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The Pascal Clause

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Dissident Heart

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Re: The Pascal Clause

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Chris: Why would we ever want to accept weak thinking on BookTalk? Using this as a key doctrine in Chris' worldview, perhaps we can also introduce another axiom introduction before statements, one called "The Rambo Clause", or maybe "The John Wayne Clause", or how about the "Rugged Individual Who Pulls Himself By His Own Bootstraps Clause"?....set up for those who are strong enough and exemplify the right sort of courage; unlike those other sots who reek of cowardice and mushy emotionalism.
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Re: See if...

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DissidentQuote:See if meeting Nature as a Somebody, and not simply a bunch of 'its', intensifies your passion to protect the world, care for all that inhabit and thrive and struggle for life.Again, you are missing the point of my comments. Yes, nature will be preserved and better respected if we view it as a "somebody," but this doesn't actually make it a "somebody."Example:If I treat a 100-watt light bulb as if it were a newborn child, there is a much higher probability that that light bulb will not be broken or harmed. I might hold the light bulb gently and keep it away from potential dangers, but the truth is the light bulb is just a light bulb. Despite my efforts to elevate it to the status of a newborn child, it never will be a living, breathing, conscious entity. If I opt to smash the light bulb the light bulb will not care in the least. The bulb lacks the capacity to care. Can we at least agree on the light bulb scenario?The universe is no different. The universe doesn't have a brain. It doesn't have a heart or anything resembling a physiology. It doesn't think, care, love, or experience emotions of any sort. Can you agree on this? If not please tell me where specifically the universe feels emotions. Is it around the star 51Pegasus? You're quoting Einstein as if Einstein would agree with you. In fact, that quote didn't even apply. Most BookTalk members already know enough about Einstein to know that while he held a reverence for the universe, he did not believe it was conscious, caring or even created and managed by a personal God. In short, Einstein would tell you exactly what I'm telling you right now, which is that my original statement still holds. The universe does not care what happens to our species, any species, life in general, or even itself.Chris Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 1/6/05 5:05 pm
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Re: See if...

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Chris OConnor: In critical thinking terms the "Pascal Clause" is both a faulty premise and indirectly a false analogy.I'm afraid I'm going to need some explanation. How can the Pascal Clause be a "faulty premise" when it is, admittedly, an unqualified premise? How, for that matter, is it an analogy at all, let alone a "false analogy"?Aren't we about education and the critical examination of nonfiction books?You do recognize, though, that the constant recourse to the theistic debate cuts off an entire realm of nonfiction? It's impossible to debate religion in its own context so long as every religious discussion is permanently sidetrack by a debate that we have agreed is unsolvable via scientific method.Why not include an Easter Bunny clause, or a Santa Claus, as Dissident suggests?If there were enough people eager to seriously discuss Santa or the Easter Bunny, why not? But the fact stands that there are at least a handful of people on the forum genuinely interested in discussing religion as a valid social institution. The Pascal Clause was suggested in the interests of making it possible for theists and atheists alike to join such conversations, provided that both are willing to make a single hypothetical assumption within the thread itself. The alternatives for those interested in religious discussion basically amount to a) ignore any atheists comments made in a religious thread, or b) take our discussion elsewhere. The first option is exclusionary, and it seems to me that the interests of Booktalk are better served by making it possible for all contributers to join in any conversation they'd like to join; the second option means the migration of potentially vital contributers to other boards, which seems even more detrimental to the welfare of the forum as a whole.It also occurs to me, however, that there may be something misleading in the title of this particular sub-forum. You did, after all, include the word "religion" in the title, though it seems that you only what discussion of religion on terms that exclude its basic tenants.But excluding these posts from critical examination isn't something I'm comfortable doing, and I hope most members agree.The problem is that almost all religious threads in this forum are driven far afield by the never-ending debate over whether or not it's even reasonable to have religious belief in the first place. Frankly, I would say that I and others have amply demonstrated that many of the critical faculties adequate to science and philosophy are inadequate to the task of judging the basic precepts of religion, either pro or contra. As such, I would just as soon the entire forum function on the principle that the question of deity is ultimately unanswerable, and that belief in either direction ultimately requires no defense. Which would equate to a moritorium on digressions concerning the existence of God. But, rather than suggest soemthing that would limit the subjects open for debate, I thought I would introduce a concept that would serve only within the confines of a thread alone. The Pascal Clause, as it stands, preserves the option of debating the existence of God ad nauseum -- at the same time, it also allows us to get past that debate, since it is not only boring the hell out of me and others, but is also ultimately fruitless.So Dissident types, "Pascal Clause," before each of his posts and atheists are expected to skip right over them?No, not skip over them, though they are, of course, welcome to do so. The Pascal Clause merely invites all contributers to enter the discussion on its own terms. You might well introduce other clauses into any discussion -- people do it all the time. If clauses like these inhibit the conversation, people will move on. Frankly, I see no reason to "protect" Booktalk from the Pascal Clause, and I'd suggest that the Clause will quietly drop out of memory should it prove to limit critical thought in conversation.
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Re: See if...

