Pacal’s Wager Revisited and A Greater Conclusion

philosophy

Blaise Paschal was a famous mathematician, physicist, and Christian philosopher. Writer of the defense of the scientific method, and strong contribution to the study of fluids, he was a brilliant mind. Probably the largest thing he is known for however, is Pascal’s desire to prove Christianity via rational and philosophy. Like many great Christian thinkers before him, he never quite reached an irrefutable conclusion, but instead came up with something we call “Pascal’s Wager”, and it goes like follows-

  1. God is, or God is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.
  2. A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.
  3. You must wager (it is not optional).
  4. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
  5. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (…) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
  6. But some cannot believe. They should then ‘at least learn your inability to believe…’ and ‘Endeavour then to convince’ themselves.

To simplify, he is stating that because we cannot know rationally if there is a God or not (with pure certainty) than the better choice is to believe in one just in case there is. Pascal makes his claim by stating that if we are wrong about God’s existence, we “lose the present” and if we are wrong that there is no God, we lose eternity. Therefore the best bet to take is to believe.

This argument has been argued against countless times, where people have plugged most anything in besides “God” and have arrived at some similar (and silly) conclusions. During my times of doubt, I studied this argument inside and out. While I don’t believe Pascal was wrong, he left four options, and the conclusions I tend to disagree with.

  1. You believe and there is a God so you gain eternity.
  2. You believe and there is no God so you have lost the present.
  3. You do not believe and there is a God so you lose eternity.
  4. You do not believe and there is no God so you gain the present.

The only issue that I find with the whole scenario is the assumption of a “lost present”. Pascal assumes that it would be if there were no God to disbelieve in one. I however, disagree entirely. Voltaire said that if there were no God, man would invent him. What he was really getting at was the human need for a God for reasons of meaning, hope, and unconditional love. These things are natural human desires and cannot be found in the world we live in (causing dilusioned disbelief or despair). Suppose I had the choice between the belief in God and disbelief (I’m not sure man gets as much of a choice as they pretend) but lets just take it for example. I prefer to live with hope, unconditional love, and meaning (that I didn’t create to cover up a lack of meaning) than to live without. I’d be happier to have died believing and be wrong than to have died disbelieving and be right. Are not those who have become saved healed and typically made more full of joy and freedom? Isn’t it those who concentrate on the rules of the Scripture rather than the relationship with Christ that find it miserable and wanting?

So I propose a revision to Pascal’s wager, because I disagree with his idea of losing the present.

  1. You believe and are right so you gain eternity (and the present)
  2. You believe and are wrong so you gain the present
  3. You disbelieve and are right so you lose everthing
  4. You disbelieve and are wrong so you still lose everything

With this line of reasoning, I find there to be no wager at all- no gamble. The verdict is clear. Should our faith be an illusion, it is better to die in madness than to live in clarity. In a meaningless universe, why not than pursue that which we find will bring about the greatest joy? It’s like fictional character  “Puddlegum” said in “The Silver Chair”(By C.S. Lewis)

“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.”

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Pacal’s Wager Revisited and A Greater Conclusion

  1. Well, like you say, we don’t always get a clear choice in believing or not believing. I could want to believe in God and might not be able to.

    Second, you assume the only way to have meaning in life is to believe in God, which is not a true assumption.

    Finally, there are an infinite number of God-possibilities (maybe the real God is super vengeful and evil, in which case it’s best not to believe in it.)

    Like

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      I agree with point one, and at best all I can do is show how believing in the Christian God is better than not believing and still don’t give ability to believe via Pascal’s Wager. (And my revision)

      It’s the wording on the second point that I want to be clear on. It is objective meaning that I write on, and how any other meaning that isn’t objective is evidence of a belief in lack of objective meaning- if you invent one you either don’t believe there is an objective one, or don’t like the objective one. I do actually believe man needs objective meaning to be happy, because if we have the nagging in our minds that there is no true meaning, the dispair is haunting.

      Third point I half agree on. Yes there can be any number of God possibilities, but I think the argument and its revision only seems to compare two beliefs and not overcome all beliefs.

