Talk:Pascal's Wager/Archive 4

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Some references[edit]

Below are a few Googled references that may help to address some of the criticisms from the Featured Article Candidates page. Note that they are copyrighted, and so can't be included in Wikipedia verbatim.

one sided[edit]

this is so onesided its not even funny, you have like 1 part on the theory and then like 10 parts on the contradictions.

Can we please add this?[edit]

The thing about Pascal's Wager, is that if anybody were to apply the reasoning consistently to their everyday life, they'd end up as a paranoid psychotic.


Your examples also ignores that your losses are not of infinite magnitude as in Pascal's Wager. In a Christian context, heaven could be seen as infinite gain and hell infinite loss. These are eternal states of infinite duration. It is this infinite nature that allows the other issues of finite nature to be neglected. The small probability that something or someone will be a threat to your life is not offset by infinite gain or loss in the same way. Because mankind is mortal, our lives are of finite duration and death is a certainty. Therefore the possible loss of your life is not an infinite loss. It is only a loss of those years you could have lived, which is finite.
I like this criticism of the wager. It deserves to be added to the article. Chhajjusandeep 12:52, 25 November 2006 (UTC)

Do we really need to add everyone and his uncles personal opinion to this article? Following this, only notable opinions should be added and not origonal work. Tmchk | Talk 01:08, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

"Many-Way Tie" Section[edit]

The "many-way tie" section in the critiques does not make sense. User:68.230.161.133

Incorporating another (GNU FDL) essay[edit]

I manage Theowiki.com, a wiki-style site released under the GNU Free Doc License. I have decided to stop work on Theowiki and to merge its content with Wikipedia. There is an outstanding article on Pascal's wager at Theowiki. However, being new to Wikipedia, I am concerned about changing the existing article too much and about possible POV issues. (For what it matters, I personally disagree with the POV suggested in the conclusion to the essay mentioned, but I think the article is outstanding nonetheless.) The article is theowiki:Pascal's Wager. Please take a look at it and offer advice on how to incorporate its insights into Wikipedia. I hope to hear back soon some day.--Peter Kirby 06:06, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

well, you'd have to merge the present article with the theowiki one, looking it over for points it has that we are missing so far; you shouldn' t just replace our article with it. For one thing the theowiki text is organized as an essay, not as an encyclopedia article, and it doesn't appear to be very strong on sources (but neither is this one. it really needs a decent 'literature' section). What you could do, of course, is upload it as it is to wikibooks:, and link to it from the external links section here. dab () 10:40, 18 August 2005 (UTC)

Richard Carrier's refutation[edit]

I have added an external link to The End of Pascal's Wager: Only Nontheists Go to Heaven by Richard Carrier, but if anyone cares to incorporate his arguments into this article, they are worth inclusion, as they cover ground not touched in this article.

Evangelical vs evangelistic[edit]

Upon further reflection, the use of "evangelistic" and the link is fine. "Evangelical" in typical usage is for a group of Protestant denominations. The usage here is more generic. Samw 03:02, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

  • Thank you, there are several Protestant denominations who use the argument referred to in Does not constitute a true belief that would be offended by being termed 'evangelicals'. BonsaiViking 03:16, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

On Measure Theory[edit]

What about Axiom of choice? That counter-argument is pertinent, but only when you are suscribing to that very specific (and disputed?) Axiom. Would it be useful to mention it in THAT article? --Kubrick 908 12:35, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

Assumes one can choose belief[edit]

This paragraph evidences a gross misrepresentation of Calvinism

I removed a side discussion. Feel free to reword. Samw 02:08, 1 January 2006 (UTC)

Assumes God rewards belief Section[edit]

It seems to me the section "Assumes God rewards belief" is mistaken in claiming Pascal's argument assumes Christian theology. No religion I know claims that mere belief will get you to heaven. All religions appear to claim you must believe some additional thing(s)about God or do certain practices to be rewarded.

Some additional details[edit]

This article has condensed a lot of Pascal's argument.

First of all, the actual wager itself is for a Dieu Souverain Bien (good sovereign God), who at this stage is not particularly Christian, although one does have to assume that an ill-founded belief is better than a well-founded disbelief. However, the point of the wager is to convince the reader, with the difference between the infinite utility of belief and the zero utility of disbelief, that one should try. (This is one of the reasons that Pascal goes on and on with the extreme differences between zero, one, and infinity in other parts of the Pensées (0 times anything is zero. Any other number times any other number, any finite number of times is still finite, etc.).

