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Why It's Not a 'Safe Bet' to Believe In God

The idea that you should believe in God "just in case" trivializes both faith and reality, and concedes your argument before it's begun.

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Unless you have some actual good evidence that the sacrifice of time/ money/ happiness/ goodness/ etc. required by religion -- and the sacrifice of healthy skepticism and critical thinking and passion for truth -- will actually pay off with the reward of a blissful eternal afterlife, your bet on God is just as shaky as the atheists' bet on no God.

And if you had some good evidence that God exists, and that these sacrifices had a good chance of paying off, you wouldn't be resorting to Pascal's Wager to make your case.

Conceding Your Argument Before You've Even Started It. If you take nothing else from this piece, take this:

The moment you propose Pascal's Wager is the moment you've conceded the argument.

Pascal's Wager isn't an argument for why God exists and is really real. Pascal's Wager is, in fact, 100% disconnected from the question of whether God exists and is really real. Pascal's Wager offers no evidence for God's existence -- not even the shaky "evidence" of the appearance of design or the supposed fine-tuning of the universe or the feelings in your heart. It offers no logical argument for why God must exist or probably exists -- not even the paper-thin "logic" of the First Cause argument. It does not offer one scrap of a positive reason for thinking that God is real.

Pascal's Wager is misdirection. Distraction. It's a way of drawing attention away from how crummy the arguments for God actually are. It's an evasion: a slippery, dodgy, wanna-be clever trick to avoid the actual argument. It's a way of making the debater feel wily and ingenious, while ignoring the actual question on the table.

It isn't an argument. It's an excuse for why you don't have an argument. And it's a completely pathetic excuse.

If you're relying on Pascal's Wager for your faith, you might as well believe in unicorns or elves, Zoroaster or Zeus, the invisible dragon in Carl Sagan's garage or the Flying Spaghetti Monster who brought the world into being through his blessed noodley appendage. Pascal's Wager is every bit as good an argument for these beliefs as it is for any religion that people currently believe in.

If you had a better argument for God, you'd be making it. You'd be offering some good evidence for why God exists; some logical explanation for why God has to exist. You wouldn't be resorting to this lazy, slippery, bet-hedging, shot-full-of-holes excuse for why you don't have to actually think about the question.

Pascal's Wager isn't an argument.

It's an admission that you've got nothing.

Read more of Greta Christina at her blog.

 
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