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Pascal's Wager.
Posted: 22 December 2004 03:11 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Okay, for you non-believers out there who haven't heard Pascal's Wager here is it is:

If you believe in God you will have everlasting life.  This is an infinite good. Use this formula: expected value = value of event(having infinite life if you believe in God)  x probability of event occuring (God exists ).

Thus even if the event God exists has minisculy small probability, the infinite value of belief (you get infinite life) makes the expected value infinite. It would be irrational not to believe in God.

Okay, I am falling asleep here. I will post my reply later. But how would you sincerely reply?

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Posted: 22 December 2004 06:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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[quote author=“Edward Ing”]Okay, for you non-believers out there who haven’t heard Pascal’s Wager here is it is:

If you believe in God you will have everlasting life.  This is an infinite good. Use this formula: expected value = value of event(having infinite life if you believe in God)  x probability of event occuring (God exists ).

Thus even if the event God exists has minisculy small probability, the infinite value of belief (you get infinite life) makes the expected value infinite. It would be irrational not to believe in God.

Okay, I am falling asleep here. I will post my reply later. But how would you sincerely reply?

1. Christians consider gambling sinful, so how is betting on god supposed to get you into “heaven,” whatever that means?

2. What is to keep you from choosing to rebel against god when you get to “heaven”? After all, the christian myth explicitly states that at least one such rebellion against god’s authority in heaven has already happened. Even if the probability of your rebellion per unit of eternity is miniscule, with the passage of enough eternity units the cumulative probability approaches unity.

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Posted: 23 December 2004 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Everlasting life is a good?

I have to question this basic assumption.

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Posted: 23 December 2004 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Everlasting life is not self-evidently good. It could be just as easily evil in its experience and in its effect on others.

Nothing is inherently more irrational than belief. Nothing defines belief more accurately than the rejection of reason in favor of superstition and a morbid, consuming fear of death.

Were it not for the expectation of an afterlife, human beings would behave a lot better toward one another.


[quote author=“Edward Ing”]Okay, for you non-believers out there who haven’t heard Pascal’s Wager here is it is:

If you believe in God you will have everlasting life.  This is an infinite good. Use this formula: expected value = value of event(having infinite life if you believe in God)  x probability of event occuring (God exists ).

Thus even if the event God exists has minisculy small probability, the infinite value of belief (you get infinite life) makes the expected value infinite. It would be irrational not to believe in God.

Okay, I am falling asleep here. I will post my reply later. But how would you sincerely reply?

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Posted: 23 December 2004 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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[quote author=“Edward Ing”]Okay, for you non-believers out there who haven’t heard Pascal’s Wager here is it is:

If you believe in God you will have everlasting life.  This is an infinite good. Use this formula: expected value = value of event(having infinite life if you believe in God)  x probability of event occuring (God exists ).

Thus even if the event God exists has minisculy small probability, the infinite value of belief (you get infinite life) makes the expected value infinite. It would be irrational not to believe in God.

Okay, I am falling asleep here. I will post my reply later. But how would you sincerely reply?

I would reply that superstition is superstition, and no matter what its promised benefits (from believing it), I’m not superstitious.

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Posted: 24 December 2004 01:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Sound mathematical point Ed.  The bigger question is which god you should choose to belive in.  Do you speak of Yahweh?  Choose the wrong or false god and the probality goes to zero and you are dead.

Happy Yule.

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Posted: 24 December 2004 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Hail, Son of Odin!!

Pascal’s wager is not a proof for the existence of God; rather, it shows that the option is “live.”  (whatever that’s supposed to mean—I guess “ineluctable”)

I have never liked it for many reasons: First it is coercive, second it is mercenary, third (and this the more rational, humanistic point) it undervalues the life we have now.  Of course this is normal for Christianity.  According to the Christian version of reality, our lives are the property of God; he can do with us as he wishes, and he is justified.  We are furthermore “desperately wicked and deceitful above all things.” (Some chapter and verse in the Wholly Babble) 

To the point: the bet Mr. Pascal’s posits seems to ignore the possibility that this life could be all we’ve got, and has therefore an intrinsic value equivalent to a possible eternity of afterlife.  In other words, all we’ve got vs. all we’ll get.  Both are ALL. 

I may be missing something here, but the final analysis finds Pascal’s wager a bunch of craps…

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Posted: 26 December 2004 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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[quote author=“Edward Ing”]Thus even if the event God exists has minisculy small probability, the infinite value of belief (you get infinite life) makes the expected value infinite. It would be irrational not to believe in God.


