Arguments Against Atheism

Arguments Against Atheism: Pascal’s Weak Wager

Today starts a new series of articles on the various articles against atheism. I thought I would start with the most convoluted argument that I can honestly think of. Blaise Pascal stated that (paraphrased): “Reasonable people should live as if god exists, even if he doesn’t, just in case he does exist and therefore we would risk going to hell if we deny his existence.” Basically it is an argument towards pretend faith simply due to the idea that it might prevent us from experiencing hell. To demonstrate the illogical nature of this argument, allow me to give the following example.

Say I told you that there was a restaurant in town which sold some great food, only there is a catch. You have to pick the one item, from 3,000 items on the menu, that won’t give you food poisoning. You would probably abstain from eating at that restaurant, even if I told you that if you chose not to eat there I would punish you in the future at some undecided date and time. Food poisoning is an awful condition and regardless of what punishment I might have in store for you at a later date, abstaining is the much safer choice.

“Food poisoning is an awful condition and regardless of what punishment I might have in store for you at a later date, abstaining is the much safer choice.”

This is also true with matters of faith. With somewhere around 3,000 different faiths in the world today, the thousands of extinct faiths from the past, and even the thousands of denominations within certain faiths that promote different strategies and ideologies for salvation, the choice is not 50/50.  In fact you would find that your chances of picking the exact right faith, the exact right denomination, and the exact right interpretation of scripture to be nearly identical to the choice of abstaining from faith. Both being 1/3000th+ chance of being correct.

“Both being 1/3000th+ chance of being correct.”

Folks use this argument as an effort to instill the fear of hell within the minds of those who might currently be experiencing doubts. I have a hard time believing that anyone who is as atheist would be swayed by such a weak argument. To give another example of how weak this argument is, let me provide the following example.

Lets say I sit you in a room surrounded by 3,000 curtains. I tell you that behind one curtain there is the keys to a mansion, millions of dollars, and the woman or man of your dreams. Behind every other curtain there is a man with a gun waiting to shoot you in the head. I then offer you the choice of walking away without looking behind any of the curtains. Which option would you choose? Walking away is the option that atheists choose as the likelihood of selecting the correct curtain is so small that it is much better to simply walk away even if the chance for some great reward might actually exist behind one of those curtains.

Believers will often times use personal experiences and anecdotes to try to support their choice of the correct faith.  The problem is that you can find these types of experiences and anecdotes in any faith that you choose. So you are then faced with the idea that either all faiths are correct or that none of these faiths are correct. Personal experiences and anecdotes do absolutely nothing to provide proof for the claims of any faith.

God

“…it assumes that an intelligent designer, capable of speaking the universe into existence, creating all life and all the laws of the natural world, is actually a complete moron.”

The second thing that makes this an incredibly weak argument is that it assumes that an intelligent designer, capable of speaking the universe into existence, creating all life and all the laws of the natural world, is actually a complete moron.  Think about it. Let’s say I absolutely love The Rolling Stones, I join their fan club and discussion groups, and begin telling everyone just how great The Rolling Stones are.  Would you take my claims seriously if I couldn’t name a single one of their songs, couldn’t tell you any of the members of the band, and didn’t actually own any of their albums? Immediately you would know that I was simply pretending to be a Rolling Stone fan, yet god isn’t intelligent enough to see through this ruse.

The idea that you could pretend your way out of some type of infinite reward or punishment seems to point to a creator who would make pond scum seem intelligent. In no way does this form any basis for a good, loving, or just god. It simply points to a god that enjoys a good lip service. So you have to ask yourself, when anyone presents this argument to you, are they actually an atheist just pretending to be a believer because they still fear the possibility of hell?

 

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