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Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Pattern-chaser
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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by Pattern-chaser » October 8th, 2019, 6:09 am

Clay_10 wrote:
October 6th, 2019, 1:58 pm
I guess whether or not a divine creator would accept one into “paradise” based on a “just-in-case” dying whim is a different question entirely.
I find it difficult to believe that God would accept a last-minute declaration without some preceding worshipping-type behaviour. Perhaps God is more generous than me?

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by LuckyR » October 9th, 2019, 1:05 am

NickGaspar wrote:
October 8th, 2019, 5:47 am
Is theism still an acceptable subject in Philosophy?
Why not? It can't be disproven.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by NickGaspar » October 9th, 2019, 3:22 am

LuckyR wrote:
October 9th, 2019, 1:05 am
NickGaspar wrote:
October 8th, 2019, 5:47 am
Is theism still an acceptable subject in Philosophy?
Why not? It can't be disproven.
Well philosophy by definition(Love of wisdom) is the intellectual practice of producing knowledge and wise claims about the world. For more than 2000 years of Western philosophy, Theistic principles or the concept of theism have never offered anything valuable to our epistemology.
Further more all major Philosophical advances were always from the side of a Secular approach and Methodological Naturalism is the dominant philosophy in Science.
So I can not see why people insist to include Theism in Philosophy. Do you have any clues to share?

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by Mark1955 » October 10th, 2019, 6:25 am

NickGaspar wrote:
October 8th, 2019, 5:47 am
Is theism still an acceptable subject in Philosophy?
Why wouldn't it be, philosophy is about ideas and theism is an idea.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by Mark1955 » October 10th, 2019, 6:30 am

Clay_10 wrote:
October 7th, 2019, 1:14 pm
I guess the short answer is that I don’t know.
In my opinion the only answer.
Clay_10 wrote:
October 7th, 2019, 1:14 pm
I personally believe that if a god and an afterlife do exist it would be an understanding being that takes into account environmental and social factors. For example a loving, all-knowing, all-powerful, “catholic” god exists, I believe that he would accept those with goodwill into his kingdom, including atheists with good intentions and hood moral standing, or worshipers of other denominations. I also think it stands to reason that Catholics would be held to an even higher standard since they have been exposed to the “truth”. Possibly, an atheist, born into a non religious family, who lives their life justly and treats others well could be welcomed to heaven over an informed catholic who lead a similar lifestyle but chose to indulge in certain taboo pleasures.
Why do you believe this, what have you seen in the writings and behaviour of those who profess the Catholic faith, in particular their priesthood, that would lead you to these conclusions.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by NickGaspar » October 10th, 2019, 9:03 am

Mark1955 wrote:
October 10th, 2019, 6:25 am
NickGaspar wrote:
October 8th, 2019, 5:47 am
Is theism still an acceptable subject in Philosophy?
Why wouldn't it be, philosophy is about ideas and theism is an idea.

Well philosophy is not just that. As I wrote before, the etymology of the word defines the purpose of Philosophy!
Philosophy's goal is to evaluate all ideas and see if they produce wise (knowledge) claims about the world.

The idea of theism is more than 2000y years old ! It has remained an unfalsifiable existential claim for ever. It has never promoted our epistemology in a way that we could act upon and produce further knowledge or wise claims about the world!
When it was used as the bedrock of our philosophical principles, it managed to keep us in an epistemic darkness for ages.
When we removed this idea, we experienced a run away success in our epistemology (Renaissance).
Here is an example that promotes my reasoning.
Phlogiston was an idea(more precise part of the idea of substances) that slowed down chemistry and science for hundreds of years.When we realized that it was a useless idea we got rid off it we never looked back.

So how this question or idea of Theism justifies any philosophical inquiry after so many years of failing to provide any knowledge and even delaying our epistemic advances(similar record with Phlogiston)?
Are those justifications(e.g.tradition, belief , organized religion etc) promote our efforts to produce wise propositions and knowledge about our world? If not then why assume theism should be part of a philosophical discussion!
That is my question.