The fact that this should lead to a belief in a Christian God is a nonmathematical leap, based on the idea of Pascal's division of a person into esprit, corps, and cœur (mind, body, and heart). True faith comes from the heart, but is impeded by the mind (and to a lesser extent the body), and so the mind and body must be put into a state (through the wager and through observance of Christian [mostly Catholic] rites) where one can honestly say that one beleives. The wager, in itself, then does not then define God in enough detail to limit the applicability of the wager to humanity.

Second, there are actually four wagers that Pascal discusses, and this article only discusses the first, which, it is true, does not note that one could waste one's life believing in a God that doesn't exist. However, the second wager does allow this "ante," so to speak. The calculations for utility of this version are as follows, more or less:

For God [(1/2) × (∞ - 1)] + [(1/2) × (- 1)] = ∞ Against God [(1/2) × (0)] + [(1/2) × (0)] = 0

As we see, it is still "wiser" to believe.

(The third wager discusses a probability of 1/∞, combined with a double infinity of life and happiness, which still gives an infinite utility. The fourth goes back to a probability of 1/2 but maintains the double infinity of life and happiness, creating a utility of a double infinity.)

Anyway, as far as the faith itself goes, Pascal makes a distinction between human faith and divine faith. In order for free will to exist, one must have the ability to choose to believe (that is, Pascal does not believe in predestination, and separates himself from the Jansenists), and with this "human faith," there come certain virtues (humilty and so on), that for Pascal at least, justify belief in the here and now. Since humans are too weak and fallible to actually merit the grace to go to heaven, this is where God steps in and grants it. Thus for Pascal the initium salutis can belong to people, versus the thinking of Saint Augustine that it comes from God alone.

Sources:

Blaise Pascal. Pensées. Presentation by Dominique Descotes. Text established by Léon Brunschvicg, 1877. Paris: GF Flammarion, 1976.

Thomas M. Harrington. "Le Pari de Pascal." RF 109 (1997), 221-251.

68.6.85.167 06:47, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

Strong Atheism versus Measure Theory[edit]

If God can exist even if the probability of his existence is 0, doesn't this mean that the strong atheists are, nevertheless, bound to the wager, at the very least, in a sense (at least from Pascal's point of view?)

I think the point is an infinite number of probability 0 events can have as little probability as 0, (even for uncountable sets). The strong atheist is not swayed in this case. MotherFunctor 11:38, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

I fail to how strong athiesm is counter-argument, as it basically asserts self-infallibility. Pascal's wager at least assumes that it is possible for the theist to be right or wrong, yet your counter-argument is simply "I can't possibly be wrong!" How is that logical? - SigmaEpsilonΣΕ 20:26, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
Ha! The connection between "strong athiesm" and measure theory seems a bit contrived. I read the first comment here as "a strong athiest believes there is a 0 probability of a god." I guess it's more accurate to put "the strong athiest asserts there is no god." At any rate, it is a "counter argument" insofar as is it asserts that many believe hypotheses different than those assumed in Pascal's wager. This doesn't refute the wager in a logical sense, the way one would, say, a bogus proof of the Poincare conjecture, but it does challenge the authority and scope of the wager. MotherFunctor 16:38, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Where is anything about Pascal's argument?[edit]

That may seem a bit absurd, but this article is extremely weak on representing what Pascal actually said in the full context of what was going on. I posted a link to Pensee 233 with some context, because the brief extraction, apart from the context, really doesn't cut it.

The presentation that on this article makes it out that Pascal was giving a full throated logical formulation, whereas if you see the text, its a rhetorical argument- and one where at anyrate IF YOU ACCEPT THE PREMISES is perfectly valid. The Pensees surrounding 233 go about discussing those premises, but you can't tell that from this article. Put in this way, the many criticisms of 'Pascal's Wager' on the article miss Pascal's point.

