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Pascal's Wager, Climate Change and God

  1. A.Villarasa profile image80
    A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago

    In an essay arguing for the validity of global warming , Tim O'Reilly, (the founder and CEO of O'Reilly media) used Pascal's Wager, an articulation by the 17th century philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal who argued for the existence of God in the face of  the failure of reason and science to provide a definitive answer. O'Reilly wrote "Climate change is a modern version of Pascal's wager. On one side, the worst outcome is that we've built a more robust economy. On the other hand,the worst outcome really is Hell. In short we do better if we believe in climate change and act on that belief, even if we turrn out to be wrong."

    Interesting....that Pascal's wager has been resuscitated, for the purpose of arguing for a theory i.e. global warming,  aka  climate change whose scientific underpinning is  at best unsettled, at worst slowly drowning in its own detritus.

    So what exactly was Pascal wagering on? To quote directly from Pascal's: "You must wager. It is not optional. Which will you choose.You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. if you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He(God) is."

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      Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Awesome.

      1. A.Villarasa profile image80
        A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Pascal's wager as you know was posited in the context of philosophic  and or religious interpretation, but on its own has become a historical game changer in the area of probability theory as well as decision theory. Stripped of its philosophic connotation  it provides a simple and effective way to reason, thus it has become an argument not only for mathematicians, or for the religious, but most importantly for any thinking person.

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          Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

          Yes. I wasn't aware it was used for other arguments.

        2. EncephaloiDead profile image61
          EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          But, shortly after, Pascal's wager was shown to be fallacious by the thinking person, but continued to be embraced by the religious person.

          1. A.Villarasa profile image80
            A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            You are grappling at straws again encephalo. You might want to re-read Pascal's wager and its historical implications. Descartes himself tried to heap the same absolutist disdain for Pascal's Wager, and as far as I could discern, was not too successful.

            1. EncephaloiDead profile image61
              EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              I'm so unhappy about Descartes' attempt. Boo hoo.

              Pascal's wager had historical implications due to opening up probability and decision theory, but the bet itself had all kinds of flaws, the most glaring being the entire bet was based on a false dilemma; Gods existence.

              1. A.Villarasa profile image80
                A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                @Encephalo:
                Pascal himself implied that God's existence could not be proven by reasoning alone or science alone or  by both. So there was never ever a dilemma. What he was specifically proposing was, since humans seems to be the only earthly creature to even think about the possibility that God exist, they must then make a choice ( deciding not to make  a choice IS NOT OPTIONAL)  to either believe  or not believe in His existence... based not on reason or any empiric evidence, but on cost-benefit probability alone. Thus believing in the existence of God is not costly, but the benefit could be infinite; while not believing in God may be costly, because one does not reap those infinite benefits.

                1. wilderness profile image97
                  wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  Unfortunately, Pascal is also implying that people CAN make a choice to believe or not.  Not pay lip service or pretend to believe/not believe, but to actually believe or not. 

                  For most (many?) people that is not an option at all, regardless of Pascal's statement to the contrary.

                  The environmental conundrum has a similar fault; the "damage" of believing in global warming by man is not limited to growing a more robust economy; indeed any actions taken are more likely to hurt the economy and not build it.  In any case, there is zero reason to think that using less energy will help the economy at all.

                2. EncephaloiDead profile image61
                  EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  Sorry, but in order for that bet to be valid, all parties must agree to it. God has yet to agree and considering God is allegedly providing "those infinite benefits", there must be some proof to His acceptance of the deal.

                  1. A.Villarasa profile image80
                    A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    @Encephalo:
                    What  do you think Jesus Christ was saying when he said(paraphrasing): Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed, for they shall have eternal life.
                    And to the "criminal"  on his side who was also crucified in Golgotha when Jesus responded to his plea: "...on this day you will be with me in Paradise"

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      Rad Manposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Your wager isn't done yet. Now you must wager that you have the right religion. There are about 21 major religions and over 3000 different sects.

      1. MelissaBarrett profile image62
        MelissaBarrettposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        And then you have to wager that whatever God (if there's only one) that you don't choose is going to be less angry at you for worshiping one of his/her/their competitors than not worshiping anyone.

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          Rad Manposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          So I wonder if it's possible to pick the least angry or jealous version of God and suddenly have faith in that God?

          In a sense I've majored that none of the Gods presented appear to have the necessary qualities for the job. I would suspect that any real God wouldn't care as long as we are good people. I suspect there will be people who are not being good people by following their version of God and if God does in fact exist will be in of a surprise. If it turns out that there is no God then there will be some who spent their entire lives lying to others because of their disillusion.

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            Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

            Why not just make up your own God? One that does everything the way you would.

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              Rad Manposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              No thanks, I see what that has done for you and the others.

          2. MelissaBarrett profile image62
            MelissaBarrettposted 2 years ago in reply to this

            It seems to be working for me smile

            In all seriousness, I see how we view God as an indication of what kind of person WE are. That goes for what faith we choose as well.