      P.s. Jonathan, I know this is you :p

      Like

      1. Yes it’s me, this account is connected to my own blog.

        What I hear you saying in your post is; it’s best for people to take the blue pill and stay in the Matrix than to try and search out other meanings or possibilities. Or if you have found another meaning, to return to the Matrix. Doesn’t mean it’s wrong to take the blue pill perse, but that is what you are advocating.

        For your second answer on objective meaning, you are speaking from the place that assumes the Christian God is real. If he/she is not real, then it is an invented meaning. I know a number of people who have been very unhappy believing in the Christian God, they are now atheist/agnostic and are much happier. Your framework doesn’t seem to allow for this. I also know people who were never religious and are currently atheist and happy. Not everyone operates the same way you do.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is I think you should get out more 😉

        Like

      2. What I’m saying is that it’s better to have an objective meaning than an invented one, and that your “meaning” must derive itself from something that would make that meaning (God, Aliens) objective. If you would state all meanings are invented, fine, but at least your theory on the objective meaning must involve who, or what, besides mankind is responsible for the meaning.
        I would state however, that the natural desire for meaning means one exists. We have lots of evidence that our natural desires are able to be fulfilled.

        You’re also getting back into subjective happiness that I’ve covered in another post. There is a road that is objectively best should knowledge be complete. There is no ultimate happiness in serving a God you believe to be completely immoral/ non understandable (in the majority) but ultimate happiness in serving a God you love without force. We find most humans agree upon what is involved in happiness objectively (Loving community, value in life, safety, sct) and while little aspects may differ (person x prefers art person y prefers math), I feel Maslow’s Heirchy is pretty general to all of us. I would argue to the Atheists you mention that it is better (in terms of happiness) to believe in a Loving, Joyous Being than to believe that there is no point or reason to the universe.

        All this being said, my post on Pascal’s wager was about Christianity (specific) and Atheism, and how a belief in an objective meaning is better than a subjective one (or an invented meaning appearing objective is better than one without).

        Like

  2. Daniel

    I don’t get the difference you try to make between “objetive” and “invented”. Why isn’t an objective meaning also invented?

    Also, what’s so objetive about a meaning that came from some god? It seems to me that this meaning is as subjetive as any other. And as invented as any other.

    In the end, you use these words so any rebuttal against your argument, like saying “I don’t believe in god and my life is still meaningful” can be dismissed as “ah, but this is not an objetive meaning”.

    The use of these undefined terms indicates that you are trying to make a “No true scotsman” argument against any rebuttal.

    And finally, why would be better to have a meaning given by some god, and not one that you “invented” yourself? You only claim that would be the case, but no reasoning is given.

    All I can say is that my life is meaningful and your opinion, as stated above, comes from not going out enough and meeting people who think completely different from you and are still happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      By objective I mean “one that applies to us regardless of our desires of opinions” and by “invented” I meant “made by man”.

      I apologize if I came across confusing. Objective meaning can only come by that which made it. The one who made the birdhouse gives it the meaning that it houses birds, which is the meaning of its creation regardless of whoever “invents” another meaning for it- the meaning the inventor gave it is objective- it’s not up for discussion or interpretation.

      This isn’t making an argument off of the assumption of being created. This is off topic, but I was only stating desire for objective meaning is natural and only answerable in God(s) or aliens. Rather than a “Christian Plug” it was a stab at pure naturalism.

      It would be better to have an objective meaning because it then means that the universe itself is not meaningless. Either things happen to exist and we must attribute a meaning to them (which is to try to cover up the emptiness) or things exist for meaning.

      And the issue with happiness is that it usually involves choice of scenario. You would not be happy living in a swamp, moderately happy in a superb, and even more happy on an island (for example). When your choices are a swamp or the suburb, you would be completely happy in the suberb. If your choices were suberb or island, you would be less happy in the suberb.

      All that being said, I don’t think I’m being narrow minded to state that the existence of a Loving, Good God would be a greater happiness than without, and all unhappiness with this concept comes from a fear of being controlled, a fear of exposure, or fear His goodness is a lie. I’m not arguing against man being able to be somewhat content, I’m arguing against a lesser happiness for what, by definition of the concept of God, would be a greater happiness. (Yet I would argue that most men are less content than they let on. We simply accept the scenarios we find best/plausible. All that for another time- maybe another blog post in the future.)

