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Pascal’s Wager—Is it a Good Bet?

Updated on May 23, 2016

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was a 17th century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist. Apparently, he was also a theologian of sorts since he is the author of what has come to be known as Pascal’s Wager.

Is it a good bet?

Pascal put the question of the existence of God into the form of a wager.
Pascal put the question of the existence of God into the form of a wager. | Source

What is Pascal's Wager?

In a posthumously published book, Pensées (“Thoughts”) Pascal posits that all humans must bet that God exists or that God does not exist. He then ventures into a field of philosophy known as “Christian Apologetics” which attempts to defend Christian beliefs using reason rather than faith.

In simple terms, Pascal asks us to consider the question of God’s existence as a wager. He asks us to assume that we must place our bet; it is not optional. Therefore, we must look at the gain or loss inherent in each side of the bet.

In statistical theory (not yet invented in Pascal’s time), he is talking about the consequences of making a Type I or a Type II error. In statistics, the “null hypothesis”—the hypothesis that something does not exist, is always the hypothesis tested because science does not accept anything as true until it has been proven to be true.

  • A type I error occurs when you conclude something is true when it is actually false (a false positive).
  • A type II error is when you conclude something is false, when it is actually true (a false negative).

Testing the Hypothesis

The truth
Your bet
Type of error
Winnings
Losses
No God
No God
No error
None
None
No God
Yes, God exists
Type I error
None
None
Yes, God Exists
No God
Type II error
None
Hell
Yes, God exists
Yes, God exists
No error
Heaven
None

It is easy to see from this chart that the safe bet is to bet that God does exist. If there is no God, you lose or gain nothing no matter how you bet. If there is a God, you win Heaven if you are correct and you go to Hell if you are wrong. The rational choice is to bet that God exists. Pascal concluded that If you do not believe, you should seek to “cure yourself of disbelief.”

If only it were so simple. Unfortunately, this simple wager fails to consider many logical fallacies and false assumptions. Here are a few of them.

1. Is it possible to cure yourself of disbelief?

Can someone just say, “OK, I believe” and abracadabra, he is a believer? I think not. If you do not believe, you could try to persuade yourself to believe, for instance, talk to people who do believe, read books on the subject, etc., but if you remain unconvinced, you cannot force yourself to believe.

There are many different religions each with their own idea about God.
There are many different religions each with their own idea about God. | Source

2. Which God should you believe in?

Pascal is clearly biased—he wants us to believe in the Christian God. However, throughout history and even in modern times, there have been thousands of different religions, each with different ideas about the identity of God. Some religions believe that there is more than one God. If you choose the wrong God, will the “real God” be angry with you? If you choose one of a multitude of real gods, will the other gods be mad at you for not choosing them?

Some religions, like the Mormon religion, are relatively new (founded in 1830). You have to ask yourself, “Why did God wait so long to reveal Himself?”

3. Can you fool God?

Since you cannot force yourself to believe, should you pretend to believe? Can you fool God? Can you lie to God?

Since God is described as all-knowing, pretending to believe is not going to do you any good. In fact, your lie might make God angry at you. As I understand it, God does not like the “bearing of false witness.”

A stained glass window reminds me of the pros and cons of belief.
A stained glass window reminds me of the pros and cons of belief. | Source

4. Is there really no cost to belief, even if you are wrong?

If you sincerely believe, there are some benefits during your earthly life.

  • It is comforting to know that a “Heavenly Father” cares about you and looks after you and that not only will you have eternal life, but you will be rewarded for your belief in the afterlife.
  • If you go to church, you become part of a community and can become friends with like-minded people. It can even be good for you financially, if you meet people at church who become your clients or customers.
  • Church also gives you an opportunity to be altruistic and to do “good works” (although you can also find these opportunities elsewhere).
  • Finally, some people get a great deal of pleasure from the feeling that their particular brand of religion makes them better than others.

However, there are costs to belief ,even if you are a sincere believer, if it turns out that you are wrong about the existence of God.

  • You have spent a lot of time in worship and things like Bible study. You might have spent that time doing more enjoyable or beneficial things.
  • You have also given your money to the church through donations and tithes. Again, you could have spent that money on more enjoyable and beneficial things.
  • You may have been misled into doing and believing things that you might otherwise have found to be practically and morally wrong. Perhaps you were forced to shun a member of your family or to give birth to an unwanted child due to your religious belief. There are even people who murder for religious reasons. (Remember 9/11. Remember witch burnings.)
  • You may feel like a "sinner" and have low self-esteem because you don't conform to the teachings of your church. (For instance, you are gay or divorced.)You may feel guilty because you can not reach an impossible standard of perfection in behavior or even because of your thoughts.
  • You give up the joys of critical thinking and rational reasoning. You give up the joy of figuring out for yourself how to give your life meaning.

There are also costs due to an acceptance of non-rational thinking (“magical thinking”).

  • When someone is taught to take something “on faith” and to reject the scientific method and the use of reason to discover what is true or not true, he can easily be manipulated by others.
  • He may think he can substitute prayer for action or he may have a fatalistic view of life.
  • He can fall victim to spiritual leaders or politicians who sound convincing, but are actually charlatans.

4. Is there really no cost to pretending to believe?

If you are a non-believer pretending to believe, you can enjoy some benefits from this.

  • You will “fit in” if you join the church to which the majority of the people in your country have joined. (This will be different depending on what country, or even community, you live in.)
  • Also, if your family has a tradition of belief, you stay in their “good graces” if they think that you believe what they believe.

On the negative side, a non-believer may pay psychological costs if he forces himself “to live a lie.” He may be forced to do things he does not want to do.

  • He will feel that he is wasting his time in church.
  • He will suffer the distress of taking positions he knows are morally wrong. For instance, perhaps he will have to appear to oppose marriage equality, reproductive freedom, or scientific findings when actually he is in favor of these things.
  • Finally, it is very damaging to the psyche to be lying all the time to everyone you know. What a burden that must be!

Can someone be a good person without a belief in God?
Can someone be a good person without a belief in God? | Source

5. Being a moral person can bring happiness, but is a belief in God necessary to make you a moral person?

Most people are moral regardless of whether they believe in the existence of God (or gods or goddesses). They are moral because it really is true that virtue is its own reward. It is a simple as this: If you lie, steal, cheat, you will feel bad about yourself and you will be socially isolated. Most people have a conscience that prods them to be good.

Additionally, there are civil laws that keep negative tendencies in check among those with insufficient inherent morality. Our laws do not derive from religion. Our laws go all the way back to prehistoric times. The first known codification of civil laws goes back to The Code of Hammurabi in Babylon, in 1754 BCE.

Do you really think that not having a belief in God turns people into thieves, rapists, and murderers? Many people who are devout--pedophile priests and hypocrite preachers come to mind—do immoral things.

Most atheists, just like most believers, are law-abiding and moral people. There are some atheists who are not good people, but their bad behavior has nothing to do with their non-belief.

Finally, can you really say someone is moral if the only reason for their good behavior is a fear of punishment, whether by the civil authorities or by God?

6. Will God really punish the non-believer?

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was a well-known writer and atheist. He often took part in public debates with Christians. I was present at one of those debates. He was asked what he would say if he discovered after his death that God does exist after all and he was now going to be banished to Hell as punishment for his sin of disbelief. He replied, “I would say why did you not provide sufficient proof of your existence? Why did you give us reason, if you did not want us to use it?” In other words, he did not believe that a just God would punish someone for disbelief.

Do you also find it hard to believe that a just and loving God would punish a person who led a good life simply for not believing in His existence or for not worshipping Him. Could God be that petty?

