Friday, December 14, 2007

Pascal's Wager

Pascal argued that one should believe in God because, well, what do you have to lose? It seems a pretty lousy way to determine reality. And it has another downside, as Eduardo Porter points out in today's NY Times:
In my view, however, the biggest flaw in Pascal’s argument is that it understates the costs of belief. Because believing, it seems to me, is not free.

Belief in God too often spawns reasons to punish sinners — “adulterers” in Saudi Arabia, gays for some Republican presidential candidates. Through the ages, it has provided people of all sorts of creeds a great argument to kill and maim the people from the next creed over. If it turns out that God doesn’t exist — having bought into the notion, it seems to me, would prove a pretty bad wager indeed.

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