Skip to main content

Site Key Topics Guide

Elements of Peace Obstacles to Peace
Human Psychology and Peace The Nature of Reality
The Climate Change Scam The Science of Global Warming

Pascal's wager

Pascal's Wager

I recently came upon a poster in an email list, who recommended that we adopt Pascal's Wager. I can't quote the passage that moved me to write, due to the posting rules for the list in question, but the summary is that we must choose whether or not to believe in god. If we disbelieve and there is a god, we are held responsible for disbelieving; but if there is no god, we get no punishment or reward whatever we believed; so, the argument goes, it is better to wager that there is a god.

IMHO, Pascal's wager is a very, very poor argument. Consider: Suppose the real god is actually someone who hates the Christian/Moslem/Baha'i/you-name-it conception of god. He actually punishes with the most fearsome vengeance those who believe in that god, but doesn't care much if you don't believe in him.

If you think that is unlikely, here is a more likely version: God cares whether one assesses the evidence to the best of one's ability, and follows the path of intellectual honesty. He is highly offended by people who believe simply in the hope of getting a reward. Such a god will clearly punish those who choose belief from being convinced by Pascal's wager.

Or perhaps God rewards people for the good they do relative to the motivation they had for doing it - He rewards believers very little, because they expect payment (heaven) for doing good, but He rewards atheists a lot, because they did good without any expectation of payback.

To Jeremy Grantham: See Why the Global Warming Scare is Threadbare in 5 Minutes

Jeremy Grantham has put out a report claiming to be "everything you need to know about global warming in five minutes". Thank you Jeremy for summarising the global warming case so succinctly. It should make it much easier for readers to see where the truth lies. Here are my comments on your case, please feel free to post any response you wish.

1) The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, after at least several hundred thousand years of remaining within a constant range, started to rise with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. It has increased by almost 40% and is rising each year. This is certain and straightforward.

True. It is also a fact, proved by literally hundreds of careful scientific experiments, and also by every operator of a commercial greenhouse, that almost every plant on Earth grows better—30% better for a 300ppm increase is a conservative average—with more CO2. There are six billion people on Earth, and the increase in CO2 you mention has fed about a billion of them with the same cropland under cultivation. I think you had something else in mind when you mentioned the CO2 increase, but it had better be really important if  you intend us to put it ahead of the lives of billions.

Syndicate content