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Noodles and Non-existence

Answering the "Many Gods" objection to Pascal's Wager. (Part 1)

"Pascal's wager is a false dichotomy."
"Pascal's wager ignores the effect of other religions."
"What about the Flying Spaghetti Monster wager?"
That's the common refrain of atheists, at least on the internet, whenever someone raises the famed gambit of the French Mathematician and father of probability theory. It just so happens that this common refrain is totally wrong. It can be demonstrated that it's wrong in one of two ways.

Before I go on, let me just explain exactly what the famous wager actually is. It's an anomaly, being quite possibly the only time many Christians will advise you to gamble. It's also an extremity, because they advise you to bet your life. Such a gamble should not be made for wealth, fame, or romance. The one thing worth staking your life on is God himself.

This can be demonstrated mathematically quite simply. If God exists and you live your life for him, you get life forever in the most wonderful environment possible. As long as there is at least some chance that God exists, it's worth betting one short and comparatively miserable human life in the hope of a divine reward. Specifically the payout matrix looks like this:
God Exists God Doesn't Exist
Believe Infinite Reward Negligible change
Don't Believe Infinite Punishment Negligible change

The common objection is that this ignores the effect of other gods. What if there is a god out there, but it's actually Baal, Thor, Tonatiuh, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? These deities would be in no way impressed by the faithful service of Christians to Jesus. They certainly wouldn't offer an infinite reward to the faithful Christians who failed to sacrifice even one goat, meatball, or human heart. Because Pascal's wager considers only the existence and non-existence of God, and ignores all these other possible deities, it's a false dichotomy. The sensible ones who don't feel the need to show off might just say it's a false dilemma, which is what a dichotomy is.

The first possible riposte is the boring one. It is, I imagine, also the one that Pascal himself would have used if called to defend this pivotal part of his Pensees. (Unfortunately the mathematician died before the famous text was published, so we'll never actually know for sure how he'd respond to its many critics.)
Essentially, it points out that the wager is not specific about which God exists. You bet on the existence of a supernatural entity. "God Exists" includes all the available gods. "God Doesn't Exist" is restricted to Atheism. Pascal would then set about arguing why, having decided that it's worth following a religion and trying to get to a god, the Christian God should be selected over any of the others. These are arguments made on philosophy, prophesy, the evidence of the miraculous, and all sorts of arguments that only appear once you start looking at comparative religion. Those who bother to read Pensees for themselves find it stuffed with reasons why the Christian faith is different even from Judaism and Islam, and why these differences are enough to make it the better option. Certainly demolishing the Flying Spaghetti Monster option would be straightforward enough.
By way of analogy to explain this option, the critic wants to present the wager as a choice of the form "eat your noodles or go hungry"; a choice that ignores dozens or hundreds of other delectable things to eat. Instead it's a simple choice "eat or don't eat", and there's no third option there.

Continued in Betting on Thirteens.