Future value, Pascal’s wager and why atheists hate theists

I buy lottery tickets. My friends who believe that gambling is a sin can now gasp in horror. The game I prefer is 6/49. You pick 6 numbers from 1 to 49. The odds of winning the big jackpot are 13,983,816 to 1. One ticket costs 2 dollars so when the Jackpot is 27,967,632 then the future value of each ticket is 2 dollars. So in theory if you only bought tickets when the prize is over 28 million you would eventually make money. This calculation does not take into account the secondary prizes and in the interest of complete truthfulness I usually only wait for the prize to be 20 million before I but a ticket.

Most things that people do involve some sort of calculation. For instance, if I run across the road now instead of walking to an intersection and waiting for a green light I may get hit by a car and lose another 20 or 30 or 40 years of life, depending on my age at the time. But the odds of making it across the road and not being hit by a car are very good since the number of people who are hit by cars is very small compared to the number who actually run across the road. So in this case the prize is 20 or more years of life. The ticket costs the five minutes or so that it would take to walk to a traffic light and the odds are the likelihood of being hit by a car. The reason that so many people jaywalk is that the prize is not worth it. If you could do the math and you added up all the time spent walking to traffic signals it would be more than the number of years saved. A recent example of someone losing this game just happened (February 2012)here in Ontario. A van full of migrant workers was hit by a truck at a rural intersection killing the driver of the truck and 10 or 11 in the van. It was determined that the van blew through a stop sign thereby causing the accident. Someone asked how they could have gone through the stop sign because they went home that way everyday and knew the sign was there. The answer is that they counted on the sparseness of traffic on rural roads and blew through the stop sign every day thus saving a minute or so for each person in the van. Over the years they probably saved 1 minute per person times an average of 10 passengers times 250 working days times maybe 4 years for a saving of ten thousand minutes times the number of stop signs that they blew through on their route home. They may have saved a whole month or two of life before they finally ‘won’ the lottery at a cost of maybe 2-300 years of life including at least 20 years that belonged to the driver of the truck that had the right-of-way.

Why do atheists hate theists? The atheist tells the Christian to do things that give immediate pleasure (blow through the stop sigh) because the odds of heaven or hell (being hit by a truck) are very small. But theists cheat, theists have an infinity term in their calculation. To the theist getting hit by the truck costs not 10 or 20 or even 100 years of life but forever. The cost of getting hit by the truck is infinity.

To turn this calculation around, think of heaven as the prize, the cost is however hard it is to win the prize and the odds are how likely it is that your particular religion is correct. When the atheist tries to talk a theist out of his religion all he does is increase the cost of the ticket or decrease the odds of winning but the prize remains infinity. That is why non-religionists hate religionists. How do you argue against infinity?

Why I’m a Christian
The odds of Christianity of being right are very good especially when compared to other religions.
The cost is high, I have to take responsibility for my sins and I’m not allowed to be proud, but at least it is do able. I know I would never make it in a legalistic or a meditative religion.

Love you

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