Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How Pascal Continues to Lead Us Wrong

From guest blogger, Maham. 

The largest worry we usually associate with Pascal’s wager is one of cynical faith. It seems unlikely and presumptuous to think God is simply playing a numbers game where he wants us all on a subscription list for the free reward associated with signing on. It is much more plausible that God instead is looking for genuine faith in his existence, and everything associated with it. This genuine faith then also calls in order to follow God’s set of doctrine and rules, to live life as he deems it fit for us, thus not ending the story at simply giving a stamp of agreement to his existence as Pascal would have us believe. In such a scenario, we’re much more likely to have lost even more than Pascal would predict. We lose the pleasure of living life through our own set of rules, and we also end up garnering God’s displeasure (if he ends up existing) for a false belief in him that buys us an eternity in hell.

These are worries commonly addressed in response to Pascal’s wager. What I want here is to draw attention to another moral worry that we, as responsible philosophers especially, should hold in high regard as well.

As philosophers and researchers, we have an epistemological responsibility towards fostering ideas, choices, knowledge and beliefs founded in reason, logic and the very least a justification based on truth. What Pascal is asking of us is to compromise our intellect, when he asks us to disregard a lack of evidence or genuine belief in lieu of pragmatic reasons for believing in God’s existence. How can we look ourselves in the eye and still call ourselves responsible philosophers and researchers if we abandon our believes simply on the basis of a wager that promises us a respite from suffering in hell IF god exists? I for one would find it very troubling to wager on my intellect and my identity as a epistemologically responsible philosopher.

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