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The Pascal's Wager has been criticized because presupposes that the only possible god is the Christian god.

Pascal acknowledges the the existence of his god is doubtful. But even if we suppose that the divine existence is indubitable a new problem arises.

Melisandre can say "Worship R'hllor or you will suffer eternally". And she can (reasonably) prove that R'hllor is real.

Now the new problem: is R'hllor saying the truth when he says (by the mouth of Melisandre) that he want be worshiped? Maybe he is a sadistic prankster that punishes his believers.

Surely my objection isn't terribly original, but I have not found anything similar in my (not terribly exhaustive) search.

  • I do think this is interesting in some way I have yet to articulate to myself. But Pascal's wager is, briefly, about consequences and probability, a rationalization for judgments in what appeared to be a pure state of doubt or uncertainty. Your case is more concerned with a Cartesian type of doubt. I'm not sure what you mean by R'hllor being "reasonably" real, but I don't think this matters. I don't see anything in this Cartesian situation that can be judged under probabilistic thinking of the sort Pascal helped originate. – Nelson Alexander Oct 18 at 2:29
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    The many gods objection goes back to Diderot, who pointed out that "imam could just as well reason the same way". And an imam would be in a better position than Melisandre, who is a fictional character, and according to whose own religion the Lord of Light is opposed by the Great Other, and is in no position to make unconditional promises or threats (assuming we take the Game of Thrones mythology at face value). – Conifold Oct 18 at 2:46
  • @NelsonAlexander, in the GoT-verse Melisandre can do real miracles. In our universe, for any supposed god G, the priests of god G only can say "the prophets P1,P2,... did miracles". – Martín-Blas Pérez Pinilla Oct 18 at 5:43
  • @Conifold, my hypothesis is: even in a universe where the god(s) is/are indubitably real... And see my other comment: in our universe the imam can't do miracles. – Martín-Blas Pérez Pinilla Oct 18 at 5:51
  • "Miracles" do not make gods "indubitable", what we can do would look like miracles to cavemen. If there are multiple gods the wager makes little sense regardless of what they are saying and whether it's true, since they can not vouch to deliver. On the other hand, if there is one omnipotent god who made that fact indubitable there is no point to wagering, as his existence is a certainty already. This sort of wager only gets off the ground with one omnipotent god as the only option, but whose existence is uncertain. – Conifold Oct 18 at 7:17
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I will ignore R'hllor and instead answer for the christian God. I think this probably applies to any God and religion.

An important statement that is repeated often in the Old Testament is to remember what God did to their ancestors (namely, free them from egyptian captivity). This is then used to say that God will also act in this way, good, towards the current people if they listen to what he says.

In other words: Trust God because he was trustworthy in the past.


Another angle:

An insincere God can "punish" you in the afterlife whether or not you obeyed his commands. A sincere God is sincere in that the people who follow him will be blessed in the afterlife.

Thus, in the spirit of Pascals wager, you gain nothing by assuming an insincere God but lose a lot if God is sincere but you are not following his advice. In the spirit of Pascals wager it would be therefore beneficial to assume a sincere God.

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  • Yes, Pascal is implicitly thinking in the Christian god. But he explicitly says: " But we know neither the existence nor the nature of God, because He has neither extension nor limits." – Martín-Blas Pérez Pinilla Oct 20 at 7:35
  • @Martín-BlasPérezPinilla Not sure what that has to do with the question, or the answer. I am using the religion that I know about to answer a general question about religions (fictional or real). The question I understood is: "Why (do people) trust God?", and that seems independent of whether said God exists, what nature he has, or how much about that nature is known. We can even ask "Why do people trust other people?" and probably get to a similar answer. – kutschkem Oct 20 at 8:13
  • Pascal himself is saying that he knows essentially nothing about his god. Self-quote: "Pascal is considering only one random variable (existence), but there is another: sincerity." – Martín-Blas Pérez Pinilla Oct 20 at 10:13
  • @Martín-BlasPérezPinilla Ok I added something which I think is in the spirit of Pascals wager and hopefully addresses your issue. – kutschkem Oct 20 at 12:48
  • @Martín-BlasPérezPinilla Also, although both Pascal and Melisandre take this for granted I suppose: There is also another uncertainty which is the Prophet/Priest: Are the people who claim to speak in God's name actually doing so? This issue is a very big one in the real world. – kutschkem Oct 20 at 12:52

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