      Like

      1. Daniel

        //By objective I mean “one that applies to us regardless of our desires of opinions” and by “invented” I meant “made by man”.

        This still doesn’t differenciate objetive from invented. An objective meaning can be invented. Your own example about the birdcage shows that what you call objective doesn’t exclude it from being invented by man.

        //Objective meaning can only come by that which made it.

        Then you don’t mean objective. You mean original meaning, or intended purpouse.

        //the meaning the inventor gave it is objective- it’s not up for discussion or interpretation.

        It’s not. It’s the original meaning, but it’s as subjective as any other, since it’s the personal perspective of the creator. Just as a second meaning would be the subjective perspective of another person. This second meaning would also not be up for discussion or interpretation: it is the second meaning, period. It’s a second meaning “regarless of your desires or opinions”. And it’s still subjective.

        And there is nothing to say that a subsequent meaning is lesser than the original one. Take Viagra for example. It was created to treat hypertension, but it’s not used for that at all.

        //This isn’t making an argument off of the assumption of being created.

        You say that, but that’s exactly what you are doing. You are assuming there is a creator that gives original meanings (I’ll call it “original” rather than “objective” since that’s what you really mean). Then you use this supposed original meaning to conclude there is a creator. That’s circular reasoning.

        //desire for objective meaning is natural

        Natural is another undefined term to create no true scotsmans.

        //only answerable in God(s) or aliens.

        You said it yourself: if I create a birdcage, I’m giving “objective” meaning. And, last I checked, I’m neither a god nor an alien.

        //It would be better to have an objective meaning because it then means that the universe itself is not meaningless

        Why is that the case? Why not having an original meaning necessarily indicates there is no meaning? Once you, I or anyone creates a meaning, it stops being meaningless. If you don’t agree with the meaning given, you can create your own, and it’ll stop being meaningless to you.

        That’s why your point 3 (disbelief and being right equals to losing) is completely invalid. Same thing for point 2: why believing there is an original meaning would make your life any better? Don’t you know there are religious people who are unhappy and atheists who are happy?

        //Either things happen to exist and we must attribute a meaning to them (which is to try to cover up the emptiness) or things exist for meaning.

        False dicotomy. It’s not a choice between chance or design. Evolution taught us there is a third way: natural selection. My opposing thumb is neither chance nor design. It was naturally selected from a pressure coming from the enviroment. Maybe there is a theory of evolution for the cosmos, and things exists not because of chance or design, but because there is nothing else that could have happened.

        To say it’s a dicotomy, is to blind yourself from any option we are not seeing at the moment.

        And even if it is chance, so what? I doesn’t make my life any less meaningful. And it shouldn’t.

        //And the issue with happiness is that it usually involves choice of scenario. You would not be happy living in a swamp, moderately happy in a superb, and even more happy on an island (for example). When your choices are a swamp or the suburb, you would be completely happy in the suberb. If your choices were suberb or island, you would be less happy in the suberb.

        I’m not sure I got this, but it seems like a circular reasoning again. You are assuming there is an island to then conclude the island is better.

        I think this goes for the point 4 you made (disbelief and being wrong equals lose everything). You are assuming the the god that exists is the kind of god that would punish you for not beliving in him (or at least allow you to be punished). You don’t entertaint the hipotesys that the god that exists don’t care what you believe, as long as you are a good person. In this case, I wouldn’t lose anything for not beliving in him.

        This is not only circular, but it defines god in a contraditory way. Think like this: would you punish someone only because they don’t know you exist? Or rather, if you met someone who is willing to punish anyone who doesn’t know he exists, would you say he is a loving person? A good person? So saying god is good, but then saying he would punish (or allow punishiment to) those who commit thought crimes like these is a contradiction. This god (that is good and makes 4 true), by definition, can not exist.

        The same reasoning may be applied to point 1: maybe believing isn’t enough to gain his favour. Maybe he wants you to help others, or perhaps throw a plane into a scyscrapper. And if you don’t do his will, you’ll lose everything, even if you actually believed in him.

