Pascal's Wager?

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mackay11
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Pascal's Wager?

Post by mackay11 » 03 Aug 2013, 18:13

What do you make of it?
The philosophy uses the following logic (excerpts from Pensées, part III, §233):
1. "God is, or He is not"
2. A Game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.
3. According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
4. You must wager. (It's not optional.)
5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
6. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager

Is that one of the things that keeps us in Mormonism? The 'just in case?'

GBSmith
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Re: Pascal's Wager?

Post by GBSmith » 03 Aug 2013, 19:02

mackay11 wrote:What do you make of it?
The philosophy uses the following logic (excerpts from Pensées, part III, §233):
1. "God is, or He is not"
2. A Game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.
3. According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
4. You must wager. (It's not optional.)
5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
6. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager

Is that one of the things that keeps us in Mormonism? The 'just in case?'
I guess you'd need to define "in Mormonism". "In" as in temple recommend holding, tithe paying, FHE doing, TBM being or "in" as in trying to find something to hang onto since it's my heritage and a significant part of who and what I am. For me I was never in so that I could become a god, create worlds, or be exalted and I've not left for fear of missing out on all of it and going to Hell which is yet to be defined. It seems to me the wager that Pascal is asking one to make is to believe which is considerably harder that putting chips in a pot.

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journeygirl
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Re: Pascal's Wager?

Post by journeygirl » 03 Aug 2013, 19:35

I really like that idea of weighing the two sides. I think it is sometimes the reason I do certain things in the church, like wear garments. I thought of it as a superstition though, but this description sounds better. It reminds me of a discussion I read in a magazine between a priest and an atheist. The priest's final point was something like, "If I am right, you have lost everything; if you are right, I have lost nothing."

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Pascal's Wager?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 03 Aug 2013, 21:26

I understand the logic, but I don't like it - more because of the way it is extrapolated than for any issue with it at the most fundamental level. It's when it is used to encourage obedience to a particular view of God that I don't like it the most.

I also have no problem with people who reject it due to a strong conviction that it's a flawed foundation - out of a belief that there is no God. With that foundation, the answer is a rejection of God - and I respect that.

When the possibility of God existing is used as a bludgeon, I don't like it - and that is how this often is used.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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cwald
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Re: Pascal's Wager?

Post by cwald » 03 Aug 2013, 21:35

I don't know.

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Ann
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Re: Pascal's Wager?

Post by Ann » 04 Aug 2013, 01:29

I see "God is, or He is not" as a very different wager from "Joseph Smith is a prophet bearing truthful testimony, or he is not." I'm fine with going all in on the first. The second.....?
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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mackay11
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Re: Pascal's Wager?

Post by mackay11 » 04 Aug 2013, 05:41

Ann wrote:I see "God is, or He is not" as a very different wager from "Joseph Smith is a prophet bearing truthful testimony, or he is not." I'm fine with going all in on the first. The second.....?
Good point.

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Cadence
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Pascal's Wager?

Post by Cadence » 04 Aug 2013, 21:59

Ann wrote:I see "God is, or He is not" as a very different wager from "Joseph Smith is a prophet bearing truthful testimony, or he is not." I'm fine with going all in on the first. The second.....?
That is the same point i would make. It is one thing to wager on god and a whole other thing to wager on the church. By wagering on the church it is like the lottery. Your chances of winning are nil. Beyond the church which god do you wager on? Muslims wager on Allah. Christians on Jesus. Plus you can wager on every other deity that has been in the minds of men through the ages. So even if you want to wager on God it is a crap shoot if you pick the right one.

Personally I think the best you can do is wager that there is a god and just do your best to be a good person. Leave the specifics of different religions out of the equation.
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

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cwald
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Re: Pascal's Wager?

Post by cwald » 04 Aug 2013, 22:23

Cadence wrote:
Ann wrote:I see "God is, or He is not" as a very different wager from "Joseph Smith is a prophet bearing truthful testimony, or he is not." I'm fine with going all in on the first. The second.....?
That is the same point i would make. It is one thing to wager on god and a whole other thing to wager on the church. By wagering on the church it is like the lottery. Your chances of winning are nil. Beyond the church which god do you wager on? Muslims wager on Allah. Christians on Jesus. Plus you can wager on every other deity that has been in the minds of men through the ages. So even if you want to wager on God it is a crap shoot if you pick the right one.

Personally I think the best you can do is wager that there is a god and just do your best to be a good person. Leave the specifics of different religions out of the equation.
That is a great response.

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  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

Ann
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Re: Pascal's Wager?

Post by Ann » 04 Aug 2013, 23:30

I wager that God exists. I have no good reason not to, and plenty of beautiful experiences that incline me towards Him. I've had one or two searing moments that convince me of the Atonement.

But I've had to separate the question of the existence of God and my need for a savior from the truthfulness of the Church. My relationship to the church has become more a sincere, ongoing experiment. It may not take me all the way "back" to the things the church teaches about Joseph Smith.

What I can't stomach right now is being told, in essence often times at church, chastised in a way, that my thoughts about JS are "wrong," dangerous, blasphemous.

I don't know what else to do. They are my thoughts.

My hope is that I will stop taking apart the contraption formerly called my testimony. Stop trying to reverse-engineer it back to a certainty about founding stories and people - and just move forward.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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