pascal's wager

A self-proclaimed rationalist/atheist once asserted that she did not have a satisfactory rejection of Pascal's Wager. Pascal essentially says that we should believe in the Christian God, if there's any chance that He exists, because the consequences of not doing so are super bad.
Doesn't that argument call for worshiping the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) as well?
Probably not.. assuming you can only worship one god, Pascal's Wager seems to suggest worshiping the most likely one. Now here's the problem: the FSM is made-up, and it's easy to make-up an infinite number of similar gods, like asserting that Russell's teapot is a god. If each of these gods has a non-zero probability of existing, then they can't all be the same, or else they would sum to larger than 1. So there is some most-likely god, and that seems unlikely to be the FSM.
Well, if I worship one god, aren't I also failing to worship another god?
Probably. The strategy doesn't guarantee avoiding some god's hell. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't worship the most-likely god.
But, Wikipedia also suggests the argument of "inauthentic belief", saying that if I believe in the Christian God because of Pascal's Wager, He'll know it, and not accept me into Christian heaven.
Well, that argument makes two doubtful assumptions. First, it assumes that the Christian God would frown on people who try to follow His gospel motivated by Pascal's Wager. I think most Christian's would say "it's a good start, and Jesus will help you, if you really want to follow Him." Second, it assumes that you cannot authentically modify your belief. I think people can change their beliefs. Also, you would need to be sure that inauthentic belief wouldn't get you into heaven in order to argue for not trying, according to Pascal's Wager.
Hm.. Well, maybe the math doesn't actually work out to negative infinity for hell. Maybe hell can't possibly be as bad the billionth year as it is the first day, and maybe the probability of hell lasting a billion years is less than the probability of hell lasting a million years, and maybe there actually are some cancelling effects, like a hell that can only be avoided by being atheist..
Er.. maybe. It seems hard to be sure you have worked it all out correctly, and any doubts seem like they would lean in Pascal's favor, since the stakes are so high..
Let's simplify the math. Let's say there are just two possibilities: God or no God, and you can chose whether to believe. If God exists, he'll reward you with heaven or hell based on whether you choose to believe in Him. However, God is unlikely to exist. Would you choose to believe?
Ugg.. hmm.. No. I mean, if I thought there was a 0.0000001% chance of God, then I would believe there was a 0.0000001% chance of God.
Do you understand how eternity works?
Yes, but I just don't feel the length of eternity. I guess I discount highly improbable future happiness in favor of more certain near-term happiness, where I guess it makes me happy to believe whatever makes the most sense to me at the time.
More than that, it seems useful to believe whatever makes sense, since this has the most likely chance of helping me gain more insight.
I see.. if you thought there was a 99% chance of God, but God was only satisfied with 100% belief, would you bump up your belief to 100% to avoid a 99% chance of eternal hell?
The romantic in me says no, stick to your guns, but I probably would delude myself in that case.
Hm.. me too. I think the issue is essentially similar to our discussion of rational gambling, where there seems to be no objectively optimal decision. In particular, it does not seem objectively irrational to choose to believe in God, even if His existence seems astronomically unlikely. Nor does it seem objectively irrational to be an atheist, despite a slight prospect of eternal punishment.

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