I've always felt the following is the most direct obvious objection to Pascal's wager, yet I see no philosophers making it. I'm curious why.

Taken from here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager

"Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing"

Why would this be true? We could live in a reality where belief in god leads to eternal suffering... Why is this reality less likely than the theist conception?

My confusion is that I see a lot of jumping through hoops to beat Pascal's wager, when this to me seems the obvious direct one.

I can start an arbitrary religion that states any belief in a god leads to eternal suffering... So don't believe in god, and lose nothing... believe in god and lose everything. Why is the religion I just invented less likely to be true than others? So according to my reasoning, lack of belief in god is the safer bet.

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    That would be the many gods objection which is in circulation since Diderot (at least). You do not even need alternative gods to inflict torments for Pascal's payoff matrix to be invalidated (indeed, most people then and now find evil Gods implausible). – Conifold Nov 30 '20 at 22:27
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    I have seen some sources (such as here) refer to this argument as "Pablo's Wager." – Sandejo Dec 1 '20 at 0:24
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    You are right -- the fallacy in Pascal's wager was the assumption of, say, 50/50 chance of the Christian God actually existing. Which wouldn't look too incredible in Pascal's times. With what we know now, the chances of any religion or spiritual belief turning out to be true are close to zero... so betting on them makes no sense whatsoever. – Yuri Alexandrovich Dec 1 '20 at 3:32
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    The belief in the objective reality (in science, really) is, itself, irrational -- a leap of faith. Making that leap, however, is anything but -- in fact, it is our only rational choice. – Yuri Alexandrovich Dec 1 '20 at 4:04
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    "Itself unconvincing" does not mean much, anything is unconvincing to somebody. Invert the situation. Someone walks up to you on the street and tells you to donate $1000 or suffer eternal torment. You tell them to get lost. Did it work? When an argument or objection is ignored does not mean that it worked, it means that it failed from the start. Objectors try to sway the same audience the argument is aimed at, best defeat is the defeat on proponent's own terms. You wanted to know why the evil God objection is rarely raised, this is why. – Conifold Dec 1 '20 at 11:26

This is closely related to the common response that belief in the wrong god may result in worse punishment than belief in no god at all. The only difference is that you're considering the possibility of a god who punishes based on the belief in any god, including itself. This possibility isn't necessary, since already it's enough to consider two different possible "jealous gods," who will punish belief in each other more than nonbelief. Moreover, this new type of god isn't posited by existing religion (to my knowledge anyways), and one might even argue that such a god is "meaningfully less plausible" than the merely jealous gods. So this argument lacks the force that the more common argument posesses by virtue staying within the realm of common religious beliefs.

  • I guess I'm wondering why this is "meaningfully less plausible". – Ameet Sharma Dec 1 '20 at 0:58
  • My thought is... the whole "other gods" idea is still playing the theist's game so to speak. There are an infinite number of "possible" realities, and infinite number of them leading to eternal suffering or eternal bliss depending on the rules of the possible reality. There's no need for other gods. – Ameet Sharma Dec 1 '20 at 1:12

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