ppt_02 - Pascals Wager For Catching Up Website...

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Pascal’s Wager January 25 2006
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For Catching Up Website Includes these Powerpoints, syllabus and will include assignments when they are due
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Background Many theologians thought we could offer a proof of God’s existence The most popular were versions of the cosmological argument, which says that the universe must have a first cause, i.e. God
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Arguments for God’s existence Pascal rejects all such arguments It appears that he thinks we cannot reason about things we can’t comprehend And God is too great for us to really comprehend, so we cannot reason about Him
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Arguments for God’s existence Pascal’s reasoning here seems quite weak The totality of life on the planet is too diverse for me to comprehend Yet I can have beliefs about it E.g. I think it would be a bad thing if it all went away
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Pragmatic vs Intellectual Arguments One way to argue that you should believe p is to provide evidence that p is true Another way is to argue you’d be better off believing that p Pascal offers the second kind of argument
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Pascal’s First Argument Look at what you have to gain and lose by coming to believe that God exists, or that He doesn’t Pascal says there are 2 things to consider Reason Happiness
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Since reason cannot tell one way or the other with respect to God, there is nothing to be gained or lost here So it all comes down to getting the most happiness Pascal’s First Argument
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Pascal’s First Argument We cannot be certain what will get us the most happiness But that does not mean we cannot act In everyday life we all the time have to make decisions in the presence of uncertainty
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Here’s a simplified example to make Pascal’s point Imagine you have to get from Ithaca to New York, and all you care about is getting there as quickly as possible There are two possibilities, bus and plane Uncertainty
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