I have always thought it was very self-serving hen some churches say you can’t get to heaven by good works, but only from accepting Christ as your savior. Convenient isn’t it? You have to join their church to get to Heaven.

Read more on the subject of belief and disbelief.

The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever
The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever

Christopher Hitchens takes us on a provocative and entertaining guided tour of atheist and agnostic thought through the ages. Excerpts from the work of philosophers, scientists, and more (even clergy) from ancient times to modern days are presented with commentary. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand atheism.

 

In conclusion, Pascal’s wager is not a good bet.

Having used my reason to evaluate the pros and cons of this bet, I have concluded that it is not a good bet. It is more advantageous to be a non-believer than to be a believer. Of course, you may use your reason and come to a different conclusion. I did not write this essay to “convert” anyone to belief or disbelief. I am fortunate to live in a country which provides freedom of religion which gives everyone one the right to believe, or not believe, as they choose.

One last point. Pascal’s writings about this wager were published after his death. The argument about the wager was found among his notes. I like to think that this wager Could may have just been some musings that upon further reflection, he might have set aside because he, himself, recognized the faults in his logic.

Pascal said that not taking the bet was not an option. I’ll be more generous and allow you to opt out.

Which side of this bet would you take?

See results

This video says it all, and does it beautifully--and in just six minutes.

© 2015 Catherine Giordano

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've never heard of Pascals Wager...fascinating stuff, Catherine! Thanks for the education. I know what the safe bet is for sure. :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Billybuc: Johnny on the spot as usual. I had barely lifted my finger from the publish button and here you are. Some people will take one side of the bet and some the other. I'll see which way my poll goes. I hope I have done a fair job of listing the pros and cons for each side of the bet. Thank you for your comment.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Catherine, I always enjoy these pieces. You are a smart person and a good writer. I always feel like my intellect has been fed when I finish reading your articles. There is an excellent book that you might enjoy called "Natural and Supernatural Selection". I believe Steadman is

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Oops...

      the author. It's a biology and anthropology book-one of my favorites. Anyway, a well reasoned article as always. :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you, Iris. I will check out the book. I'm glad you feel that I feed your intellect because my plan for tomorrow is to write another fluff piece for the People-Almost-Met series. No resting on laurels. Onward ever onward. thanks so much for your comment and support.

    • revolutionbjj profile image

      Andrew Smith 2 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Fun to read about this stuff again! I love that the classic "belief in God" = no negative cost concept utterly negates the wild negative influence organized religion is capable of having on your life.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      I only faintly heard of this but your hub was an excellent step-through analytically of what it is and why you reached the conclusion you did. Well done!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      revolutionbjj: You are so right about the costs associated with belief. There are also costs associated with non-belief, but none of those costs have anything to do with going to Hell. thanks so much for your comment.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      I'm making the safe bet. Anyway, I find the question on the ability or non-ability to cure one's self of disbelief very interesting. Seems you have to believe wholeheartedly, and I wonder how easy that is or is not. Lots of heart searching initiated by your points. Great article!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      FlourishAnyway: I'm getting the impression from the comments that a large proportion of people had never heard of Pascal's wager. I can't remember when or where I first learned about it.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      MsDora: It is as hard to cure yourself of disbelief as it is had to cure your self of belief. I think there are many people who don't believe very strongly. they have doubts, but don't want to pursue them. I tried to take an objective look at the pros and cons for both sides of the bet. Thanks for your comment.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      I hadn't heard of it either, but I enjoyed your hub. Our beliefs are important and we need to think about our faith and what we put it in.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      BlossomSB: It is indeed a good thing to take a look at our beliefs and try to understand why we believe them and to use logic and reason. It is always difficult to write on a sensitive topic, and I tried not to be offensive to people who might bet differently than I do, so knowing you enjoyed the hub means a lot to me. Thank you for commenting.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 2 years ago from Michigan, USA

      Catherine, I've read many examinations of Pascal's wager, from both sides of the issue, and I'd say yours is one of the most analytical and comprehensive I've seen in a long time! I especially like your emphasis on the costs of taking the bet, which isn't usually addressed at any length in theses of this sort.

      Actually, I could add one more potential cost of accepting Pascal's wager -- the risk you run by choosing the WRONG god! Homer Simpson put it quite elegantly and succinctly when he asked his wife, "But Marge, what if we chose the wrong religion? Each week we just make the real God madder and madder!" ;-)

      Incidentally, Pascal had a ready-made answer to those who questioned the wisdom of merely hedging one's bets by pretending to believe. He suggested that one should "cure yourself of unbelief" by following the example of others who already believe, going through the motions and "acting" as if you believe, until it becomes real (as noted in point 1 of your hub).

      This is often derisively referred to (and deservedly so) as "fake it until you make it." Of course, this makes things even more problematic, for it tends to cast blanket doubt on the sincerity of belief of those who you are imitating -- those who supposedly already believe!

      In any case, well done!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you Paladin for your praise of my analysis of the wager. You bring in some good points as well. If Pascal believes you should "fake it until you make it, " then it does indeed cause one to wonder just how many people in the pews are faking it. It could be very-emperor's new-clothes kind of thing.

      As for choosing the one "right religion" out of the thousands of religions that exist, I do address that issue and the possibility that, as Homer says choosing the wrong religion will make God madder than if you choose no religion at all.

      Some will say that the different religions are just different ways of worshipping the same god. I say, "If all religions are true, then no religion is true." Pascal, of course, believed that his religion was the one true religion. I doubt that the thought that, for example, the Hindus had it right and he didn't ever entered his mind I think some believers feel very threatened by atheists and members of religions other than their own because it brings up the possibility that maybe these other people have it right. To even entertain the thought that another group is the group that has it right will cause the whole foundation of their life to crumble.

      Anyway, I'm rambling. Thank you for your comment.

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 2 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      We all need fluff pieces every now and then as a palette cleanser. Write on.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      Religion is a seed that a lot of us have planted within us at a very young age, and at times it brings us comfort. Not everything about the human psyche is rational, but I think the ultimate purpose of religion is to give us structure in our lives, a series of "rites of passage," if you will. Is there a lot of hypocrisy and fanaticism in religion - most certainly, but that is encountered in any system in which human beings participate. I think there are a great many religious people, myself being one, that feel we don't have to impose our values upon other people, and we don't look upon God as some cruel, angry, oppressive deity who is going to throw you in the pit for not thinking the right way. Very interesting hub, I respect your point of view but to me it is not a bet. It is one way to achieve peace of mind in this world.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Mel: I agree that religion serves many good purposes. I mentioned some of them above. When I was in college, I used to say "I believe in religion, but I'm not so sure about God." I still believe in religion--I belong to a UU church (society). I'm now sure about God : Doesn't exist--at least as described by the major religions

      Pascal's wager takes a very narrow view as you have pointed out. It offers only two alternatives--Heaven or Hell. I wrote this to point out the flaws in his wager as I see them.

      I believe in live and let live about religion. Just like you, I don't like it when others try to impose their views on me and I don't attempt to impose my views on others. "Pascal's Wager" is an exercise in philosophy and logic. As I mentioned in the text, I do not expect anyone to change their views about religion or God based on what I wrote. I expected most of my readers to be people who already agreed with me.

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I truly appreciate having the opportunity to learn your viewpoint.

    • jlpark profile image

      Jacqui 2 years ago from New Zealand

      One of the costs of "belief" not mentioned - you may be made to feel unworthy, or 'unnatural' even by those in your own family, parish, church or temple - because you don't fit their definition of God-given (add thing here) - like being gay or trans, as well as many others. So many people are made to feel like out-casts in place that are supposed to be accepting - their family, their place of worship. So the cost of belief, may be that your mental health suffers - either at the hands of your holy book, your family, other believers, or your place of worship.