To this, I can already hear someone saying "Well but those responses were to later developments and expressions of his wager" but that just doesn't hold water, as the many criticisms offered are not contrasted against those later developments, but rather Pascal's own argument.Sntjohnny 00:59, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

Well said, also there seems to be a tone to the article that pascal offered this as a proof for god's existence, he did no such thing.  No one knows what pascal meant through his pensees anyway as they were not even known of until after his death and he at least never intended to publish them.  They are only random thoughts of one of the greatest intellects of all time, and as with any haphazard collection of posthumous manuscripts, it is not the details but the spirit that is important.  The only other isse with the article is a bit more difficult to fix, Why is it that with so called philosophy students (I do not mean to offend, only as a watchdog for the study of wisdom do I write this) you always take one aspect out of an entire edifice of thought and label it, study it, and critique it without the context of the rest of the work and the life work of the thinker.  To give pascal's wager a special section makes it appear as if it is without context.  Again, I don't mean to offend and this article just happened to be the one i was reading when the thought occured,but is there maybe a better way to organize topics in philosophy that are important wihout segregating it from its context in the broader perspective of the thinker, maybe al we need are more links?  —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.59.16.65 (talk) 02:05, 13 December 2007 (UTC) 

Yes, but you have to wager[edit]

Hi All, One of the most important lines in the wager in the Pensees is 'Yes, but you have to wager.' Could we add some material on this, why one has to wager. Pascal was not led to this conclusion from fallacious mathematics but his own religious convictions. As the article makes clear, the wager is more interesting as an insight into the mind of an extraordinary character than as an argument for belief in god.Mohan ravichandran 03:02, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

you must wager because if god exists god does not care if you dont believe in god. If god does not exist, you still eventualy have to come clean to yourself on what you believe. Agnostics:you have either decided to believe and are looking for what to believe, or you have decided against belief and look for reasons why. these states of mind are inevitable, psychologicly you must wager to stay sane. when he says you have no choice, he truly believes that belief, un-belief, or whatever are conditions of your physical/spiritual self, like breathing or your heart beating. If you say you won't wager, he would call you a liar or at least maybe you don't remember doing it, but anybody with or without faith has had to decide. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.59.16.65 (talk) 02:13, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Cthulhu's wager?[edit]

Should we also put under criticisms of Pascals Wager joke wagers like Cthulhu's wager? You can find it at http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu#Cthulhu.27s_Wager Eds01 18:14, 14 May 2006 (UTC)

That'd make a great external link. --maru (talk) contribs 03:57, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

A related joke criticism (that follows the serious thinking of the "Assumes a Christian God" criticism) would be Homer Simpson's comment: "What if we picked the wrong religion? Every week we're just making God madder and madder!" (From Episode 62 of The Simpsons) 66.17.118.207 16:39, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

C.S. Lewis Quote[edit]

It's interesting, sure, but I'm not sure if its in the same nature as Pascal's Wager. -Bordello 11:27, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

Why don't you think it is of the same nature? It expresses the same all or nothing sentiments. Samw 01:31, 21 June 2006 (UTC)

bias[edit]

I think the article as it stands represents a rather extreme example of bias. The bias it exhibits is in fact approximately the same as my own bias, but that does not correct the flaw. As follows:

  • Putting in the lead paragraph the quote from CS Lewis. This implies that is a fair summation. It's a good quote, and belongs either in 2.6 or in a section of related quotations, but not here.
  • The interspersing of the serious argument with jokes.
  • Following the lead paragraph with
    • "The incompleteness of his argument is the origin of the term Pascal's Flaw."
      • The very term "Pascal's flaw" is bias, especially when given with no example of serious use. The main use in Google is from WP. The page merely repeats some of the arguments, with not even the merest attempt at NPOV. It shouldnt be merged, it should be deleted. And I will so suggest.
  • It is possible to write a NPOV article on this. The article referred to in the stanford encyclopedia is evidence.
  • There are even some neutral parts in here to emulate, sect. 2.8 for example, and the section of 2 before 2.1
  • In the chapter in Pensees, there are some very clever illustrations by Pascal of his argument . Some should be excerpted.
  • can 2.5 possibly be meant seriously? It is presumably a parody on arguments based on probability.
  • Section 2.4, soberly entitles Statistical arguments, does not contain statistical arguments, except to the extent that it shows there is some cost of belief without our being able to specify how much. That's not statistics.

