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Re: [humanism-174] Pascal's Wager

From: Gordon
Sent on: Thursday, September 24, 2009 4:03 PM
See if this is helpful. The book is "The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality" by
Andr? Comte-Sponville. He discusses Pascal's Wager starting on page 127. The link should take you right to it. Read the book a month or so ago and really enjoyed it!

From: Cynthia <[address removed]>
Subject: [humanism-174] Pascal's Wager
To: [address removed]
Date: Thursday, September 24, 2009, 12:41 PM

Recently, I ended up in a heated debate with an agnostic individual about Pascal's "The Wager" which argues that it is better to gamble on believing in (especially the Christian, for Pascal) god than it is to wager on the lack of a god - claiming that the "reward" of the "infinite" dolled out by god is better than being right OR wrong as an atheist.
Having taken logic courses, I pointed out the many ways in which "The Wager" is fallacious, but this individual would not relent - he kept demanding that Pascal is using sound logic. I tried to explain that since the argument utilizes an assumption in one of its premises which cannot be empirically proven, specifically the nature and disposition of god - aside from the fact that a favorable outcome (god's "infinite reward") - is reliant on an empirically unsound premise. I also argued that by betting on the lack of god, I'm wagering for MY favorable outcome. The agnostic maintained, with Pascal, that the atheist outcome is always going to be losing, via "hell" or the finality of death. This argument can be applied to any system of beliefs, including atheism - but he wouldn't believe me on this.
I tried the argument that in betting for Atheism, I'm placing my chips on a possible outcome which is favorable to me.The argument looks good to theists and agnostics, because it's essentially an argument for belief in god OR covering one's ass "just in case." The problem is that it's unsound logic,
I looked around, to the notable atheists in regards to this infuriating "logic," and found absolutely nothing that satisfied my need to clearly break down Pascal's Wager for this individual. Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris failed me in this. I'm furious because I know that this "argument" is completley rotten logic, but that it looks shiny enough on the surface to give theists the appearance of posessing a rational argument.
After all of that...
Have any of you come across a source which expertly deals with Pascal's Wager? Is there any philosophy geeks or professionals that can offer some advice?
Thank you,
Cynthia (not that one, the other one)

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