      Otherwise, well done on a great article! I enjoyed the well thought out article, and learnt a lot. Thanks for sharing this.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      jlpark : You are right that another cost of belief is being made to feel like a "sinner" when you have done nothing wrong. I try to stay around 1500 words, and this one is nearly 2000, so I can't go into as much detail as I would like, but I think I will go back and add your point in because it is an important one. Thanks for bringing it up. I'm glad you found it a worthwhile read.

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 2 years ago from East London, South Africa

      As a believer I have often wondered how people cannot believe. My commitment to God through Jesus Christ changed my life for the better in so many ways. This life changing experience is difficult to explain but powerful to experience. Thanks for a thought provoking article.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Johan Smulders: I appreciate your comment. Belief can transform someone's life. It is a wonderful thing if helps you to be a better and happier person. However, a belief and truth are not always the same.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 21 months ago

      It’s true, all sound individuals rely on their innate moral awareness, their conscience. This is why, since time immemorial, even the most primitive cultures, regardless of their metaphysical values, enforced laws and regulations against homicide and various other acts of evil.

      But the truth is that, just as with our verbal communication abilities, for instance, our conscience has to be refined, calibrated, made more robust. If not, it could be stunted, or worst, perverted such that evil behavior is deemed good with good ones perceived as evil.

      Because of this, the eternal well being and happiness of mankind is inextricably bound to the objective moral values and responsibilities lovingly given to us by our Maker. Without these you have absolutely nothing to guard your conscience from becoming disoriented perhaps even corrupted.

      An exceptional instance of this can readily be observed with child soldiers. They are demonstrably much more coldblooded and ruthless when compared to their older counterparts. “More than 300,000 children—some as young as 7—are fighting as soldiers in 41 countries around the world,” said an Associated Press dispatch. Most are between the ages of 15 and 18. “Besides being used as front-line fighters, children are used to detect land mines and also as spies, porters and sex slaves, according to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.” Drugs are often administered to make children fearless. Those who refuse drugs are killed, said a 14-year-old rebel soldier in Sierra Leone. Regarding his fighting in 1999 when he was 15, a North African youth reported: “They put all the 15- and 16-year-olds in the front line while the army retreated. I was with 40 other kids. I was fighting for 24 hours. When I saw that only three of my friends were alive, I ran back.” The Coalition’s report stated that governments recruit children because of “their very qualities as children—they can be cheap, expendable and easier to condition into fearless killing and unthinking obedience.”

      And so we arrive at the heart of our exchange. Whether or not someone possesses a conscience isn’t truly the issue. It’s if or not an individual possess a reliable one, and particularly, if he/she honestly obeys it.

      This predicament calls to mind a very old Cherokee lore. It goes, roughly speaking, like this:

      “An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

      "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

      The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

      The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."”

      With that in mind, take into consideration what another equally wise and ancient passage reveals:

      “This is what Jehovah has said [] “I, Jehovah, am your God [Creator], the One teaching you to benefit [yourself], the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments. Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” - Isaiah 48:17,18 (Brackets mine.)

      As would any caring mother or father, our Creator, Jehovah God, is keenly interested in our well-being. To this end, he instructs us on the best ways to preserve and also make full use of the conscience he produced us with.

      To close, here’s a remarkable example of this loving guidance at work as reported in a well known intercontinental journal:

      “In Liberia, Alex served as an altar boy in the Catholic Church. But at the age of 13, he joined a warring faction and became a notorious child soldier. To make himself brave in battle, he turned to witchcraft. Alex saw many of his companions killed, but he survived. In 1997 he met Jehovah’s Witnesses and found that they did not look down on him. Rather, they helped him to learn what the Bible says about violence. Alex left the army. As his faith began to grow, he followed the Bible command: “Let him turn away from what is bad and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”—1 Peter 3:11.

      Meanwhile, a former child soldier named Samson came through the town where Alex now lived. He had been a choirboy but in 1993 became a soldier and got involved in drug abuse, spiritism, and immorality. In 1997 he was demobilized. Samson was heading for Monrovia to join a special security force when a friend persuaded him to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and as a result, he developed a Bible-based faith. This gave him the courage to abandon his warlike ways. Both Alex and Samson now live peaceful and moral lives. Could anything but Bible-based faith make changes in lives that had been so brutalized?” - http://bit.ly/18WopZ0

      Has it become apparent to you now exactly why each of us needs to scrutinize and make use of what the Bible teaches?

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 21 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Joseph: Your comments are interesting, but they don't have much to do with Pascal's wager. I think you should put your comments into your own hub--they are much too long for a comment.

    • Ronald Beach profile image

      Ronald Beach 20 months ago

      I have always been of the opinion that nothing is certain, and that any Belief, one way or another, is a futile waste of energy and time. Trying to be happy with your existence, avoiding evil, and living by "the Golden Rule" is a much better use of one's resources, and covers all the bases, as posited by Hitchens. Pascal's Wager amounts to little more than the musings of a child-like, no-gray-area mind.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Ronald Beach: I find Pascal's wager to be an interesting thought experiment. It is interesting not in itself, but for the thinking it stirs up. Absolutely, the Golden Rule is far more important. Thanks for commenting.

    • Tom Smith 20 months ago

      Great piece. There is another downside in believing in a God/Religion that isn't real. It would mean that you lived a lie. You did and said things based on lies. Worse, if you proselytized and convinced others to have the same faith as you, then you led others to live a life full of falsehoods as well. In short-you missed out on life's answers because your faith kept you from asking questions.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Tom Smith: thank you for your comment. Living a lie is a terrible thing. And then there is what in the business world is called the "opportunity cost." How could you have lived, what could you have learned, if you hadn't been caught up in a lie. Your point is well taken.

    • Solaras profile image

      Solaras 20 months ago

      Very interesting Catherine; I enjoyed your reasoning. Here is my conundrum: I believe that evil and demonic entities exist; but I have more difficulty believing in a particular god to pray to. Does this make me a pessimist, or am I still just a seeker?

      I know that we continue on after we die; my father gave me proof of that after he passed.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Solaras: Your questions, Solaris, are above my pay grade. My personal belief is that there no supernatural beings-no gods, no demons, no angels, no fairies, etc. However, in the hub, I tried to present both sides of the belief question fairly. I'm glad you thought it was well done.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 20 months ago from Australia

      The conscience was created by ancient religions dating back to our prehuman ancestors hence without a belief in god there would be no human conscience as religions are predicated on a higher power ie god

      The various cultural forms of god and religion suited time, place and circumstances: it is still the same god.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 20 months ago from Chicago Area

      I love reading in philosophy and this hub was definitely thought provoking! Even when I was little, I couldn't believe that "God" (whoever or whatever that is) would create people just to banish them to blazes. Indeed, I agree that religious argument can be quite "convenient" when trying to control people. I do think there are spirit energies, but not in the, patriarchal, hierarchical structure that most religions espouse. Voted up and interesting. Congrats on Hub of the Day! Well deserved.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Ozinato: My belief is that conscience and "morality" came first and gave rise to religion as a way of codifying these innate tendencies. thank you for your comment.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      hiedithorne: The best compliment can get is "thought provoking." Thank you. I think one can be spiritual without "God" or religion. I agree with you about religion being a way to control people. For example, kings were said to rule by Divine Right. The word "Lord" is used for God and for the powerful on Earth.

