Friday, August 15, 2008

Believing in what you CAN'T know exists... either the height of pointlessness, or the height of stupidity.

I'm still trying to decide which.

Could be both.'s_Wager


Mongoose said...

Actually, religion is a powerful form of Cognitive Therapy and is very useful to many people. Even philosophy has its uses, in moderation.

inverse said...

I think the thrust of the idea was that, if you actually can't possibly know whether what you believe actually exists, then the specific target of your belief is irrelevant. That doesn't really speak to its utility, simply whether or not one person's specific beliefs are any more correct than another's, given equivalent lack of evidence (or lack of possible evidence).

I could perhaps also split hairs between faith and belief, but that seems mostly semantics in this case.

Mongoose said...

I think Pascal's idea wasn't about the validity of a specific belief but the fact that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by believing in God, so you might as well. And it's hard to disagree with him.

Your idea, as I understand it, was that believing in something that you can't prove is either stupid or pointless, and I disagree with you. Proof is irrelevant, because it's not the existence of God that's useful, it's the act of believing.

inverse said...

It's not terribly hard to disagree with him, considering the criticisms section on that page. Primarily, why should one expect that it's a god that requires that you believe, rather than disbelieve, that is the real one?

Regardless of the potential utility, creating a mindset where one is entirely divorced from reality hardly seems likely to create a beneficial situation in the long term, or at least one where you are able to defend yourself from those actively trying to scam you. Acts of blind faith are not inherently beneficial, and often exceptionally harmful.

I want to make sure I'm also fully clear on what I said - not that believing in something I have no evidence for is pointless/stupid, but that believing in something for which no evidence could possibly exist is pointless/stupid. Pascal's Wager is only tangential to that.