        //All that being said, I don’t think I’m being narrow minded to state that the existence of a Loving, Good God would be a greater happiness than without, and all unhappiness with this concept comes from a fear of being controlled, a fear of exposure, or fear His goodness is a lie.

        The problem is that you are just claiming that and not giving any reasons to think that would be the case. You are just putting believers onto a pedestal and saying “their happiness is better than your happiness”. And as is the case with all forms of Pascal’s Wager, that would depend on believing in the right god (and only if the right god is the kind of god that actually cares about what you believe). All things considered, you are risking being punished just as much as I am.

        Like

    2. Woah this had nothing to do with punishment and I’m beginning to see your subconscious objection.

      If I cut up your responses bit by bit we’re going to end up writing a novel in 10 comments (it’s happened) so I’ll do my best to keep it short (Not always good at this)

      You still seem to be having your cake and eating it too. “Man and the universe have objective meaning because man gives the universe objective meaning”

      So let’s go back to this objective/subjective stuff. Subjective means up to your interpretation, objective means not up to your interpretation. Instead of going back to the birdhouse (or Viagra) I really want this point to be the central point and don’t want to rabbit trail too much. To address those examples will make this post much longer.

      What I’m trying to say all along is your belief about objective meaning (even if it is invented) must contain a qualifier. It must show itself to be objective in some way, and if it itself revolves around humans giving meaning, meaning loses its ability to be objective.

      And if there is no objective meaning, there is no true meaning. If the Universe itself doesn’t have one until we give it one, we may stop at the first half of the sentence. The universe does not have a meaning.

      And that’s just that- humans desire meaning, and if the universe doesn’t objectively have one (apart from
      humans) , humans also have no objective meaning.

      The universe ought to answer man’s desires or you must explain how the universe created this one particular unfulfillable desire and answers all the others.

      And I’m sorry if you think I’m being an argumentative bully by stating “Belief in a Good God is objectively better than disbelief”, but when a discussion has no time limits, such absolutes might be the only way to end them. This happiness is factually greater than disbelief.

      My examples of the swamp, suberb, and island are about generalities. Of course some would pick the suberb over the island, maybe even the swamp, but the purpose of the example is to show how happiness may be comparable to the choices (believed to be) at hand.

      Rabbit trail- Perhaps Atheism is a greater happiness to you because you don’t want to be told how to live, or how to think because you find any sort of Deism constrictive. (Do this or be punished). Your choice becomes actually “constriction vs freedom”. Or “the suburb and the swamp” and maybe a genuine belief in an Eternally Loving and Good God is the “island”.

      I didn’t even address everything and I’ve written too much.

      Like

      1. Daniel

        //Woah this had nothing to do with punishment

        You used the expression “loose everything”. I used a different one. Can we agree on a common vocabulary, or are you going to use grammar as your sole argument?

        //If I cut up your responses bit by bit we’re going to end up writing a novel in 10 comments (it’s happened) so I’ll do my best to keep it short (Not always good at this)

        You don’t want to do that, because that would prevent you from strawmaning me, wouldn’t it? You are Chrispy, aren’t you?

        //You still seem to be having your cake and eating it too. “Man and the universe have objective meaning because man gives the universe objective meaning”

        The only reasonable answer to a strawman is: “I didn’t say that”. I like how you even use quotation marks. It almost makes it look like you are really quoting someone.

        Read my post again. Nowhere have I said something about man or anything being able to give objective meaning. I only said “meaning”. I even said I wouldn’t use the term objective since what you are saying is not what objective means. You are addressing original meaning, and that is a subjective meaning like any other. What you think is an objective meaning is in fact a subjective one, given by a creator.

        The rest of your comment is just a long rebuttal to that strawman, so let me get to the chase.

        I don’t want to sound rude and all, but I’ll not be giving this blog audience. Your arguments are really, really bad and I want to discuss good arguments. I mean, Pascal’s Wager? Argument from desire? Come on. Not to meantion your blatant use of falacies.

        ps.: your site’s “notify me of new comments” doesn’t work.

