Pascal’s Wager Is Silly

I’ve heard it said that at that last moment before death, why not accept God? What have you got to lose? Is intellectual integrity threatened by a deathbed conversion?

I wound answer: no. Supernatural claims are unfounded, and what a person thinks seconds before death does not matter, at least assuming my naturalistic viewpoint.

But what of when the argument is extended further? Why not live a life in piety? What’s the harm in believing just because? (Though, when this question is asked, it sometimes makes the assumption that beliefs do not affect actions, or it at least fails to address this assumption.)

To quote a fictional anecdote I first heard Christopher Hitchens attribute to Voltaire:

When Voltaire was dying, in his eighties, a priest in attendance called upon him to renounce the devil. Voltaire considered his advice, but decided not to follow it. “This is no time,” he said, “to be making new enemies”.

When you speak this way and make this argument—Pascal’s Wager—you are assuming that it is your god who is real, that truth lies in your particular religion, church, faith, doctrine, and interpretation of the cosmos beyond the natural. You must take into account that no matter what religion you are, the majority of the world disagrees with you, and that it is not as simple as believers versus non believers.

And to quote the Simpsons:

“What if we picked the wrong God, and we’re just making him madder and madder every time we go to church?”

 

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  1 comment for “Pascal’s Wager Is Silly

  1. June 1, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    ah, the wisdom of Homer.

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