has, throughout its history, invented thousands, if not millions, of gods. In fact, in Haiti alone, there are over 10,000 deities [3]. This means that, if every god has the same probability of existence (and we see no reason to the contrary), then the probability that the Judeo-Christian one is incorrect is incredibly high.

What is important to note about this is that many of the gods mankind has created, including the deities of Hinduism and Buddhism, among hundreds of others, do not care if you believe in them or not [4]. Rather, your prospects after you die depend on your acts, or even random chance. Calvinism believes in the contrary, as it preaches that salvation is predetermined. Thus, if you were not among the Elect, it would not matter if you believed or not. The point is that disbelief, even if a god exists, is probabilistically the preferable option.

The Wager probably will lead you to the wrong God.

III. The Judeo-Christian God's possible characterizations show disbelief to be preferable.

God, in the Bible, has two main configurations. The first is a wrathful one, while the second is a kind, merciful one. Disbelief is preferable in both accounts, on the main.

The wrathful God is seen in spades through the Old Testament. Through genocides in Numbers 31, Joshua, and Chronicles, condoning slavery in Exodus, and stoning of non-virgins in Exodus 18, this God is one that seeks to eliminate those who act against his will. Note that this does not preclude those who do believe in him (as witnessed by the stoning of non-virgins example). This God, according to Colossians 3 and Galatians 5, will destroy those who partake in lust, for example. Note that, in Matthew 5, Jesus defines lust as even looking at a woman with desire. God will destroy anyone (which means everyone) who partakes in this.

The point is that, even if you believe in the wrathful God, he will likely damn you for insignificant sins you have not repented for, including those thoughts that occur in men somewhere close to even 7 seconds. In fact, in Romans 3, Paul states that everyone sins, and in Romans 6, he declares that all sins are sufficient grounds for eternal punishment. That means everyone is doomed anyway. Wasting effort in belief is in vane.

The kind, merciful God is exhibited later in the Old Testament, and in the Gospels. This God is one who acts fairly and justly, and judges those on their merits, per James 2. In fact, it would be incredibly unfair to judge those who could never have learned of a God, through no fault of their own. The perfectly good, merciful God would never do this. Thus, this God would judge you based upon how righteous of a life you have lived, and whether or not you searched meaningfully for the truth. Pascal's Wager does not encourage either of these things, and thus is not sufficient for salvation. Thus, the Wager also fails for the merciful, kind God.

The Wager has not correctly characterized the Judeo-Christian God.

IV. Hell is anathema to an omnibenevolent God.

Pascal's Wager assumes the existence of Hell. This is problematic.

Note that I have defined God as an omnibenevolent being. Indeed, Judeo-Christian tradition seems to dictate that God is a perfectly moral being. The problem of Hell splits two ways: 1) An omnibenevolent, just God would not punish a person eternally for temporal, ephemeral crimes, or 2) Such a God is not, actually, omnibenevolent, and, instead, creates beings, knowing full well that they are doomed to Hell (read: He creates beings solely for punishment). In either of these constructions, disbelief is the preferable option, because no one will be eternally punished in the former scenario, and, in the latter, the Judeo-Christian God as I have defined does not exist. The Wager fails here.

The Wager has failed on a supra-Biblical philosophical level. There may be no stick.

V. Belief fomented by the Wager is fundamentally inauthentic.

Belief spurred by a pragmatic decision based upon confused game theory is not legitimate faith. Note that the Bible, in Hebrews 11, Luke 17, and Romans 10, among other places, caveats that true, legitimate faith, of the sort that merits salvation, is one that is an authentic, whole-hearted embrace of God's will, because the Holy Spirit has spoken to you (perhaps through your own pursuit of truth). If you decide to believe because of odds (effectively betting, which is explicitly forbidden in Exodus), you do not fulfill the requirements of faith in the Bible. This means that, even if you believe, you will not reap the benefits that the Wager supposes you will.

The Wager fails you, yet again, because it does not delineate different forms of belief.

Conclusion

I have shown that there is no reason to give credibility to half of Pascal's Wager (for two reasons), and that belief as a result of the Wager is either excessive, irrelevant, or problematic. This demonstrates that the Wager is not a convincing reason to believe in God, and that, in any case, such belief would be problematic.

I look forward to reading Con's case. Good luck!