        Like

      2. That’s ok Daniel, as it seems both that you are not grasping what I’m saying, and that you are highly emotional about your stance. You’re probably better off reading only blogs where you agree with everything said.

        My “lose everything” argument is a product of the true statement “Genuine belief in a Benevolent God is better than not”. That was quite clear.

        And I’m afraid you are guilty of the very things you accuse me of. You have straw manned my argument quite a few times, and are not arguing against what I am saying, but against your perception of Deism. Your emotional investment into your beliefs are causing you to not hear me properly.

        And I am afraid the definition I gave for objective is completely connected to the very definition of the word. “Apart from man’s opinion”. It seems to me you do not like the solidity that gives my argument, which by definition, it does.

        As far as your opinion of my arguments being “really really bad”, I’m afraid I’ve made the same statements to others many years in the past who made great points that upset my beliefs. It’s an emotional response, and it is unwarrented. Try to use pure reason here and keep your emotion out of it.

        And no the notifications work, but when I’m in the middle of about 5 arguments for a few days on end, I usually take a few days of a break. Arguing (especially with venomous people like you) usually becomes draining and I need to recharge.

        Like

  3. Hearing you go into more detail,I think you are missing something Chris. What if the outside force giving objective meaning is the universe itself, and what if it says, “The meaning of you is to make your own meaning.”

    This is perfectly atheistic but solves all the (arguable) issues you bring up, there is an outside force (the nearly infinite universe) and it fulfills the natural desire for meaning.

    Not arguing that this is how it is, but I am arguing that this solves your conundrums and does so without a diety god, (the universe could be argued to be a ‘god’ of sorts but certainly not in the Christian sense).

    Like

    1. I hear your argument Jon, but from our experience, we know that it is rational minds that create meaning. We don’t really have examples to go off of where something that doesn’t think creates a meaning. If we want to say something without rational thought created a meaning, we have to at least theorize how that came about (or see how some day that could possibly come about).

      Like

      1. Daniel

        Look, Chris, we could have had a civilized discussion here. And we were having one, in my opinion, up until the point you strawmanned me. And I admit it got me irritated. There is nothing more irritating than wanting to see your arguments responded, and instead you get a strawmanned version of them. And if I strawmanned you, then please show me where and when. I’m pretty certain that didn’t happened, but if you point it to me, instead of just claiming it’s the case, I could change my mind and say I’m sorry.

        But for the emotional response you caused in me with your strawman, I apologize. Though I have to point out that you misinterpret this emotion, because it doesn’t come from the subject itself or from my “beliefs”, it comes from your attitude, your strawmans.

        This ad hominem you made now was the last thing I was expecting. If you want to discuss atheism you should at least know what atheism is: I’m not afraid of gods, I don’t like or dislike gods. I don’t have any feelings towards gods. I’m not emotional about gods. And I don’t wish they didn’t exist. The whole point of atheism is: I don’t believe in gods! This should be clear, or else no discussions will be fruitful. Please, try to understand where your opponents are standing, before attacking them with ad hominem like that. Religious people are the ones afraid of being punished (or “losing everything”, if you prefer that), because they are the ones that believe in god. Don’t project that.

        But let me be clear about your arguments: they are bad. And I don’t mean that disrespectfully. I wish you could learn from this.

        And that’s not an emotional response. Don’t shield yourself off like that. Don’t claim victory like that. It only makes you look bad. Go and actually rebut things.

        Let me exemplify:

        // true statement “Genuine belief in a Benevolent God is better than not”.

        You didn’t prove that’s a true statement. You gave no reasons to think that believing in god is better than not, whether god exists or not.

        Prove things. Don’t just claim it.

        //”lose everything”

        You are not being clear on your definition of “lose everything”. What is there to be lost? What is losing if not a type of punishment? Show how my arguments change if I had used “lose everything” the whole time. If a god lets you, or makes you, “lose everything” simply because you don’t believe in him, he’s not good. You didn’t address that point, you just used an ad hominem to said “oh, you are afraid of god, but I’m not”.

        //”Apart from man’s opinion”

        That’s not what objective means. You can’t just simply state things and be done with it, but I see you have a tendency to do so.