    • keishialeelouis profile image

      Keishia Lee Louis 20 months ago from Georgia, USA

      This is truly an interesting article. However, it fails to take into account experiential belief which comes from walking with the Holy Spirit. What if you walk with God and actually experience supernatural encounters? There are people who do. Since I am human and I do not know everything, wouldn't I have to give some credence to their experiences? Sure I could laugh at them and call them crazy. I could say they are deluded or that they are ignorant. However, who am I to do so? Everyone has a sphere of ignorance. Likewise everyone has special gifts-- or areas of genius. Howard Gardener of Harvard University likes to call it the Theory of Multiple Intelligence. At first the scope was very narrow. Only seven areas were considered. Now it has officially been expanded to eight. Today they are even considering broadening it again to include Spiritual Intelligence as a field of study. How can someone manifest spiritual awareness and power? The spirit realm exists. Just because a person doesn't see all of the components manifested in the physical realm does not mean someone can and should conclude there is no God. It's like saying germs don't exist because I can't see them. That's exactly what some scientists said for thousands of years, until Antony von Leeuwenhoek, a Christian, discovered them with his microscope and proved this to be utterly ridiculous. It's all about the tools you use.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Keishialeelewis: Your comment is a little off topic, but is very interesting and thoughtful comment. Some people do report having experiences like you describe. However, brain scientists have found that they can induce these experiences at will by stimulating a precise area of the brain. They can also be induced by certain physical states like meditation, starvation, and others. There are alternative explanations for these experiences. It thus becomes a matter of interpretation. If someone says they have felt the presence of God, that is their experience and I can not say that they didn't have that particular feeling. But did they interpret that feeling correctly?

      Scientists do not believe something until they see proof of it. Science was pretty primitive until only fairly recently. When was the scientific method first used--200 years ago? If someone provides scientific proof of God, then science will believe it. Believing an unproven thing is way more likely to be wrong than right. Thank you for your comment.

    • TheGutterMonkey profile image

      The Gutter Monkey 20 months ago

      Hey Catherine! Congrats on Hub of the Day. It was only a matter of time before you got it. Your articles are always top-notch.

      And you're on the money in regards to your last comment. The prevailing problem with belief in the supernatural (and UFO's and conspiracies too, for that matter) always tends to be that people use it as the default, "filler" explanation to things they either don't know or can't understand. The beauty of science is that it revels in the "I don't know" and holds off judgement until more data is available; with the end goal being that when we do believe in something, it's something that there's reason to believe. Believing in something due simply to the thought "What else could it be?" is nothing more than a lack of imagination.

      But anywho! I didn't mean to blather on. Congrats again!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks GutterMonkey: I have actually had HOTD before, but not in quite a while. It is always a nice surprise when it happens. Please blather on as much as you want. It is refreshing not to have to refute the comment. You totally get it. Thanks.

      To me, the worse thing about believing things without evidence is that it is possible to believe anything. This can become dangerous when it leads to conspiracy theories and prejudice.

    • Romeos Quill profile image

      Romeos Quill 20 months ago from Lincolnshire, England

      An engrossing and thought-provoking write; congratulations on achieving another HOTD. I'm familiar with Pascal's Wager and it is often cited as the lowest common denominator of belief in discussions with atheists.

      Did you know that all of the prophecies of the Old Testament given by the Prophets ( who obviously believed in God and claim that the Word of the Lord came to them), regarding the coming of Jesus the Christ/Messiah have a probability success rate of 100%?

      Here's an excerpt from a book, ' Evidence That Demands a Verdict ' by Josh McDowell which you may find interesting as the facts certainly convinced me:-

      "..... According to the science of probability, the chance of any one human being - up until the present - fulfilling a selection of just EIGHT of these prophecies ( including the one on crucifixion ), is 1 in 10 to the 17th power .... And here we are considering only eight prophecies. What if we were to consider FORTY-EIGHT prophecies? the chance then becomes virtually zero ( 1 x 10 to the 157th power )... "

      To give you an idea of how vast that number is, the number of photons in the observable universe have been estimated to be between 1 x 10 to the power of 78, and 1 x 10 to the power of 89. Amazing!

      http://www.quora.com/How-many-particles-are-there-...

      http://www.universetoday.com/36302/atoms-in-the-un...

      Considering those odds which mock probability, did you further know that Jesus Christ fulfilled not 8 prophecies, not 48 prophecies, but more than 354 prophecies, perhaps even as many as 456 prophecies concerning Himself? The odds are astounding, so no wager required when there is certainty. ( Here are links to prove these ' probablities ':-

      http://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/3...

      and the mathematical probability that Jesus is the Christ, Son of God:-

      http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/radio034.htm

      Did you know that Jesus Christ claimed equality with God? Now is that presumption, arrogance or fact? Based on reason, miracles for unbelievers, witness reports and faith, I believe it to be a fact. Here is a link to enhance understanding with further detail:-

      http://www.everystudent.com/wires/whodoyousay.html

      Regarding religion:-

      " A religion that is pure and stainless according to God the Father is this: to take care of orphans and widows who are suffering, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. - James 1:27 ( N.I. V ).

      Now how many can claim that, I wonder?

      I hope you may find some of this edifying even if you feel that one may have veered slightly off topic in parts.

      R.Q.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks for your comment, Romeos Quill. I agree that Pascal's wager is just too easy to take apart.

      As to your comment about prophecy, that's easy to take apart also. They are usually vague enough to fit just about anything. It's like fortune telling and psychics. I've heard people claiming that all of Nostradamus's prophecies have come true also. With the Bible predicting stuff about Jesus, it is entirely true when people were writing the story of Jesus's life, they made it fit the Prophecies.

    • Romeos Quill profile image

      Romeos Quill 20 months ago from Lincolnshire, England

      With respsect, I think you may be mixing up prophecy with retroactive clairvoyance. People try to squeeze events to fit in with Nostradamus' 394 quatrains, who was an occultic seer yet prophecy is about events yet to come to pass.

      For example in the Bible, a Messianic prophecy about Jesus the Messiah being nailed by His hands and feet is found in Psalm 22:16, where it prophetically states: " For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet."

      That was written at a time when crucifixion was not a method of execution in Israel. So how did they know that?

      Thanks for your reply;

      R.Q.

    • Romeos Quill profile image

      Romeos Quill 20 months ago from Lincolnshire, England

      Typo ' 942' - it's late :)

      R.Q.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 20 months ago

      Can you, perhaps, supply an example or two of specific Bible prophecies that are "vague enough to fit just about anything"?

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 20 months ago from Northern California

      Hi Catherine,

      Congratulations on a truly outstanding hub, and on HOTD! You and the commenters appear to have covered all of the bases. You have written one of the strongest arguments for Free Thought that I have ever seen. For some reason, I'm reminded of two episodes from classic Trek.

      Kirk and the the crew of the Enterprise encounter two supernatural entities Apollo and a locally omnipotent being, named Trelayne., who are both portrayed in a less-than-favorable light.

      Freethinkers can say: Aha, most religions are like that. On the other hand, True Believers can say: Ho hum, another false god. Roddenberry was able to encompass two diametrically opposed world views in these two episodes. Before that, Pascal and I would have wagered that this was impossible!

    • my_girl_sara profile image

      Cynthia Lyerly 20 months ago from Georgia

      Best HOD in a long time! Love the way you used his probabilities. It's a great way to share with people who are more analytical about faith in God. So sorry you are choosing to place your bets against the odds. Just goes to show that the Christian faith is more that just a decision of the mind but of the heart as well. There are lots of other statistical reasons why IT IS all true but I really like this hub as an intro to share with others. I do pray that God will reveal to you and others that He is real and true.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 20 months ago from Oakley, CA

      Congrats on HOTD! VERY well done, and laid out with calm reason.