Integrity doesn’t allow for choice in what we believe. Genuine beliefs must be compelled—they are responses to reality, not impositions upon it. If you’re honest you can no more choose to believe something than you can choose not to fall if you step off the edge of a cliff. You must be compelled into belief, just as you are unavoidably compelled toward the ground by gravity (no matter how much you might like to believe differently).

Pascal’s Wager is utterly dependent upon the notion that one can simply choose to believe something (in this case a worldview, no less) as an act of will. It’s also the same appeal to fear that the whole Heaven and Hell thing is based on, and falsely divides the possibilities simply into Christianity and Other (if we really buy Pascal’s Wager it seems we’d be more compelled to find the religion with the worst Hell to avoid, or the one that eliminates the “threat” altogether).

And there’s more .

The more interesting question, by far IMO, is why so many believers claim to find it compelling when it’s so obviously devoid of merit.

Byron

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 05 January 2005 01:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Pascal’s mathematical formula is disingenuous. The correct mathematical formulation should be as shown below.

It would only be mathematically correct to believe in god if the expected benefit was greater then the expected cost. So lets look at the cost/benefit analysis:

Expected Benefit = V * P1 * P2

...where V = Value of everlasting life or heaven
        P1 = Probability that god exists
        P2 = Probablility that god will invite you to experience heaven

Expected Cost = TC + PC + S/n

... where TC = the cost of your time consumed by religious activity
          PC = the psychological cost of having to suspend disbelief in supernatural beings for your whole life
          S/n = the total Suffering caused by religious beliefs over the millenia, divided by the number of believers in history (i.e. your share of the cost of all the suffering - it’s only fair that you bear your share).


Now, let’s run some numbers:

Even if V were a big number, P1 must be small, since there are no verifiable historical occurences proving god’s existence. Let’s say everlasting life is worth $10 million in present value to you and P1 is estimated at 0.1%. Your chances of actually making it to heaven are no better than 50/50; let’s face it, you masturbated a lot as a teenager and you would shag Heather Graham without a moment’s hesitation if you had the chance, so it doesn’t matter how many cookies you baked for the church bake-a-thon.

So the Expected Benefit is : $10 million * 0.1% * 50% = $5,000

Not bad, I guess - would get you a decent flat screen TV.

Now let’s look at the cost.

TC = say, $50 per hour * 2 hours of church per week * 50 years of piety = $260,000

PC = incalculable, but the medical insurance would cost you around $40,000 for your lifetime.

S = total cost of wars and suffering is probably equal to a few good tsunamis, lets say conservatively five times the cost of the recent one, which the UN recons is going to cost $30 billion. So, S = $150 billion

n = number of religious people in history. Estimated to be 95% of all humans who ever lived, which totals around 10 billion, according to Carl Sagan. So, n = 9.5 billion.

Total Expected Cost therefore =  $260,000 + $40,000 + $150/9.5 = $300,015

(Aside, it is interesting to note how cheap your share of all the destruction is - just shows the purchasing power of clubbing together, so to speak).

Anyway, the expected cost is sixty times the expected benefit, so Pascal was way off the mark. :twisted:

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Posted: 05 January 2005 01:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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I was told that if I believed in a lug nut I would enjoy everlasting life. I have a lug nut, and I believe in it. What are my odds?

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Posted: 05 January 2005 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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“There is a false, distorted way in which the mind can think of itself and of other things as individually existing as a self-contained segment of reality separate from the whole of nature and from the source of that individual mind’s sustenance.

The human body can not exist in isolation from the surrounding ecosystem that provides and sustains its life. The isolated human body would cease to exist. The mind, likewise, can exist as an individual self only if the body in which it resides is sustained by the surrounding ecosystem.

The mind has only a fragmentary incomplete awareness of the body in which it exists and therefore has a fragmentary incomplete awareness of itself. In this state of fragmentary, incomplete awareness the mind does not grasp the basis of the body’s individuality and hence does not fully understand its own individuality either.

The mind, unlike the body, has open to it this false version of individuality. Minds, unlike bodies, can know what they are but they are capable of error. The mind can think of the body, and hence of itself, falsely - it can think of itself as substance, as the body is substance.

The mind that derives a false understanding of that mind’s status will do so from a lack of self-knowledge. At the core of this failure to know ourselves is an inadequate understanding of individuality.

The body is an individual body separate from the totality of the whole and is defined as such. The mind which has an inadequate understanding of individuality, lacks an adequate understanding of the bodily modifications caused by emotions.

