Debate and Discussion

Religious gambit
Prank at 7:18AM, March 31, 2009
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I´m sure you´re all familiar with Pascal´s Wager, no? I´m trying to expand it and would enjoy any comments or criticism on what is a work of progress. Any help would be greatly appreciated.



Sorry for the rather bad quality of the table,l anyways;

BG: The person is a firm believer of a specific religion and is a good person by universal ethics living with good intentions.

DBg: The person is either a agnostic/atheist and does not follow any faith but is still a moral person by universal ethics living with good intentions.

b: The person is ethically corrupt by universal ethics regardless of their faith and acts with bad intentions in mind.

C: People with moral behavior and specific beliefs are awarded for such things and people who do not believe or have acted wrong in accordance to their beliefs are punished.

W: A false god is worshipped and the true god punishes believers of other faiths, disbelievers, and immoral people within his own morals.

N: No god or, powerless, or uncaring god who created the world and left it to its own devices. No one is punished and no one is rewarded. Faith is wrong and meaningless.

M: A moral god or existence follows life after death resulting in a reward for those who are ethically correct through universal standards. Believers have still wasted their lives believing a certain faith which will have proven to have been wrong and meaningless. People with bad intentions are still punished.

I: A evil god who rewards people with bad intentions. Believers and Disbelievers are both screwed.

The number values reflect how favorable a event is to the person.

So according to the table, it doesn't matter if we are well intentioned or bad intentioned, believers or disbelievers since through probability and decision value, we all have equal odds of being rewarded, having our believes shattered, nothing happening to us or being punished.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:47PM
kyupol at 2:56PM, March 31, 2009
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What about the spiritual but non-religious?








NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:26PM
bravo1102 at 3:34PM, March 31, 2009
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That is most likely covered by DBg but Spirituality is not measured nor does is it relevant to the catagories in the table. It assumes a moral/ethical life not a spiritual one.

You see this table proves that none of it matters and the Taoists and Hiniyana Buddists are right. Just be moral and ethical and live not in your thoughts but in your being. All the rest is just a definition and you are not a definition because that is believing, not knowing. lol!
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
Prank at 11:31PM, March 31, 2009
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True, although it does prove to point that Belief and Disbelief may be the wrong words.

That was my original conclusion but the possibility of a immoral god tears it apart since the outcomes of bad intentions are then equal to Bg and DBg.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:47PM
bravo1102 at 10:03AM, April 1, 2009
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A convincing argument can be made that God is inherently evil and that good is the exception. Because of this some heresies held that the Creator of the world was evil and a misguided and ignorant underling of the True Deity. (Some held that this Creator didn't know that the True God existed and that he was the God of the Old Testament)

That is why the sage rejects all these definitions and lives an ethical life because he knows that he is not defined by words or thoughts but by existence and being. The sage will laugh at times others think are strange because he knows the futility of such definitions and a comfortable moral life in his own self is all that is necessary.

One hand clapping while a tree falls in the woods. ;)

That is why I have to laugh. lol!
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
StaceyMontgomery at 11:19AM, April 1, 2009
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I am hardly the first to point this out, but there are other possibilities. What if there is a god that rewards honest attempts by reasonable people to be good, but punishes blind faith? That changes the outcome.

Pascal's Wager is based on choosing a very specific set of possibilities so that Pascal will like the way it comes out.

For instance, what if God punishes people who put too much stock in pascal's gambit, because he disapproves of a statistical approach?

See, its easy to add your own - and in doing so, you can get whatever result you want!

Pascal was smart - but he was not always right.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:55PM
CDarklock at 1:04PM, April 1, 2009
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I believe you're miscalculating. Your N and M rows are presumptive of faith being meaningless and without value, when it seems reasonably clear to me that the person is a good person by universal ethics because of their faith.

This would promote the 1-point result in Bg/M to a 2-point result, and hence Bg obtains a 25% lead over DBg and b.

I also do not see how DBg/N is a 2-point result. The people in this column are wrong. There is, in fact, a God. That is a 1-point result. They do not suffer, but they do not benefit either. That puts DBg pretty firmly in the rear of the pack, with results of 5-3-4 from left to right.

Furthermore, since in the entire N row the benefit obtained by any person is equivalent, the result should be equivalent across the board. So we can productively remove it; it has no effect on the relative scores.