DGG 06:41, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

I am sorry, but you are only expressing your own views. I doubt that the bias is of which you experience yourself, you only added that to get your own argument some backing. The article is in a standard condition, and any change to the current version's factual content (i.e. content that has purpose there to be removed) is an act of bias itself. --Adriaan90 (Talk|Contribs) 11:32, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

DGG, I noticed a lot of the same things. I just edited the entire article for readability and removed portions which seemed redundant, editorial (things like, "Considering this, it's a safe bet to take the wager," that were not directly connected to statements about the wager or Pascal) or both. The criticism section still needs citations, and some sub-sections didn't make sense, although I will assume there were good ideas behind them, and someone better versed in philosophy or statistics will take care of that.

And Adriaan, let's not be rude.

Elle 05:44, 4 December 2006 (UTC) 4 Dec 2006 I don't know where to place this but bias seems good. This is a religious argument for belief, all of the probability crud you placed in there totally misses the point of a rhetorical religious exercise based 100% on feeling. If this was meant as a logical proof or argument for gods existence instead of a call for religious belief, Pascal would not use terms such as gain or loss as these two states or processes have no rational meaning. personal gain or loss only appeals to your emotional aspect as a human. Also you mention voltaire's issue with the wager and do not list the only eloquent criticism that holds some water. Again, that math stuff might be cute because pascal was a geometer, however i highly doubt he wrote this wager in a mathematician vein. please just treat it as a riligious/philosophical (not symbolic logic) issue and pass on the math as it adds nothing to, and can be construed as making light of, a random thought. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.59.16.65 (talk) 02:24, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Homer Simpson comment[edit]

I deleted the "Homer Simpson" example. It's not that it's a bad example; it simply does not belong in that area. It would be much better served by putting it in a section on popular references to Pascal's Wager.

The sad thing is, it is in my opinion one of the most simplest yet effective rebuttals, summing up what takes us many paragraphs to explain. It would be nice to reference it somewhere, even if just as a popular reference... Mdwh 00:10, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

change to intro[edit]

This isn't Pascal's biography. The very first line is unwieldy and it's totally unnecessary to list all of Pascal's occupations. I say we cut it down to either philosopher or theologian, since that's what relevant to this article. If people are interested in the kind of man he was, they'll read his biography, not this article.

Opportunity Costs section[edit]

This section is, essentially, completely wrong. Pascal does specifically address the opportunity cost in his wager:

" 'This is splendid: yes, I must bet, but maybe I am betting too much.' Let us see. Since there is an equal chance of gain and loss, if you stood merely to gain merely two lives for one, you could still bet. ... But the prize here is an infinity of infinitely happy life, one chance of winning against a finite number of chances of losing, and what you are staking is finite."

I propose it be eliminated in its entirety. 170.140.211.181 21:31, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

This sentence has been removed: "Wagering one's eternal fate on a God who does not protect his own houses of worship from destruction by what are allegedly his own acts seems a risky wager to some." This is a thinly veiled opinion - if this is meant as a quote it should cite its source and be framed as a quote. Also the writer assumes that "acts of God" are actually directed by God and don't just happen because of the weather system, or worse because of negative human influence on the environment. Mdparkins 23:38, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree that this section is wrong. Pascal does indeed address the opportunity costs, but determines that they are finite and therefore negligible. This section should be removed and if need be, a clarifying statement on Pascal's position on the opportunity costs may be added earlier in the article. 141.213.180.48 08:58, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Why is this section still here? It is as if the author did not read Pascal's argument at all and simply wanted to use this oppotunity to insert a very biased opinion section. The labeling of all religious adherents as not subscribing to a rational worldview is a bit much. xalaxie 02:52, 7 March 2007 (UTC)

The section is, err was, still there because someone needs, err needed, to be bold and delete it. Given that this section’s worth has been questioned for three months, with no voices in support of it, I’ve deleted it today. The removed text is preserved below if anyone would like to argue for its reinstatement. -- V. berus 01:43, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Opportunity costs[edit]

The wager fails to mention any costs relating to belief. It is argued that there may be both direct costs (time, health, wealth) and opportunity costs, in the here and now. (These costs are distinct from the potentially infinite future cost of having bet on the wrong God, only to be punished after death by the true God.) Most modern religions require their followers to spend time attending religious services at houses of worship and to donate money to the maintenance of these places and their associated staffs of religious professionals, and/or to the needy, when possible. As a result, if a person believes in a God that does not exist, then that person has lost time and money that could have been used for some other purpose. This has been starkly illustrated by the destruction of expensive houses of worship in natural disasters for which the local populace failed to adequately prepare (e.g., Hurricane Katrina; the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami). Even in impoverished regions such as those affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami, organized religions extract enough wealth from their adherents to build comparatively lavish temples, mosques, and/or churches; while those who trusted futilely in various Gods to protect them would clearly have been better off investing their resources in protective measures with a demonstrated chance of helping, such as taller levees, tsunami warning systems, or the simple strategy of building on higher ground.