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by chewybrian » October 10th, 2019, 10:01 am

Clay_10 wrote:
October 7th, 2019, 1:14 pm
Mark1955 wrote:
October 7th, 2019, 9:10 am
Simple question, which god or gods have I got to believe in and which sect of the god[s] in question. If you can answer that one in a convincing manner I might actually believe in your god or gods. I mean, just imagine that every Catholic pope gets to the pearly gates to discover god's a Methodist or even worse a Cather.
I guess the short answer is that I don’t know. I’m somewhat knew at this and am mostly looking for responses to further my understanding of basic philosophy. I personally believe that if a god and an afterlife do exist it would be an understanding being that takes into account environmental and social factors. For example a loving, all-knowing, all-powerful, “catholic” god exists, I believe that he would accept those with goodwill into his kingdom, including atheists with good intentions and hood moral standing, or worshippers of other denominations. I also think it stands to reason that Catholics would be held to an even higher standard since they have been exposed to the “truth”. Possibly, an atheist, born into a non religious family, who lives their life justly and treats others well could be welcomed to heaven over an informed catholic who lead a similar lifestyle but chose to indulge in certain taboo pleasures. Obviously this is just speculation and I’m never too proud to say my mind can’t be changed.
I agree with you that a loving and just God would not hold us accountable for acting on things we never had a chance to know. The missionary idea that the 'natives' can only be saved if they get the good word seems inconsistent with a God who is loving and just. Such a God would have the power to tell them, to prove to them, anything he cared to tell or prove, and the desire to tell them for the sake of being fair (if he intended to hold them accountable).

But, I disagree about being (potentially) exposed to the one true faith in your life. I was raised Catholic, so if their belief system happens to be the exact right one, then I got the good news. But, I also had no basis for rationally believing that it was the one true faith. I have reason, and eyes and ears. I can see that there are many competing faiths, and that none has hard evidence that they are on the right track. If I gave the Catholic belief system any special status, it would only be through prejudice or laziness. If it was spot on, but the only reason God gave me to know this was that someone else believed it was so, then he has no more reason to hold me accountable than someone raised Jewish or without any faith. If the just and loving God wants to fairly hold us accountable, he should give us more than hearsay evidence.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by Clay_10 » October 10th, 2019, 10:35 pm

Why do you believe this, what have you seen in the writings and behaviour of those who profess the Catholic faith, in particular their priesthood, that would lead you to these conclusions.
[/quote]

I believe this because of the notion of mortal sin. As expressed in the catechism of the Catholic Church, the obstacle that restricts one from reaching heaven in the Catholic Church is mortal sin. Mortal sin is two fold; the act itself, and full knowledge that performing said act is wrong. Thus, one who wasn’t raised with full understanding of the parameters of the catholic definition of mortal sin, but generally lives a good life might commit certain acts against the Catholic Church. However, even after vomiting the act, they would not be fulfilling the second condition in committing a “mortal sin”, which is full knowledge of doing the action is morally offensive.

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by frailRearranger » October 10th, 2019, 11:02 pm

Clay_10 wrote:
October 6th, 2019, 6:43 pm
Without the assumption of a divine creator as the source of our morality, why is it natural that we ought to do our best to be good people? Why would being a “good” person be a better alternative than acting on any impulses for satisfaction or pleasure such as our fellow animals lower on the eveloutionary scale?
By existing, we are forced to choose. Let's say that "good" is the name we give to the choices that we deem preferable. So, of course there are endless ways that we might go about sorting our choices, and thus endless notions of what may or may not be "good." It's an ongoing deliberation.

Biologically, or at an animal level, "good" is encoded in our genes and our instincts and desires as inclinations to make certain choices over others. Specifically, those choices which contribute to the survival and propagation of the genes. However, just as man may question whether or not it is truly right to obey his Creator, so to may we question our genes: I feel these desires for the purpose of propagating my genes? What's so good about propagating my genes? This DNA of mine has, at times, told me to be bigoted, selfish, and shortsighted. Surely, there must be better notions of "good" then those in my blood.

Having developed tools like reason, science, religion, philosophy, etc, we can improve upon the definition of "good" offered us by our genes. Our DNA says, "sugar is delicious" but our knowledge says, "it's also overabundant in today's society and not as worth pursuing as my outdated DNA thinks." Even if I ultimately am a hedonist, I may nonetheless realise that my many desires contradict one another, and if I give in to every one that flutters into my heart, I will quickly lead myself to misery; therefore, to satisfy my desires I should be strategic, balance out my various desires, and work cooperatively with others in order to accomplish my goals.