      As a non-believer myself, I agree that one does not need church or religion to behave morally. Look at all the hypocrites among our politicians who are trying to cram their brand of religious beliefs down our throats by means of putting them into various bills designed to become laws--all in clear violation of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion and speech. Yet, they have nearly all been caught up in one scandal or another.

      Another argument the religious try to use against atheists is to accuse them of being Satan worshipers instead. That, too, is faulty logic, in my opinion. I don't believe in such an entity any more than I believe in a god; a person isn't going to worship something in which they do not believe.

      Voted up, interesting and awesome.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 20 months ago

      @Dzy

      Would that mean, for instance, that if everyone agreed the Holocaust was a great moral good that would make it so?

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Joseph O Polanco: No

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Larry Fields: It was a pleasure to read your comment. You had me chuckling by the end. Roddenberry was a master. I'm so delighted to read how much you liked my article. Thank you.

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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      my girl sara: Thank you for your praise and for your open-mindedness. Apparently, we don't agree about which side of the bet has the odds in favor of it, but I'm glad you think I made my case well. As you observed, my focus was on reason; not emotion. I'll leave it to others to make the case with "the heart" as you say.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      DzyMsLizzy: Thank you for your comment and your praise. I definitely agree with you about hypocritical politicians who use religion for their own ends.

      As for the Satan thing, I guess some people just can't understand that there are people who don't worship any entity. They think that if you don't worship their god then you must worship Satan. Either that or they are deliberately trying to insult people who believe differently than they do.

      I tried to be fair to both sides, giving the pros and cons for belief and disbelief.

    • Larry Fields profile image

      Larry Fields 20 months ago from Northern California

      Hi Joseph,

      Congratulations! You have just won today's Godwin Award.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      I had to look that up, Larry Fields. Godwin's Rule states that if any online discussion goes long enough someone will compare someone/something to Hitler or Nazism. We got there in under 50 comments. Thanks for being here, Larry.

      According to Wikipedia, whoever brings up Hitler or Nazism automatically loses the debate. Sorry Joe. Debate over. You lost.

    • Yogesh 20 months ago

      Very nice hub.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 20 months ago from Australia

      Catherine

      all high ranking atheist scholars (Freud, Dawkins etc) agree that religion caused the "birth" of conscience. They also blame religion for this tendency.

      We can see a rapid weakening of conscience as traditional religion comes under attack as unfashionable/not sexy etc.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 20 months ago

      The only way that's possible is if objective moral values and duties were a reality grounded in God.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you Yogesh. I appreciate that you read my hub and took the time to comment.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Oztinato: Have you actually read Freud and Dawkins? I think you have got their views entirely backwards.

      Thank you for commenting.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Oztinato and Polanco: Conscience based on reason is stronger than conscience based on religion. When one comes to moral conclusions through the use of one's own reason, one "owns" it.

      It is possible that some people take up religion for the reasons Pascal gave. They think that it is the safe bet.

      Thank you for commenting.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 20 months ago

      It’s true, all sound individuals rely on their innate moral awareness, their conscience. This is why, since time immemorial, even the most primitive cultures, regardless of their metaphysical values, enforced laws and regulations against homicide and various other acts of evil.

      But the truth is that, just as with our verbal communication abilities, for instance, our conscience has to be refined, calibrated, made more robust. If not, it could be stunted, or worst, perverted such that evil behavior is deemed good with good ones perceived as evil.

      Because of this, the eternal well being and happiness of mankind is inextricably bound to the objective moral values and responsibilities lovingly given to us by our Maker. Without these you have absolutely nothing to guard your conscience from becoming disoriented perhaps even corrupted.

      An exceptional instance of this can readily be observed with child soldiers. They are demonstrably much more coldblooded and ruthless when compared to their older counterparts. “More than 300,000 children—some as young as 7—are fighting as soldiers in 41 countries around the world,” said an Associated Press dispatch. Most are between the ages of 15 and 18. “Besides being used as front-line fighters, children are used to detect land mines and also as spies, porters and sex slaves, according to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.” Drugs are often administered to make children fearless. Those who refuse drugs are killed, said a 14-year-old rebel soldier in Sierra Leone. Regarding his fighting in 1999 when he was 15, a North African youth reported: “They put all the 15- and 16-year-olds in the front line while the army retreated. I was with 40 other kids. I was fighting for 24 hours. When I saw that only three of my friends were alive, I ran back.” The Coalition’s report stated that governments recruit children because of “their very qualities as children—they can be cheap, expendable and easier to condition into fearless killing and unthinking obedience.”

      And so we arrive at the heart of our exchange. Whether or not someone possesses a conscience isn’t truly the issue. It’s if or not an individual possess a reliable one, and particularly, if he/she honestly obeys it.

      This predicament calls to mind a very old Cherokee lore. It goes, roughly speaking, like this:

      “An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

      "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

      The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

      The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."”

      With that in mind, take into consideration what another equally wise and ancient passage reveals:

      “This is what Jehovah has said [] “I, Jehovah, am your God [Creator], the One teaching you to benefit [yourself], the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments. Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” - Isaiah 48:17,18 (Brackets mine.)

      As would any caring mother or father, our Creator, Jehovah God, is keenly interested in our well-being. To this end, he instructs us on the best ways to preserve and also make full use of the conscience he produced us with.

      To close, here’s a remarkable example of this loving guidance at work as reported in a well known intercontinental journal:

      “In Liberia, Alex served as an altar boy in the Catholic Church. But at the age of 13, he joined a warring faction and became a notorious child soldier. To make himself brave in battle, he turned to witchcraft. Alex saw many of his companions killed, but he survived. In 1997 he met Jehovah’s Witnesses and found that they did not look down on him. Rather, they helped him to learn what the Bible says about violence. Alex left the army. As his faith began to grow, he followed the Bible command: “Let him turn away from what is bad and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”—1 Peter 3:11.

      Meanwhile, a former child soldier named Samson came through the town where Alex now lived. He had been a choirboy but in 1993 became a soldier and got involved in drug abuse, spiritism, and immorality. In 1997 he was demobilized. Samson was heading for Monrovia to join a special security force when a friend persuaded him to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and as a result, he developed a Bible-based faith. This gave him the courage to abandon his warlike ways. Both Alex and Samson now live peaceful and moral lives. Could anything but Bible-based faith make changes in lives that had been so brutalized?” - http://bit.ly/18WopZ0

      Has it become apparent to you now exactly why each of us needs to scrutinize and make use of what the Bible teaches?

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 20 months ago from Michigan, USA

      I think you should know, Catherine, that you're being spammed.

      Joseph has a bad habit of copying and pasting the same comments -- verbatim -- on numerous hubs, being sure to include links to his own website (he once actually tried to C&P a 4,000 word comment on one of my hubs!). If you're curious, copy and past some of his above comments into any search engine, and see how many results you get!

      Joseph has demonstrated time and time again that he has absolutely NO interest in honest discussion, only in the promotion of the Jehovah's Witnesses and his own pre-packaged diatribes.

