As I had to get across to my daughter when she was even younger than she is now, a joke's only funny once. A discussion of Pascal's Wager seems nearly obligatory for a blog that deals with skeptical themes. If you're the type that gets involved at all in religious discussions (and maybe even if you aren't), you've probably heard some version of Pascal's Wager before, even if you haven't heard it referred to as such.
God doesn't exist & you believe - You'll lose nothing (or, according to some, even live a better life).
God doesn't exist & you don't believe - You can do whatever you want during life, a finite reward. The first problem I'll note is the one that first occured to me when I was still a Christian - people cannot simply choose to believe in something. The second problem I see with the argument is the assumption that you'll lose nothing if you believe in God but he doesn't exist.
However, the biggest problem with Pascal's wager must be that it leaves out many other possibities. Also left out are the possibilities of how a god will reward or punish belief and disbelief.
Even though Pascal's wager may appear clever at first blush, it's unlikely to convince people who have given much thought to the question of the existence of a deity. This is similar to the tract I blogged about before, which I found in some Harry Potter and Golden Compass books (on another occasion, I found a tract in The God Delusion), but apparently, it's a newer, "better" version.
I was half tempted to start a discussion with the lady, but I was in a hurry to pick up a few things and then get home for my daughter's birthday party.


As an aside, I'd always given Ray Comfort the benefit of the doubt, assuming he was sincere, but just ignorant of science (and a few other things). Well, with the mention in my last update that I hadn't updated my list of 10 most popular pages since the end of March, it got me feeling a little guilty. I recently wrote an entry about a phenomenon I'd noticed - "that the vast, vast majority of dubious politically related e-mails I've received are from the right side of the spectrum." I went on to point out that, "In fact, I can't recall a single chain e-mail I've received personally that has denigrated Republicans, social conservatives, or the religious right. I'm busy this week with trying to make a new page for my main site, so I won't devote a lot of effort into debunking the claims in that presentation, at least not yet.
Okay, so for the five years I've been living in Texas (I'm not going to try to remember farther back than that), I've received a grand total of 1 dubious left wing e-mail, and more dubious right wing e-mails than I care to count. The Tao Te Ching is a classic Chinese text, the foundation of Taoism, and also important to Chinese Buddhism. Here's another passage along the same lines, which seems even more explicitly counter to scientific observation.
Aside from the text itself, the book I read was also filled with beautiful photographs on every page. Given that the Tao Te Ching is fundamental to some of the world's major religions, and given that it is so short, it would definitely be worth reading if just to gain a deeper understanding of how a substantial portion of the world's population thinks.
While a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. Switzerland set to vote on banning banks from creating money out of thin air – will it happen?
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I mean, these various numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I’d take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for week or two of shamefully decadent fun. Vaccination does Irreparable HarmNextHard Rock Music Creates Killer Mice – What does it do to you?
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