Friday, September 21, 2012

Blogger Incongruous Circumspection Responds to a Pascal's Wager Argument from a Reader.

When he wrote a great blog post about his change in beliefs from fundamentalist to agnostic and his friend's reactions, titled Who Am I Now, Really? , an anonymous reader left a comment that in his words was a "veiled Pascal's Wager". See his great rebuttal to that comment here, Answering a Veiled Pascal's Wager.

The Pascal's Wager argument is often used by fundamentalists as a "what if you are wrong?" argument. It basically states that if a skeptic is wrong, in the afterlife they will lose everything, but a believer who is wrong will lose nothing, other than believing in something that turned out not to be true, because that person (according to the argument) lived a better and more fuller life due to their faith.It was named after the 1700's mathematician and Christian, Blaise Pascal.

I have talked about Incongruous Circumspection before in my favorite bloggers post. He's one of those bloggers that doesn't post often, but each post is worth waiting for.


  1. Skipping, for the moment, the many, well known arguments that reduce Pascal's Wager to it's actual, illogical self, there are some underlying assumptions that those who proffer Pascal's Wager make.

    1. The assumption that believers in ancient religions didn't believe their gods to have actually existed. Using the ancient Greek religion as an exemplar, many of the pantheon of gods were, specifically, the product of a god's relationship with a human. Ancient Greeks undoubtedly believed that Herakles, Achilles, Perseus and many others were actual, historic personages.

    2. The assumption that the myths of those ancient religions were so preposterous that nobody really believed them, i.e., Medusa, Bellarophon, Pegasus the flying horse, minotaurs, cyclops. To hear that argument made by a follower of an Abrahamic religion adds new meaning to the concept of projection. After all, talking snakes and asses, the sun stopping in the sky, a woman turning into salt . . . why these are everyday occurrences, no?

    3. Finally, the claim that only Jesus can be historically documented. Aside from forgeries and the bible itself, there's no contemporaneous mention of Jesus. And given the very detailed record keeping the Romans were famous for, it's hard to understand why the earthquakes and eclipses that were supposed to have accompanied the crucifixion left no record in Judaean records, or, for that matter, ANY historic annal on the planet. Similarly, the notion that the Romans took a census that required every individual to return to their birthplace is easily disproved historically. And it makes NO sense. What's more, during the period at issue, Herod's officials would have been in charge of any census anyway. Naturally, I'm just scratching the surface.

    4. For a far more comprehensive discussion of these topics, I heartily recommend "Mythology's Last Gods" by William Harwood, a renowned biblical scholar. I believe it can be ordered through Prometheus Books or

  2. As for part 3, isn't it that the only mention of him by Roman historians was by Joesphus, over 30 years after his lifetime?

    It appears that you are one the growing number of skeptics that doubt the historical existence of Jesus, myself personally, I think he did in fact exist, but being agnostic, of course I doubt the miracles, resurrection, etc. It's an interesting point that the 4 Gospels were all written after his lifetime, and in fact after the invasion and destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 by Roman forces.

    Kind of convenient isn't it? The gospels were written when most of the first hand eye witnesses to the acts of his life were either dead or running for their lives to other nations after the attack on Jerusalem and were unaware of the Gospels being written, or had bigger things to worry about.

  3. I think Jesus actually existed as a person, but I think what happened was similar to a Jewish version of the old Viking sagas. Take a good man, who accomplished good deeds, and keep retelling his story over and over, it gets embellished with each retelling, (as people tend to do when repeating a story), until you know have a man who is almost god like in his qualities (or even claimed to be a god)


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