Ignorance of the causes of our pleasures and pains breeds obsession and creates states of destructive emotions. The mind in the grip of the emotional passion of obsession loses its capacity to enjoy a wide range of activities. Its affirmation becomes limited to things it conceives as the sole cause of its pleasures and pains.

Individual segments of the world are given distorted status as self-contained objects. The mind takes its own individuality to depend on falsely construed individual categories or segments of the whole, failing to grasp that they are but parts of the larger whole.

In failing to understand the objects on which it pains and pleasures depend, the mind fails as well to understand its own interconnections with larger whole.

In failing to understand our loves and hates we fail to understand ourselves.

This lack of understanding restricts our power and limits our freedom.

Self awareness is generated out of a reflective awareness of the body. The mind that emphasizes, rather than resists, the emotions to gain a better understanding of their affect upon the self can transform false ideas of self into true ideas of self . That individual mind will come to greater self-knowledge which is the path to freedom and virtue.

A true understanding of individuality will create true freedom of mind.

Our emotions are part of nature, not aberrations from it. Human impotence does not result from the defects of human nature but from the awesome power of nature, of which we are part. Nothing happens in nature which can be attributed to any flaw in it, for the laws and rules according to which all things happen and change from one form to another are always and everywhere the same.

Freedom from the bondage of emotion comes from understanding the natural causes of emotion. We, being of nature, must follow and obey the natural order of nature which includes emotional response. Recognizing ourselves as a part of nature grants us the power to overcome our emotions.

A mind which is free replicates in it’s ideas the basic structure of reality and in knowing itself knows reality.

Knowledge of reality increases the knowledge we have of ourselves. Self knowledge allows us to become intuitively or reflectively aware of the truth. Any knowledge that we reflect on will use the knowledge that we now possess. The mind starts from acquired knowledge and proceeds through reflection to an ever increasing awareness of true ideas. The most fundamental level of knowledge has layers and layers of ideas superimposed endlessly upon it.

Truth only occurs in the presence of certainty of the truth of ideas.

True certainty is just reflection on true knowledge.

Knowledge through calculation goes beyond knowledge based upon a general rule or rules. Knowledge based on reason goes beyond knowledge based on calculations. Beyond the knowledge of reason lies the realm of clear true knowledge which involves the immediate recognition of things in a mode of understanding more like an emotion than a reasoned thought.

Intuition is directed to the specificity of a case rather than simply grasping a case as falling under or contained in a general rule. Intuition’s engagement with the actual reality of things is more powerful than can be gained through reason. This capacity to engage directly with existence makes intuition both the highest kind of knowledge and the highest form of affectivity - the mind’s love of God.

Reason is an expression of human nature and it arises from the complexity of bodily structure that distinguishes human individuals. Reason is in all human beings the same.

Reason strengthens human power especially when pursued jointly with other rational beings.

If human power is enriched by the operations of good forms of social organization it is to be expected that that power is impeded by bad forms of social organization.

Social arrangements modify our awareness of ourselves.

Sameness of human nature arises from the fact that different individuals have shared affinities that allow their differences to be transcended in the realization of common pleasures. Such commonalities amidst difference are achievable because our bodies are socialized bodies.

Although we form common notions we can not entirely transcend perceiving in relation to a particular mind. Different perspectives demand different perceiving minds.

Judgement involves the affirmation of something as real.

We can not judge the good of other things in reference to ourselves.

Things are to be judged with regard to their own well being and perfection, not ours.

The power to judge well, to distinguish the false from the true, is equally available to all humanity.

However reason, or the power to judge well, fails to capture of itself how the essences known through common notions are related to existence.

We are dependent in a force outside of ourselves for the prolongation of our existence.

This force is God.

Our minds are ideas of our body’s substance but our minds can never find solace in the awareness of this truth. With thought and experience we can reach a transitional phase were our consciousness passes over into a knowledge of the immutable aspects of material reality.

At this transitional point we will experience a conscious re-birth which brings with it an intuitive understanding of our place in the scheme of things. We come to see ourselves in relation to the truths of individuality.

We come to see ourselves as transient expressions of substance, which is equally realized in a multitude of other individuals, through which our existence is mediated.

Intuitive knowledge of my self is an idea of my actual body which exists only while my body exists.

The immutable aspects of reality can only be attributed to God.

We move to a position of awe in the magnificence of God’s power and to an enlightened understanding of our individual self as an interconnected part of the totality of organisms in God’s creation. This is affectivity or the mind’s love of God.

