[LMB] Pascal's Wager ... Re: OT: All discussions re religion vs. atheism

JenL jenl1625 at gmail.com
Tue Sep 13 00:27:41 BST 2011

On Mon, Sep 12, 2011 at 6:52 PM, Howard Brazee <howard at brazee.net> wrote:

> On Sep 12, 2011, at 4:42 PM, JenL wrote:
> > I think I have a blind spot for agnostics, because my church always had
> such
> > a bright line (you believe or you're lost) sort of attitude - it could
> > actually be scary because it starts getting into that area where, if you
> > think the God they describe might be real, you'd better be on His good
> side.
> > It's one of the reasons it took me a while to admit I was an atheist -
> the
> > consequences of deciding He wasn't real and being wrong... ?
> Taking Pascal's wager requires that you pick the most likely belief that
> can save you.   I doubt very much if many people study a bunch of religions
> and pick the most likely out of those who punish people for guessing wrong.

No, I'd imagine most people are deciding between the beliefs they grew up
with (which have an emotional hold, to boot) and whatever they found next -
whether that's another religion or a disbelief in religious claims.

But then again, Pascal's Wager is something of a debating trick.  It's not
something a person generally consciously thinks through when deciding their
own beliefs - that's more like "I don't think I believe in Him.  Ack!  I'll
go to h*ll for thinking that!  Wait, does that mean I believe in h*ll (and
therefore God) or do I believe He doesn't exist firmly enough to trust that
there's no h*ll to go to? Ummmm....."   Or was that just me?

Because you can make a logical decision that you don't believe in the
religion you grew up with, but (for me, and I think for some others as well)
there's also an emotional component that has to catch up.  And while you're
in that emotional component, your logic is arguing with a fear you may have
carried around since childhood.


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