Monday, January 30, 2017

Perspectives on Paschal's Wager

Anonymous said...
The fairy tales aren't really fairy tales.
Since I won't be there when they are about to throw you into the lake of fire, I'II say it now. I told you so. I repeat, I told you so.

Another Anonymous said:
Dennis Diehl; Well one thing for sure Dennis, you know what wasting time on a fairytale is all about, and listening to others like Aron Ra who believes in the same fairytale, and you talk talk about others wasting their life, either way Dennis, we will all find out who wasted what in the long run. If there is no God or if the bible isn't true then it really doesn't matter if I wasted my time believing it, on the other hand, what if God and Jesus and the bible turns out to actually be real, that means I didn't waste my time at all, now where that leaves you, I don't know.

  • Pas·cal's wa·ger
    1. the argument that it is in one's own best interest to behave as if God exists, since the possibility of eternal punishment in hell outweighs any advantage of believing otherwise.


Byker Bob said...

The problem with Pascal's Wager as it relates to Armstrongism is that ACOG people don't believe in eternal punishment in hell. Eternal hellfire is something that was dispelled from all of our psyches years ago, so its alleged nonexistence becomes a fallback or plan B for WCG atheists in case God actually exists. So for the WCG atheist the only difference in his or her beliefs regarding an afterlife and the traditional Armstrong belief in the lake of fire is about five minutes worth of pain, and that is only if the incorrigibles are actually still alive when they are thrown in. Obviously, there would be quite a difference in perspective for someone raised as a Baptist who occasionally reflects on his choice of atheism later in life. Pascal's Wager would have much deeper implications for him.

I think it might have been "time will tell" John who has pointed out that eternal torture in the Bible actally refers only to the Beast, the false prophet, Satan, and the demons. And, John, if you are seeing this, please help me out here, I know you know the scriptures.

One thing is certain. A real Christian is not going to take any joy in ANY of his fellow humans either being destroyed in the Lake of Fire, or enduring eternal hellfire. The scriptures say that the incorrgibles will become ashes (star dust?) under the feet of the righteous. They don't say that the righteous are going to do the Watusi or Boogaloo on those ashes.


Anonymous said...

Looking on the bright side, the 'weeping and gnashing of teeth' means that people will be given a nice set of teeth on judgment day.
I wonder if God will use special creatures to throw people into the lake of fire, since the scene of people weeping and begging for life, would be traumatic for most people.

nck said...

In my experience: To truly stand on the ashes of 3 million dead people is only sorrow and pain. (although tourist busses are sighted nowadays with people in shorts making selfies)

There is no joy and no "told you so" whatsoever, for those who really do have some grasp of what the destruction of man pertains. These comments must have come from minors or other inexperienced persons.


Connie Schmidt said...

Doesn't the Bible say "The Wagers of Paschal is Death"??

Anonymous said...

An imagined conversation I hope actually to have with some former "friend," from COG days, that I chance to meet somewhere:

"You're not in any church teaching what Mr. Armstrong taught?"

"That's right."

"Don't you know you're headed for the Lake of Fire?"

"Well, I think about ceasing to exist in the Lake of Fire, and then I think about a world ruled by a God who would give any authority AT ALL to Herbert Armstrong, or Gerald Flurry, or Dave Pack, or Rod Meredith, or [insert other names if desired], and y'know what? The Lake of Fire wins every time. See ya there, dumbass."

Anonymous said...

This Aron Ra. The year is 7000 and something, and I've been resurrected back to human life. Since I've been given the holy spirit, I finally I perceive the truth. I was wrong about everything, so ignore my previous evolution nonsense. God has graciously performed a miracle letting me communicate with you from the future. So please, please repent. Forsake this anti-God, anti-bible crusade, and repents.
And yes, I have cut my long hair, so no more name calling please.

DennisCDiehl said...

"for the WCG atheist the only difference in his or her beliefs regarding an afterlife and the traditional Armstrong belief in the lake of fire is about five minutes worth of pain, and that is only if the incorrigible are actually still alive when they are thrown in."

"about five minutes worth of pain" LOL The gods must have their pain I realize but 5 minutes swimming in the Lake of Fire seems too long . I'd go with maybe 15 seconds. Maybe only 5. If the incorrigible's (i.e. those who simply needed more evidence in the first go round)are already dead, now we have to worry about how'd they get dead and by what other ghastly means did the "God is Love" God come up with?

I would still prefer cutting out all the confusing middle men, interpretations and alternative histories in the first round and the Deity(s), Father, Son and HS having Earth Seminars on "Just What Do You Mean," and be clear about it along with showing themselves. Otherwise the "Aw, you scribes, priests, apostles and prophets are just making that stuff up aren't you? " looms too large and casts doubt and confusion, which I hear the Deity claims not to be the author of.

