Pascal's Wager:
U Cannnot Prove
That Which U Profess
Peter Parker

 

It was not, therefore, just that he should appear in an obviously divine manner, totally capable of convincing all men. But nor was it just that he should come in such an obscure way that he could not be recognized by those who sincerely sought him. He wanted to be perfectly recognizable to them. And so, wanting to appear without disguise to those who sought him with their heart, and hidden from those who flee from him with all their heart, he has modified our recognition of him, giving visible signs to those who seek him and none to those who do not. There is enough light for those who desire to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.

God wants to motivate the will more than the mind. Absolute clarity would be more use to the mind and would not help the will. Humble their pride.

The mind of this sovereign judge of the world is not so independent that it cannot be disturbed by the first nearby clatter. It does not need a cannon's roar to immobilize its thoughts, the noise of a weathercock or a pulley willl do. Do not be surprised if he cannot gather his thoughts at the moment -- a fly is buzzing in his ear. That is enough to make him incapable of giving sound advice. If you want him to reach the truth, then chase away the insect holding his reason in check, disturbing that mighty intellect which rules over cities and kingdoms. What a ludicrous god he is! -- Blaise Pascal

 

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "peter parker"
Subject: Re: pascal's wager
Date: Saturday, January 16, 1999 2:45 AM

 -- and -- 

Where did you learn how to write? John Birch Home Schooling?

The deal is this: You say that if I had read a certain book, I would have seen a specific truth. My reading a book does not automatically make what the book says true. What I see is what I see: sometimes what I see is that a claim or statement is true, and I act accordingly. Other times I see that a claim is falsehood and I respond the way I would hope anybody would respond upon finding out that they're being lied to. Often I find I must suspend judgement, in which case, I act as if the claim or statement is not true, although I won't react as if I'm being lied to.

More often than not, what I see simply gives me one or two more snippets of information -- data -- on which to assess some other claim or statement or situation. This last scenario describes the vast majority of my experiences while reading, studying, examining, testing, comparing, analyzing, calculating, contemplating, and the like, and, of course, throwing up my hands in dismay on discovering that I must once again suspend judgement.
 

You've got it backwards: Atheism is without a god belief -- not "proof that there are no gods." If you continue misrepresenting atheism as claiming to have proof that there are no gods, I will end this dialogue. Atheism is the simple lack of a belief in claims that gods and the supernatural exist -- nothing more.
 

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What a ludicrous god he is! -- Blaise Pascal

 

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I concur with the "ludicrous" part, but it is a claim we are discussing, not an actual god.

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The following was added on December 27, 2002
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Based upon your level of writing skill, I strongly suspect that this next part would have gone right over your head. For this reason, I waited until I had sent the rest to you, and added this part long after the exchange was posted. (Some readers familiar with the progression of my work may notice ideas that did not appear until 2001 or later.)

You and I can have a dialogue if and only if we both speak from the same standpoint or level; this is akin to us both speaking the same language or using the same definition for the same word.

If we both agreed that a god existed, then we could speak in terms of a god existing.

However, this is not the case. The point of this dialogue is your claim that a god exists and your attempts to convince me that your claim is truthful. You do this in the face of my having yet to find a reason for granting assent to your claim.

Thus, any statement ostensably about "God" is true for one of us (you) and tentative falsehood for the other (me). We will get nowhere if either of us uses the word "God" to describe something that does or does not exist (you saying it does and I responding, "I don't think so").

The only way, then, that you and I can communicate effectively in this situaion is for both of us to agree to use language and to make statement that we both agree to be truthful.

Thus, rather than saying "God exists" we ought to agree to stick to the language along the lines of, "Peter Parker claims that a deity named God exists." This should be a simple matter if we get into the habit of referring to your god-claim and describing what that claim states whenever we would ordinarily be tempted to say "God."

I have learned this quite handily, and my more recent writings reflect this education. I do make exceptions when I wish to "speak in shorthand"; that is, speak briefly, assuming that the reader knows my real thoughts on the matter and does not need an explanation. I'll also say "God" when I wish to speak in a familiar tone or emit a more congenial air about my words. Occasionally I will say "God" when it is expedient that I avoid having to explain my actions, such as with a very hostile and unreasonable person who just wishes to hurl abuse, or with someone with whose thinking and vocabulary I am probably unfamiliar, such as somebody from a different country than I.

Nevertheless, when I am directly engaged in a discussion whose topic is specifically the truthfulness of a specific god-claim or the lack thereof (or, as many would say, the existence or nonexistence of a deity).

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Pascal's reasoning is based entirely upon statistics, and not on arguments that are designed to determine whether his god or any god actually exists.

Also, Pascal only uses his god in his equation; he does not take into consideration the 4,000 some-odd gods that mankind is known to have endorsed, or who knows how many gods that have been forgotten by the species.

I submit this to you: If Pascal's Wager is valid, then apply it, not to Christ, but to Allah of the Muslims. If you don't have 100 percent proof that Allah is not the One True God, then what will happen to people like you, since you believe in Christ, not Allah?

The point is this: No claim for Christianity has ever made much sense to me. I have many problems with the Christian claim, as discussed in various sections on my web page. I also concur with many of the writings of both Ingersoll and Paine. So I don't believe that Christ actually exists. Likewise, I don't believe that leprechauns actually exist, either.

Can I present 100 percent proof that leprechauns do not exist? No, I can't, and neither can you. Why is this important? Because it is the responsibility of the person making the claim to bring forth the proof. The person listening to the claim need do nothing more than chuckle. No one can prove the nonexistence of something, we can only look at individual claims and see if what they claim is true.

I say the Christian Bible contains enough verifiable falsehood as to discredit the entire system. I don't need to wonder about other-worlds; I have enough evidence that the Christian claim is untrustworhy in regards to the things of this world, claims that can easily be tested and either verified or refuted. Since Christianity is so off the mark regarding its testable claims, why should I trust Christianity's untestable claims -- claims about things that happen only to special people -- claims about such things as gods, snakes, poisoned apples, flaming swords, giants, arks, frogs, locust, golden emerods, talking donkeys, temples, wheels within wheels, cisterns, dung-bread, crosses, christs, stirring ponds, fishers of men with magical handkerchiefs, angels, dæmons, rolling stones, streets of gold and -- and heavens -- and -- and -- and hells?

Oh, and good luck with your complete trust in what people with a political agenda scratched onto papyrus 2000 years ago and fathers edited at the behest of the winner of a protracted war fought with money stolen from the estates of those accused of believing the incorrect religion. Contrary to what you would have folks believe, I have no idea what it might be like to have complete trust in anything: this is just another case of the Christian "reflecting" his own experience onto his jaded understanding of what others think, do, and say. Your experience with religion is one of all-or-nothing complete loyalty. However, this is not how people "practice" atheism. Not even close. In fact, I should have said, "this is not how people "don't practice" atheism, because atheism is something you don't do, rather than something that people do .

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
www.positiveatheism.org/
     <editor@positiveatheism.org>

"Is there an intelligent man or woman now
      in the world who believes in the Garden
      of Eden story? If you find any man who
      believes it, strike his forehead and you
      will hear an echo. Something is for rent."
                  -- Robert Green Ingersoll

"A stupid man's report of what
      a clever man says is never accurate
      because he unconsciously translates
      what he hears into something
      that he can understand."
                  -- Bertrand Russell

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