Morrison’s Wager

Pascal argued that if Christianity is wrong, you lose nothing, but if it is right then non-believers spend eternity in Hell. So what do you have to lose by believing?

What if Pascal was wrong? What if the real God has yet to reveal himself and punish all who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Then we have everything to lose by believing in the Judeo-Christian God.

When I see a sign that says “Bridge Out” I can take a detour and avoid driving into the water. If I doubt the veracity if the sign, I can stop my car and walk ahead to see if the bridge is really out. I cannot, however, walk up to a chasm and look to see if there really is a Hell. No one would tell me to unquestioningly heed every warning sign I come across. Why should I heed warnings of Hell?

15 Replies to “Morrison’s Wager”

  1. Yeah, Pascals wager is Euro-centric. It’s better to be skeptical of all rather than stake your chances on one that could be wrong.

  2. That depends on what you use as a definition for “all”. In the context used, it was to be skeptical of “all religious theories” which is not illogical. The skeptical position is one of agnosticism which admits to not knowing the answer.

  3. I think the most important thing is the truth. Seek the truth. Search for the evidence. Be willing to accept the answer no matter what it is. Don’t rule out the existence of God a priori. Ask God to show you that He exists.

    Several years ago, I spoke with a co-worker who was attending a very liberal church. They really didn’t talk about God very much there. He told me, “Bob, I don’t care if it turns out that God doesn’t exist. Maybe Buddhism is correct. Maybe Christianity. I don’t know. But I just want the truth.” Now, I was very impressed with that kind of thinking! I wish everyone thought like that.

    No, you can’t walk up to a chasm and look to see if there really is a Hell. But you can take the word of an eyewitness. Jesus Christ believed in Hell. And He didn’t ask people to “Just believe me. Just exercise a little blind faith.” He gave evidence where He knew it would be received. He withheld evidence where He knew it would be rejected. If you are willing to receive the evidence, He’ll give it to you.

    I think down deep you really know that God exists. You know that nothing comes from nothing. You know, therefore, that something has to have existed forever. You also know that if the universe had a beginning, it had a beginner. And you know that some things are really wrong, no matter what anyone says. All these things point to the existence of a creator and a moral lawgiver.

    Would you be willing to submit to that creator, if he does indeed exist? The answer to that question will reveal how you approach the evidence.

  4. It’s one thing to look someone in the eye who is telling you about a place he has been to, but it is another to read it in a book that was written in a time when most people couldn’t read. Must I submit first to God before I listen to the story of Jesus? Do I take the Bible at face value or do I consider the possibility that it contains hearsay of uncertain reliability? What if the writers of the Gospels were wrong? Some say, “What would it take to convince you that the Bible is true?”. I’m curious to know what it would take to convince a believer the Bible is fallible.

  5. @Bobmo,

    Your statements about seeking the truth sound disingenuous. You seem to only be able to accept the truth if it agrees with your notion that God exists. Just as we shouldn’t rule out the existence of God a priori, we shouldn’t also rule in the existence of God a priori.

    Is there anything anyone could say or any evidence that you could see which would convince you that God doesn’t exist?

    I do not deep down believe in God or the necessity for a creator and moral lawgiver. Morality is the result of chemical reactions in your body. Nothing more. So too is your sense of self.

    IMO it’s unfortunate people waste time preparing for a world that doesn’t likely exist, instead of putting more effort in making this world (the one we know exists) the best place it can possibly be. We would all be better off if we took the time wasted on praying, going to church, etc. and spent it experimenting, creating, learning, and solving problems that will make this world a better place.

    Certainly, I can accept that some things have existed forever. Matter, light, energy, etc. and the rules by which they interact have all existed forever. Then the universe is just a result of the interaction & the laws governing the stuff that has existed forever. Just as your God didn’t need a creator, my matter, energy, light, universe, didn’t need a creator either.

    It seems a logical fallacy (special pleading or ad hoc reasoning) to appeal to what I inherently “know”. Perhaps these are things that you inherently “know”, but they are not things I “know” or even believe.

    Incidentally, I don’t know what you mean when you say “submit to your creator”.

  6. Interesting point: submitting to a creator. How can you submit to someone you can’t see or hear? You can only submit to ideas or laws that were passed along by another human.

