Sunday, August 07, 2005

Econblogger's offer for those who believe in Pascal's wager

Sunday - the day of worship for most Christians. I am of the position that belief in God is a matter of faith, not proof. I think this is the standard Christian position on the matter. That hasn't stopped many Christians from trying to "prove" the existence of God.

One prominent one is Pascal's wager. It says that if you disbelieve God, you may suffer infinite loss. But if you believe in God, you may suffer some finite loss (of deprivation in this life). Even a very tiny probability (but not zero) multiplied by an infinite loss, is still infinite. So the choice is clear: believe in God.

If correct, what does this argument imply? It implies that you will be willing to suffer some finite loss in order to avoid the small probability of infinite loss. So let me recast the argument in a better way:

I have a Book of Life, given to me directly by God. Your name must be written in the Book of Life. God has authorized me to decide whose name to write. Those whose names are not written will suffer infinite loss. To get your name written, you must pay me your gross wealth (plus 10% - take out a loan, I know you're worth it.)

You may say, the probability of me having such a Book is zero. Is it? It possible that God has communicated to someone? Is it possible that God's communications are of this nature? Is it possible that I am that someone? Assign to each a very small probability, and you will still end up with a very small probability. Kind of like the sun not shining tomorrow - vanishingly small, but hey it's not IMPOSSIBLE that the sun turns nova, or the earth itself stop spinning, or go out of its orbit.

So, why suffer an infinite loss when you can just suffer a finite loss? Please write me an e-mail (click on my personal profile) detailing your personal wealth, your complete name, and I'll inform you of the payment details.

Oh, there's a charlatan named Tabarrok who is unfortunately making the same offer. Don't believe this guy; the probability that God talked to him is Zero.

Tabarrok's offer

It's me you should be getting in touch with!

(Don't call me; I'm having trouble getting my tongue out of my cheek.)

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