In the philosophy of science, one of the big questions is what criteria are used to distinguish the scientific from the non-scientific. One prominent view, often attributed to Karl Popper, is that falsifiability is the key characteristic of scientific claims. I’m not going to explore that the topic directly here. My interest is not in labeling particular claims as “scientific” or “non-scientific” in a technical sense, but in exploring in more general terms the perceived conflicts between reason and faith in the search for truth.
I often hear non-believers (and many believers too) speak of statements of faith as if they are completely divorced from or immune from the process of reason or the consideration of evidence. From this perspective, Continue reading “Is Christianity falsifiable?”
Blaise Pascal was a 17th century French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist. He invented a mechanical calculator, and a modern computer programming language is named after him. His contributions had long-lasting impact in the fields of gambling theory, economics, and actuarial science. He was also a deeply religious man. His Pensées, an ambitious work meant to provide a thorough defense of Christianity, were unfinished at the time of his death. The most famous idea to emerge from his draft has been called Pascal’s Wager.
The basic idea is that either God exists, or He does not, and the matter cannot be proven one way or the other. If He does exist, you have everything to gain by believing that He does, and living your life accordingly, and everything to lose by rejecting or ignoring Him. If He does not exist, you have nothing to lose either way. Regardless of what probability you assign to his existence, the rational “wager” is to live as if He does exist.
Critics of Pascal’s Wager attack not the mathematics of it but the various underlying assumptions. Continue reading “Does Pascal’s Wager make sense?”