There may be opportunity costs for those who choose to believe in particular religions whose doctrines have real-world consequences: for example, scientific theories such as evolution (or heliocentrism) that appear to some to contradict scripture could theoretically enable a non-believer to discover things and accomplish things the creationist (or a geocentrist) could not. (In practice, when faced with overwhelming evidence for the value of an idea such as heliocentrism, or overwhelming social change such as the abolition of slavery, followers of a religion may be pragmatic enough to re-interpret or simply ignore scripture as necessary, perhaps after a delay of several centuries. Something similar may eventually occur among religious opponents of stem cell research if the technology gives rise to dramatic cures for serious illnesses.) It is also argued that belief incurs a cost by not allowing the believing person to participate in and enjoy actions forbidden by dogma. (Again, religions tend to relax restrictions over time for actions that become popular enough among their followers, e.g., rock music, the wearing of cosmetics by women, and divorce, potentially reducing this cost over time, although with unknown impact on the continued efficacy of the evolving belief system to spare its adherents from eternal damnation.) Many devout people make more noticeable sacrifices for their religious beliefs. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions;

Cryonics[edit]

This does not cite any references, and does not seem appropriate for this page. If no one disagrees, I'm going to go ahead and remove it. If you do think it should stay, please add some sources as soon as possible.Ricree101 21:01, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

I added a reference. In my summary I mentioned that the reference makes the cited argument. I should have said it mentions the cited argument. I also said to search on "if it is true." You actually need to search on "if it does not work" or just "if it." I think this section should remain. It seems like a very good example of Pascal's Wager in a different context. I'm new at this, by the way.Prousselle 31 January 2007

Three Questions on Measure Theory[edit]

The section on measure theory says: "But this does not work all the time. For instance, in a measure theory conception of probability, one can have infinitely (uncountably) many possibilities, each of which has a probability of zero... since God being possible does not mean that God's existence has positive probability."

I have three questions to ask you about the section on measure theory:

1. I don't understand. This sounds too complicated. This sounds too complicated! THIS SOUNDS TOO COMPLICATED!!!

2. If this statement on measure theory is true for Christianity, than is it true for just Christianity, or all other religions and supernatural beliefs and belief systems as well?

3. Instead of saying that "even if God is possible, God's existence does not have positive probability", it says "God being possible does not mean that God's existence has positive probability". Well, how can we and how do we know and find out, if God's existence is possible, whether it has positive probability or not?

The Anonymous One 03:13, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

  • Honestly, this section seems a little weird to me. For one thing, how is the author of this section defining the word "possible"? It seems to me that for an event to be "possible", there must be some nonzero probability of that event occurring. Now, the author could be using possible in some mathematical sense that I am not familiar with, but if so I feel that it should be explicitly stated that they are using that definition.
    My larger complaint, though, is that this doesn't really have any significance in the statement. When you look at it, all this says is that if god definitely doesn't exist (and thus has zero probability of existing), then this is not valid. This isn't really much of an objection, since it is plainly a core assumption that there is some chance that either possibility exists. This wager would likewise be rendered pointless if there was a 100% chance that God exists, but we don't see this being used as an objection. Ultimately, I feel that this section tries to dress up a non-argument in fancy terms.
    Finally, in a quick review of the external links I did not see any mention of measure theory as an objection. Therefore, this section appears to fall under original research.
    For these reasons, I believe that this section should be removed from the article.Ricree101 05:24, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree. The "Measure Theory" section makes no measurable contribution to the article as a whole. Tmchk | Talk 00:36, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Really the "Measure Theory" bit is extreme OR (and mistaken as well) I've removed it. NBeale 09:18, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Shouldn't we also mention: "Assumes God punishes disbelief"?[edit]

Or is that covered with "Assumes God rewards belief"?--Greasysteve13 11:09, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Assumes one can choose belief[edit]

But, in order to believe that something is true, then that person must know and be certain that it is true.

