Reincarnationist views on Pascal's Wager

Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by wynn, May 12, 2011.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    What do people who believe in reincarnation (such as Buddhists and Hindus) think of Pascal's Wager?

    Does it make sense to them?
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  3. Rhaedas Valued Senior Member

    Do you mean Pascal's Wager as written,or one in the form of their beliefs, where the reward is a higher form, and punishment a lesser form?
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Would a Buddhist or a Hindu use the reasoning of Pascal's Wager in order to try to convince another person (who is not a Buddhist or a Hindu) that they should take up Buddhism/Hinduism?

    Would a Buddhist or Hindu use the reasoning of Pascal's Wager in order to justify their own involvement with Buddhism/Hinduism?
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  7. Rhaedas Valued Senior Member

    The thing about reincarnation is that you always get more chances. The goal is to continue upward, but if you slip back, you don't get eternal damnation. That's the way I've always understood it. So no, they don't deal in such a black and white world as Pascal did.
  8. praty Registered Member

    They won't think much as the final purpose of the reincarnation is attaining 'moksha'. So to a hindu mind won't think of Pascal's wager would be a correct, they would want to keep their 'karma' right.
  9. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Buddhists/Hindus, as I understand it, regard reincarnation as meaning you aren't free of delusion and suffering-so this is bad.

    Neopagans regard reincarnation as sort of coming back from convalescence? so good.

    Considering I incorporate bits of both I'm not sure how I feel about reincarnating, but I will tell you I seem to be having a bad hair incarnation this time.

    Basically also, I think any god willing to torture you because you picked wrong isn't a very loving deity. Jehovah has issues.
    Last edited: May 13, 2011
  10. NietzscheHimself Banned Banned

    God is a word... why shouldn't it exist?

    Smaller than the width of a spiders leg, and smarter than any man with or without paralysis. Larger than the universe itself as such intelligence can be formulated to create a singular universe.

    Impossible to understand completely yet makes valid points intermittently... sounds like a concept many can't comprehend.
  11. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    I sort of thought if there was an overriding deity, then said deity was a union of every concept one could put forth...and also the opposite concept as well, among other things...

    So completely incomprehensible.

    All hail the WTF, holy of holies
  12. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I think almost any faith can make use of Pacal's Wager, the essence of which (generalized to more than his Christian POV) is:

    There are two alternatives:
    (1) nothing exist for you after death
    (2) a new existence exists for you after you die, with the assumption that this new existence is better, if you are moral in the current life, & worse if you are not.

    Pascal noted that you should be moral and take alternative (2) as alternative (1) offers nothing after death.

    Certainly, all believers in reincarnation can use that argument, but (2) does assume that "The next existence can only get worse." is false. If that is true, then alternative (1) is the wiser choice and one should follow this advice of Olympic god Dionysus: "Eat, Drink, and Be Merry."

    "Of all the gods of Olympus, none was quite so complex as Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry, who taught that through a combination of wine, revelry, and religious ecstasy,* mortals could achieve a mystical oneness with him." This quote from:

    "Communion" of Christians is a very "watered down" version of this ancient Greek POV.

    * Something at least pretty young girls could achieve with a priest, in many early religions (and some young boys too in modern ones, especially those that forbid their priests to marry).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2011
  13. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Law of Karma precludes eternal hell or eternal heaven. This prevails even in Sikhism. Heaven is just a way station, so is hell. Ultimate goal is complete salvation ie Moksha or liberation from the cycle of karma. Hence Pascal's wager is not valid as far as Hinduism is concerned.
  14. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I don't see your logic. Every bet is risk something for hope of greater gain. If you are correct about Hindu views of heaven and hell, the gain is to be in heaven instead of hell for what ever period that is. (The "risk" in not having sex with everyone who will at any time you have the desire, etc. I.e. almost all "sin" is pleasure producing and by giving it up -that loss is what you are wagering)
  15. drrsundarraj Registered Member

    Hindu Reincarnation is misinterpreted. It actually refers to transformation of an activity every time it is re executed. It doesn't mean that we are born again an again and that we have to prevent such rebirths to attain Moksha.
    It is this transformation of an activity every time it is re executed that we have to put an end to, to attain Moksha. Karma is the Variation in the facilitating/ retarding forces associated with an action that results in transformation of an activity every time it is re executed.
    Reincarnation was redefined to ban frequent changing of Varnas, which would make both individual life and the Hindu society highly unstable.
  16. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    If the cycle of rebirth is eternal, then everyone is always going to get another shot. So if we choose wrong in this life, we just trust that we'll do better in a life to come. Pascal was thinking in terms of eternal destinies, but that's not how Hindus, Buddhists and Jains conceive of their many different heavens and hells. They are more along the lines of higher and lower planes of being that one might be reborn into.

    Or at least to enjoy a more auspicious earthly rebirth. Everyone isn't necessarily consigned to rebirth in some heaven or hell.

    The thing is, Pascal was trying to argue that his own very emotional Christian faith was rational, despite his not having any convincing conventional evidence for the truth of Christianity. So he imagined a situation with only two choices: Christianity - take it or leave it. And he argued that the pay-off for taking it was infinite, assuming that the religion was true, while there was nothing to lose by choosing it if it wasn't true.

    In the traditional Indian religions, the religious tasks that win somebody a higher or lower rebirth typically aren't just formal adherence to a religious community, or even possessing Christian-style "faith" (whatever that word means) in some transcendental savior.

