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God

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Either God exists or He doesn't. There is no middle ground, and any attempt to remain neutral in relation to God's existence is automatically synonymous with unbelief. It is far from a "moot" question, because if God does exist, then nothing else really matters; if He does not exist, then nothing really matters at all. This is kind of unfortunate for someone like myself, because I've always lived on that nonexistent middle ground. Until now I've never been put in a position where it was questioned. The last couple of years I've referred to myself as a recovering Catholic, but never redefined my religion (or lack thereof) since then. When I found out I had to take a stand in this paper one way or another, yes or no, black or white, it was unsettling. At that point it became more than a term paper. Can I, with a clear conscience, write a 15 page paper denouncing the existence of God? I kind of cringed as I imagined being struck down Indiana Jones style, and in that, I had my answer. So without further adieu, the next 15 pages is me, making my case (I think) for the existence of God. What better place to start, than Pascal's Wager.

Pascal's Wager takes this angle: You must wager. There is no choice, he says, you are already committed. I liked the example he used of the toss of the coin, he wants us to see this choice as the gamble that it is. Before you put your money on either, examine the odds, says Pascal: One on side of the coin, heads: God exists and there is an eternal heaven to be gained and an eternal Hell to be avoided. On the flip-side of the coin: God does not exist, no heaven and hell to look forward to or fear, no rewards and no wrath. Choose God, says Pascal, If you win you win everything if you lose you lose nothing, though the odds are even, the rewards are not. Choose heads and win, and in the words of Willy Wonka, you win the "grand and glorious jackpot."

Is this true? Is it wrong for me to take a theist's approach to this paper, and yet still disagree with Pascal's logic? Pascal says there is a full and happy life to be won, but isn't there also a full and happy life to be lost, depending on your ideas of full and happy? What if from here on you choose to follow the ways of God, walk the straight and narrow, you're missing out on a really good time! Let's face it, sinning is fun, and whether you've simply lived it, or continue to live by it, you have to agree. I still see Pascal's wager as relevant in it's own respects.....but I can't suppress

argument. In other words, if a coin falls in a forest and your dead, will you see if it's heads or tails? Not if it's tails you won't, but that doesn't mean it's not still tails.

Pascal takes the stand that God's existence cannot be proven. One might wonder why it is necessary to present evidence for the existence of God. The belief in some higher presence, other than our own, has existed since man can recollect. Religion was established from this belief, and it will survive and flourish because of this belief. Pascal takes the position that the existence of a God cannot be proven because, in a sentence, 'we cannot comprehend the infinite.' It cannot be resolved rationally because God is ultimately beyond our comprehension, the very believing in God is an act free of reasoning -- reason can't be used to choose either, because neither can be proved. I have to agree, assuming God exists, he hasn't yet jumped out from behind the sofa yelling "Here I am! Here I am!" and Even if he did, I wouldn't be the first one to say, "Oohhhhhh, so THAT's the infinite...." I think I'd still have some questions. (the first: what are you doing behind my couch?)

Pascal's Wager gave way to two major objections. The first objection is what we call the Many Religions Objection, which asks this: there are thousands of religions out there, if we are to be active members of the religious community and participate.....clearly we must choose one, but how do we know if our religion is the right one? Pascal might have told you that even a stab in the dark is better than nothing. If there's a bomb about to go off , you're a whole lot better off just picking a wire and cutting it, than just standing there and waiting for Macgiver.

The second objection is referred to as the Hypocrisy Objection, which asks this: will pretend prudential belief really get you into heaven? Does it really count? I guess that depends. If you're the guy who shows up to church with a discman, and you only shut it off for the wine and cracker....then probably not. Can prudential belief really turn genuine? I guess that's not for me to decide, but it's basis of Pascal's response that it can. Pascal says that participation in religion will convert prudential belief into genuine faith. It's his view that the prayer and fellowship and new carpet fumes will make you see the light. "That will make you believe quite naturally, and will make you more docile." Docile?? The same docile that's in my dictionary? Submissive and easily managed? Is that what religion is all about? Regardless, that's where the objection lies. Although Pascal's wager seems convincing at first glance, is it really convincing enough to create genuine belief where before there was none?

Clifford doesn't think so. Clifford uses an example about an owner of an emigrant-ship. He knew his ship was old and had seen better days, and although his buddies told him it was time to have her checked out, he pushes his doubts aside. After all, his ship had made it this long, what's one more trip? (plus he was a tight wad, and didn't want to spend the cash) So he set her off to sea, and what kind of story would it be if she didn't sink. (insert Celine Dion song here). So the moral of his tale is this: "You should never believe anything on unsufficient evidence, especially if Leonardo Dicaprio is on your boat." It's Clifford's conviction, that it's morally wrong and cowardly to believe anything on insufficient evidence, including the existence of God. Non-rational belief in a religion leads to habitual non-rational belief in other areas of life. Believing in God because you think it's in your best interest, and because it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside is going to make you continue to believe in things just because they make you feel good. It's going breed chauvinism, after 'genuine' faith is instilled into your chosen religion, you're going to start to question other ones. Soon after that, you're going to announce that yours is the best, and that's probably going to make you feel good.

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