Pascal's Wager can be used to assess the fact that believing in the existence of God is the Nash equilibrium or the dominant strategy for the game. However, this won't be able to determine between religions. I have a friend who is not leaning towards any belief at this point, but he says he is leaning to a religion that is most accepting of other religions, since the cause of war is mainly due to conflict in "who's God is the real God." I hate to present an image of Christians being unreceptive of other religions or beliefs, but how would you explain it not based on the premise that Christianity is the "ultimate cure," since to nonbelievers this fact does not hold true. -- Wendy Lee Right, Pascal's Wager doesn’t necessarily point to God, though one would be foolish to ignore the logic just because he wants more information. Before going any further, I would find it impossible to resist the impulse to clarify that religion does not cause wars! That’s a naïve view popularized by the radical atheists of late. Wars usually have economic causes, or political ones, but politics and economics merge in human conflict. Religion makes a great justification for war, as something not religious at its core uses the banner or wrapping of faith for legitimacy. Even in the case of Islam, which historically has been the most violent of all religions, religion isn't necessarily the cause of war. People want power, money, possessions... Further, most humans find the notion of killing another human being repugnant, if not impossible. I’m not whitewashing Islam, as anyone who has listened to my podcasts on the Hadith well knows. Once Muhammad promised his followers spoils of war -- ownership of the possessions of those who rejected Islam -- the movement grew rapidly. In its more peaceful, previous iteration Islam was not particularly successful, in numerical terms. As for Christianity, it was unanimously pacifist till Constantine got involved. That is, politics used religion for its ends. Now to the point of acceptance. If there is truth in the world, acceptance -- whatever that means -- must be limited, otherwise falsehood will be accepted. I suspect two issue are being blurred together. One is the issue of what's true. The other is the issue of respect (or judgmentalism). Too many modern men and women equate religious conviction with bigotry. We should accept others -- in one sense, we are all God's children. But we should not accept just any idea, as though all ideas were equal, or no single religion could really have anything earth-shatteringly important to say! That conclusion depends on a highly questionable -- and uncharitable -- approach to truth claims, and those who make those claims. Further study (for you): My debate What is the Religion of Peace (Safra Synagogue, November 2008). Further study (for him): Paul Copan, True for You, But Not for Me.
Insights in Your Inbox
Want fresh, insightful content delivered weekly by email? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!