I had not thought about the gnashing of teeth meaning we had nice teeth to gnash. I like that! Perhaps that is why we used to sing, "Crown him with many crowns" so we'd at least have teeth to gnash? I misunderstood the "him" apparently

I always am tempted when thrown into the Lake of Fire by one of God's people to respond with "Well you'll sing a different tune when you end up in the Kingdom or Heaven or both with your Apostles, Prophets, Joshua's, Zerubbabel's, councils, hit men, ministers, their elders and deacons of the past" but I wouldn't be that cruel and discouraging to anyone.

"If you can't show it...You don't really know it."

Byker Bob said...

When I said five minutes, it was intended to be worst case scenario, because actually how could we even know? I think that in our former lives as COGlodytes we imagined a long, drawn out ceremony in which names were called, the condemned were shown visions of the people who had carefully kowtowed to the ministers happily ruling their cities, witnessed their friends and relatives crying over them, and felt building anguish as they awaited their turn to be sentenced by a deep booming voice, and finally, thrown in. Actually, we really couldn't know how it could be. Some say that the fire is figurative for further processing by God.

However, I've always said one thing. If I find myself being ressurrected to the vision of Herbert W. Armstrong smilingly talking with Jesus, and there's a big fire in the background, I'll most likely bolt ahead in line and swan dive into the lake of fire, knowing that my eternal "reward" wouldn't have been worth a damn. (No pun intended).

Armstrongism is not the great repository of true knowledge that we once thought it to be. In their anthropomorphism, they created a god who was perpetually anxious to condemn and to punish, to cause suffering at the drop of a hat. Ministers followed that model in the treatment of their congregations, parents were informed and warped by it in raising their children, and members gloatingly regarded their fellow humans who were outsiders along those same lines.

Some mainstream Christian ministers also dwell on the punishing side of the equation, rather than on the loving and the positive. Most people are actually well intentioned and are just trying to raise their families and get through the trials of daily life as best they can.


Anonymous said...

My bible tells me that only the beast and false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire alive. It is silent about sinners being dead or alive just prior to being incinerated. It's interesting that the Catholic Church would typically kill a person prior to burning at the stake. If they really offended the church, they were burnt alive.

Anonymous said...

Nck, standing on the ashes of many dead people is in my bible. It's intent is to encourage repentance. This comes from God rather than some minor. There are other similar warnings such as these peoples names being blotted out for all eternity.

Anonymous said...

The final shoe to drop in my deconversion was the full cognitive and emotional realization that "heaven" or as we'd say, "the kingdom" is an artificial "carrot," and as a concept, makes absolutely no sense as described either in the bible or in the doctrinal understanding of any church that conceives of it literally, and on the flip side, "the lake of fire" is also an artificial "stick," and again, to conceive of it literally is so appalling, the reality of its brutality and inhumanity would be so searing to the psyche, that it removes any deity that would perpetrate such a horror from being worthy of worship. This holocaust would make the holocaust we usually associate with that word pale into insignificance by comparison. Hitler gassed and cremated his millions, however with Yahweh, the ancient barbaric Canaanite deity, it would be many billions, and he'd skip the Zyklon B, preferring to cremate his victims alive.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the least a semi-decent barbaric, authoritarian dictator of the universe would do is unambiguously outline *EXACTLY* the requirements that must be fulfilled to avoid such a fate. But this is something that has been left *COMPLETELY UNDEFINED* as evidenced by the 42,000+ christian sects who have read the same texts and yet have come to a broad spectrum of different opinions when it comes to formulating a list of such requirements. Refusing to define how to avoid being cremated alive makes Yahweh nothing more than a terrorist.

I can't count the number of times I heard Armstrongite ministers proclaim that "god's law" was a "natural law," that was "self-enforcing" through natural consequences. But if that were really a defensible theology, then wherefore would it be necessary to have implemented an artificial "carrot" and "stick" in the first place? Obviously said laws are not natural, they are artificial, and they are theorized to be enforced by outrageously extreme, fairy-tale-sized artificial rewards and punishments

As this dawned upon me, I rejected "the kingdom" as a place I'd voluntarily choose to go even if it did exist, and rejected "the lake of fire" as a credible threat. I rejected Yahweh or anyone who would willingly claim to be his "begotten son" as the most warped, perverse, twisted, evil, degenerate, and villainous miscreants imaginable, and nobody I'd like to meet or voluntarily associate myself with.

