Sunday, August 10, 2008

Take 2 on My Last Post, Or Bob's Counter to Pascal's Wager

I reread what I wrote and I don't think it was very clear. I will try another approach.

Evidence is insufficient to determine conclusively the truth or falsity of Belief A. The decision to give assent or to with hold one's assent to Belief A is therefore based on factors other than considerations of the Truth or Falsity of Belief A.

Of course, person's giving their assent to Belief A, especially when it is emotionally rich as is the belief in God for some people, will oftentimes vehemently assert the unequivocal truth of their pet beliefs. The greater the vehemence, the less the likelihood that their assertion of truth is rooted in careful and ongoing consideration of alternatives. This only means that believers present themselves as psychological case-studies.

This means that the counter to Pascal's wager is not a reckoning of probabilities of God's (non-)existence. It is not enough as Dawkins argues that it is almost a certainty that the Christian God does not exist. An eternity of hideous, horrific punishment, if at all avoidable, is to be avoided. Crossing streets without looking first, will most of the time not end badly. However, the one time when it would have been good to look both ways before crossing easily outweighs all the times of not looking.

In the gap between what we know to be true and what we wish to be true our character shows itself. Given the same evidence, why does one person find that evidence compelling, and another with comparable training, intelligence, and background dismisses that same evidence as proving nothing?

Do beliefs possess powers of attraction? It seems that truths, beliefs, propositions, and the like have aesthetic qualities independent of their truthfulness.

If this is so, why would anyone hope for the possibility of eternal punishment? Why would Tertullian or Aquinas consider the sight of the tortures of the damned to be one of the major benefits of heaven? Why all the fear and desire to punish? If Evangelical Christians are taken at face value, they can imagine no greater pleasure and exertion of power than punishing.

Bob's counter to Pascal's Wager? Why would anyone want Christianity to be true?

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