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MA: "I would say that I and others have amply demonstrated that many of the critical faculties adequate to science and philosophy are inadequate to the task of judging the basic precepts of religion, either pro or contra"I firmly disagree. My interest and subsequent immersion into philosophy has lead me to believe that there is less foundation in religion that I'd previously believed.
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Re: The Pascal Clause

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Bumping this up above the closed spam threads.Chris
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Re: The Pascal Clause

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My interest and subsequent immersion into philosophy has lead me to believe that there is less foundation in religion that I'd previously believed.The question, as always, is what sort of foundation? If you're talking about a scientific foundation, then that's precisely my point. There is no foudation for making a judgement about religion from a scientific viewpoint for the very simple reason that science sets very firm restrictions on what questions and evidence it is and is not capable of examining.As for philosophy, I'm not sure what about the discipline itself would lead you to deny a religious foundation. A particular philosophical viewpoint might well lead you to deny the premises of religion, but philosophical conclusions have proven so diverse that for every denial of religion that you find you're just as likely to find an equal number of equally valid affirmations. If you're finding that your immersion into philosophical topics has suggested that religion has no valid foundation, then you might want to look at the authors you've been reading thus far and consider their context and biases.
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Death of The Pascal Clause

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I will bite the bullet. Everyone else is dancing around the mulberry bush.As I understand it, the Pascal Clause is, if there is a god, wouldn't it be good insurance to believe and be saved. If there isn't a god, you don't loose anything by believing. (At least that is what my mother has often said to me).Problem: It assumes there is only one religious belief to consider and only one description of god that is correct. Fundamentalist Christianity has elevated itself in Pascal's wager as Christianity or Atheism, or Christianity and everything else.We get closer to the dilemma when we expand those choices: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Unitarian Universalism, Jainism, and the list can go on to as far as the human imagination dares. We could say there are 6.5 billion religions in the world (6.5 billion people).So an expanded Pascal's wager is, to be safe, why don't we believe everything? And what do we do when there are conflicting beliefs? And why is belief so important anyway? Isn't belief nothing more than an insulting mental "graven image" of god, so simple and incomplete to be ridiculous? And what quality of people are we attracting to heaven just merely by their ability to conjure up images in their mind they call god and pretend that it is real? I find good works a far better qualifier to enter the pearly gates then mere beliefs.A religion based on Pascal's wager is, in my view, evil. It is equivalent to a person being forced to a table with 7 colored upside down cups, with only one having the golden ring, and told to choose a cup. If the cup you choose does not have the ring, you will be executed or tormented for life; if you choose correctly, you will have an eternal blissful life burdened by eternal worship of a vain being. You do not get to peek. You are not allowed to have any clues. You must entirely take it upon faith. Personally, I have never heard of anything that evil! If you choose not to choose as you find the whole thing unethical, you will be shot on the spot!On the above scene, most people will choose the color they either like better or are more familiar with. What you believe is more a matter of where you are born. If a good Hindu woman in India, after politely allowing a Christian missionary share the full message of Christ to her, kindly turns down his offer, she will go to hell, even if she led an exemplar life. Conversion from Hinduism to Christianity is not easy as they are culturally very different. Hindus probably look at Christianity the same way we look at Greek mythology. It just isn't real with them!So here we have heaven as a terrible misrepresentation earth's 'human' residence. We find extremely few Chinese, Africans, or East Indians in heaven. Instead, it is dominated by white Europeans, and 2 to 1 female to male. What's the point? How does the 'belief' test find quality people for heaven? We get instead gullible irrational people who collectively have lower IQs than the ones left behind. I find the whole concept irrational. I also feel you cannot make yourself believe in something you don't or not believe in something you do.What I feel is really going on is Religious Memeplexes trying to survive and multiply. In order to do so, they must persuade their victims to abandon reason and observation in exchange for virtuous belief without expecting proof. And there are human charlatains who take full advantage of this to gain enormous wealth and power with little effort. It is about accepting Authority without question, giving up one's autonomy for an unproven story, to empower some people to lord over those who choose not to believe and to fight wars with other contries who do not see things as we do.Negotiations with different parties succeed when they base their common interests in things that can be verified and validated. When negotiations come across beliefs without empirical foundations, the proceedure breaks down and parties instead break it off for battle in court, on the battlefield, or economic might. In this end, might makes right.If there is such a loving entity, I do not believe it would require this test for paradise. Of course if such beings were possible, there's no reason to believe the being would not be evil. Those with principle would choose not to serve that evil entity. Those in fear of their eternal lives will stoop to low moral standards (such as Pascal's wager) in order to save their immoral pathetic souls. This reminds me of Hitler. Many conformed to his demands for their own safely even though they felt uncomfortable with what was happening. Some actually bought in his idea that they were indeed superior and others deserved to die or be ruled over if they didn't buckle. I wonder if Christian feel sufficiently superior to accept a place like hell for others to reside in?How do Christians wrestle with the notion of all those good people going to hell because their beliefs were sufficiently out of line with the Fundamentalist Christian Orthodoxy? They actually like that kind of god who would even kill his own son because he is incapable of forgiving 'sin'? That does not sound like an omnipotent god who could do anything he chooses. He is either not Omnipotent, or he is and is Vindictive! This is why I have concluded, setting aside whether god is scientifically factual or not, that Christianity is an evil religion that should be ethically and unequivocally rejected on moral grounds! End of Pascal's wager!Monty VonnMeme Wars!editor and treasurer of Humanist of North Puget SoundVisit our group's web page at: www.humanistsnps.com
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Re: Death of The Pascal Clause

