Pascal's wager

Even if the Atheist has doubts it is still reasonable for him to embrace {enter religion here} . To illustrate this fact, consider this situation. You are told that there is a speed-trap set by police to catch speeders on a certain road. Even if you doubt the information you must still act as though you believe it. You will slow down just to be on the safe side. You feel no need to start arguing that the police would never do a thing like that, or that you drove there before and never got caught speeding. In a similar sense the Atheist can simply submit in {enter religion here} although he still has doubts. Rather than argue about what he doubts he should first get on the safe side and then investigate further.

I will not link to the site where I found this, because it is obviously going to reveal the name of the religion and I don't want to seem like I am refuting any one religion in particular.
Being a member of several atheist newsgroups and discussion boards, I see this argument all the time, and from theists of all denominations. The radar speed trap analogy is definitely not applicable to Pascal's wager for the following reasons:

1) You are told that there is a speed-trap set by police to catch speeders on a certain road.

You have actually experienced this or seen radar speed traps before.

2) Even if you doubt the information you must still act as though you believe it.

You can actually verify the information even if you doubt it. Whether you drive over or under the speed limit to get to the verification point is your choice, but you can go and verify it all the same.

3) You feel no need to start arguing that the police would never do a thing like that, or that you drove there before and never got caught speeding.

This analogy is not applicable to dying and going to the afterlife. You have never died before so you do not know what comes after. And neither has your friend who is warning you of the consequences. On the other hand, you may have driven at this speed before or may be a resident of the area and may be aware that no radar speed traps have been introduced by the law-enforcement.

Some other fun replies to this that I have seen on the net:
Safe side? Really? You know, I've been thinking about this, and if you look at the odds Atheism really is a better bet if you view this as a giant crap shoot. Either there is no god, a god, or multiple gods. Three choices, you have about a 33% chance.

No god:
Atheism
Buddhism (some may believe in a personal god but Buddhism is more or less atheistic)

A god:
Christianity
Judaism
Islam
Zoroastrian
Sikhism
Bahá'í

Multiple gods:
Wicca
Shinto
Ásatrú
Hinduism


Pascal's wager could really f**k you up too. Lets say an atheists chooses christianity to be on the "safe" side.


On judgement day its an angry RAM staring him down. Now you are really f**ked.

2 comments:

Aparna said...

My own 2 cents on this - admit that we often do things just to be on the safe side, I suppose we are 'programmed' as software engineers to keep a buffer/backup. However, to belive in god, jsut to 'be on the safe side' is like living your life in constant fear that you are doing something wrong.
Personally, I feel, if there is a god, and he (why not she?) is as merciful as he is said to be, he will forgive us not believing in him as long as we don't deliberately do bad things. If there is no god, and I firmly belive there isn't, then at least I won't feel like a fool after death.

Mithun Kumar said...

He He... gr8 'replies' compilation there... esp. the last one... :)