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WHY THE GODS PREFERS SKEPTICS--JK

LOGICAL-THREADS

THE CORRECTION OF PASCAL'S WAGER

pascal.jpeg

Pascal argued that if there were
 
no god, then the Catholics have
 
lost nothing by their faith, and if
 
there were a god, then they
 
gained eternal salvation.  Only a
 
person of faith could fail to see the
 
short coming of this so-called
 
argument, for Pascal presumes that
 
there is one god who dole out
 
rewards, and that He favors the
 
Catholics.  I start with an
 
analysis of what the gods must be
 
like.  I then go
 
to the question of how the gods
 
select for rewards.  I conclude that
 
those of faith stand fare worse
 
than those who are without faith,
 
if all other things are equal. 
 
Finally, I conclude that those with
 
the spirit of philosophy
 
(like Aristotle, Plato, Epicurus,
 
David Hume, John Stuart Mill,
 
Bertrand Russell, Jeremy
 
Bentham, and and me) would
 
come before all others.   
 

PASCAL'S WAGER


Pascal held that it was prudent when considering the risk of eternal damnation for to be a Catholic.  He held that there could be through faith eternal salvation to be gained; and if there was no God, the mistake would result in a pleasant delusion.  Thus, it was prudent to be Catholic This became known as Pascal's Wager.  I hold the opposite:  that the prudent choice is to be a skeptic.

 

To arrive at this conclusion, I begin with an analysis of the nature of the gods--a project quite similar in results to those obtained by the Greek atomist philosopher, Epicurus.  I, like Epicurus, rely upon reason rather than religious creed.  The answers of the believers are many and contradictoryas Epicurus stated.  Their foundations are ethereal, thus most of their disputations lie beyond resolution.  However, a clear majority of those who obtain extensive higher education from a secular university find absurd the religious beliefs of the common-herd.  Among those of education who doubt the religious beliefs of the masses, most have come to this position based upon a thorough logical analysis.  These skeptics I shall label "rinker" for rational thinker.  The consistent use of logical analysis in all matters is a fundamental distinction, one which separates theist from the rinker. 

 

One point that the rinkers find unacceptable is the popular conception of the gods. Below I shall set out various reasons for their rejection and then conclude with an explanation as to why the solution to Pascal's Wager is the opposite of what the philosopher and mathematician had proposed over 4 centuries ago.  The rinker is one who affirms that the world is fundamentally amenable to rational analysis including the question of gods.  All people who have faith assume that some propositions contradict the principles of rational analysis.  They call them mysteries.[1]  The choice between these two world-views is fundamental to the solution of questions about the gods and the ethereal.

 

There are five propositions that commonly attach to a God.  In Western societies their highest god has been named Ala, Jehovah, Yahweh, and Elohim.  He is held to be  (1) male, (2) incorporeal, and has 3 perfections:  (3) omniscience, (4) omnipotence, and (5) perfect beneficence.  The believers in this super-duper god, I will label   "MJT", for modern Judeo traditionist  A rinker would dismiss all 5 properties.  Since the project of examining Pascal's Wager requires an examination of the properties of the God, these popular assumption need to be properly disposed of. These attributes are the product of huffing: my god is greater than your god.   

 

Incorporeal is a chimera.  Incorporeal by definition means has no extension or mass.  Things without extension and mass do not exist in this world, though they can be of the class of myths, of dreams/speculations, of concepts, of theories, and of impossibilities (e.g., round squares).  Thus, to say this of a god is to place that god in one of those classes.

 

Since one of the assumptions holds that He exists in this world, then the concept of an incorporeal god is in the class of impossibilities. God can't be both incorporeal and exist in this world, and to argue that by definition He is both, this is to commit their God to the class of impossibilities. Their position is equivalent to saying that round squares has the property of existence.  Existence is proven by evidence, not established by definition.  

 

The point is that the burden of proof rests with the person proposing the new entity be it unicorn Atlantis, or Yahweh. This also goes for propositions about space and time.  Some rinkers claim that their god has a transcendental existence.  But this doesn't remove the requirement for proof.  They must show that there is in fact a transcendental state, that such state is not mere flight of fantasy, but that their is  a transcendental type of reality.  And to say that the proof is derived from the nature of their god, is to beg the question.  Similarly, if the MJTs claim Him to be both pure energy and incorporeal, this becomes a question of physics: can pure energy exist without mass and extension? The answer in physics is no. All energy is associated with both mass and space.  The MJTs speculations remain just that.  Just for a taste of the kinds of assertions a person of faith would make, a MJT could aver that their God is associated with the mass of this universe, like gravity.  This is a slippery slope we need not go down very far.