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Meme Wars: As I understand it, the Pascal Clause is, if there is a god, wouldn't it be good insurance to believe and be saved. If there isn't a god, you don't loose anything by believing.Well, that's a rather rough summation of Pascal's Wager. The Pascal Clause is something I made up in order to provide a foundation for a realm of discussion that can't seem to get off the ground in these forums because we tend to get sidetracked with the question of whether or not theology is valid in the first place. The two don't really have anything to do with one another, save that I named the Pascal Clause for Pascal because the Clause functions as though we tossed a coin to decide the question, and it came up heads every time. The proposed Lucretian Clause (I use the name because no others were suggested, and because I think I'm oh so clever) makes the opposite assumption, that the coin came up tails every time. But both clauses exist solely for the purpose of discussion. They're hypothetical tools, and neither is meant to solve the problem once and for all.So an expanded Pascal's wager is, to be safe, why don't we believe everything? And what do we do when there are conflicting beliefs? And why is belief so important anyway?You're getting closer to the real problem inherrent in Pascal's Wager. The question of whether or not it works out rationally is moot. The real problem is the assumption that you can build a logical foundation for faith. For clarity's sake, let's assume that you've reviewed Pascal's Wager and have found nothing insufficient in his reasoning. Even so, does this produce faith in you? Can you conceive of a person for whom such a line of reasoning would produce faith? I would suggest that anyone who claims to have been converted by Pascal's Wager was in fact looking for a way of substantiating belief in the first place.I find good works a far better qualifier to enter the pearly gates then mere beliefs.Orthodox protestantism would, in my experience, tend to disagree. Good works are not, according to Protestant doctrine, sufficient for salvation. That said, I would then turn around and argue that the standard for conversion set by Christian doctrine is far more severe than most Christians would be willing or comfortable to admit. That business about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle is no joke.A religion based on Pascal's wager is, in my view, evil.I don't know about evil, but I would again say that it's a moot point, since I have never encountered any group or individual who seemed sincere in crediting Pascal's Wager for their faith.You must entirely take it upon faith.Ah, now there's an interesting phrase. It points, I would say, to the difference between "faith" and "belief" that we've been dancing around for some time now. It would make little sense to substitute the word belief for the word faith in that context, and the reason, it seems to me, is that faith encompasses an behavior beyond that indicated by belief.Conversion from Hinduism to Christianity is not easy as they are culturally very different. Hindus probably look at Christianity the same way we look at Greek mythology.Much depends on what parts you choose to examine. Many Hindus have found much in Christianity that is familiar. For instance, both religions present deity in the form of a trinity. That's not to diminish the differences, which are both numerous and significant, but they're not so alien to one another as you might suspect.For that matter, a close examination of Greek mythology will reveal numerous parallels to Christian tradition. Consider Orpheus, who is figured at times as a good shepherd, inspiring peace in brute animals, making at length a journey into and out of the underworld. Of consider Dionysus, who is killed by a mob and is later resurrected. If Greek myth seems to many of us wholly alien to the Christian mind, I suspect that is because those who have anthologized the Greek myths for us have chosen to emphasize the exotic, often to the exclusion of the familiar.If there is such a loving entity, I do not believe it would require this test for paradise.You might also consider that the "Kingdom of Heaven", as it's presented in the Gospels, was likely intended as a metaphor rather than a roadmap to an actual cosmology. It is equally feasible to envision a Christianity not predicated on a conception of an afterlife.This reminds me of Hitler. Many conformed to his demands for their own safety even though they felt uncomfortable with what was happening. Some actually bought in his idea that they were indeed superior and others deserved to die or be ruled over if they didn't buckle.The situation was a good deal more complicated than this, and while I generally prefer not to refer to Nazism as an analogy in discussion when it's not the immediate topic, the abetment of the German people during Nazi rule makes for a rather useful example of another instance of faith that gives rise to belief, rather than faith as belief. There certainly were people who participated in order to evade persecution (the most galling examples are the leaders of the Jewish communities who essentially soothed their people into acquiesence), but most historians find that to be insufficient as an explanation for the phenomenon of the transformation of an entire nation into the Nazi war machine. Rather, Hitler rose to power largely by taking advantage of a strong vein of nationalism coursing through the German psyche at the time. The German people acted not because they necessarily believed themselves to be superior (though there must have been individuals who bought into that mythos), but rather because the Nazi party presented itself as a viable conduit towards the establishment and development of the German people as a nation. It wasn't belief that drove the German people to participate in the atrocities of the Holocaust, but rather faith, a concern by which the defined their place in the world and in relation to others. Nationalism is a form of secular faith, one of the forms that in the modern world has proven most susceptible to abuse and deformity.I digress. If the subject interests you, I'd recommend two book. The first is "Eichmann in Jerusalem", by Hannah Arendt, a fascinating though flawed book, and one that serves best as a particular inciteful companion to judicious study. The second is more germaine to this forum: it's a work of contemporary philosophy, "The Myth of the State", by Ernst Cassirer.I'm going to let the rest of your post lie. Though I will suggest that your unwillingness to take, as a hypothetical premise, the Christian's conception of God on his own terms is what ultimately makes it impossible for you to recognize precisely how much Christians throughout the centuries have wrestled with the often perplexing and seemingly brutal doctrines of their religion.
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The Pascal Clause

