Presentation on theme: "The Argument from Desire and Pascal’s Wager Speculative Reason: Reasoning directed toward the attainment of the truth. Practical Reason: Reasoning directed."— Presentation transcript:
The Argument from Desire and Pascal’s Wager Speculative Reason: Reasoning directed toward the attainment of the truth. Practical Reason: Reasoning directed toward the the attainment of the good. The Good: Whatever provides satisfaction or fulfillment.
The Argument from Desire 1)Every natural, innate desire in humans corresponds to some real object that satisfies the desire. (Premise) 2)All humans have a desire that cannot be satisfied by anything in the spacio- temporal universe. (Premise) 3)Therefore, there is something beyond the spacio-temporal universe that satisfies the universal human desire for it. (from 1 & 2)
Comments on Step (1.) – Natural Desires: Desires humans have apart from any sort of social conditioning. For Example: – Food – Sex – Sleep – Knowledge – Companionship
– Artificial Desires: Desires humans have as a result of social conditioning. For Example: – Sports Cars – Flying like Superman – The Land of Oz – Experience has shown that not every artificial desire has a real object that satisfies it. For example, the desire for the Land of Oz
– Experience has shown that EVERY natural desire has a real object that satisfies it. Reality would be deeply irrational if humans were born with desires for which there is no satisfaction. Also, humans’ being born with desires for which there is no satisfaction is contrary to all evolutionary models.
Unlike with artificial desires, we have words that indicate a lack of fulfillment of natural desires. – For example, while there is a world for a lack of knowledge, i.e ignorance, there is no word for the lack of the Land of Oz, i.e. Ozlessness – This linguistic reality suggests that, unlike artificial desires, we expect natural desires to be satisfied and consider a lack of satisfaction noteworthy.
– “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the probable explanation is that I was made for another world” C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Comments on Step (2.) – Someone might simply deny that humans have a desire for something that cannot be found in the spacio- temporal universe. – A famous atheistic philosopher, however, concedes humans do have such a desire. – Jean-Paul Sartre French Existentialist
“[Since] God does not exist, man is, in consequence, forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself.” Jean Paul Sartre, Existentialism Sartre concedes that humans have a natural desire for God, but, since God does not exist to satisfy this desire, humans are forlorn. Sartre, therefore, denies Step (1.) of the Argument.
Like most Existentialists, Sartre believes that the universe is deeply irrational and absurd. – Albert Camus Another French Existentialist Unlike Sartre, Camus believes humans can find fulfillment without God. Humans find fulfillment, says Camus, by embracing and celebrating their choices and the consequences, simply because they are their choices, no matter how absurd the choices and consequence may be.
Camus’s great symbol for human beings is Sisyphus. “I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain... ! [Sisyphus] too concludes that all is well. This universe, henceforth, without a Master, seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself, forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.” Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus”
– Who is right – Sartre or Camus? – Is it Sartre – human fulfillment without God is NOT possible? – Is it Camus – human fulfillment without God IS possible?
Pascal’s Wager Blaise Pascal was a 17 th Century French Philosopher and Mathematician. Developed the Probability Calculus. Lived a lascivious lifestyle until he had a profound religious vision, at which point he became a very devout Christian. Developed his Wager as an appeal to former friends, who were still living a lascivious lifestyle. Pascal believed his Wager shows that, from the standpoint of practical reason, the only rational thing to do is to believe in God.
What is → What I Believe ↓ God exists God does not exist I Believe Infinite gain (Heaven) At best, finite gain At worse, finite loss I don’t believe Infinite loss (Hell) At best, finite gain At worse, finite loss
Comments – If someone likes to go for broke, then he should believe because that choice has the best positive payoff. – If someone likes to play it safe, then he should believe because that choice has the least negative payoff. – Why can’t I just not believe and be agnostic? Being agnostic is the same as not believing.
When Pascal talks about believing in God, he’s NOT just talking about believing that God exists. He’s talking about adopting the lifestyle that goes with believing that God exists. One cannot live agnostically. One either lives a religious lifestyle or not.
“[W]e are... ‘embarked’..., as on a ship. The ship is our life. The sea is time. We are moving past a port that claims to be our true home.... This ‘home port’... is not just an idea (that God exists). It is a marriage proposal from this God. Not to say yes is eventually to say no. Suppose Romeo proposes to Juliet, and she says neither yes nor no, but wait. Suppose the ‘wait’ lasts and lasts – until she dies. Then, her ‘wait’ becomes no. Death turns agnosticism into atheism. For, death turns ‘tomorrow’ into ‘never.’” Peter Kreeft, Christianity for Modern Pagans
– How can there be a finite gain if I believe in God and he doesn’t exist? “You will be faithful, honest, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful.” Blaise Pascal, Pensées, No.233 – The Wager is too mercenary. “The Wager can easily be recast to appeal to a higher motive than the fear of Hell. One could wager as follows:
“If God exists [as the Supreme Being], he deserves all my allegiance and faith. I don’t know whether he exists or not. Therefore, to avoid the terrible injustice of refusing God his rights, I will believe.” Peter Kreeft, Christianity for Modern Pagans
– Faith in God is not something that you can just turn on, like turning on the hot water. “You want to find faith, and you do not know the road. You want to be cured of unbelief, and you ask for the remedy: Learn from those who were once... like you and now wager all they have.” Blaise Pascal, Pensées, No. 233
“[In The Brothers Karamazov,] Madame Hohlokov comes to [Father Zossima] distraught at losing her childish faith by exposure to science and philosophy.... Wise old Zossima tells her that it is not possible simply to go back to her childhood, forget her doubts and believe naively.... But, there is... a way to become certain. It is the way of active love, acting as if she believed, loving her neighbors indefatigably.
“Then, she will see the image of God in the souls of her neighbors. Love will grow eyes in her heart, but only if she exercises it, only if she loves in action, not just in thought.... ‘I can tell you nothing more comforting than this.’ [says Father Zossima] ‘For, love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams’” Peter Kreeft, Christianity for Modern Pagans
– In the end, Pascal is asking non- believers to try the religious lifestyle for awhile, since, as the Wager shows, it clearly pays. – Pascal is confident that, given a fair chance, genuine faith will grow. “I tell you: ‘You would soon have faith, if you give up a life of pleasure. Now, it is up to you to begin. If I could give you faith, I would, but I cannot.... [Y]ou can easily give up your pleasure and test whether I am telling the truth.’” Blaise Pascal, Pensées, No. 240
– Final Thoughts Does Pascal underestimate the difficulty of trying to live a religious lifestyle when one does not already believe? Pascal himself did not come to faith until he had his religious vision. Is his challenge unfair to sincere non-believers?