        I would agree with you, if your definition was “apart from a sentient being’s opinion”. When you say “man” instead of “sentient being” you’re conveniently excluding the thing you want to be excluded so your argument will work. That’s sophistry.

        A god would have subjective opinions just as any other being. If you don’t agree with that, then you are creating a circular argument: you are hiding god inside your definition of objective, since it’ supposedly the only one who can give this objective meaning you are using in your argument. So the thing you are arguing for is in the premise of your argument, which makes it all circular.

        In the end, there may not be objective meaning, even if there is a god. So your whole point is simply invalid. And there is no reason to think there is an objective meaning in the first place (note I’m using here the correct definition of objective).
        // The universe ought to answer man’s desires or you must explain how the universe created this one particular unfulfillable desire and answers all the others.

        Why do you think the universe fulfils all desires? You accuse me of leaving reason behind, but when you claim things without proof, that’s what it is to leave reason behind. Argument from desire just lacks any reason. It’s a childish, self-centered, unsubstantiated belief that your desires must be fulfilled; otherwise there is something wrong with the universe.

        Do you know what’s even funnier? The fact that you said I desire deism to be false. Isn’t the universe obliged to fulfill this desire too? Oh, I know, it’s not a real “natural” desire, isn’t it?

        All your arguments point to “no true scotsman” future rebuttal to correct these contradictions you make. That’s what it is to not be rational, to leave reason behind. And this is what makes your arguments bad.

        See how it works? I point to you your mistakes and I show you why they are mistakes. Why don’t you try to do that to others instead of using ad hominem?

        I’m sorry if I made you angry and “drained”, and I’m sorry if I was angry too. I would say it was your entire fault, but you’d probably say it’s mine. So I’ll just say I’m sorry for my mistakes.

        Like

      2. It looks like we’ve jumped to the wrong spot to continue on our discussion but I’ll just go ahead and continue it here.

        As far as the definition of objective, here’s what the Meriam Webster dictionary defines it as “-expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations ”

        The definition of objective meaning conflicts with self-made meaning unless your theory on the objective meaning contains some way that explains why it is objective- The theory must involve someone other than man giving man a meaning.

        And to condense your argument is not the same thing as straw-manning. If you truly feel like my comment turned what you said into something different, and then argued against it, please let me know exactly how or where.

        There are truths to be self evident, and an existence of an all loving benevolent God that cares for man and grants eternity is a positive thing. All positive things are better to exist than not.

        And your example of desiring a Diety to be false goes along with your false perception of God. Do you disagree that the existence of an all loving benevolent God is better than not?

        I still believe you are strictly using your lack of desire in the Christian God (because you don’t like Him) to make your case, in which case, to you, we are not talking about an all loving benevolent God.

        And this is where I’m frustrated- I’m seeing exactly what you’re saying, and why you’re saying it, and what you’re failing to admit or grasp, and how none of your rebuttles have landed in a strong way, and yet you claim my argument bad. I’ve simplified your stance very clearly- “The universe has an objective meaning because I give it one that is apart from a God (or aliens)” and this contradicts itself in “I have given” and “Objective meaning”.

        And this may be the straw man you are talking about, but I still fail to see how it doesn’t summarize your stance perfectly. Please correct my interpretation of your overall stance by stating a new stance- that might simplify all of this. “The universe has an objective meaning because _______________”- that’s your job right there to fill, or to state that there is no objective meaning and explaining how man can naturally desire what the universe doesn’t have.

        That and your explanation of why an all benevolent loving God is not better to exist is what will move this forward.

        Like

  4. Daniel

    Yes, finally. That is the definition of objective, and if god is personal, then by definition, he can’t only give subjective meaning, since whatever he does is by his personal feelings.

    And if he’s not personal, he can’t give meaning at all. Otherwise, we have to accepct other non-personal things should also be able to give objective meanings. In this case, linking objective meaning and gods is a non-secquitur.

    Either way, the whole ideal of objective meaning does not point to a god.

    To condense arguments is the shortest route to strawmaning. It’s almost impossible not to strawman someone, when you condense their arguments. One easy way to avoid strawmans is to never condense anything.