This is not the case - or is not held to be the case by many. The word for belief - "πιστις" - is translated "faith" in much of the New Testament. To "belive", in this sense, is an act of will - nothing to do with having an intellectual conviction of the truth of something. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Paul Murray (talkcontribs) 03:46, 15 January 2007 (UTC).

Yes, but how can you choose what to believe? For example, someone might want to believe something that would be good for them, but knowing (as in having faith) that it's wrong. --Orthologist 20:38, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Criticisms[edit]

All of these criticisms seem to apply to those who regard the wager, not the wager itself. [69.0.37.23] 20:37, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

I've taken out "Is not an argument for the existence of God The wager is not an argument for the existence of God, but for the prudence of having a belief in the existence of God - quite a different thing. Indeed, if it is the case that there is in fact no God, the wager is an argument that it is better to believe an untruth." Although there is something in this point it is unrefed OR, not really a criticism of the argument, and in fact wrong because what the arguments about the existence of God are about is whether it is reasonable to believe in God. NBeale 09:31, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Atheists Wager should be merged in[edit]

The barely-notable Atheists Wager article is v poorly refed, and should be merged to Pascals Wager (but grossly pruned, it's almost entriely OR) NBeale 07:35, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

I've reverted your recent merge because this policy states that merge proposals must be up for a couple of weeks to make sure that there are no serious objections. Especially in cases where almost nobody replied to your original message. Now, I'm not the original writer of the article; I only did some minor edits once or twice (if that). Perhaps contacting the major contributors and seeing what they think might be a better idea. Esn 08:42, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
I do not think that these articles should be merged. While the Atheist's Wager should be referenced as a response to Pascal's Wager, they are divergent viewpoints. If the intent is to inform people about Pascal's Wager, it should be separate. However, if the intent of the article is to inform people about wagers that related to the existence of a god or gods, then they should be merged. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 24.22.167.123 (talk) 00:39, 25 February 2007 (UTC).
I also disagree. The page now follows a very sloppy format. I recall finding the atheist's wager page being very informative--if there was a problem with OR it would have been better off deleted entirely, because what remains is still OR. -AbyssWyrm, 2007 Feb 25, 22:47 EST

A Couple of Minor Thoughts[edit]

Hi, I removed, "Anyway, Pascal was a Roman Catholic, and some Protestants believe and claim that Catholics are not really Christians, so Pascal himself might be going to hell."

It definitely didn't fit under the heading it was placed, and I couldn't quite figure out where to put it. My reaction upon reading it was, "Cute. But so what?" It detracts from the point. (In other words, while reading these sections, I don't care if Pascal is going to hell, I don't even care if hell exists. I care if Pascal's Wager is logical or contains a fallacy.) The flaws in Pascal's Wager are very interesting and important philosophically, it is a shame to clutter them up with points that make no sense. I suppose this line could be put under a theological response section or something??

Also, is there a reference for the Atheist Wager response? I want to know where this comes from... is it a from a contemporary of Pascal, or did a Wikipedian make it up? I assume somewhere in between. I approve of an atheist response to a theistic argument... it seems fitting, but I want a source.

--Beagley 02:43, 15 March 2007 (UTC)


Forgive me ...[edit]

Just took a stab at rearranging the intro. Seemed a bit equivocal. Hope it works for the established editors.--Shtove 23:41, 23 March 2007 (UTC)

Reasons for its importance and seriousness[edit]

Greetings. It is my opinion the the section titled "Reasons for its importance and seriousness" sounds evangelical or, at the very least, heavily biased. It offers no facts or sources ("Some Christians feel...") and simply uses Christian mythology to illustrate the punishment that awaits the non-believers. A preachy, religious opinion, it brings nothing to the topic and has no need to be here. Thank you.