            If we are angry and vengeful, then our God suddenly becomes angry and vengeful. If we are judgmental, then we have a judgmental God. If we think we are so worthless that we need punishing, then we have a punishing God. So on and so forth. I can generally tell a lot about a religious person after their "elevator speech." That's what I see as the "fruits" that everyone keeps talking about.

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              Rad Manposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              Your version of God does seem pretty cool. If I had to chose one, I'd chose yours.

              1. MelissaBarrett profile image62
                MelissaBarrettposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                I know, right?!?!

            2. A.Villarasa profile image80
              A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              @Melissa:

              Hmmmm,  a God  specifically designed for one's own personal proclivity and predisposition... Interesting concept, but one that I would think even Stephen Hawking would disagree. You might have heard or read that S. Hawking does believe in  God, but one that is as impersonal as GRAVITY. I don't think, the way I understand it, that GRAVITY could be tailor-made  since it is one of the CONSTANT forces in nature... one that could not be changed by  one's innate/intimate desires.

              1. MelissaBarrett profile image62
                MelissaBarrettposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                Still not getting it.

                There's a guy on campus. He's very popular because he has it all. We'll call him Bob. 

                Susie likes him because he has a nice butt. Susie isn't real concerned with anything else, because Susie just likes butts. Susie needs l**d.

                Jenny likes him because he visits old people. Jenny values charity and compassion.

                Buddy likes him because he lends him money. Buddy values money and likes people who give it to him.

                Benny likes him because he throws people who disagrees with him in a pit of fire and tortures people who don't worship him in horrible ways. Benny is a psychopath.

                See, you can see the personalities in each person by the reasons they like Bob. Bob is all of those things, but the people who like him admire him for different reasons.

                1. A.Villarasa profile image80
                  A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  @Melissa:
                  Relationships at the human level is generally  simple and uncomplicated so long as there is no dis-harmony( i.e. you like me/I like you). Human's vis-à-vis their relation with the Divine is ALWAYS simple. Human's because of the dictates of their ego, could be the most loathsome of God's creation, but God still loves them all. The only caveat is that humans believe in His existence and His Divine presence in their lives.

                  1. MelissaBarrett profile image62
                    MelissaBarrettposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    Um... OK.

      2. A.Villarasa profile image80
        A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

        @RadMan:
        You are aware, I assume, that Pascal was a Christian, and as such when he formulated his wager, he was not referring to any, generalized/genericized religion and God. He was specifically referring to the Christian God. So your post totally missed the point he was making.
        Pascal in fact anticipated that folks would heap the multiple religions/gods argument against  his wager, and regarded those arguments as rhetorical ploys by folks who have not done any detailed study on whether Christianity is like any other religion and therefore just superficially reflecting and asking these questions just to amuse themselves.

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    Beth37posted 2 years ago

    Only you can't make up your own God. He is who He is. If you make up your own God, you serve a false God. You are serving no one.

    1. wilderness profile image97
      wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Why not?  Everyone else did - why can't I make one up too?

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        Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

        If God is real, He is the God of the Bible. You are welcome to make up your own God. The God of the Bible has given you the ability to do so.

        1. wilderness profile image97
          wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          Most of the world disagrees with you.  What makes your opinion superior to theirs?

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            Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

            If the whole world disagreed with Melissa's family about who she was, would that change who she was? What is the point of God without the Bible? Without the Bible, He could be anything. The Bible is like His DNA.

            1. MelissaBarrett profile image62
              MelissaBarrettposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              LMAO... I'm sure God will be glad to hear that the only "point" he has is your belief in the Bible and that he can be reduced to a few hundred-thousand words.

              God doesn't have to have a point. Now your belief in him, apparently that does have to have a point. You need to have a defined God that's black and white. So you chose to worship a defined God that's black and white.

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                Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

                God is limitless, but He is the same yesterday, today and forever. There is nothing He can't do and no one He can't reach.

                1. MelissaBarrett profile image62
                  MelissaBarrettposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  So then, what makes you think he has confined himself to one book and one definition? Why can't he be the God of every religion?

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                    Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    If He is not who the bible says He is, then He is completely unreliable. Either the Bible is true or it is not. If it were not, you'd have nothing to base your beliefs on.

                2. wilderness profile image97
                  wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  Then the inescapable conclusion, if God can reach everyone but fails to do so, is that God is intentionally and maliciously sending the vast majority to Hell for His own failure.

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                    Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    Who said He failed to? Because everyone does not respond for the positive, you conclude that He failed to reach them?

                3. EncephaloiDead profile image61
                  EncephaloiDeadposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  That contradicts other things you've said about God. It must be very difficult keeping your story straight when so much of it is made up.

            2. wilderness profile image97
              wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              "Most of the world disagrees with you.  What makes your opinion superior to theirs?"

