Pascal's Wager vs. Cryonics

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Fri May 04 2001 - 15:15:11 MDT

Brent Allsop asked, in effect, "How do you respond to an atheist
who points out a similarity between believing that cryonics might
work (it's a better chance than nothing) and believing in Pascal's
wager (you have everything to win if He does exist, but nothing
to lose if He does not)?"

The two cases aren't parallel, I would say. In the first place,
Pascal asks for one to be intellectually dishonest, or to achieve
double-think. If you don't believe that there is a God, then how
can you, by an act of will, change that and come to believe? Let
me illustrate: Suppose you heard a knock on your door, and someone
appeared who would really give you a million dollars on one tiny
condition. All you have to do is believe that your computer is
an elephant. Could you do it? Not unless you are a lot better
at double-think than I am. If I really, really needed the money,
then I might try very hard, but I don't think that I could
honestly tell him that I believed it.

To get signed up for cryonics, on the other hand, all you have to
do is to believe that it **may** work. This you either already
do, or you already don't. No meta-argument about what you should
believe can change that. What might change that is getting more

I also think that there are other formal differences between
Pascal's wager and belief that cryonics may work. But they're
less striking and less important.

Lee Corbin

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