Questionable Wager

On the last day of winter term I recollect the last few months and what I have learned. It was a busy term (19 credits) and I admit to a feeling of relief that it is over. I have one more final this afternoon–Philosophy. I have averaged A’s and B’s on the other ones so I am hoping for the same with philosophy.

I was really looking forward to philosophy as the final nail in the coffin of my Christian beliefs. But it didn’t do that really. I found the philosophers (Hume, Kant, Russell, Locke, etc.) rather hard to follow. Their ideas were so convoluted it really didn’t affect me very much, except to maybe annoy me as to why it matters whether we are all existing in a matrix of somebody else’s invention. If this is all a dream, how is that going to affect my day to day living? Can I change anything based upon that premise? No, so why does it matter? I think my one-on-one discussions with the professor were more fruitful than the actual class. We discussed faith, truth and God. He is an avowed atheist who thinks the people in my religion are “scary”. He told me the next time they came to his door he is going to answer it nude and see if that scares them off. I told him it has been done already, and no, it doesn’t scare them off.

The most interesting thing I take away from philosophy is Pascal’s Wager. Blaise Pascal believed it was better to wager for the existence of God than not because if God exists and we choose to ignore him it means everlasting damnation. But if we wager to believe in him it means everlasting life. If God doesn’t exist? Nothing changes but at least we will have prepared for the worst. Belief in God requires more than just words, of course, there must be an outward manifestation–prayer, services, etc. This did not help me bury my beliefs, it made me worry I was making the wrong wager. But then, so is my philosophy professor. I am still having a hard time deciding if I will choose to believe in God or not. I am so fed up with religion in general I can’t quite separate God from Christianity. I am more inclined to believe in a God as an ancient deity that has been worshiped since time immemorial than a Christian Christ. I actually find myself tired of the name Jesus and rarely use it. So will I take Pascal’s wager? No, not yet. I still need to detect something concrete that I can believe in. I never felt anything with my old religion and I still don’t. I had a friend once tell me that he tried everything he could to summon the spirit realm (Ouija board, The Exorcist, seance, etc.)and never got anything, so he doesn’t believe anything is out there. He’s a total atheist although he was raised in the same faith as I. I am still reserving judgment, and still on the search.

My other classes were Sociology, Psychology, Math, and Writing composition. I think I enjoyed Psychology the most. I have always wanted to learn more about Freud and got a small dose in this class. I like what I learned. His definition of ID and superego were fascinating. ID being that part of our sub-conscious that is self-serving, irrational, and impulsive. Superego is the judge, the conscience. The ego is the practical conscious part of our minds that make the executive decisions and prevents our ID from taking over. I feel like my ID has actually killed my superego and is struggling for dominance with my ego. Up until now, my superego has ruled my life. I don’t want it around anymore. Jiminy Cricket is dead!

Freud also showed me that I have an oral fixation. Which means at some point in my first year of life I was overfed or frustrated. Adult oral expressions can include gum chewing, nail biting, smoking, kissing, overeating/overdrinking, gullibility, biting, and sarcasm. It was Freud’s response to the question of whether he was orally fixated–hence the always present cigar–that led him to say, “Sometimes a cigar, is just a cigar.” He smoked up to twenty of them a day and died of throat cancer.

So the term ends and I await another. I have discovered an interesting new therapy I am trying out. More on that later…

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Did they discuss the fundamental flaw in Pascal’s Wager?

    Pascal reduced belief down to a binary choice. Either believe in god or don’t.

    But religion is not binary. There are thousands of variations on the Christian belief system. Many, if not most, of them claim that failure to believe in their particular brand is just as bad as not believing at all.

    So it isn’t a simple believe/disbelieve matrix. At some point, the odds of believing and picking the exact right religion are so vanishingly small that the wager loses all potency.

    In addition, if the kind of god being posited is one that merely needs you to belief that ‘something’ exists in order to escape eternal judgment, then why bother with any acts at all?

    I prefer Epicurus to Pascal:

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?”

  2. It wasn’t discussed in class, but I brought up what I considered holes in his wager. Simple belief is never enough. Lifelong sacrifice is usually required and if we have only one life to live, that is a high price.

    I agree with the Epicurus quote. I came across that just a few days ago and thought it basic but accurate.

    How is life as a newly published author going?

  3. “Lifelong sacrifice is usually required and if we have only one life to live, that is a high price.”

    And excellent point, and one that is usually ignored by the person promoting the wager.

    Life hasn’t changed at all. But the next few months will probably alter that.


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