That gives us results of 4-2-2 across the board, suggesting that it is materially more rational to believe in God. We can test this by examining how Bb and DBb compare; and what we find is a minor bump for Bb in the W column. If you believe in god A, and behave immorally according to god A's standards, there is a minute possibility that W results in behaving morally under god B's standards and being rewarded for it. So Bb just slightly edges out both DBg and DBb.

Of course, this chart fails to provide any probabilities for the row values, so an assumption of equal probability skews things. The probabilities are almost certainly not equal. The probability of W is much higher than the probability of C, by definition, and it is unclear how W differs from I - they seem like the same thing. It is unclear how M differs from C. The probability of N seems radically high. (That's personal belief sneaking in there, though, so massive bias on my part.) And since the entire N row has no bearing on the chart under my analysis, that would indicate that it probably doesn't matter what you believe or what you do in the grand scheme of things…
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:39AM
ifelldownthestairs at 6:06PM, April 1, 2009
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CDarklock
it seems reasonably clear to me that the person is a good person by universal ethics because of their faith.

what basis do you rest that on exactly? that's kind of a depressing idea, that people are only good because of an institution, and that we are incapable of being independently good.

CDarklock
The people in this column are wrong. There is, in fact, a God.

oh, there is? thanks, i've always wondered about that. i guess i don't have to anymore, now that you've confirmed it.

okay, i don't mean to be a prick or anything, but that's not a very strong point for your argument. like a lawyer assuring a jury that his client is innocent because someone else committed the crime, but not offering any information on this person, much less the person themselves.

…that's probably grammatically incorrect, but i hate using him/her.
you know why birds don't write their memoirs? because birds don't lead epic lives, that's why. who'd want to read what a bird does? nobody. that's who.
http://www.drunkduck.com/i_fell_down_the_stairs
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:56PM
Prank at 9:29PM, April 1, 2009
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Someone
I am hardly the first to point this out, but there are other possibilities. What if there is a god that rewards honest attempts by reasonable people to be good, but punishes blind faith? That changes the outcome.

I'm sure the Moral god covers that, punishing those who believe blindly with ill intentions although it wouldn't punish people who believe blindly out of ignorance and truly believe they are doing the right thing.

Someone
For instance, what if God punishes people who put too much stock in pascal's gambit, because he disapproves of a statistical approach?

I think this falls along the lines of wrong God, whose system of rules is too impractical for anyone. It would be equal to a God who rewards people for breaking mirrors but punished those who make them.

Someone
I believe you're miscalculating. Your N and M rows are presumptive of faith being meaningless and without value, when it seems reasonably clear to me that the person is a good person by universal ethics because of their faith.

“Most people who believe in God devote significant time to prayer and church activities. Such people presumably also contribute money, perhaps a tithe (10% of their income). Without that belief, most of them would not do such things. In addition, many such people go through life with inhibitions on both thought and behavior. (Consider, for example, inhibitions regarding sexual practices, marriage & divorce, birth control, abortion, reading material, and association with other people.) In many cases, those inhibitions are quite extreme and may have great effects on one's life and the lives of others. In some communities, women are oppressed on the basis of theistic belief. Also, some theists have persecuted and even killed others (as in inquisitions, religious wars, attacks on homosexuals, abortionists, etc.) because of their belief that that is what God wants them to do. Furthermore, some people (e.g., clergymen) devote their entire lives to God. For these various reasons, even if God does not exist, it would indeed matter a great deal whether or not one believes in God, at least for most such believers.” -Theodore M. Drange

Someone
This would promote the 1-point result in Bg/M to a 2-point result, and hence Bg obtains a 25% lead over DBg and b.

Apparently not.


Someone
I also do not see how DBg/N is a 2-point result. The people in this column are wrong. There is, in fact, a God. That is a 1-point result. They do not suffer, but they do not benefit either. That puts DBg pretty firmly in the rear of the pack, with results of 5-3-4 from left to right.

“N: No god or, powerless, or uncaring god who created the world and left it to its own devices. No one is punished and no one is rewarded. Faith is wrong and meaningless.”

The nonexistence of any god is also a choice, so they might not be clearly wrong with a neutral god. Even Richard Dawkins, the famed atheist has toyed with the possibility of there being a creator, but it would a “blind watchmaker” more than anything in his opinion. They have a favorable existence having lived out their lives to the fullest.

Someone
Furthermore, since in the entire N row the benefit obtained by any person is equivalent, the result should be equivalent across the board. So we can productively remove it; it has no effect on the relative scores.