The mind’s struggles for self-knowledge and to the extent that it does understand itself it sees itself increasing as a part of nature. The understanding of itself as eternal is the other side of the coin to this understanding of itself as part of nature - transient, vulnerable, and inevitably to be destroyed.

It is impossible for humans not to be a part of nature.

It is impossible for humans not to follow the natural order of nature.

Death does not reduce the self to the status of a fiction.

Death has no power to erase what has already existed.

The mind that has ceased to exist may continue to have effects on the Earth through the interconnections it formed in life even though it no longer strives or struggles in its own right.

The eternity of the mind is not just a matter of our surviving in the memories and imaginations of others. To cease to exist is not the same as having never existed at all.

This insight comes especially from the confrontation with death.

It is in really knowing that we must die that we know that we are eternal.

It is in knowing our transience that we truly know ourselves.

This new awareness of life has in fact the same structure as self-consciousness.

In this state of eternal mind our living selves are awakened in a way that resists the ravages of time and death.

We can during life come to realize this truth.

To think of the mind experiencing oblivion after death is as much an illusion as thinking of it enjoying pleasure or pain. It is an illusion to think that the hopeful mind might discover at death that nothing awaits it. The content of this perception is such that once we have it death is of little consequence.

It is true that we inevitably fantasize something beyond death, a form of existence beyond life.

The eternity of God is properly seen as the totality of all that ever was.

Such a totality transcends time as the character of what has occurred is not altered by the passage of time.

There can only be one infinite, divine substance, comprising all of nature or reality.

This we term God’s substance or the substance of God.

The problem with religion and theology
is that they confuse their approach to God with rational truth
and turn from piety to dogmatism and superstition.

Laws which prescribe what everyone must believe,
and forbid men to say or write anything against this or that opinion,
are often passed to gratify, or rather to appease the anger
of those who cannot abide independent minds.


Baruch (Benedict de) Spinoza, Jewish Spanish-Dutch philosopher.

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Posted: 05 January 2005 01:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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This link takes you to my answer to this wager.  Specifically, “Kissing Hank’s (take your pick)”

http://www.jhuger.com/pamphlets.mv

Hampsteadpete

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Posted: 05 January 2005 08:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Hey Lawrence,

Where do you get off with this gibberish. Have you actually read what you posted? It makes no sense at all. Find some weblog for crazy people, why don’t you.

Pete, liked the kissing Hank’s ass thing. Very succinct.

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Posted: 06 January 2005 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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[quote author=“Neitszche”]Hey Lawrence,

Where do you get off with this gibberish. Have you actually read what you posted? It makes no sense at all. Find some weblog for crazy people, why don’t you.

Baruch Spinoza was a critical thinker and these are his thoughts.

Most people insulate themselves from ANY thought that does not fit neatly into their concept of reality.

By studying the philosophers we learn to look at reality from a different perspective than the one we are accustomed to.

Humans, as social animals, (you know smart monkeys, primates) develop patterns of behavior and thought that are unique to their culture or subculture.

****
The Virtuous

And others are proud of their modicum of righteousness, and for the sake of it do violence to all things: so that the Earth is drowned in their unrighteousness.

Ah! how ineptly cometh the word “virtue” out of their mouth! And when they say: “I am just,” it always soundeth like: “I am just-revenged!”

With their virtues they want to scratch out the eyes of their enemies; and they elevate themselves only that they may lower others.

And again there are those who sit in their swamp, and speak thus from among the bullrushes: “Virtue - that is to sit quietly in the swamp. We bite no one, and go out of the way of him who would bite; and in all matters we have the opinion that is given us.”

And again there are those who love attitudes, and think that virtue is a sort of attitude. Their knees continually adore, and their hands are eulogies of virtue, but their heart knoweth naught thereof.

And again there are those who regard it as virtue to say: “Virtue is necessary”; but after all they believe only that policemen are necessary.

-from Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher

****

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Posted: 12 January 2005 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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im so confused in what lawrence actually beleives in.

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Posted: 12 January 2005 02:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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[quote author=“Anonymous”]im so confused in what lawrence actually beleives in.

Are you a realist? Life is real and unforgiving. Nature is a merciless God. Physics do not lie when you are hurtling down the freeway at eighty miles an hour and hit a stationary object.

Are you a fanatic, ie. live in fantasy?

I am a realist, but I do not understand life force. God granted us life.

What is God?

I do not have the capacity in my small simian brain to even get a handle on the beauty of life force.

All the human scientists for as long as humanity survives will never be able to explain all natural phenomena to 100% accuracy. I simply chose to call ‘that which set it all in motion’, God.

And this is a psychologically acceptable form for all human critters.

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