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. 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
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.
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.
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.