Weak Atheism and Pascal’s Wager

Following on from my previous post, we can see that weak atheism does not affirm the non-existence of any gods, but simply refuses to believe claims that any gods exist. The position is that without any evidence of gods, there is no reason to believe in them.

The problem with this position is that one can effectively be driven from it by Pascal’s Wager. The weak atheist does not believe in the existence of gods simply because there is no reason to. But Pascal’s Wager provides a very good reason to. Or at least, it precludes abstaining due to lack of reasons.

The problem is that any position which rests upon lack of evidence will be shown to be inadequate by any evidence—even evidence as slight as Pascal’s Wager.

For the weak atheist to counter Pascal’s Wager they must either strengthen their atheism with a counter-claim (which, so far the weak atheist has refused to do) or deny that Pascal’s Wager constitutes acceptable evidence.

The first move means abandoning the weak atheist position.

The second involves the weak atheist invoking a standard of evidence that is deemed as acceptable—a standard Pascal’s Wager fails to obtain.

The question then becomes, “What sort of evidence is acceptable to the weak atheist?” And again, the weak atheist runs into problems. If the weak atheist has set the standard of acceptable evidence too high then that is simply a reflection of their bias against the existence of gods. Which is not a “weak atheist” position. By this I mean that the generalised statement “I don’t believe your claim, and no evidence you produce will ever convince me otherwise” is simply not compatible with the statement “I don’t believe your claim because you have not provided sufficient evidence.”

The weak atheist is left in the strange position, whereby they need to affirm the possibility of evidence, but deny that sufficient evidence has been presented. One wonders what that acceptable evidence could possibly be.

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1 Comment

16 March, 2012 · 11:45 am

One response to “Weak Atheism and Pascal’s Wager

  1. Gigi

    Enjoyed reading your views and writing in the article above. I am in the process of reading a book by Steven Taylor called: “the fall”. An amazing research and insight into the history of humanity from a anthropological view point and more. The guy i an academic and an erudite. I am not sure how this fits into the your article but just put it there as he might be of interest.
    Cheers.
    Gigi
    “Pegi ” in the Macworld forums.

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