Finally, Pascal's Wager is among the most pathetic apologetics ever advanced. It's built upon the twin fallacies of false dichotomy and special pleading, which assumes the only available options are christianity and atheism, when in fact, there are at least 10,000 other gods/pantheons that have also been believed to be just as true as christians think theirs is. It's not even a remotely rational argument, but an emotional one designed to play on fear which is assumed to be latent to produce a knee-jerk reaction.

So mileage may vary, but you can't use "I told you so" on me. That ship has sailed!

nck said...


Yes I know. You are right.
It is just obvious to me that you and that minor thinking person have never in person been to Auschwitz. Your statements reveal "intellectual exercize" instead of acquired wisdom. That's all.


Gerald Bronkar said...

I was recently considering the church's (HWA's) position/prophecy concerning the Millennium and The Great White Throne Judgement periods (will this stuff ever leave my head?). It seems to me that it will be much easier to accept Jesus, the Commandments, the Bible and the government of God at that time, because it will all be a matter of fact. No disease, sickness, suffering, death, injustice, war, crime, alcoholism, drug addiction!! The lion will lie down with the lamb, and there will be nothing but joy everywhere! Those living at that time will be greatly advantaged, because they can observe real evidence.

In this environment, I could possibly be converted and accept the promises of Jesus, because there is plenty of evidence--no faith required. Until that time, I will probably remain a skeptic, and not allow myself to wager with Pascal. Possibly there is hope for me during the first 100 years after the Millennium? When I realize I have been resurrected, I will be the first to accept whatever power that brought me back to life. However, I need the actual experience to be convinced. Until then I remain dubious.

I can no longer believe just because it was preached from the pulpit or written in an ancient manuscript. Once bit, twice shy.

Anonymous said...

Nck, you are assuming with your "intellectual exercize" instead of acquired wisdom." I have lived long enough to know from personal experience that all that works with criminal minded people is the tough love approach. Nothing short of traumatic punishment works. And even then, maybe. You don't seem to grasp that eternal life is at stake.

Gerald, If you got baptized, which I think you have, this side of the millennium is your only opportunity for eternal life. That is the nature of the baptism contract that you entered. A contract is a contract. There is no second opportunity. Don't confuse wishful thinking with reality.

Dennis Diehl said...

There is nothing wrong with wanting proof over just trust n obey for there's no other way Gerald.

Anonymous said...

Dennis and Gerald

God offers abundant proof to those He calls. Many miracles in a Christians early life is common. So this 'wanting proof' seems reasonable at first glance, but the proof has already been given. Lack of proof isn't the apostates core problem.

Anonymous said...

Hello Earthlings:

I am Mohammed. I have a message from the angel Gabriel. You must repent and believe in Allah or you will go to hell. What have you got to lose by believing in Allah? The alternative is hell, so it would be a good idea to believe in Allah. Pascal would approve of you believing in Allah to save your hide. Repeat after me: "I reject Jesus and I now believe in Allah, and I believe that Muhammad is his prophet". Poof, you are now a Moslim and will go to heaven.

Sincerely, The Prophet Muhammad (a.k.a. husband of a 9 year old at the age of 54).

Anonymous said...

Hey, am I still held to my baptismal contract if I was told lies that tricked me into it? If I knew now what I knew then I never would have been baptized. I am a victim of lies. I was tricked. So is God really going to hold me to that? Does that sound fair to you? Now, if I were told the truth and then rejected what I knew was the truth, that would be another matter. But I was told lies. Will I go to the lake of fire for that?

Anonymous said...

Why does Hitler always come up? Almost everything we were told about Hitler is a lie. Stalin killed 20 to 65 million and Mao 30 to 60 million and all we ever hear about is what the president of Poland said was a greatly exaggerated account of what supposedly Hitler did in Poland. All we know for sure is that under Hitler they killed a few hundred thousand Jews, and we don't even know for sure if Hitler knew what was going on. And if you say it was not 6 million you can go to JAIL in a number of Western countries, and yet people think in that environment we can know what happened? Good luck with that. No I am not defending Hitler. I am defending YOUR right to hear both sides of the story.

Gerald Bronkar said...

Anon 1:47 PM, you assume that I was baptized, and I must assume you were ordained, because you speak with such supreme authority regarding my only opportunity for eternal life. Your holier-than-thou, self-righteousness is one of the many disgusting aspects of you detestable, judgmental Christians. "A contract is a contract".

Your vast ignorance is beyond comprehension, and you wouldn't recognize reality if it slapped you in the face. There aren't many who post on this site who have your degree of smugness. Not meant as a compliment. You could use a big dose of humility, but your immune system would undoubtedly reject it.