Apparently not.

Someone
That gives us results of 4-2-2 across the board, suggesting that it is materially more rational to believe in God. We can test this by examining how Bb and DBb compare; and what we find is a minor bump for Bb in the W column. If you believe in god A, and behave immorally according to god A's standards, there is a minute possibility that W results in behaving morally under god B's standards and being rewarded for it. So Bb just slightly edges out both DBg and DBb.

But B and DBb would be pretty much the same according to God A's standards since both are in a way acting with bad intentions and both would be punished by god A who would be the correct god and then I assume the most powerful one. This would be like being sent to hell by the Cristian god and rewarded by Lucifer for your immorality which would still be a unfavorable position, no?

Someone
Of course, this chart fails to provide any probabilities for the row values, so an assumption of equal probability skews things. The probabilities are almost certainly not equal. The probability of W is much higher than the probability of C, by definition, and it is unclear how W differs from I - they seem like the same thing. It is unclear how M differs from C. The probability of N seems radically high. (That's personal belief sneaking in there, though, so massive bias on my part.) And since the entire N row has no bearing on the chart under my analysis, that would indicate that it probably doesn't matter what you believe or what you do in the grand scheme of things…

The chances of choosing the correct god would be one out of an infinite number of choices. The chances of a wrong god existing would also be one out of an infinity, no? The chances of a neutral god is also only one possibility out of an infinite possibility. I do not have to show each choice since I believe I can generalize them into these five areas since the chance of any god existing would be equal to any other one so one can only classify them by their actions. Moral Gods and Immoral Gods do not care that you believe in them but the Correct Gods and Wrong Gods will. I've already explained the effect of faith turning out to be false. I still reach the same conclusion though.

Someone
CDarklock
The people in this column are wrong. There is, in fact, a God.

oh, there is? thanks, i've always wondered about that. i guess i don't have to anymore, now that you've confirmed it.

I'm sure CDarklock simply misread the definition of N pointing out that a God would clearly exist and Atheist would be wrong but it also includes the possibility of no god and even if such a God existed, we would probably never learn of it's existence.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:47PM
bravo1102 at 8:09AM, April 2, 2009
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I always love it when a philosphical propostion is reduced to mathematics and a neat chart. lol!

Again as I said before I have to laugh because at its core this is ridiculous. Where there is faith, reason and logic do not apply. A person of faith would say God can skew the results any way She wants as She does set the rules. If She wants pi to be 3.00, She can do that. Or at least that's one definition of God and that can't be reduced to a neat little chart as there are as many definitions of God as there are religious groups in the world and they splinter into smaller groups practically every day.

Pascal was indeed wrong in a lot of his philosophy and it was so easy to pick it apart as the Philosophes of the Age of Reason just loved to do. He even made some mathematical errors that were picked up at about the same time.

There is a difference between knowing something to be true and believing something to be true. lol!
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
ozoneocean at 8:24AM, April 2, 2009
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bravo1102
I always love it when a philosphical propostion is reduced to mathematics and a neat chart.
I agree. It does make an interesting diversion though.
I mean the truth is that the existence or not of divinity is largely irrelevant to the natural world and humanity in general, since we have structures of understanding how things work and exist that don't need that sort of presence.

And a rational, dispassionate examination of history a society will inform one that religious belief systems are just another manifestation of social cultural adhesion within communities, and they're a strong force that helps to propagate and maintain culture.
———-
BUT, aside from those simple realities, little intellectual puzzles like this can be fun, entertaining, diverting, and lead interesting places, even if they have no application to belief, divinity, or the realities of religious belief. It's more an exercise of the mind. :)

People run into trouble when they think it could gain them some hidden insight into the subject though… That sort of thing has been known to start new religions and crazy philosophies :)
———-

That said, I'm interested to see where this will lead!
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
CDarklock at 10:07AM, April 2, 2009
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ifelldownthestairs
what basis do you rest that on exactly?

That it's column “Bg”. This does not in any way negate or diminish the possibility of people being in column “DBg”.

ifelldownthestairs
CDarklock
The people in this column are wrong. There is, in fact, a God.

oh, there is? thanks, i've always wondered about that. i guess i don't have to anymore, now that you've confirmed it.

For row N. The other rows remain possible.