      My comments may strike you as somewhat vindictive or off-putting, and I apologize for their tenor. But I thought you should be forewarned. You seem to be a reasonable person, open to honest discussion and debate, and your hubs shouldn't be abused by spammers.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 20 months ago from Chicago

      Hi Catherine, Congrats on this HOTD! I've mentioned before that God's existence is only attested to by an individual's and or agreement of two or more of people's firm belief. Thank you for this presentation and prolific research here. Keep smiling!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Paladin: So Joe is a troll AND a spammer--see some of my comments to him above. I am now ignoring his comments. Do you think I should delete them? I've let them stand because HP said that comments show Google that readers are engaging. Why doesn't HP ban him from the site? He has done only 1 short hub in 20 months. I think I will report him. I've never clicked on any of his links. I don't even read his comments. Thanks for your concern. The problem is if I delete his comments, I have to delete all the other comments that reference his comments.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Word 55 Thanks for your good wishes. I hope you liked the hub.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 20 months ago from Chicago

      Oh yes Catherine, I really liked the hub. I thought that was insinuated... As for the spammed comment I've received about 3-4 of them. I usually delete them because they usually don't relate to the hub commented on. In your case here since people responded to his comments it won't hurt to just leave it all there... I like all of your writings that I read and comment on. There's no uncertainty about that.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks word55. I appreciate your comments especially since you don't agree with my point of view sometimes. I've been writing hubs on atheism because it may be my niche. Hubs on this topic are among my most successful hubs. I always try to be fair and present both sides of the story.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 20 months ago from Chicago

      Perhaps, there are more atheists that read here or at least respond to your hubs. You are no doubt a very prolific writer. I don't like disagreeing with your point of view at all but like you, I have an obligation to write for myself and the few people that have a tendency to see and agree with my point of view. Sometimes, we agree on some things and that's okay.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 20 months ago from Australia

      Catherine

      I am not saying atheists have no conscience just that atheist science agrees it Evolved out of religion. As it Evolved out of religion it stands to reason that removing religion from the equation will weaken the conscience.

      Paldin/Cath

      I do not condone any of Joes comments.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Ozinato: I understood what you said, but I think, based on my readings, that conscience came first. Perhaps even animals have it. I have heard people say their dogs look contrite when they know they have done something wrong. Any animal that lives in a pack has to have something like a conscience in order for the pack to survive. Later conscience gave rise to religion. Religion gave this instinct a name and put rules to it. Thanks for commenting.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 20 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      Although I admire your intelligence I have to respect the (often atheist) official research that claims religion is responsible for conscience.

      The other problem is one of basic intellectual honesty: how can for example Dawkins (or other atheists ) say religion is to blame for conscience on the one hand and that the conscience is valued by atheists as separate to religion?

      This is what I am getting when I am claiming that atheism seems to dull a persons perception of ethics: it often appears in such basic reasoning as just described.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Ozinato: I am not aware of Dawkins saying anything about conscience arising from religion. The best way I can respond to your question about ethics is to refer you to my hub Beliefs, Morals, Values, and Ethics. Thanks for your comment.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 20 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      its all of the mainstream atheist theorists not just Dawkins who have made it a constant glaring theme and criticism for almost the last two decades etc. They all claim negatively that religion is responsible for conscience. Surely no one can deny that this has been one of the constant atheism criticisms.

      Many many religions claim the soul and conscience are synonymous and that animals have souls.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Sorry Oztinato. I don't know what you are talking about and it doesn't have anything to do with Pascal's wager. Why don't you write a hub about it.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 20 months ago from Michigan, USA

      Catherine, sorry for not getting back to you earlier (I've been very busy working on a gas line for my mom's stove, and getting the garden going).

      As for your earlier questions to me (regarding Joe), I really feel I shouldn't add any additional comments, because I don't want to 'resurrect' the issue (if you'll pardon the pun), and I wouldn't presume to tell you how to run your hubs. I only thought it fair to warn you about one of our resident spammers (and I'm grateful to see Oz doesn't condone it, either).

      As for 'mainstream' atheists claiming that religion is 'responsible' for human consciousness, I must admit I'm not aware of this trend, and would be interested in hearing more about it. But, as you said, that is a topic unrelated to this hub.

      Perhaps Oz will write a hub about it...

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks Paladin. I appreciate your comment. I told Polanco if he puts links in his comments, I will deny them. so he stopped using links, but still comments a half dozen times on each hub. I told him to put his ideas into his own hubs and I will read them. As for religion and consciousness, I appreciate knowing that you do not know what he was talking about either. I suggested writing a hub about it so I could be enlightened.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 20 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      there are ample hubs and online info on this. Its common knowledge.

      It relates directly to this hub and the numerous associated comments here by others including yourself.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Ozinato: Could you please direct me to just one post on the topic. Also, there is no reason you can't write on the same topic as others. Everyone of my hubs is on a topic that someone else has also written about. People still read and like my hubs. There's quite few hubs on Pascal's wager (See the Related Hubs to the right on this page) , yet each is different, reflecting the authors' unique take on it.

    • hussain ali 20 months ago

      I always feel like my intellect has been fed when I finish reading your articles. There is an excellent book that you might enjoy called "Natural and Supernatural Selection". I believe Steadman is

      http://abcdramabox.com

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 20 months ago from Orlando Florida

      hussain ali Thank you for your kind words about my writing. It's so nice to now that people look forward to something new from me.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 19 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Catherine, enjoyed reading this hub. I don't really take Pascals Wager seriously as it ignores all of the other gods which may also be in the mix. If there's one, there has to be more! :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Randy Godwin: Thanks for your comment about the main flaw in Pascal's wager. So many people just can't wrap their head around the fact that there could be a different god than the one they believe in.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 19 months ago from Australia

      Paladin

      Conscience, not consciousness.

      Dawkins is always talking about it

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 19 months ago from Australia

      Cath,

      my comments began here in response to a dialogue regarding "gods and demons" (or "good and evil") which came about in the normal course of the discussion here in this Hub by yourself and others. It is intellectually dishonest not to admit this.

      Atheist Peeps/Joseph,

      the fundamental fault in Joe's thoughts is that (exactly like atheists) they are based on religious intolerance. In Joe's case it is an intolerance to all other religions or even other Christian sects other than the JWs. This is remarkably similar to atheists who likewise have this same tragic flaw in reasoning which fundamentally discredits their logic. Hence the reasoning re Pascal's wager of any other topic becomes tainted by intellectual dishonesty masked as science: science does not admit prejudice and intolerance as it contradicts its own scientific objectivity.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Oz: on of the flaws of Pascal's wager is that he assumes only one god, but if you consider that there are thousands of religions all with different ideas of god and how he should be worshipped, you can never be sure that you are believing in the right one.

      My essay on Pascal's wager is not based on science, but rather logic. I present reasons for deciding on both side of the wager. I think I am fair to belief and non-belief.

      I can't comment on demons. I know nothing about demons.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 19 months ago from Australia

      The Hindus believe in millions of gods but of course know they are all just different aspects of the same One god. This is such a basic truth that no amount of blind prejudice either from theists or atheists can affect it.

      Again the intellectual dishonesty is apparent as such truisms are ignored for the sake of deliberate confusion and obfuscation. Misrepresentation of such basic easy to understand truths has therefore an unscientific foundation.

      The One god adapts to time place and circumstances such as language and culture. Otherwise how could It be scientifically defined as an all knowing compassionate entity?

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Oz: I was unaware that God had bee scientifically defined. Thanks for commenting.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 19 months ago from Southern Georgia

      More BS from Oz!

      "Otherwise how could It be scientifically defined as an all knowing compassionate entity?"

      What a blatant lie!! No surprise coming from a Christian who wouldn't know a scientific fact if it hit him in the face. LOL!

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 19 months ago from Australia

      Randy

      that is very close to a personal attack/hate speech. Also it doesn't make sense: the definition of God is an all knowing compassionate entity so how is that a "lie" ??