  7. Perry, you said my statements about seeking the truth sound disingenuous. Are you suggesting that I have the ability to be intellectually honest, but that I’ve chosen not to be? And you are advising me to not be disingenuous? Doesn’t this contradict your view that I have no free will? What does “disingenuous” mean in this context?

    Appealing to what you know is only a logical fallacy if it’s not true. I believe it is true.

    You said, “We would all be better off if we took the time wasted on praying, going to church, etc. and spent it experimenting, creating, learning, and solving problems that will make this world a better place.” By what standard would be that time be better spent? The term better implies a standard that is not subjective to either one of us, since if it doesn’t apply to me, then my time is not wasted.

    Do you really believe that matter has existed forever? Unless you believe that the universe is an open system, that view violates both laws of Thermodynamics (If mass/energy has existed forever, it would have dissipated an infinite amount of time ago.) And you are not appealing to a source of matter outside the universe, unless you believe in an infinite regress of sources.

    However, modern physics holds that the universe did have a beginning and hasn’t existed forever. If anything has existed forever, it cannot be material.

    You also said, “Incidentally, I don’t know what you mean when you say “submit to your creator”. I know.

  8. As I’ve said in the past, while I accept that free will is an illusion & everything that will happen is a result of ‘molecules in motion’, I don’t live my life that way. Rather, I accept the illusion created by my mind and believe that you could be intellectually honest. Perhaps my illusion is incorrect.

    “Appealing to what you know is only a logical fallacy if it’s not true. I believe it is true.”

    What evidence do you have that makes you believe it is true? And how would that override the evidence demonstrating it is not true (e.g. when I wrote “I do not deep down believe in God or the necessity for a creator and moral lawgiver. “)

    In my world-view, producing is superior to consuming. So, activities that ‘produce’ something should take precedence over things that ‘consume’. Creating a movie is better than watching TV. For me, church-going & prayer consume time but produce very little. IMO the world would be better off if more people produced more things and stopped wasting time unproductively. But this is just my opinion and it is no more valid than yours.

    Modern physics gives no opinion about what existed before the Big Bang. We have no evidence for which to make any conclusions. Thus, your assertion that “If anything has existed forever, it cannot be material” is unsupportable.

  9. Oh yes…still no answer to

    “Is there anything anyone could say or any evidence that you could see which would convince you that God doesn’t exist?”

  10. @Perry: If something could come from nothing, and if complex specified information could arise from purely random processes, the need for any intelligence, supernatural or otherwise, to explain the creation of life (among other things) would be seriously called into question.

    You said, “Modern physics gives no opinion about what existed before the Big Bang.” Yet you believe matter has existed forever. In fact, according to modern physics, matter cannot have existed forever, since the theory teaches that matter itself was created at the Big Bang. Therefore, anything eternal cannot be material. Hence, your belief in the eternality of matter is a matter of faith.

    What evidence do I have that makes me believe you know God exists?
    Well Dedwarmo’s post What do the heavens declare? is a good starting point.

    @Dedwarmo: No, it doesn’t. What kind of “response” are you looking for?

    By the way, you said, “Interesting point: submitting to a creator. How can you submit to someone you can’t see or hear?” Are you sure your position isn’t one of unwillingness rather than inability (especially given your statement
    here: “I have decided it doesn’t really matter whether the Bible is true or not, I am not willing to submit myself to it or God.” (emphasis added.)) It sounds like you acknowledge the possibility. You just aren’t willing to do it.

  11. I absolutely acknowledge the possibility that the Bible might be true and there might be a God. But whether or not I am willing to submit to it has no bearing on whether or not the Bible is true. Are you willing to not believe in God?

    Regarding the origin of matter: Fred Hoyle hypothesized that matter was being created continuously. This is the steady state model. Lemaître, Gamow and others developed what became known as the Big Bang Theory which included the idea of nucleosynthesis which is the process of creating new atomic nuclei from preexisting protons and neutrons. I don’t think they propose matter comes from nothing.

  12. @Bobmo – You are mistaken about what modern physics has to say about the nature of the universe. There are many theories. Here is just one suggesting that there was something before the Big Bang. http://www.physorg.com/news102516861.html
    The Big Bang is merely the theory that currently fits the available data best. Future scientists will create new theories that better explain the more data available. To say that something is impossible or “can’t be” is the realm of the religious. Science does not deal in simple black & white notions.

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