              I didn't ask about Melissa's family or about the whole word.  I asked what made your opinion any better than anyone else's and the answer seems to be because the bible is an integral part of your opinion.  Which is, of course, no answer at all - it's like a small child answering "Because!" and deserves the same respect.  Can you offer some reason your opinion is superior to every other persons's?  Something beyond "Because!"?

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                Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

                Read my response to Melissa.

                1. wilderness profile image97
                  wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  I did.  It was more of the same; opinion stated as facts with nothing to back them except more of the same "Because!" that I hear from my grand daughter.

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                    Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    Im not sure why you've become insulting, but that seems less than useful to any conversation.
                    The point is without the Bible, there is nothing to base God on. There must be an absolute.

              2. A.Villarasa profile image80
                A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                @wilderness:
                For some people, and obviously Beth is one of them, the Bible is a source of nuggets of TRUTH. Narratives  that speak to the belief that God is the source of all TRUTHS. Now for some people, and obviously you are one of them,  those biblical narratives are fables and myths fabricated by simple, ignorant folks whose scientific knowledge is nil/void.

                Trying to look for scientific nuggets of truth via  the strictest of  literal interpretation of the bible is a fools errand. I have always contended that most of those stories in the Old Testament, starting from Genesis on down must and should be gleaned from a metaphorical perspective. That contention comes from the scientifically/empirically proven fact that  all humans think and speak mostly in embodied metaphors.

                1. wilderness profile image97
                  wildernessposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  You talk as if truth is some kind of subjective thing; what is truth to one is false to another.

                  That is not the case.  Truth matches reality and reality is the same for everyone on the face of the planet. 

                  What Beth finds is a perception of truth, mostly because she does not care to question or test what she reads there, but automatically assumes it is all true and real.  Now, you can ramble on about the bible speaking metaphorically, but when you change what it says to match reality and truth, that truth is not biblical.  It exists only in you, not the bible.

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                    Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    Do not speak for me, you don't know my convictions or how I've reached them.
                    I do not believe the Bible contains nuggets of truth. I believe the bible is THE way THE truth and THE life. It is the inerrant word of God.

                  2. A.Villarasa profile image80
                    A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                    @wilderness:
                    And we are supposed to accept your perception/version  of reality because?

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              Rad Manposted 2 years ago in reply to this

              The God you believe is not the same as the God of Islam. That God doesn't contain the son and the holy spirit. The Mormon God is different again as is the Jewish God. The version you believe in seems to what us to believe in him before we die while others don't. Your version seems to think vacations are more important than feeding the poor. Just saying.

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                Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

                All of these things have been explained to you, but you have not been able to retain the answers.

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                  Rad Manposted 2 years ago in reply to this

                  I'm waiting for one that makes sense.

    2. MelissaBarrett profile image62
      MelissaBarrettposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      Hmm... I'm going by the Bible... If he was made up, the writers of the Bible did that. How you view him? That's all on you.

      One of these days you might understand the difference.

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        Beth37posted 2 years ago in reply to this

        Your children view you differently than your husband does, than your mother does, but you are the same person no matter how you are viewed. The task that has been set before us is to discover who the God of the Bible is.

        1. MelissaBarrett profile image62
          MelissaBarrettposted 2 years ago in reply to this

          LMAO... so it would be hard to accept that God is everything and that we pick the parts of him to worship that most align with what WE are?

  3. jmark13 profile image80
    jmark13posted 2 years ago

    Everything that we know about god has been handed down by other men who have also had to trust the information they were getting. It's a shame we have to learn that all of these stories come from myths and fables, because we are first indoctrinated. So Pascal was wrong to settle on that God is, without any proof similar to his reason in that it is. O'Reilly is an imbecile who takes a 17th century figure he knows his audience knows nothing about to come across as heady, knowing they'll eat his crap if he serves it with presentation. Pascal would have given him a bolero and told him to go play with that until he was ready to take things seriously.

    1. A.Villarasa profile image80
      A.Villarasaposted 2 years ago in reply to this

      @jmark:
      What might be all fable and myths to you, might contain nuggets of  truth when those narratives are interpreted metaphorically. If you don't already know or discern  most of our thoughts  and  the language  we use to  express those  thoughts  are metaphorical in nature.  George Lakkoff and other social/experimental psychologists have been conducting relevant research, and have provided compelling evidence that the mind thinks in embodied metaphors. "Indocrination" is but one of the simplistic arguments heaped by atheists against philosophic/religious beliefs, that just does not cut it against the backdrop of biblical narrative (belief  as revelation) , and historical perspective (Christ  invoking moral and ethical and daily living values  vis-a-vis  God, via his Sermon on the Mount).

      As regards Mr. O'Reilly, his Essay was included in a book of essays written by  noted empiricists and theorists titled" This Explains Everything" edited by John Brockman. You might want not to judge him to fast and too harshly.

 
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