And then, at some point, maybe it occurs to me that whatever I deem good, whatever choices I deem preferable, I'm not the only one deeming. There's a whole world, and a whole history of other selves. It's more difficult to come up with an excuse to betray all those other selves for the sake of some foolish vice, and easier to see how we ought to try to create a just and free world in which we each can pursue our various notions of "good" without trampling on one another's pursuits of the same, and then to be benevolent, helping each other carry out these choices that we agree to be preferable.

Of course some notions of "good" will contradict each other. It's an ongoing deliberation. Which notions will be popularised, and which will fade away? Only God knows.

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by Mark1955 » October 11th, 2019, 11:46 am

NickGaspar wrote:
October 10th, 2019, 9:03 am
Philosophy's goal is to evaluate all ideas and see if they produce wise (knowledge) claims about the world.

Are those justifications(e.g.tradition, belief , organized religion etc) promote our efforts to produce wise propositions and knowledge about our world? If not then why assume theism should be part of a philosophical discussion!
That is my question.
Assuming that that you can ever produce 'wise claims' by evaluation, then you can assess the wiseness of theology. You might assess the evolutionary advantages that theology gives to the species, how despite it's apparent logical shortcomings and total lack of what a scientist would regard as credible evidence it's ideas persist and what this says about our species and the societies it creates. To simply attempt to write theology off as irrelevant because you don't agree with the idea of religion seems a little limiting.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by NickGaspar » October 11th, 2019, 5:28 pm

Mark1955 wrote:
October 11th, 2019, 11:46 am
Assuming that that you can ever produce 'wise claims' by evaluation, then you can assess the wiseness of theology. You might assess the evolutionary advantages that theology gives to the species, how despite it's apparent logical shortcomings and total lack of what a scientist would regard as credible evidence it's ideas persist and what this says about our species and the societies it creates. To simply attempt to write theology off as irrelevant because you don't agree with the idea of religion seems a little limiting.
Well we don't need to assume that we have the ability to produce wise claims about our world by evaluation. We have objective evidence that specific principles and methodologies (Methodological Naturalism/Scientific methodologies) provide our philosophical evaluations with real knowledge that we can act upon, produce further knowledge or valuable technical applications. (e.g. The philosophical interpretation of Relativity's formulations gave us a new understanding about the nature of Gravity, plus it helps our GPS device to function accurately).
We can not assume the same thing under any theistic principle of our Theologies. We don't have examples of epistemicaly valuable claims solely based on theistic principles.(this means that theistic principles can not be the only explanation or necessary / sufficient on their own).

But lets clarify my position. I never discredited the study of theology from an anthropological perspective and its effects on population. Any systematic study (scientific) of cultural phenomena is valuable. I didn't even question the instrumental value of theology as a belief framework in human psychology. My question was from an epistemic perspective since we are talking about Philosophy.
I state it once more. Why theism is still on the philosophical menu, when for more than 2000 years it has failed as an explanation or a auxiliary principle to produce knowledge capable to advance our epistemology.(I don't even bring up the demarcation problem).
Theism is a subjective answer to a "why" questions. Why questions tend to be philosophically bad question for many reasons. I could explain some in a future post.

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by Thomyum2 » October 12th, 2019, 12:39 pm

NickGaspar wrote:
October 11th, 2019, 5:28 pm

Well we don't need to assume that we have the ability to produce wise claims about our world by evaluation. We have objective evidence that specific principles and methodologies (Methodological Naturalism/Scientific methodologies) provide our philosophical evaluations with real knowledge that we can act upon, produce further knowledge or valuable technical applications. (e.g. The philosophical interpretation of Relativity's formulations gave us a new understanding about the nature of Gravity, plus it helps our GPS device to function accurately).
We can not assume the same thing under any theistic principle of our Theologies. We don't have examples of epistemicaly valuable claims solely based on theistic principles.(this means that theistic principles can not be the only explanation or necessary / sufficient on their own).