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MadArchitect:I grew up as a fundamentalist Christian in Southern Baptist & Assembly of God churches. I even did my part to "spread the word" in middle school & high school. But I also had a love for science. Some of my questions would lead me to the minister's office, to answer questions like 'where did Cain find a wife & community if Adam and Eve were the only other people?So I too struggled with 'theology'. I intellectually turned away from Christianity after I came out of the military and spent the next 4 years reading the Bible from cover to cover. The intent was to decide once and for all the denomination that best represented the Bible. Once I was done and came across all the gruesome and contradictory messages not taught in Sunday school, I came to the conclusion no god could have guided the authorship of this book; that the real authors were people trying the best they could under their current conditions to understand the world around them and justify civilized order for their ever growing clan.But emotionally, it took another 15 to 20 years to purge the effects of Christianity and its superstitious look upon life. It was my exploration of Pascal's wager that finally nailed the coffin to my Christian faith. I can never go back.Being that there are so many different theologies out there and that I have very little time in my life, I choose not to waste my time with them any more than door to door salesmen on multi-level success programs. Surprisingly these programs all pretty much have a USA patriotism/My God My Country Christian overtone. These programs find people already gullible who have fallen for the myth of Christianity, will fall for the myth of getting rich easy.So when it comes to the intricacy of theology and its struggle, I have given up that struggle and have no interest dancing within the walls of infinite 'make-believe,' and its eternal struggle to keep its theology coherent. Many Christian Apologists will be will be working long hours far into the future to keep the faith relevant to current culture and its science driven technology.I am far more interested in watching the landscape of reality expand as the intense light of the scientific method penetrates the dark fog, overwhelming the ghostly images left from our ancestral minds instinctively needing to make meaning out of a mindless uncaring universe.Monty VonnMeme Wars!editor and treasurer of Humanist of North Puget SoundVisit our group's web page at: www.humanistsnps.com
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Re: See if...

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Dear Dissident:I've been thinking hard about your last post (1/6/05)
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