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Old 02-15-2014, 10:42 AM
 
Location: The backwoods of Pennsylvania ... unfortunately.
5,846 posts, read 3,361,010 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
Pascal's Wager is not a worthwhile argument because it is based on a false premise, that there is nothing to lose by believing even if the belief turns out to be false. It is a premise which assumes that nothing is lost in life by falsely devoting yourself to a mythological explanation. In fact, in such circumstances, you will have wasted whatever time you invested in that belief and altered your behavior accordingly when it was not necessary. Consider the case of a monk, someone who rejects a worldly existence in favor of dedication to a belief in a god. If there is no god, then the monk has thrown away his one shot at existence hiding away and denying himself the pleasures life offers.
Pascal's Wager is really another name for the False Dilemma fallacy. It essentially says, "Why not believe in this particular god. If you're right, then you aren't any further behind than you were before. But if you're wrong, you'll get rewards beyond your wildest dreams!"

The problem is that there are a lot of religions and a lot of gods. The False Dilemma comes into play because the believer sets up the choice so that there are only two options: The believer's specific religion and God or atheism. Thus if a Christian argues with Pascal's Wager, the choices are Christianity or Atheism. But what about Islam? Judaism? Hinduism? Aphrodite? On and on. Therefore, simply picking Christianity offers no guarantee that they'll get a big reward in the afterlife.
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Old 02-19-2014, 02:41 PM
 
Location: USA
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The problem I've seen with creationists is that you cannot reason with them since their own internal arguments are flawed and often self contradictory. I have a friend who's a creationist, and he lent me a book that "explained" why creationism is real and science is not since he knows I don't buy into the creationist nonsense. I couldn't even get through it since it was drivel and contradicted itself. For example:

1) The Creationist book claimed that the Earth is now as it always was - thus denying plate tectonics, evolution, dinosaurs, etc. Much Biblical mumbo-jumbo was used as proof, along with bad science.

2) The same book tried to explain away the valid statement that there's nowhere near enough water to cover the whole Earth in a great flood - as presented in the Bible in Noah's story - by saying, "The mountains were much lower back then."

Wait a minute - you can't have it both ways! Either the earth is now as it always was (thus denying plate tectonics and everything else), or there's not enough water on Earth to cover all the mountains in a flood. The mountains can't both "be a lot lower back then" - based on no evidence whatsoever - while the "earth is now as it always was!"

After reading more delightful, self-contradicting nonsense like that, I got to the chapter on how current astronomy "proves" the Bible is correct. The book claims that we've not seen anything in the universe that is more than about 6,000 years old. That's simply flat-out false. We know full well that even the nearest major galaxy - the Andromeda Galaxy - is about 2.3 million light years away. So, the light we see from that galaxy now left that galaxy 2.3 million years ago, which is impossible if one buys into the creationist nonsense that the whole universe is only about 6,000 years old. So, the silly apologist book, having no answers to facts like this, simply tried to deny them by claiming "nothing we've seen in the sky is more than 6,000 years old." Sadly, people will believe this since it's published by a "christian" source, so it must be right... and all of science everywhere must be wrong, apparently.

Now, I'm sure half-baked arguments could be made that "maybe the speed of light is faster out there" or some such thing, thus trying to warp the whole universe into a 6,000 year old timeline, but, again, it's based on nothing. Where's the evidence that the speed of light changes in that fashion? Nowhere... but the Bible says the universe is about 6,000 years old, so "clearly" the speed of light must conform to that?! That's not only bad science, it just doesn't pass the common sense test.

For anyone trying to talk reason to creationists, good luck. It's impossible and not worth the effort, IMHO, if drek like that book I read can be considered authoritative proof by them.
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Old 02-20-2014, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,097,133 times
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Originally Posted by Rambler123 View Post
For anyone trying to talk reason to creationists, good luck. It's impossible and not worth the effort, IMHO, if drek like that book I read can be considered authoritative proof by them.
In the long run, the answer is just good education, not only of children, but adults. And I also am happy when Christians REALLY actually read their Bibles and become familiar with them in detail because that often leads to unbelief as quickly as anything. The vast majority of Christians go no further than looking up cherry-picked proof-texts at the behest of a preacher or other propagandist and never bother themselves to really understand the underlying theology. No theological system lacks for debates about what the scriptures mean and how literally or figuratively to take something or whether there is a hidden meaning or multiple meaning ... not even that of literalists who like to fancy that a literal reading of the Bible makes capital-T Truth obvious to all. They fight among themselves, too.

Most people are content to (1) find a church they like or that at least they can have a familiar codependence with and (2) assume that their leaders and thinkers, have it all sorted out and thus they need look no further than the superficially plausible drivel known as apologetics. Because religion generally is all about "tell me what to believe and how to think and act so I don't have to personally sort it out (or take responsibility for it)".
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Old 02-21-2014, 07:51 AM
 
39,211 posts, read 10,895,806 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirina View Post
Pascal's Wager is really another name for the False Dilemma fallacy. It essentially says, "Why not believe in this particular god. If you're right, then you aren't any further behind than you were before. But if you're wrong, you'll get rewards beyond your wildest dreams!"

The problem is that there are a lot of religions and a lot of gods. The False Dilemma comes into play because the believer sets up the choice so that there are only two options: The believer's specific religion and God or atheism. Thus if a Christian argues with Pascal's Wager, the choices are Christianity or Atheism. But what about Islam? Judaism? Hinduism? Aphrodite? On and on. Therefore, simply picking Christianity offers no guarantee that they'll get a big reward in the afterlife.
There is a counter to that, and it occurred to me when a young Buddhist monk tried to use Pascal's wager for Buddhism. The response was of course that all you'd get if you didn't take the wager and believe in Buddhism is another life. Which a lot of people would see as a good reason Not to opt for Buddhism.

One of the others where you'd actually be punished for choosing the wrong religion. So Taoism doesn't have a punishment - unless you go for the rather Weird kind of Taoism with a lot of Gods, rites, magic and hells with Boiling oil and blue demons sawing people in half...nice to know that Jesuit missionaries accomplished something other than making clocks for the Chien Lung Emperor.

So Judaism doesn't have a heaven or hell. It really has nothing to offer but a load of rules and regulations. Paul and I at least see eye to eye on that matter. Hinduism I believe doesn't go in for afterlife punishments and so it really does come down to Christianity or Islam. They both have a very unpleasant stick to wield while urging you to chomp on the carrot.

And as much as I hate to say it - since I put Islam (sorry LI) at the bottom of list of acceptable religions - just above Thuggee and below Voodoo Christianity has just the slightest glimmer of mercy and forgiveness and a suggestion that one might be able to reason with God.

Islam hold out no such hope - not even that not knowing about it would excuse you from hellfire.

So, if you are going to use Pascal's wager, Islam is the choice, not Christianity - in any of its forms, denominations or Avatars.

Of course, if you then argue that Christianity is the best option because it is more likely to be true, then Pascal's wager does not apply and indeed Agnostic Atheism is the best choice.
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