But lets clarify my position. I never discredited the study of theology from an anthropological perspective and its effects on population. Any systematic study (scientific) of cultural phenomena is valuable. I didn't even question the instrumental value of theology as a belief framework in human psychology. My question was from an epistemic perspective since we are talking about Philosophy.
I state it once more.

Why theism is still on the philosophical menu, when for more than 2000 years it has failed as an explanation or a auxiliary principle to produce knowledge capable to advance our epistemology.(I don't even bring up the demarcation problem).
Theism is a subjective answer to a "why" questions. Why questions tend to be philosophically bad question for many reasons. I could explain some in a future post.
Just a thought, not well-developed and I might not be understanding your point completely, but perhaps you are presupposing a hierarchy where theism should exist to serve knowledge (and produce 'valuable technical applications') rather than the other way around? I think your statements maybe reflect a little post-enlightenment and/or materialistic bias, but I suspect that a monk studying in the middle ages (or perhaps even now) might answer that they explore philosophy in order to deepen their faith and grow in their understanding of God, and would likely not accept that the higher purpose of those efforts is to produce scientific results or worldly goods.

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by NickGaspar » October 12th, 2019, 1:42 pm

Thomyum2 wrote:
October 12th, 2019, 12:39 pm
NickGaspar wrote:
October 11th, 2019, 5:28 pm
Let me clarify. I understand the role of theistic concepts in human life and culture but I only question Theism as a subject of Philosophy.
My statement is really simple. Philosophy(love of wisdom) is a tool we invented and we use to come up with wise conclusions and ideas(claims of knowledge) about our world.
Theism has never advanced our understanding about anything, so its mind boggling why people still insist in assuming that theological ideas are part of an ontological discussion in philosophy?
2000+ years of Western philosophy on this subject aren't enough for this evaluation? Do we really think that we missed something?
So I am not the one presupposing that theism should exist to serve knowledge . Anyone who discusses god ideas on a philosophical platform assumes some kind of epistemic value in this idea by default!

The principles behind my philosophy are those of Methodological Naturalism. Science prefers those same principles as a credible way to avoid presuppositions in its hypotheses.
So no I don't have a materialistic bias. The materialistic view is an indefensible position like Theism.
I hope I clarified my position.

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by chewybrian » October 13th, 2019, 8:16 am

Thomyum2 wrote:
October 12th, 2019, 12:39 pm
Just a thought, not well-developed and I might not be understanding your point completely, but perhaps you are presupposing a hierarchy where theism should exist to serve knowledge (and produce 'valuable technical applications') rather than the other way around? I think your statements maybe reflect a little post-enlightenment and/or materialistic bias, but I suspect that a monk studying in the middle ages (or perhaps even now) might answer that they explore philosophy in order to deepen their faith and grow in their understanding of God, and would likely not accept that the higher purpose of those efforts is to produce scientific results or worldly goods.
Perhaps I am taking us further off the road and into the canyon, but I think science is just a subset of philosophy. I think the 'why' questions are at the top of the hierarchy, and scientific efforts are just one possible tool to help look for answers.

However, my primary interest in philosophy is to understand how we can have a better experience in life, and interact more fairly and less destructively with each other. Science and technology are useful, but without ethics, mental health and a fair and stable political system, they often do more harm than good. I don't want to be an unguided missile, and I don't want to be surrounded by such people.

So, if we were each setting the priorities for a series of philosophy classes in a k-12 program (I certainly think this should be a reality), @NickGaspar might put science on top, and perhaps the monks would focus on theism. I would teach the students subjects like: stoic philosophy, anger management, addiction treatments, cognitive behavior therapy, existential therapy, ethics and logic. I would not argue that this is the potential best use of philosophy, but that it is the most useful and productive for the moment. Maybe science or religion will give us the big answers at some point, but we need to become citizens of the world first. Then, maybe we can survive long enough to find the bigger answers.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: Question for Atheists: Paschals Wager

Post by NickGaspar » October 13th, 2019, 1:48 pm

chewybrian wrote:
October 13th, 2019, 8:16 am
Thomyum2 wrote:
October 12th, 2019, 12:39 pm
Just a thought, not well-developed and I might not be understanding your point completely, but perhaps you are presupposing a hierarchy where theism should exist to serve knowledge (and produce 'valuable technical applications') rather than the other way around? I think your statements maybe reflect a little post-enlightenment and/or materialistic bias, but I suspect that a monk studying in the middle ages (or perhaps even now) might answer that they explore philosophy in order to deepen their faith and grow in their understanding of God, and would likely not accept that the higher purpose of those efforts is to produce scientific results or worldly goods.
Perhaps I am taking us further off the road and into the canyon, but I think science is just a subset of philosophy. I think the 'why' questions are at the top of the hierarchy, and scientific efforts are just one possible tool to help look for answers.