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 19 months ago from Southern Georgia

      That is not the "scientific" definition of a god, Oz. Why do you get so angry when you get caught in an untruth? You're always threatening to report someone who doesn't agree with your opinion. Grow up why dontcha!!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      You read all my hubs about religion, but you never seem to take away one bit of knowledge. (I assume you read them because I see your comments. Perhaps you comment without reading. It does seem that the latter is likely to be the case because your comments often seem to be unrelated to the thesis of the hub.) This makes people get a little exasperated and they respond with anger.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 19 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Catherine.....Congratulation on a most deserving HOTD. I found it very interesting as well as educational. I must also comment on your patience & civility with trolls, spammers and the "like" who insist upon rambling jibberish ( and repeatedly at that!.)...simply amazing how grotesquely ignorant some people so boldly present themselves. They are actually proud to be most annoying. In fact part of their belief is that the more hated they are by man...the more pleasing they are to their Jehovah. How very special for them.

      I wonder how many times you must suggest that certain comments are TOO LONG, they do NOT relate your topic..and they should spend their time & energy on a HUB of their own. Perhaps that would be too sensible a thing for the confused to pursue.

      I'm most impressed with your writing as well as your topics, Catherine. You are a pleasure to read. Thank you.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you so very much for your praise, comment, and commiseration. It is very trying to deal with long, off-topic, and ill-informed comments, especially when the same person is commenting over and over saying the same thing each time. I did convince one person to write his own hub. I even let him link to his hub in my comments. When it gets too overwhelming, I remind myself that a view is a view whether the viewer agrees with me or not.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 19 months ago from Australia

      I have made calm succint scientific points without anger. Pointing out personal attacks is the morally correct procedure. Its up to the hub author to delete them.

      Kurt Godel gave scientific definitions of God.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 19 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Godel was a good mathematician, but his views on religion was merely his personal opinion. He didn't prove there was a god nor an afterlife. He was simply a theist with an opinion. So you haven't used science in your points, neither succinctly or in any other manner, Oz.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 19 months ago from Australia

      On the contrary he has a proven god theorem tested and proved by modern super computers!

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 19 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Post the link then, Oz. I'll be happy to take a gander at it. I hope it's not on some nutty fundie site.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 19 months ago from Australia

      Just google kurt godel god theorem.

      Godel was einsteins anointed successor.

      I note the failure of the hub author to remove your personal attacks.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 19 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Ha, Oz! Do you even know what a theorem is? Using math to prove something with so may ifs, involved does away with logic in the first place. The theorem can be mathematically proven but it is flawed by pure logic. Check out the last paragraph in this article for the end result.

      http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/scient...

      By the way, the final equation also suggests there may be many gods present in the universe and not merely one, the way I read it. Good try though!

      "On the contrary he has a proven god theorem tested and proved by modern super computers!"

      I wasn't aware a MacBook was regarded as a modern super computer. :P

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 19 months ago from Michigan, USA

      So, Oz, we're back to claims about Gödel's "God" theorem, are we? All right, I'll ask you once again (for, what, the tenth time?):

      Can you please explain to us -- in your own words -- how you know his theorem was proven? If you can't, you don't know that it was proven, so you must therefore quit claiming it was (incidentally, as I've already done countless times, I CAN explain why it WASN'T proven).

      For anyone else who may not be familiar with Gödel's theorem, it's simply another version of the age-old ontological argument, and fails just as miserably. Instead of Anselm's being greater than that which can be conceived, Gödel simply defines a "God-like being" (a distinction with its own inherent problems) as "possessing all existing properties."

      I actually wrote a hub examining it in detail, explaining why it fails on numerous points. With Catherine's permission, I'll post a link in a subsequent comment (or you can just go to my profile page and look for Gödel).

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Paladin: People have been posting links so you might as well do so also. I'd like to read that hub.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 19 months ago from Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Catherine. I didn't want to presume, as I know that's been a bit of a sensitive topic lately. Here's the link:

      http://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Gdels-Onto...

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 19 months ago from Australia

      Well we are blessed with mathamaticians greater than Godel on HP....as if.

      I note that the hub author here has not deleted personal attacks. Bias?

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 19 months ago from Australia

      I note again that the hub author here has persistently allowed personal insults and hate speech. Hub rules clearly state that personal attacks are not permissible.

      This pollutes any alleged intellectual honesty

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Oz: I do delete posts that I feel cross the line. I deleted one just now. I will manage my comments as I see fit. Your comments are on the antagonistic side, so don't be surprised when others reply in kind.

    • Jonathan Norburg profile image

      Jonathan Norburg 19 months ago

      Excellent hub! I've just discovered this site and to find an article so well written and informative right off the bat is a joy.

      I have to say, though, that I find oztinato's comments more and more trying as he is repeatedly posting an opinion backed up by hearsay evidence with no citations of any kind. "Look it up on Google," is not now nor has it ever been a legitimate form of documenting that what one says is true. As a result, I must take the skeptics path and conclude that his pronouncements are probably false; not definitively, as proving the null position true on any subject is logically impossible.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 19 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Welcome to Hubpages, Jonathan. There are plenty of religious folk just like Oz who get really sensitive when someone disagrees with them about their religion. This is especially so when those who disagree uses science and common sense argument to indicate the believers are mistaken in what they think is true.

      They then act hurt and insulted even if they started the name calling to begin with. However, most see right through this with the result being loss of credibility.....if they have any to begin with. :)

      @Cathering--feel free to delete my comments at any time if you feel they are detrimental to your hub...or even if they're not. :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Jonathan Norburg: Welcome to HubPages. I'll be on the look out for you hubs. Thanks for your praise of my article. If you stay on HubPages, you will learn to ignore the gadflys. They ruin the conversation for everyone else. And I see that Randy Godwin above has explained this very well in the above comment.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks Randy for explaining about the gadflys (the most polite term I could come up with) to Jonathan. You may have noticed that I did delete your comment about "big boys." Criticism of other comments is OK, but I'd like to keep it polite.

    • Jonathan Norburg profile image

      Jonathan Norburg 19 months ago

      Thank you for the welcome. I've been active on Facebook for a few weeks (I'm a very late adopter as far as social media is concerned) and I happened to run across one of your posts on "Creationism vs. Evolution" I think it was, and that led me here. I'm quite familiar with trolls and spammers from my days on usenet and such, but I hadn't encountered such blinkered, philistine, pig-ignorance as some of the comments which I've read on FB. Truly, my mind is boggled as I can comprehend no better way to understand the universe and our place in it than through the lens of science and the scientific method.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 19 months ago from Southern Georgia

      No problem, Catherine. :) I've had dealings with Oz before and he plays the sympathy card often, especially when he's on the losing end of the discussion. LOL! I trust your judgement as a moderator of your hubs, as I should. :)

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Jonathan Norburg: I'm very happy to welcome you to hub pages. Go to my profile page and read the hub "One Year on HubPages." It will be at the top of the list because it is my latest hub. It is full of advice that should help you get started. I 'm not an expert, but the tips and tricks seem to work for me. Somebody may have pasted my hub on the fb page because I don't think I posted it there. As for trolls and spammers--water off a duck's back.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 19 months ago from Australia

      Cath

      you have done the right thing and for that you have gained more respect. However I still note that Randy has continued to focus his attacks not on my sound arguments but on myself. Hence he is still continuing in personal attack and technically should be banned from at least this Hub.

      I always maintain a succint and scientific approach and avoid verbosity.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 19 months ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      " "Some religions, like the Mormon religion, are relatively new (founded in 1830). You have to ask yourself, “Why did God wait so long to reveal Himself?” "

      I'm going to take this statement and run with it.

      Christianity was officially founded 30 CE, in Israel. Originally, it was a tiny offshoot of Judaism. It was spread throughout the world through bullying tactics. In other words, God chose to reveal Himself in a tiny part of the world, VERY late in world history, even for those who believe it has existed only 6000 years.