Article seems argumentative, persuasive, confusing.[edit]

I concur that "Reasons..." section, as written, adds little or nothing to the article because it is not primarily concerned with the topic at hand, Pascal's Wager. Furthermore, that section along with some of the subsequent "Criticisms," are not informative in tone, but together represent a collection of persuasive/argumentative tidbits. The article as a whole could benefit from more description and contextualization, and less argument concerning "validity." I've never heard of consulting an encyclopedia to determine whether the topic of inquiry is right/wrong, true/false, valid/invalid.Childerolan 03:06, 19 April 2007 (UTC)Childerolan

This is a common problem on philosophy and religion articles. People use the "Criticism of.." section to insert their own personal arguments, violating WP:NOR. In most cases, these amateur philosophers demonstrate a weak understanding of the subject. Sometimes, like in this case, the "Criticism" section is longer than the actual discussion of the topic. Does anyone know if there's a discussion forum somewhere about this problem? I've seen it in countless articles. Djcastel 18:55, 27 April 2007 (UTC)
Discussion of this issue can be found at Wikipedia talk:Criticism. Djcastel 19:57, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Global warming[edit]

The section on this could be interesting - might help us to come to terms with mortality. But it needs attribution. Anyone?--Shtove 22:43, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Even Buddhism?[edit]

"Variations of this argument may be found in other religious philosophies, such as Islam, Hinduism, and even Buddhism."

Do we have citations that Buddhism also says similar teachings as the Pascal's Wager? Buddhism does not do any forcing to "believe". Even if you don't believe, there is no problem...

But it would be very easy to construct a Buddhist version. :Consider: if you accept Buddha's teaching and work to minimize your desires (with an according reduction in the pain you suffer, since desire is the cause of pain), then you reduce your suffering. If you don't work to minimize your desires, you will inevitably suffer more pain than if you didn't.
Consider further that if the Buddha is right and you accept his teachings, then you don't just minimize suffering in this one lifetime, but all lifetimes, and indeed you will eventually reach nirvana where you don't suffer at all (as opposed to an unbeliever who will suffer an unbounded amount of pain until he becomes a believer and attains nirvana himself).
So a Buddhistic Pascal's Wager would be somewhat similar to Cthulhu's Wager - either suffer a finite but ever decreasing amount of pain, or suffer an unbounded, ever-increasing, and possibly infinite amount of pain. The former is obtainable by belief and adherence to the Buddha's teaching regardless of their truth, and the latter operates only if one doesn't believe. --Gwern (contribs) 14:46 11 June 2007 (GMT)
I strongly disagree. Karma is a complicated cultural concept, in part because it can encompass both ordinary cause-and-effect and moral "cosmic" justice. This next statement is flat out wrong-"(as opposed to an unbeliever who will suffer an unbounded amount of pain until he becomes a believer..." The reasoning following it is also mistaken. Buddhism doesn't deal with "belief" or "faith" as such. It is an important Christian concept but does not have parallel in Buddhism. Because of this, Buddhism might disqualify as a religion in the Western sense- and be more of a philosophy or even a psychology. It is logically feasible to be a Buddhist and an atheist at the same time, or a Buddhist and a Christian, etc. Cuvtixo (talk) 14:37, 13 February 2008 (UTC)


Removed last two paragraphs from Atheist's Wager section[edit]

Beginning with "One potential problem with the Atheist's Wager ... "

It was completely nonsensical. The Atheist's Wager does not make the assumption cited by those two paragraphs as being problematic. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Oofloom (talkcontribs) 05:24, August 28, 2007 (UTC)

God Rewards Atheists?[edit]

Weird Chart they've got going on there. Why would god reward atheists? I can hope, that, if he is real, he won't punish me for using reason rather than conviction to make choices in my life, but I can't see him punishing believers. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.214.127.44 (talk) 00:04, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Does not account for non-Christian religions[edit]

Why was this section removed from the current article? This seems to be a very common criticism of the Wager (and rightly so), but there's no mention of it in what we have currently. Seems to be a significant oversight. Would it be best just to use the existing one from a little earlier in the history (seemed fine to me), or create a new one from scratch? --Mukashi 00:09, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

Criteria problem[edit]

One big problem for Pascal's Wager is that you can plug in any criteria and get the same results. Plug in "perform human sacrifices" for belief, and the wager would tell you you should perform human sacrifies. Plug in "refrain from human sacrifices" and the wager would tell you to refrain from human sacrifices. The fact that any criteria you plug in the wager "works" just collapses the wager.--RLent 21:29, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Problems previously mentioned with Atheist's Wager should be retrieved[edit]

Since the conclusion of the Atheist's Wager currently present explains that one cannot philosophically lean either way, but must instead focus on the present situation, other factors should be noted. Claims of these arguments being nonsensical are unsupported and thus invalid as grounds for removal. Mcb142 04:05, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

What? Ilkali 08:43, 16 November 2007 (UTC)