However, my primary interest in philosophy is to understand how we can have a better experience in life, and interact more fairly and less destructively with each other. Science and technology are useful, but without ethics, mental health and a fair and stable political system, they often do more harm than good. I don't want to be an unguided missile, and I don't want to be surrounded by such people.

So, if we were each setting the priorities for a series of philosophy classes in a k-12 program (I certainly think this should be a reality), @NickGaspar might put science on top, and perhaps the monks would focus on theism. I would teach the students subjects like: stoic philosophy, anger management, addiction treatments, cognitive behavior therapy, existential therapy, ethics and logic. I would not argue that this is the potential best use of philosophy, but that it is the most useful and productive for the moment. Maybe science or religion will give us the big answers at some point, but we need to become citizens of the world first. Then, maybe we can survive long enough to find the bigger answers.

Well to be clear, I don't put science on top. I agree that Science is a subset of philosophy but it is also an essential and irreplaceable step in the philosophical process. When someone ignores this step, he is practicing pseudo philosophy. That is my whole point and what Aristotle acknowledged through his efforts to systematize Philosophy!
So I think we are in agreement with your first point.

Now on the "why questions" issue, they can be near the top of the hierarchy of our Philosophical investigation but NOT when these questions deal with the ontology of nature and its phenomena or about the "ontology" of concepts(eternal truth,absolute knowledge etc). "why" question should only address OUR intentions and purposes, choices and decisions since we are the only thinking agents that we know we exist!. Ethics,Aesthetics and Politics are the 3 categories where the knowledge we gain from science and metaphysics is applied .
SO again we agree about the position of "why" questions in philosophy, but we need to be really careful which aspects of our world we address.
However, my primary interest in philosophy is to understand how we can have a better experience in life, and interact more fairly and less destructively with each other.
-This statement shows that "how" questions should be at the top of the hierarchy of our philosophical inquiries and inform our ideas on how to better our experiences in life and interact with other people more humanely!
Science and technology are useful, but without ethics, mental health and a fair and stable political system, they often do more harm than good.
- Science and technology are useful and should be used to inform(not replace!) our philosophy on ethics, mental conditions and political systems etc. Science is not responsible for the ways technology or knowledge are used! Politics and economics are responsible for this. The fact is that something is seriously wrong about our Political/economical systems and many of our technological applications are questionable at best.
That is not a surprise because both systems (politics /economics) are 2000+ years old pseudo philosophical solutions.Both ignore the important step of science and both need to be replaced by a set of far more modern solutions that include systematic knowledge(science), scientific principles and respect to Human rights,our Constitutions and our home in this universe (our planet).
So we agree (again). We can not have Science and technology as loose canons under a pseudo philosophical "environment".
I would teach the students subjects like: stoic philosophy, anger management, addiction treatments, cognitive behavior therapy, existential therapy, ethics and logic.
I like your list, but I have to point out that all those subjects are useless without our scientific knowledge informing them on e.g. how our behavior is realized by our biology and past experiences and what aspects we must target. We can not talk about addiction treatment without scientifically understanding what is addiction, which mechanism and cues are responsible and how we can deal with them. The same is true about our existential anxiety and how to deal with those conditions(reasons and solutions). We can not do Philosophy without our up to date epistemology or without evaluating scientifically our suggested "solutions" for every subject BUT we also can not use blind data of science without a philosophical evaluation and "narrative".

Our Big Questions can only be "addressed" by Philosophy, but Only by doing science we can inform our philosophy on which questions are big, real, useful important, non-subjective,meaningful.
Religion can not give us any answers because it is not a epistemic system but more of a metaphysical view based on declarations. Its a worldview set on questionable and unfalsifiable principles, which has demonstrated their lack of epistemic potential for more than 2000 years.

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