Tuesday, April 17, 2007

GOD.EXISTS, to be short or long?

Last November, in looking at Bryan Caplan's new book, Myth of the Rational Voter, I mentioned Pascal's Wager in the form of the GOD.EXISTS contract. Chris Masse picked up on it here, and we went a few rounds between us, Jason Ruspini, and Alex Forshaw.

Newsweek recently hosted a debate between Sam Harris, Atheist, and Rick Warren, Biblical Christian. Here is how it ends (again, with a form of Pascal's Wager):
WARREN: Can you have spirituality without a spirit?

HARRIS: You can feel yourself to be one with the universe.

WARREN: OK, then why can't you just take the next step? Because right now you're talking in extremely nonrational terms.

HARRIS: There's nothing irrational about it. You can close your eyes in meditation and lose the sense of your physical body, totally. Many people draw from that the metaphysical conclusion that "I'm just spirit, and I can transcend the body." That's not the only conclusion you have to draw from that experience, and I don't think it's the best conclusion.

WARREN: You're more spiritual than you think. You just don't want a boss. You don't want a God who tells you what to do.

HARRIS: I don't want to pretend to be certain about anything I'm not certain about.

Rick, last thoughts?
I believe in both faith and reason. The more we learn about God, the more we understand how magnificent this universe is. There is no contradiction to it. When I look at history, I would disagree with Sam: Christianity has done far more good than bad. Altruism comes out of knowing there is more than this life, that there is a sovereign God, that I am not God. We're both betting. He's betting his life that he's right. I'm betting my life that Jesus was not a liar. When we die, if he's right, I've lost nothing. If I'm right, he's lost everything. I'm not willing to make that gamble.

I am still a buyer of GOD.EXISTS (and SPX, too). The former requires more faith, the latter, more reason. In any case, there are sellers of both, and folks who are long one while short the other. How about you?

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