Taking Prank's clarification into account, I don't believe row N should be a single row. The actual nonexistence of God is not the same as the existence of a God who does not reward or punish after death. Some of us - including myself - do in fact believe this to be the case. That would put us into the Bb or Bg column, where it is marked as a 1-point result even though we would find it a 2-point result. Our faith was not meaningless, because it was correct.

I see the variables differently. I see both belief and goodness to be ternary values: true, false, or NEUTRAL. Likewise, you have three variables on the reality, not two: “is there a God”, “are the good rewarded”, and “are the wicked punished”. So we have nine columns and eight rows, for a total of 72 results.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:39AM
Prank at 1:01PM, April 2, 2009
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Someone
I always love it when a philosphical propostion is reduced to mathematics and a neat chart. lol!



Someone
Taking Prank's clarification into account, I don't believe row N should be a single row. The actual nonexistence of God is not the same as the existence of a God who does not reward or punish after death. Some of us - including myself - do in fact believe this to be the case. That would put us into the Bb or Bg column, where it is marked as a 1-point result even though we would find it a 2-point result. Our faith was not meaningless, because it was correct.

I don't know how you're still on the Bb column, it would inherently be the same as the b column going as far as results, no?

Would it be much different? N does stand for neutral. A god which does not affect us in anyway for example; Aristotle's god. We would never be able to tell if such a god does exist in our lifetime and since it would never directly contact us, we would never know of it's existence receiving no reward or punishment.

I believe the generality of the values covers this. For example, say the wicked god would be indeed be able to reward, but not punish. It would still be unfavorable since the wicked would still be rewarded and inversely the same since the good would be punished. Although I can't really imagine what you would be trying to pull off with nine columns and eight rows, please feel free to elaborate :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:47PM
Ronson at 10:37PM, April 2, 2009
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I've said it before, Pascal's wager is ridiculous.

If you PRETEND to believe in a certain God and follow the established rules AND you get into heaven then you have a mentally challenged God because It didn't consider that you might be faking it.

If morals and ethics are determined by God, then why have ethics and morality changed so much over the past millenia? Do we have a God who keeps changing Its mind, or are there multiple Gods fighting for control? Also, since all of God's Laws are handed down and transcribed by men, how do we know they are in any way divine? Let's face it, every prophet who allegedly handed down a rulebook claim to have seen God when everyone else wasn't looking. Surely society crafts the God and the moral code that makes them the most comfortable.

As for the chart…

Does anyone really fall under “b”? That's almost cartoony evil. I tend to think that most people who seem to do wrong think they're doing the right thing but are not according to the rules of their society.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
Prank at 4:52AM, April 3, 2009
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Ronson
Does anyone really fall under “b”? That's almost cartoony evil. I tend to think that most people who seem to do wrong think they're doing the right thing but are not according to the rules of their society.

Yeah, it's cartoony evil. Cause if someone ultimately believes they are doing the right thing, can you really blame them?

Kind of hard to explain but it's the difference between a professional hitman and someone who is mentally ill, both having recently murdered someone. The first knows it's wrong and hurtful but kills anyway for personal gain, and the latter does not know it's wrong or hurtful and does it cause they clearly believe they are doing something good or that doesn't bother anyone.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:47PM
bravo1102 at 6:11AM, April 3, 2009
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ozoneocean
I agree. It does make an interesting diversion though.

Yes it does. It is highly entertaining, I enjoy doubling over in laughter as much as the next guy. Though I think arguing over those angels dancing on pinheads is a ridiculous enterprise it is very entertaining to watch it in action. My love of satire. :)

I once knew a guy who would throw out a propostion like this among a group, slowly back away and watch the sparks fly.

It is wiser not to open your mouth and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

I wish I was as good at following it on these message boards as I am at cocktail parties. ;)

Ronson is right (as always ;) ) Pascal's wager is ridiculous when you consider that God is supposed to be all-knowing. She'd know if you were taking the wager as opposed to really having faith.

And for pure evil being cartoonish, that's us. We see it as cartoonish as most of us can't imagine a purely evil point of view. We have a hard time defining evil. We usually recognize evil acts and points of view after the fact not while they are being done. While they are being done we convienently close our eyes as it is uncomfortable when you realize that someone is doing something we see as so evil for reasons he/she believes in wholeheartedly and can adroitly rationalize.

To imagine a truly evil being is beyond most of us. What would be his reasoning or would pure evil have any reasoning?

last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM

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