 

God as a pure force, like gravity, in the universe is a remote possibility. It is a far-fetched speculation made without the support of evidence, one which conflicts with the laws of physics. The MJT would argue that if a proposition that does not involve a contradiction then it is possible.  I simply refuse to open the door of theological speculation.  The task I am about is that of arriving at reasonable conclusions; thus, all remote possibilities are to be rejected.

 

The standard development of the category of incorporeal was just shown to be inadequate.  Consider the class of incorporeal angels.  It would not be possible, for example to see a thing that does not occupy space and have energy.  The scholastics (Medieval theologians) debated how many angles could dance on the head of a pin.  One of their answers was infinite number, since incorporeal means without extension.  Another problem the scholastics addressed (and is still addressed by theologians) is how does the incorporeal to react with the material? The MJTs of the world hold that the soul is the conscious mind.  But how does the incorporeal soul cause conscious action and how is God able to intercede in this universe?  The answer, they do, is to beg the question of how.  To offer some pure speculation, as is the practice of theologians, does not solve the problem, not when reason and reasonable are the standards of judgment.  My task is to arrive at reasonable conclusion.  A reasonable conclusion is that being in this universe and being incorporeal involves a contradiction.  If I assume there is a god, then it is corporeal.


Omniscience makes no sense. For to know everything means to know not just about the 5 billion humans, but also about the countless animals, bacterial, atoms, electrons, quarks, and so on. It is to know of their energy, position, composition and all other properties of each thing. To store this much information entails a storage system many magnitudes greater than this universe. Sure we can make a proposition that a God could know all, but could He? This is a vast universe, too vast for this proposition to even be a remote possibility.

 


Omnipotent makes no sense.  The God would have to have at His disposal more energy than the universe, and this is a vast universe.  But nothing of this universe could have so much energy.  The imagination is without bounds, but physics established boundaries.

 

Perfectly beneficent raises the problem of why there is evil (harm). This problem becomes insolvable when the God is claimed to be the creator of this world, to be involved in this world, to be omniscience, and to be omnipotent.  All the solutions by theologians to this dilemma have violated the principles of logic.

 

Immortality fairs no better; for nothing in this universe last forever.  What evidence is there that god is immortal.  Since a transcendental and incorporeal realms for god has been rejected as flights of fantasy, then god is of this universe, and being of this universe the forces leading to the collapse or the loss of energy through expansion would place a limit on His existence.  It is more reasonable to assume that god exists for a finite period of time.  

 

Beneficence is a reasonable ascription to God, just like knowledge and power; but when they are made boundless, these propositions become unreasonable.  What is reasonable is that god has both mass and extension, is beneficent, is intelligent, and has the ability to make things happen in this universe.  Just how much of these properties attach to a god is a matter to be resolve by observations--not a priori by definitions. 


Assuming there is a god, then why not many?  Whatever brought about one ought to bring about many. This is a more reasonable assertion based upon our experience of the nature of things.  A unique God would be very lonely. The rinker would select as a more reasonable supposition that there are many gods. Having gotten out of the way the bragging by priests and theologians, I will set about searching for reasonable assumptions.  But in order to proceed with Pascal's Wager, some five premises, not proven, must be assumed.  One, that there are gods.  Two, that the gods behave god-like, rather then demigod-like or worse.  Three, a denial of the evidential proposition; namely, to hold as insufficient the putative evidence each religion has from miracles, prophecies, and the like.  Four, that there is a soul.  And five, that there is a hereafter for the soul to dwell in. 

 

Pascal believed that the prophecies found in the Bible are proof that Yahweh was a Christian God.  He also believed that the many miracles both current and ancient showed that the Catholic Church is God's church.  These I deny.  They are not they essential for the reasonable solution to Pascals Wager. 

 

Epicurus, who tactfully denied that there were gods (he didn't want to travel Socrates final path), conducted an enterprise similar to the one I am doing. First he denied the common ascriptions concerning the gods:  "Don't believe in the gods of the common-herd, for their reports are many and contradictory." The common man and his priests of the JT tradition have conceived of God as being like an animal trainer-king who is pleased when his chosen people jump through the worship hoops, suppress and kill heretics, and sing His praise.  These are not reasonable ascriptions.  God is not a proud parent tickled pink at his creation paying homage, and vengeful if they don't. The project before me is that of setting down what pure reason dictates according to the FOUR ASSUMPTIONS above.  From these premises, it is deduced that certain common opinions about Yahweh (such as being Jealous) are unreasonable. The gods didn't behave like mortals.  What I have just set down is strikingly similar to what Epicurus set down 2,350 years ago.