Retired Prof said...

The problem with Pascal's Wager that I have not seen in this thread yet is that a position adopted in order to avoid punishment/receive a reward is not a sincere belief. Any omniscient being would see right through the pretense.

If such a being can be appeased by automatons mindlessly performing rituals and observing taboos, all well and good. However, since most Christians consider that sincere belief is required for salvation, anybody who keeps the commandments by rote merely to fulfill the terms of a cynical bet would be ineligible.

By the way, Anon January 31, 2017 at 11:36 AM, I left Ambassador on gut instinct as well as for the logical reasons you have detailed. Back then I had not thought the reasons through as thoroughly as you have. It would have been very heartening to read a supportive argument as articulate as yours while I was mulling over the decision. Perhaps some readers of this blog will be heartened by it now. Good on you.

nck said...

I did not see the “name not to be used on internet fora for you then are the obvious loser” until YOU mentioned him 7 times. (7 times sacred to you?)

a) I spoke about the obvious immaturity of commenter that probably has not even seen a pile of 3 dead bodies. Let alone looked into the eyes of people who have seen the smoke of thousands burning as you propose.

b) The redirection of the point made to a number games is another proof of missing it entirely.

c) I don’t think you were ever part of the “Armstrong” movement. The last 20 years of his life the founder of that organization spent proving his belief that ALL mankind can be redeemed with soft power too. (in combination with the stick of course)

I have seen him being rewarded the highest of awards by those that had many of my family or congregation bow before them in complete submission while others perished in the heat of the sun. Proof that in the Armstrongism creed one can voluntarily redeem oneself by rejoining the family of man.

d) Now speaking about voluntarism and choice. As Mr Bronkar pointed out in his own way. Most here are not phased by the prospect of immininent death or certain death within a 100 years of a lifespan. Not even the way and means of execution of this fact of life will mean much to us.

The sudden sprouting of a flower from my laptop. Or a peanut butter sandwich now emerging from my Cd set however would probably move me and all of us to our knees and spend the rest of my life contemplating in sackcloth where I went wrong and how to redeem myself from my follies.

To achieve the conversion of us all by peanut butter sandwiches popping out of my desktop would be a much easier feat for any deity than trying to convince me by the threat of eternal sleep.


Michael said...

So many pertinent comments on how bad the argument of Pascal's wager is, I don't really have much of anything to add, except just the observation that anyone who would actually use the argument is clearly at the end of their rope.

If what you're reduced to saying is "better place your bets because what if it is true?", then you're kind of admitting you don't have a really good case in the first place.

Anonymous said...

"A real Christian is not going to take any joy in ANY of his fellow humans either being destroyed in the Lake of Fire, or enduring eternal hellfire." said BB

This is what I have always thought of, too. If they had true character, wouldn't this set of beliefs make it LESS likely to abandon and excommunicate family and friends from the cult? But it seems they are only concerned about losing their own skin. What does their own bible say about that?


Anonymous said...

7:28 PM
I've heard that complaint before. Some claim the Herb hid from prospective church members the real requirements of baptism in order to boost church numbers. It sounds typical Herb. Baptism was narrowly defined by the ministers as Pharisaic law keeping, observing the holy days and tolerating persecution. The latter being self serving to a abusive ministry. I know that court cases involving being mislead in a contact are morally messy. In such cases, I'm not sure. At any rate, people can check with God on the validity of their baptism. My guess is that once given the holy spirit, there is no backing away. The holy spirit seals the contract.

Anonymous said...

No, I'm not ordained. I'm a stay at home Christian. I get the impression that you were baptized since you have responded with a shoot the messenger. I'm not put off with your 8:53 PM rant against me. As I have mentioned several times here, self love is the greatest taboo on this planet, and it's a taboo I do not share. I am commanded to self love with the "love your neighbor as YOURSELF." I love myself, am proud of it, and wont be intimidated by Gerald Bronkar and similar. Do you see why I am qualifying for the kingdom, and you are qualifying for the lake of fire. You throw around Satans smut, while I oppose it.
Repents while you still can Gerald. You are a old man with little time remaining.

Anonymous said...

"...self love is the greatest taboo on this planet..."

Without even understanding love in the first place, the vain attempt to love-ones-self, or self-importance, is what consumes the love of others. "Love is their fuel and it is pain that drives their engine", instead of understanding that love, true love that is, just keeps making more and more with no end in sight. Dead lifeless matter can't experience love.

"I'm a stay at home Christian."

Because that is the only christain you can get along with?
Stop being a miserable bastard.


Anonymous said...

Your last comment was motivated by self love. No?