    I’m not saying it’s not possible to correctly condense an argument, but I am saying that this time for you it was not one of those times.

    My argument is not that man can give objective meaning, therefore the universe has objective meaning. My argument is that the whole ideal of objective meaning is nonsensical. You fell into a contradiction about the meaning of a birdcage and objective meaning not being given by man. You were the one who said man can give objective meaning (as for the birdcage). It wasn’t me. And when I raised this contradiction to you, you missed to whole point.

    My point was: there is no reason to believe there is an objective meaning since the whole idea leads to contradictions. But that doesn’t mean the universe, or man, don’t have meaning. Note the lack of qualifiers for the word “meaning” here. Subjective meaning is a meaning too, and there is no reason to think it’s a lesser meaning than some original meaning (see the viagra example).

    When you tried to “condense” my point, you changed it, making it look like I meant objective meaning, when I didn’t. I pointed that strawman to you.

    So if you want to condense my argument, do it like this: “there is no reason to believe there is an objective meaning, and there is even reason to believe there is none, since it’s a self contradictory concept”. Address that.

    Now, tell me you get where and when you strawmanned me. Because I’d pointed out earlier and you are asking me to do it again. I did it again, so please let’s move on.

    Moving on, your first version of the question was “belief in benevolent god is better than no belief?”. But now you changed it to “existence of benevolent god is better than non existence?” I answered your first version saying there is no reason to think either way. Not only people can have happy, meaningful lives believing or not in gods, but also they can have happy, meaningful lives believing in different versions of god, benevolent or not.

    As for your new question, let me first point out that changing the question without making the change clear is a falacy called “moving the goalpost”. Do you accept my answer to the first version? Is this why you changed it? You didn’t make this clear.

    But answering this second version, the existence of a benevolent god is better than non existence, yes. But I never said I don’t like your god, or that the Christian god is not benevolent. And your whole point in the original post is based on belief, not in actual existence.

    Understand this. I don’t have a false perception of god. The reality is: I have no perception of god at all. Again, I don’t believe in god. Give me a definition of god, and I’ll work my way with it.

    If you want to continue believing in a benevolent god, that’s fine. All I said was a benevolent god contradicts point 4 in the original post. So either god is not benevolent or point 4 is false. See the difference? I’m not saying god is definetly not benevolent. I’m saying that these two claims (benevolence and point 4) are not simultaneously true. I’m defining benevolence as the thing that makes point 4 false, therefore the two contradict each other. Explain why a benevolent god and point 4 can both be true, otherwise we are talking about the same god, and he doesn’t exist.

    So, please, stop claiming you know something about me personaly. You are not seeing what I’m saying, since I’m having to repeat myself again and again. And you are not seeing why I’m saying it, since you don’t know me and I’m actually telling you why I’m saying what I’m saying, but you keep ad hominem me. You claim my rebuttals have not landed, but you don’t say why, since you only attacked strawman versions of them.

    Finally, man can desire things that will not be fulfilled, this is evident. I desire a night with Gisele Bundchen, but the universe is not obliged to fulfilled this desire.

    The word “natural” you use is there in the argument to make an arbitrary grouping of desires. You are creating two arbitrary categories: desires that must be fulfilled (the ones you call natural) and desires that may not be fulfulled (the non natural ones). You are putting the desires you want in each category. There is no reason to accept this categorization. If you say my desire for Gisele Bundchen isn’t natural, that will be a “no true scotsman” falacy, since your categorization is arbitrary.

    So your question about desire is non-sensical. There is no reason to classify “desire for objective meaning” as one of those that need to be fulfilled. It might as well be like my Gisele Bundchen desire.

    To wrap things up, let me ad hominem you a bit (you started it). You seem distressed about the idea that there may be no objective meaning. You seem to think it would be sad if it was the case, so you desperatly want to have one. Let me assure you: it’s not stressful at all. You can enjoy life by what it is: the only thing you are certain to exist. This simple realization gives enough meaning to life: you didn’t exist before you were born, and you may not exist after you die. This puts a lot of value in the present, since if you want to make the world better, you have to do it now, not latter, not after you die: it must be now. And that makes life wonderful, no gods required.