 

Consider the gods as being like the idealized human, but only several folds more complete. They are blissful, intelligent (bright and logical), and uphold utilitarian ethics. They would have a degree of perfection far superior to mortals. They would find that those mortals who came closest to them would be the least offensive. And if these deities are involved in the allocation of rewards in the hereafter (as assumed for analysis), those mortals who are most like them would receive the greater allocation. Since there is no compelling evidence to follow the dictates of any one of the worlds major religions, the failure to do so could not adversely affect the rinkers allocation. The gods would find the skeptical rinker, being more like them, worthier of rewards.

 

This conclusion of worth would hold up even if the gods spoke through the fanatic Mohammed.  The failure of the rinker to heed Mohammed's message would follow from its uncertainty, and thus would not be a cause for diminished reward.  Assuming god spoke through Mohammed, the He spoke for the common herd.  A rinkers failure to perceive the drivel as being divinely inspired would not be the rinker's fault.  Nor should the common herd who follow Mohammed's teachings be worthier of reward for so doing, for their faith is founded upon accident of birth and group reinforcement.  Their Weltanschauung is way below that of the rinkers.  The common person would receive a smaller allocation than would the rinker.  The gods would not only approve the actions of the rinker, but they would consider the rinker to be more worthy than a blind follower of the true faith.  Now the gods in allocating rewards for the hereafter, they would consider not only intelligence and rationality, but also moral worth.  They would also measure the man by his actions given his circumstances.  Here too the rinker would stand before those of faith, for they would not be given to the wasting their time and money on supporting a religion. Moreover, the rinker, being full of the logic, would not become ensnared in inferior causes such as our 2-party politics. His concern for the conditions on this planet would be based upon an astute analysis.  The person of the true faith is more likely to get side tracked: to become a conspicuous consumer, smoke cigarettes, be obese, and have hobbies such as genealogy. The rinker would select a better way to serve mankind and his leisure activities would produce better results, for his ethics and concerns have not been diluted by service to an organized religion and its creed.  He would have greater control over his genetically determined emotional allotment. It is reasonable to conclude that the rinker's deeds given the totality of circumstance is superior to the person who is not a rinker, whatever his faith; and that the gods would, when considering merit, reward more the rinker.


Pascal presented his wager with the optimism of a true believer. He concluded it was, on the question of eternal damnation, prudent to be a practicing Catholic.  Pascal had accepted that the empirical evidence support the Catholic faith. The world then was much different, but even then there were a few skeptics, such as Gassandi, who came to conclusion similar to that of Epicurus. However, in todays world, the putative empirical evidence has been given a psychological cause. And given the advances of science, the informed man perceives the world much differently than is Pascals day. Given these two aforementioned advances, the reasonable conclusion as to the issue of eternal damnation--and its converse eternal rewards--is for to conclude as the rinkers do, namely that reward is more likely for the logical skeptic. My rational solution to this question is the opposite of Pascals.

 

After word

 The product of the above rational analysis is not that far from the common conception of the gods, one who occupies space, can intercede, and is approachable, like a guardian angel or a favored mortal (such as their Mohammed, Jesus. and Mary whom the masses pray to). This type of conception has a long history. The early Hebrews perceived of their god as primarily like the Greek Athena, a protector:  a protector who was more powerful than the Canaanite and Egyptian gods (see my paper on the Hebrew Gods, which is based primarily biblical passages and the contemporaneous religion of the Levant region).  The early Christians perceived of their Jesus being like Prometheus, the giver of light and friend of mankind, and like Prometheus he suffered for the sake of mankind.  Moreover, the Christians believed in the resurrection of the body.  The rinkers conception of what the most probable gods would be like is of a class of deities whom the masses turn to.  The rinkers, however, also hold that the most probable of gods belongs to the null class, and there is no soul. 



[1] Those who hold to mysteries are committed to a set of propositions which are ultimately beyond both proof and refutation; and being beyond entails that a similar set of propositions has an equal footing epistemologically.  One can only select among them as one would among flavors of quality ice cream.  It is why there has been no fundamental progress in religions other than sophistication and thus why there are so many flavors of religion. Though those of a faith aver that their mysteries rest upon proof; it is a proof that only a person of the right faith could accept. For Christians their conclusions are founded upon a combination of passages in their Bible, sophistry, and the creed of their sect. 

 

A truly astounding example of the power of philosophy that shows Pascal to be off 180, or one can in a well constructed satirical dialogue arrive at the same place. 

 

http://www.jhuger.com/kisshank.mv

This morning there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first:

John:

"Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

Mary:

Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's ass with us."

Me:

"Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His ass?"

John:

"If you kiss Hank's ass, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the shit out of you."