      Here's more; it is known that the Protestant denominations, particularly Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses, love to attack Catholics; after all, Protestant means protesting against Catholics. Yet, it was the Catholic church that established Christianity as we know it. Also, while Catholics spread the religion to the Americas, it did not annihilate the natives the way the Protestants did. They were also not quite so harsh slave masters, believing the slaves had a soul to save.

      Having recently published four hubs on the 10 most practiced religions, I find it highly interesting that Christianity is the only major world religion whose Leader did not write any books; in fact, His existence is difficult to prove.

      God may or may not exist, but Christianity appears to be the biggest hoax in the history of mankind.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you Say Yes to Life for your thoughtful comment. You have brought some good ideas to the discussion. I am now going to read some of your hubs about religion. I'm sure I will learn something.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 19 months ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      Thanks, CG! They are titled, "What Takes More Courage than Rebellion? Considering Another Point of View."

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 19 months ago from Michigan, USA

      Actually, I must correct a statement made above that the Catholics "did not annihilate the natives the way the Protestants did."

      This is unequivocally not true. The Catholic religion arrived in the Americas with Christopher Columbus' first voyage, and almost from the beginning, they were literally worked to death by their Catholic masters in the plantations, gold and silver mines.

      In fact, the importation of African slaves ultimately became a necessity, once it was discovered that they could survive longer in the brutal slave conditions than the American natives, who were wholly exterminated in some locations.

      That aside, interesting comments!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 19 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Paladin: Once again I am in your debt for your great responses to the comments of others. Thank you.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 19 months ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      Paladin - what I meant was, the natives of Central and South America were not annihilated like the ones in the United States and Canada.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 19 months ago from Michigan, USA

      With all due respect, I do understand your point. But, while most people are aware of the mass genocide that went on in North America, they are often unaware that a similar genocide occurred in Central America, South America and the Caribbean as well.

      It may not have been as premeditated as the infamous "smallpox blankets" of the American West, but it was just as catastrophic, and just as clearly demonstrated how European Caucasians regarded natives as lesser beings than themselves -- even less than human.

      In any case, I now fear I've taken the discussion off on a minor tangent, and for that, I apologize.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 18 months ago from Orlando Florida

      I published this six months ago, but I just came across an amazing must-see YouTube video, so I added it. If you have seen this hub before, it is worth a second look to see the video. If you have not seen this Editor's Choice and Hub of the Day selection before, take a look now, and don't miss the video.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 18 months ago from Michigan, USA

      I see you've discovered Qualia Soup, one of my favorite YouTubers. He has an amazing ability to comprehensively analyze a theological issue in detail, using great animations. Nobody does it better.

      Unfortunately, it appears that neither he nor Theramin Trees (I think they're brothers) do new videos anymore. But their channels have quite an excellent collection of videos, and I hope you (and everyone else!) takes some time to check them out!

    • Commonsensethink 12 months ago

      I think that you make the points very well.

      The significant points for me:

      1. If I cannot scientifically and logically prove the existence of a god, then it is intellectually dishonest to believe in one, purely to "hedge my bets".

      2. It would be a false belief anyway and obviously transparent.

      3. There is more than one belief system. The logic that tells you that the Christian God cannot exist also applies to all other gods - Allah, Odin, Zeus, Quetzalcoatl etc. And if you "hedge your bets" by "believing" (falsely) in the Christian God and the Norsemen had it right all along - then Odin, Thor and Freya etc. will not be impressed and you lose anyway.

      So to "hedge your bets" properly you have to believe in dozens of different gods, although no one religion will normally allow for that. Buddhism can work to a point on mix and match, but try believing in, say, Norse mythology and Islam at the same time? That is not going to work.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 12 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Commonsensethink: Your comment shows not only your common sense, but also your ability to think deeply on a subject. The reason why everyone does not agree with you and me on this is because they are positively sure that the god they worship is the only true god.

      I have done some research into Buddhism. While some sects of Buddhism are properly called religion, the teachings of Buddha have no supernatural elements and are only a philosophy of how to live. See my hub: "Was Buddha a Real Person: The Life and Teachings of Buddha"

    • Commonsensethink 12 months ago

      CatherineGiordano: thanks. I will happily look into that. My wife is a practising Buddhist, and once in a while I accompany her to one of the local Buddhist temples - so it will serve to increase my knowledge of the subject.

    • Mario Zermeno Alvarez 8 months ago

      I did not care for the so called wager. I have always been totally convinced that there is absolutely no such thing as God, under any religion. I ha proved it to myself a long time ago with my own hypothesis. And can prove it to any one with sufficient common sense and understanding of logic. More over, in fact I have, and in many cases passing by believers have admitted it to be so; and only add, "you know I think you got something there. No no, I think you are right, that man created God when he named it so, like he created everything else, when he named it so."

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 8 months ago from Michigan, USA

      I don't know about anyone else, but I'd very much like to hear this hypothesis that proves that there is no such thing as God! I've been contemplating and studying this question for decades now, and I have yet to concoct or come across any single hypothesis or argument that constitutes such proof. This could be interesting!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 8 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Paladin: It is a truism that you can not prove a negative. Thus it is incumbent upon the people who claim that there IS a God, to prove that their claim is true.

    • Paladin_ profile image

      Paladin_ 8 months ago from Michigan, USA

      You may be correct that it IS a truism that you cannot prove a negative, but it doesn't remove the burden of proof. Anyone who makes a claim -- either that God exists or that God doesn't exist -- is still responsible for providing proof for that claim (even if, in the latter case, it is a theoretically impossible task). This is why claiming that God doesn't exist is so problematic, and why we must take care in how we frame our statements on this issue.

      In any case, it's a moot point with regard to Mario's comments, for he made a positive claim -- that a hypothesis exists to disprove God's existence. And I hope he returns to explain it, as I'd genuinely like to hear it!

    • Rex Jamesson profile image

      Rex Jamesson 4 months ago

      Great article, Catherine!

      One thing that I'd add is the question of, "Is god really good and true to his word?" I haven't seen anybody address this fallacy of the wager with regards to the biblical god. Pascal's Wager hangs on the implicit assumption that god will do what he says, yet in numerous examples in the Judeo/Christian scriptures, this is not the case: After commissioning Moses to meet with Pharaoh and telling him how he (god) will accompany Moses, we have the odd Exodus account of god trying to kill Moses enroute. Balaam (Numbers 22) is told by an angel to accompany the men who are bribing him to curse Israel, yet while obeying, the story continues that god tried to kill him on the way. Judges 20 recounts three times god instructed Israel to go to war against the tribe of Benjamin, yet in all but the third time, their warriors suffer devastating defeats. God in "David's census temptation" decides he is angry with Israel - no reason given - and tempts David to take a census so that god can have his excuse to kill off some of his people via plague, starvation, or war losses. And there are more examples in the bible indicating a deity that is anything but trustworthy...

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 4 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Rex Jamesson: You make a very good point. I never thought of that one. What if you do everything Pascal's God wants you to do, but then he still doesn't admit you to Heaven. Why? Because I, thy God, am a capricious god.

    • Slrman profile image

      Slrman 10 days ago from Joao Pessoa, Brazil

      What Pascal's wager is really saying is that you think god is so stupid he will not be able to recognize genuine belief from fake "just in case belief." Rather disrespectful, in my opinion

    • CatherineGiordano profile image
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      Catherine Giordano 10 days ago from Orlando Florida

      Sirman: Thanks for your conment. Trying to trick God is only one of the many illogical aspects of the wager. I point out quite a few more.

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