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Pascal's Wager.docx

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Philosophy 1020
John Thorp

An Argument for the Rationality of Religious Belief. • French Thinker/Philosopher • Inventor of Probability Calculus, Laid the Foundations of Infinitesimal Calculus, Built the First Calculating Machine, Religious Thinker • "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me". • Pascal thought the arguments for the existence of God were not compelling. • Also that the arguments against the existence of God were not compelling. • He thought we were caught in inescapable ignorance about whether God exists. 1) Pascal's Fundamental Vision • He proposed that if we can't settle the truth of the matter about the existence of God, we should ask a different question. • Given that the evidence does not compel us one way or the other, is it reasonable to believe in God? • Is it more rational to believe in God (Behave Accordingly) Or Not to believe in God (Believe Accordingly) • What's the Best Bet? 2) Constructing the Wager • Where G Stands for the proposition that God etc. Exists, • G May be True or False & I may believe G or not believe G • Cross-Diving these two pairs of alternatives we get four possible combinations. • I Believe G=G is True • I Believe G=G is False • I don't Believe G=G is True • I don't Believe G=G is False • Now let's think of the outcomes Combinations & Outcomes • I Believe G--->G is True--->Big Win • I Believe G--->G is False---->Little Loss OR 100% Loss! • I Don't Believe G---->G is True---->Big Loss • I Don't Believe G---->G is False---->Little W
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