    Like

    1. Daniel I still think you are missing the whole concept/definition of objective. We know that meanings are made, not inherent to molecules and energy (as we may make them, but do not find them already made). The only way there can be an objective meaning for mankind (a meaning that is apart from man’s desires and is concrete fact) is if something other than man made man for that meaning. If I create a character in a story, that character’s objective meaning is the meaning I gave it- even though I really just put it to use to appease a desire (which is another definition of meaning), the meaning is objective in the eyes of the character.

      And yes, if we naturally desire an objective meaning (a meaning apart from our desires, and just concerning the facts), that meaning has to come from something other than us that gave it to us. That’s what it means to be objective- even if the meaning emerges from the thing that gives objective meaning’s desires, to us that meaning is objective. It’s the only possible qualifier to satisfy this intrinsic human desire.

      So to “move on” I would gladly address this point (and should you believe I straw manned you, understand I went off on your arguments on how man can make an objective meaning ((which you did say)). But let’s address this- “there is no reason to believe there is an objective meaning, and there is even reason to believe there is none, since it’s a self contradictory concept”.

      I’m basing reason to believe in an objective meaning over man’s inherent desire for one. I didn’t qualify this with anything other than a truth to be self evident. The man who doesn’t desire objective meaning is the man who fears control, and that man deals with the cognitive dissonance of absolutely needing to give his life meaning/ ignoring where the desire emerges from. Also understand, your reasons to believe there is no objective meaning are from negative evidence rather than positive. Should you find no reason to believe in objective meaning, it yet may exist.

      And your frustration over how one time I said “belief” and one time I said “existence” is silly Daniel. If it follows that a belief in a benevolent God is better than not, than of course the actual existence of a benevolent God is better than not. What would be better, having good beliefs that make you feel good or having the actual realization of those things in which you hope for?

      So no, I have not “moved the goalpost” as much as you’d like and your first answer still fails to actually answer the question which is rooted in only three choices- yes, no, maybe. This is probably the strongest point of my entire argument. You are actually committing the fallacy of “Red Herring” by stating people can be happy believing in other gods. That wasn’t the question. The question is “is the belief (or existence. The argument hardly at all changes) in a completely benevolent God better than not.” and the obvious answer here should be yes, because all frustrations with the idea come to contradict true benevolence (fear of control, fear of punishment, ect)

      Your objection towards how a “benevolent God” contradicts the argument entirely is also false. You seem to be happy not being controlled, yet insist a benevolent God would control us. (If benevolent God exists non-believers wouldn’t lose everything). Would an all good God allow you to have whatever it is you wanted for all eternity or to force you into something good? We then ask the question “is freedom and it’s dangers better than non-freedom”. If in the end man gets exactly what man wanted (unity with God or separation from God), God is stll perfectly good (And science even shows how much our desires affect our beliefs). Yet this objection is an old objection and it’s not very philosophical.

      Finally, the ad hominem you addressed- how I would be very sad if objective meaning didn’t exist- you are correct. I would be. The resulting conclusion is that man’s existence is random (with no purpose), coming ultimately from a universe which is random (with no purpose), which means that whatever meaning or purpose we give to anything is still random (with no purpose). You don’t see the emptiness of these beliefs? That in the end, nothing, at all, truly matters (objectively). That should the earth explode, and all human life cease, that none of it really mattered. It may have mattered to humans, because we have preferences, but even their preferences never really mattered anyway (except to other humans). If that’s the case maybe you’ve never been exposed to the joy in the belief in objective meaning. That in the end of everything, that existence did ultimately matter. That objectively, our lives mattered. If the universe and time truly are infinite, man will one day cease to exist, and cease to exist in such a way that we wont be remembered or understood (any possibility in the scope of infinity becomes a certainty until infinity can be transcended). So in the same way if you were honest you would claim you do not desire an objective meaning (for again, what I believe to be reasons of not wanting to be controlled, which is what I believe you insist a good God would do :P), and I do desire it because it’s the only way in the end things can truly matter in the scope of the universe and not just man’s desires.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s