Sources

1. https://medium.com...
2. http://www.dailygalaxy.com...
3. http://www.amazon.com...
4. http://www.bbc.co.uk...
*All Biblical citations come from the NIV*
Truth_seeker

Con

1. There is no point in attempting to show that God doesn't exist as Pascal's Wager is focused on why you should believe in God (not for scientific reasons).

It seems like in point 3, you try to show how inconsistent God's character is which is also irrelevant.

If you receive the conviction of the Holy Spirit, there is more reason to believe in God than to reject him. Now you could argue "Well what about Buddhism? Or hinduism? Or all the other religions?" The problem is that not all religions can be treated the same. Not all religions have a concept of heaven and hell nor do they base salvation on faith in beliefs. Some religions don't even believe in salvation, so it's erroneous to compare the Judeo-Christian God with other religions. On top of that, the conviction of the Holy Spirit should be more than enough to tell you that the Judeo-Christian God exists. Now you can argue "Well science hasn't really proven God's existence.." This is because science cannot "prove" everything. For example, do you honestly believe that your love for others is a product of chemicals? If so, where is the evidence for that kind of love? If there's none, it means that we should also doubt the existence of Love right? If we are to doubt the existence of love why love at all?

It's better to trust your intuition and trust in God's revelation of himself because on the other hand, you could go to hell into believing that your smart enough to figure his creation when your not.
Debate Round No. 2
TruthHurts

Pro

Con does not really say anything here, so bear with me, floor. This is going to be difficult.

A few notes:

1) The rules I presented, and Con agreed to, require Round 2 to be solely constructive material, with no rebuttals. Con ignores this, which is grounds for the awarding of the Conduct point to Pro.

2) I will delve more carefully into this, but Con does not really give an argument. His arguments are, literally, A) Trust in God, or B) Your point is irrelevant. I am unsure whether he simply does not understand my points, has not read them, or does not grasp the prompt, but these arguments don't work.

3) Just extend my constructives through here. Hopefully Con will actually rebut my points in the next round, as he was not expected to in this round.

Rebuttal

The best way to go about this is to quote from Con, and respond.

"1. There is no point in attempting to show that God doesn't exist as Pascal's Wager is focused on why you should believe in God."

Firstly, Con's job is to show why the Wager is convincing. But more importantly, this argument was presented to show that Pascal's Wager treats the two options as semi-equals erroneously. If I can show that the probability of a God existing is low, then one half of Pascal's Wager becomes probabilistically untenable. That is the argument.

"3. You try to show how inconsistent God's character is, which is also irrelevant."

The point of this argument is to examine possible characteristics of God, since the Bible is, at best, mixed on the matter. I showed that either configuration discounts the validity of the Wager, since disbelief will likely not harm you in either way. This is far from irrelevant.

"Not all religions have a concept of heaven and hell."

This is true, but many religions, including Islam, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, etc. have concepts that are analogous to Hell, which is determined based on faith and works, like Christianity [1].

"The conviction of the Holy Spirit should be more than enough to tell you that the Judeo-Christian God exists."

Where is this Holy Spirit? Where is the evidence for it? I've never met or heard from this Spirit. Moreover, even if you suppose that this argument has any coherence or veracity, it does not affirm Con's position; it does not prove that the Wager is convincing! In fact, it actually shows that something else, not the Wager, is what does the convincing.

"Do you honestly believe that your love for others is a product of chemicals?"

Yes. Yes I do. Science unequivocally agrees with me [2].

"It's better to trust your intuition and trust in God's revelation of himself because, on the other hand, you could go to hell..."

Two responses:

1) I have never had such an intuition, and 6/7 of the world shares this with me. I have no reason to trust in "God's revelation," which seems quite inadequate and riddled with errors for a supposedly omnipotent being.

2) Congratulations. You have just restated the Wager. Now try to prove that it is convincing.

Sources:

1. http://www.neatorama.com...
2. http://www.youramazingbrain.org...
Truth_seeker

Con

"Firstly, Con's job is to show why the Wager is convincing. But more importantly, this argument was presented to show that Pascal's Wager treats the two options as semi-equals erroneously. If I can show that the probability of a God existing is low, then one half of Pascal's Wager becomes probabilistically untenable. That is the argument. "

Pascal's Wager is focused on the event that you should believe in God vs. disbelief, not whether he exists.