    (I guess that there might be exceptions to that broad generalization among those who emphasize Hindu bhakti or Buddhist "other-power".)

    But typically speaking, there's a vitally important ethical dimension to it, an aspect that Protestant Christians might tend to dismiss as "works". An individual can advance karmically by performing meritorious acts, whatever the person's intellectual beliefs happen to be. And there's a more subtle task of inner realization that, once again, is something that's very different than the formal assent without evidence that Pascal was hoping to justify. And all of this has traditionally been seen as a very slow process, something that extends over many lifetimes.
  17. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Oh, I forgot that you may not have much knowledge of Hinduism. In Hinduism, you do not end up in heaven or hell due to belief or nonbelief, but you done it by your deeds. Second, our objective is Liberation, which transcends even heaven.
  18. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    A barren woman's son too is a term. Why cant he exist?

    Existence of God cannot be proved or disproved. Hindus reject every argument that attempt this.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011
  19. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I never said a word about beliefs. I gave one specific example of an ACT and noted in general that other acts which gave pleasure were often considered to be "sins."

    I don't know much about Hinduism. That is why I said in earlier reply to you: "If you are correct about Hindu views of heaven and hell, the gain is to be in heaven instead of hell for what ever period that is." I.e. I avoided even assuming that there is a heaven or hell in Hinuism, but accepted your statement that there was.

    Thus, if your earthly acts do influence to which you go while waiting for a new life on Earth, then Pascal's wager is valid for hinduism too (assuming being in Heaven is to be preferred to being in Hell while waiting). What ever that difference is, is what you hope to gain by the wager. What pleasures you must forgo on Earth to improve you chance to go to Heaven is what your bet costs you.)

    I will assume that fucking your neighbor's pretty wife while he is away at work or stealing and eating fruit from his garden are "sins" in Hinduism and giving up doing these things can serve as examples of what you pay / bet for the hope of gain by being in heaven instead of hell in Pascal's wager.
  20. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    The whole point of "going to heaven" is to enjoy greater pleasures than on earth.

    The idea is that by giving up smaller pleasures one can pursue bigger ones.

    For example, instead of the pleasure of staying in bed for another hour in the morning, one gets up and prepares a big delicious breakfast and eats it with great enjoyment and feels good and energized throughout the whole day.

    I think that in the Christian idea, one has the choice between some moderate pleasures on the one hand, and on the other hand, the teeth-gritting and hope for a better life while enduring a boring, dull, painful existence.

    In the Christian idea, there is potentially no reward for one's austerities in the foreseeable time - basically, one has to settle into the prospect of having no pleasure for the rest of one's life.

    In the reincarnationist view, a person has reason to believe that greater pleasures are possible and worth pursuing because they have already experienced them to some extent. In the reincarnationist view, a person has an experiential foundation to hope for better things.

    Note that in the reincarnaitonist view, the progression up the pleasure scale is gradual, in manageable and foreseeable steps (throughout this lifetime and the next lifetimes).
    In the Christian perspective, everything needs to be accomplished in this one lifetime, or nothing; so there is no sensible notion of graduality there.
  21. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    In Hinduism, enjoyment of wordly pleasures is not a sin, or bad karma, as long you do it in lawful ways. In fact oursuit of wealth is the right of a householder. So is enjoyment of sensual pleasure. Stay in hell/heaven is NOT permanent, so B/W choice is not crucial. Yo gave two examples of bad karma. Of course they are BAD and can be easily avoided.

    Another factor about which most non Hindus are unaware is Moksha, Liberation State. If that is your objective then hell/heaven are just irritants.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2011
  22. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I only said that Pascal’s wager was a valid argument for many religions, including Hinduism, but the three other posters active here seem to think not and tend to refute things I never said (believes vs. deeds, Christian POV, permanence of heaven, what Pascal believed, etc.) in an apparent attempt to say the wager does not apply to Hinduism. In post 9 I said:
    But I never assumed that either heaven or hell lasted forever, so this reply that falsely assumed I did is nonsense. In fact in post 11 I said:

    “the gain is to be in heaven instead of hell for whatever period that is …

    I will even allow that the period can be zero, if reincarnation were immediate and the “level” of the next life is better than the prior life if one avoided things like stealing and eating fruits from your neighbors garden, fucking with his wife while he is at work, etc.

    I.e. Heaven and Hell do not even need to exist for Pascal’s wager to be valid, if the quality of the next life (or reaching Moksha) depends on how moral one was in the prior life.

    SUMMARY: several times I have stated the logical result that Pascal’s wager applies to Hinduism, and instead of refute this logic, many things I never said or even suggested have been refuted. There seems to be little point of me giving the logical argument yet again as no one tries to refute it, only things I never said or suggested.
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Pascal's Wager assumes several things, and we have been addressing those things - even though you may have not explicitly noted them or argued for them. Such as the ideas that there is only one lifetime for action, that doing the right thing requires incomprehensible leaps of faith.

    But you seem to be operating out of a specific version of Pascal's Wager - namely one that includes any and all risks and faith that may be related to religion.

    Pascal's Wager is originally aimed at people who see no reason to believe in God and tries to persuade them by appealing to their sense of gambling.

    We could say though that for someone who is an outsider to a particular religion or philosophy, taking up that religion or philosophy constitutes Pascal's Wager.

    See also this thread on Pascal's Wager -

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