Proves Pascal's Wager
The first paragraph is quoted from Cliff's response to our Forum piece, "Why Not Take Pascal's Wager?" However, rather than simply copying and pasting it from the web page to the e-mail, this one shows evidence of having made at least a few rounds on an e-list or two (note the greater-than signs to the left, as well as more greater-than signs mixed into the text: this one has been around the block a few times!). We have retained its original look with line-break codes.
>The Christian Bible tells us that the ratio of a circle's >circumference to
>its diameter is 30:10 -- that is, 3:1 rather than >3.1415926534 ... :1. The
>Christian Bible tells us that God created all >animals after their own kind
>about 6,000 years ago, and we know that >all life forms evolved from a
>single parent organism. The Christian >Bible tells us that plant life
>thrived on Earth before the Sun and >Moon existed and we know the Sun
>existed almost half a billion years >before the Earth even formed.
If we look at your overall meaning in a logical context then the positive form of your proposition looks a little like this.
If it can be proven (correct), then it should be believed. (If P then B)
Your claim is: It can't be proven./It can be proven incorrect. (Not P)
Your conclusion is: The bible should not be believed. (Not B)
Is that the gist? This arguement is equally as flawed as your opposition. You listed a number of 'facts' the bible gives only to shoot them down and then claim victory. This is illogical and incorrect. Put a little less plainly, this is the Fallacy of Denying the Antecedent.
Let us roleplay for a minute. Let's pretend you are Euclid and I am not. If I were to tell you that I can make a triangle whose interior angles total greater than 180 degrees, what would be your response? Just because you can prove it otherwise doesn't make certain facts false. I will calrify just in case. Yes there are triangles that total more than 180 degrees. Any combo of longitudes and lattitudes will make more than 180 degrees. Does proving one make the other false. Of course not. However, given then name, Non-Euclidian Geometry, one could assume that he never studied this branch of mathmatics and would call me wrong.
Lastly, speaking of facts, you know for a fact that "all life forms evolved from a single parent organism"? Is this not equivalent to knowing the big bang happened as well? How is it you know either of these things happened? Are you a chemist/astro-physicist/botanist? I would wonder and awe at your annual labratory budget. My point is this: you came to 'know' all life came from a single cell organism from them very same means that you claim to abhor--reading, listening, and the f-word...Faith. You took it on faith that what you were reading was true since it was from creditable sources, correct? What your collegues were saying was true because they are honorable men. Haven't scientific journals been incorrect? Are newspapers always forthcoming? I would bet your friend has lied at least 10 times during the course of the years. Are no sources of information to be believed? The last I heard both single-cell-based evolution and the big bang theory were were just that...theories...myths if you like. Neither have been proven, evidence has just crossed the threshold of promising.
Just to illustrate my point and because I like that you brought up math; it should be 3.1415926535 ... :1 (if you're rounding, then last digit should be a six). Maybe I'll go along with your logic and disbelieve you too.
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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Dustin Cokeing"
Subject: Re: FORUM_Why_Not_Take_Pascal's_Wager_8888
Date: December 03, 2001 7:06 PM
If I did publish a magazine that touted logic advice in its FAQ, I would hate to be guilty of the very first fallacy taught in logic classes.
I publish a magazine that not only touts logic but also holds truthfulness as the highest ethic. And I assure you that not only do I do everything within my ability to maintain those standards, but think that I have, indeed, maintained those standards on the page in question. Why our fourth grade teacher taught us that pi equals 3.1415926534... is beyond me, but after she demonstrated to us how to calculate it that far, I responded in good faith by memorizing that number. And why so many web sites currently list that very number in reference to the value of pi also escapes me, but soon after that point I lost all interest in anything mathematical (this perhaps having more than a little to do with the fact that she was the same instructor who held me after class one afternoon for refusing to even move my lips during the morning prayer).
So, I regret that I'm not qualified to even comment on that error (or whether it is, indeed, an error, or even whether there was something "non-Euclidean" about the logic you used in conjunction with that remark).
I also refrain from writing to other web sites and telling them how to run their operations. This is a personal decision on my part because I would never want to put myself in the embarrassing situation of having thought that I know something about their operation or their motives that I'd later discover might have been an error on my part. I don't really care about my image -- how I seem or appear to others -- only what I am: and I certainly wouldn't want to end up being an ass -- especially when it regards somebody else's business and not my own.
Neither would I want to suffer the embarrassment of having told some operation that they were "guilty of the very first fallacy taught in logic classes" unless, of course, I could do two things: First, I would want to be able to show, conclusively, that this was the case, and secondly, I would want to be able to defend the entire document with which I made such an accusation against not only similar charges but also other accusations of dishonesty -- intellectual or otherwise.
Ah, but even if I did make the monumental lapse of not only falsely accusing somebody with whom I have nothing to do and no interest in their success or failure of being "guilty of the very first fallacy taught in logic classes" without having shown (or being able to defend) this accusation plus having made other false statements within the same document (which, as I said, I try with extraordinary effort not to do) -- but, if I did commit such a lapse, I would at least use a spell-checker on the document before I sent it off.
But I will admit that even I might not have been clever enough to remove all of the telltale signs suggesting that mine was a group effort -- if, indeed, this was the case. For example, if I were to include, in my tirade, statements or claims which reveal a certain level of education, I admit that I might not have the foresight to avoid including other statements which contain mistakes which someone of that same level of education can be expected never to make (but are mistakes that people with a much lesser level of education have been known to make numerous times during discussions of this nature). No, I don't know that even I could keep track of covering up my deception to that extent. This is one of the reasons why I go to such great lengths in my efforts to avoid trying to deceive people in the first place. Nevertheless, I think that even I would know enough to at least clean up the telltale marks which reveal that a certain block of text has been forwarded more than once through various e-mail systems.
It is in these respects that I think you and I differ.
With such a drastic difference in basic moral values, I would certainly appreciate not having to deal with you or anybody else who may have been involved in this project.
Have a nice life. As far as I can tell, it's the only one I get. For this reason, I try to mind my own business. But if the compulsion to stick my nose into the business of others should overwhelm, I predict that I would at least make what I think would be a noble effort -- going much further than most people would probably consider even necessary -- to make sure that I do not wrongly or falsely accuse those into whose business I have inserted my already crepuscular schnozzle, on documents that contain what end up being such simple innocent errors to have rectified and that contain deceptions that appear to be so utterly pointless (again, not that I would try to deceive at all, but I'd hope that any deceiver would at least try to get something from the effort or do something with the effort!).
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