"The point of this argument is to examine possible characteristics of God, since the Bible is, at best, mixed on the matter. I showed that either configuration discounts the validity of the Wager, since disbelief will likely not harm you in either way. This is far from irrelevant. "

Pascal's Wager focuses on faith in God, not his characteristics.

"Where is this Holy Spirit? Where is the evidence for it? I've never met or heard from this Spirit. Moreover, even if you suppose that this argument has any coherence or veracity, it does not affirm Con's position; it does not prove that the Wager is convincing! In fact, it actually shows that something else, not the Wager, is what does the convincing. "

That's why you can't make a valid decision, God must choose you.
Debate Round No. 3
TruthHurts

Pro

Con has lost this round in a spectacular fashion. There are several reasons, prima facie, that this is the case.

1) He has not offered a single argument (read: NOT ONE) as to why Pascal's Wager is convincing. In fact, he claims that something else does the convincing, which is quite amusing and self-defeating.

2) He has simply ignored my arguments 2, 4, and 5, all of which must flow through out of necessity, especially since Con can present no new arguments in his Round 4. This means I win.

3) I get the strong feeling that Con just does not understand either Pascal's Wager, or my arguments. He repeatedly just says things that have no real weight in the round, and ignores the substance of my arguments.

Rebuttals:

" Pascal's Wager is focused on the event that you should believe in God vs. disbelief, not whether he exists."

Several responses:

1) This sentence does not even make the slightest bit of grammatical or syntactical sense.

2) Pascal's Wager is supposed to convince me that I should believe that God exists. Con must show that it is, in fact, convincing.

3) What I demonstrated by showing that God probably does not exist. This means that one half of Pascal's Wager is probabilistically untenable, meaning that Pascal's Wager is not convincing because one of the two alternatives is ludicrous. If I said, "You should believe in unicorns because, if you don't, you will be mauled by their horn, and if you do, you will ride in ethereal happiness on one forever," you would find the option of belief ridiculous, making my logic irrelevant and unconvincing. This is the case with Pascal's Wager, as I have demonstrated, and Con cannot now refute.

"Pascal's Wager focuses on faith in God, not his characteristics."

What I have shown is that, based on what the Bible tells us about God, disbelief in him will not, in and of itself, condemn you to Hell. This means that Pascal's Wager is faulty, and, therefore, not convincing. This really is not that hard.

"That's why you can't make a valid decision, God must choose you."

I'll take that as a concession, as Con literally tells us that Pascal's Wager is not convincing, but, rather, that supposed personal intervention from God is convincing.

Conclusion

I have demonstrated that Pascal's Wager is not convincing through five different arguments, none of which were rebutted effectively (if at all) by Con. In addition, Con has presented literally no arguments supporting the Wager. By default, and by the strength of my arguments, this must be a Pro ballot.

I would like to remind Con that no new arguments may be presented in the last round, and that the only new material can be rebuttals to material in this speech. This means that Con cannot rebut any of my five constructive points, as they came from my first speech, nor can he make any new constructive arguments.
Truth_seeker

Con

I give it to Pro...
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by TruthHurts 2 years ago
TruthHurts
Actually, if you look at my arguments, I have already used the first of your two points. I was waiting to pull out the other for the rebuttals.
Posted by Burncastle 2 years ago
Burncastle
Yeah sorry, I realized right after posting my comment that you might actually use those arguments :/
Posted by TruthHurts 2 years ago
TruthHurts
Don't worry, Burncastle. Got it covered.
Posted by Burncastle 2 years ago
Burncastle
Pascal's wager is quite ridiculous for two reasons:

1) it assumes that you can fool God by pretending that you actually believe in him
2) it can be used for EVERY religion that includes a Hell.
Posted by TruthHurts 2 years ago
TruthHurts
Berend - I would prefer someone who legitimately disagrees with my position to debate me, but if I get no challenger for a few days, I would be happy to debate you.
Posted by Free_Th1nker 2 years ago
Free_Th1nker
This is a fact.
Posted by Berend 2 years ago
Berend
I can always play Devils Ad if you need a challenge.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
TruthHurtsTruth_seekerTied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Con conceded in final round.
Vote Placed by jh1234l 2 years ago
jh1234l
TruthHurtsTruth_seekerTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro had better arguments, as con failed to refute Pro's objections to the pascal's wager, namely the fact that more than one god is possible and probability. Con also drops many arguments.