Me:

"What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

John:

"Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His ass."

Me:

"That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

Mary:

"Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the ass?"

Me:

"Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

John:

"Then come kiss Hank's ass with us."

Me:

"Do you kiss Hank's ass often?"

Mary:

"Oh yes, all the time..."

Me:

"And has He given you a million dollars?"

John:

"Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

Me:

"So why don't you just leave town now?"

Mary:

"You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the shit out of you."

Me:

"Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's ass, left town, and got the million dollars?"

John:

"My mother kissed Hank's ass for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

Me:

"Haven't you talked to her since then?"

John:

"Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

Me:

"So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

Mary:

"Well, He gives you a little bit before you leave. Maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."

Me:

"What's that got to do with Hank?"

John:

"Hank has certain 'connections.'"

Me:

"I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

John:

"But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's ass He'll kick the shit out of you."

Me:

"Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

Mary:

"No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

Me:

"Then how do you kiss His ass?"

John:

"Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His ass. Other times we kiss Karl's ass, and he passes it on."

Me:

"Who's Karl?"

Mary:

"A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's ass. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

Me:

"And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His ass, and that Hank would reward you?"

John:

"Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."

   

   

   

 

   

From the desk of Karl

  1. Kiss Hank's ass and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
  2. Use alcohol in moderation.
  3. Kick the shit out of people who aren't like you.
  4. Eat right.
  5. Hank dictated this list Himself.
  6. The moon is made of green cheese.
  7. Everything Hank says is right.
  8. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
  9. Don't use alcohol.
  10. Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
  11. Kiss Hank's ass or He'll kick the shit out of you.

   

   

   

   

   

   

 

   

 

 

 

Me:

"This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

Mary:

"Hank didn't have any paper."

Me:

"I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

John:

"Of course, Hank dictated it."

Me:

"I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

Mary:

"Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

Me:

"I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the shit out of people just because they're different?"

Mary:

"It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

Me:

"How do you figure that?"

Mary:

"Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

Me:

"Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

John:

"No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

Me:

"But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

John:

"There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

Me:

"Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

Mary:

"But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

Me:

"I'm not really an expert, but I think the theory that the Moon was somehow 'captured' by the Earth has been discounted*. Besides, not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it cheese."

John:

"Ha! You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!"

Me:

"We do?"

Mary:

"Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

Me:

"You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

John:

"Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

Me:

"But...oh, never mind. What's the deal with wieners?"

Mary:

She blushes.

John:

"Wieners, in buns, no condiments. It's Hank's way. Anything else is wrong."

Me:

"What if I don't have a bun?"

John:

"No bun, no wiener. A wiener without a bun is wrong."

Me:

"No relish? No Mustard?"

Mary:

She looks positively stricken.

John:

He's shouting. "There's no need for such language! Condiments of any kind are wrong!"

Me:

"So a big pile of sauerkraut with some wieners chopped up in it would be out of the question?"

Mary:

Sticks her fingers in her ears."I am not listening to this. La la la, la la, la la la."

John:

"That's disgusting. Only some sort of evil deviant would eat that..."

Me:

"It's good! I eat it all the time."

Mary:

She faints.

John:

He catches Mary. "Well, if I'd known you were one of those I wouldn't have wasted my time. When Hank kicks the shit out of you I'll be there, counting my money and laughing. I'll kiss Hank's ass for you, you bunless cut-wienered kraut-eater."

With this, John dragged Mary to their waiting car, and sped off.

 

 

 

 

David Hume, one of the 2 greatest English philosophers, recalled what transpired with the death of Voltaire, where a member of the clergy being present, said that Voltaire had underwent last rites.  (However, the Church must have known this to be a lie, for they would not allow Voltaire to be buried in church grounds). David Hume arranged before his death to have Boswell, the famed English chronicler and Hume's friend present, to prevent the same being said of him as was of Voltaire. A reading of Adam Smith's short account of his last day and his short autobiographical sketch reveals that he was far from frightened at the prospect of eternal non-existence. He writes of an inner calmness and relief as the end of his life approached. 

 

David Hume, one of the 2 greatest English philosophers, recalled what transpired with the death of Voltaire, where a member of the clergy being present, said that Voltaire had underwent last rites.  (However, the Church must have known this to be a lie, for they would not allow Voltaire to be buried in church grounds). David Hume arranged before his death to have Boswell, the famed English chronicler and Hume's friend present, to prevent the same being said of him as was of Voltaire. A reading of Adam Smith's short account of his last day and his short autobiographical sketch reveals that he was far from frightened at the prospect of eternal non-existence. He writes of an inner calmness and relief as the end of his life approached.

 

There is a short article by a doctor on dying an atheist. 

 

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