Links

This form does not yet contain any fields.
    1948 World Chess Championship 1959 Candidates 1962 Candidates 2.c3 Sicilian 2.f4 Sicilian 2011 European Team Championship 2011 Russian Championship 2012 Capablanca Memorial 2012 Chess Olympiad 2012 European Women's Championship 2012 London Chess Classic 2012 U.S. Junior Championship 2012 U.S. Women's Championship 2012 US Championship 2012 Women's World Chess Championship 2012 World Rapid and Blitz Championships 2013 Alekhine Memorial 2013 Beijing Grand Prix 2013 European Club Cup 2013 European Team Championship 2013 FIDE World Cup 2013 Kings Tournament 2013 London Chess Classic 2013 Russian Championship 2013 Tal Memorial 2013 U.S. Championship 2013 Women's World Championship 2013 World Blitz Championship 2013 World Championship 2013 World Rapid Championship 2013 World Team Championship 2014 Capablanca Memorial 2014 Chess Olympiad 2014 London Chess Classic 2014 Petrosian Memorial 2014 Rapid & Blitz World Championship 2014 Russian Team Championship 2014 Sinquefield Cup 2014 Tigran Petrosian Memorial 2014 U.S. Championship 2014 U.S. Open 2014 Women's World Championship 2014 World Blitz Championship 2014 World Championship 2014 World Junior Championships 2014 World Rapid Championship 2015 Capablanca Memorial 2015 Chinese Championship 2015 European Club Cup 2015 European Team Championship 2015 London Chess Classic 2015 Millionaire Open 2015 Poikovsky 2015 Russian Team Championship 2015 Sinquefield Cup 2015 U.S. Championship 2015 Women's World Championship KO 2015 World Blitz Championship 2015 World Cup 2015 World Junior Championship 2015 World Open 2015 World Rapid & Blitz Championship 2015 World Team Championships 2016 2016 Candidates 2016 Capablanca Memorial 2016 Champions Showdown 2016 Chess Olympiad 2016 Chinese Championship 2016 European Club Cup 2016 Isle of Man 2016 London Chess Classic 2016 Russian Championship 2016 Sinquefield Cup 2016 Tal Memorial 2016 U.S. Championship 2016 U.S. Junior Championship 2016 U.S. Women's Championship 2016 Women's World Championship 2016 World Blitz Championship 2016 World Championship 2016 World Junior Championship 2016 World Open 2016 World Rapid Championship 2017 British Championship 2017 British Knockout Championship 2017 Champions Showdown 2017 Chinese Championship 2017 Elite Mind Games 2017 European Team Championship 2017 Geneva Grand Prix 2017 Grand Prix 2017 Isle of Man 2017 London Chess Classic 2017 PRO Chess League 2017 Russian Championship 2017 Sharjah Masters 2017 Sinquefield Cup 2017 Speed Chess Championship 2017 U..S. Championshp 2017 U.S. Junior Championship 2017 Women's World Championship 2017 World Cup 2017 World Junior Championship 2017 World Rapid & Blitz Championships 2017 World Team Championship 2018 British Championship 2018 Candidates 2018 Chess Olympiad 2018 Dortmund 2018 European Championship 2018 European Club Cup 2018 Gashimov Memorial 2018 Gibraltar 2018 Grand Chess Tour 2018 Grenke Chess Classic 2018 Grenke Chess Open 2018 Isle of Man 2018 Leuven 2018 London Chess Classic 2018 Norway Chess 2018 Paris 2018 Poikovsky 2018 Pro Chess League 2018 Shenzhen Masters 2018 Sinquefield Cup 2018 Speed Chess Championship 2018 St. Louis Rapid & Blitz 2018 Tal Memorial 2018 Tata Steel Rapid & Blitz 2018 U.S. Championship 2018 Wijk aan Zee 2018 Women's World Championship 2018 World Championship 2018 World Rapid & Blitz Championship 2019 Abidjan 2019 Aeroflot Open 2019 Biel 2019 Capablanca Memorial 2019 Champions Showdown 2019 Dortmund 2019 Du Te Cup 2019 European Championship 2019 Gashimov Memorial 2019 GCT Paris 2019 GCT Zagreb 2019 Gibraltar 2019 Grand Chess Tour 2019 Grand Prix 2019 Grenke Chess Classic 2019 Karpov Poikovsky 2019 Lindores Abbey 2019 Moscow Grand Prix 2019 Norway Chess 2019 Norway Chess blitz 2019 Pro Chess League 2019 Riga Grand Prix 2019 Russian Team Championship 2019 Sinquefield Cup 2019 St. Louis Rapid & Blitz 2019 U.S. Championship 2019 Wijk aan Zee 2019 Women's Candidates 2019 World Team Championship 2020 Candidates 2020 Chess Olympics 2022 Chess Olympics 2024 Chess Olympics 22014 Sinquefield Cup 22014 U.S. Championship 22016 Chess Olympiad 22019 GCT Zagreb 22019 Wijk aan Zee 2Mind Games 2016 2Wijk aan Zee 2017 60 Minutes A. Muzychuk A. Sokolov aattacking chess Abby Marshall Abhijeet Gupta Accelerated Dragon ACP Golden Classic Adams Aeroflot 2010 Aeroflot 2011 Aeroflot 2012 Aeroflot 2013 Aeroflot 2015 Aeroflot 2016 Aeroflot 2017 AGON Agrest Akiba Rubinstein Akiva Rubinstein Akobian Akshat Chandra Alejandro Ramirez Alekhine Alekhine Defense Aleksander Lenderman Aleksandra Goryachkina Alekseev Alena Kats Alex Markgraf Alexander Alekhine Alexander Beliavsky Alexander Grischuk Alexander Ipatov Alexander Khalifman Alexander Moiseenko Alexander Morozevich Alexander Onischuk Alexander Panchenko Alexander Stripunsky Alexander Tolush Alexandra Kosteniuk Alexei Dreev Alexei Shirov Alexey Bezgodov Almasi AlphaZero Alvin Plantinga Amber 2010 Amber 2011 American Chess Magazine Amos Burn Anand Anand-Carlsen 2013 Anand-Gelfand 2012 Anand-Gelfand World Championship Match Anand-Topalov 2010 Anastasia Bodnaruk Anatoly Karpov Anders Ericsson Andrei Volokitin Andrew Martin Andrew Paulson Android apps Anish Giri Anna Muzychuk Anna Ushenina Anna Zatonskih Anti-Marshall Lines Anti-Moscow Gambit Anti-Sicilians Antoaneta Stefanova Anton Korobov Anton Kovalyov apps April Fool's Jokes Archangelsk Variation Arkadij Naiditsch Arkady Dvorkovich Arne Moll Aron Nimzowitsch Aronian Aronian-Kramnik 2012 Arthur Bisguier Arthur van de Oudeweetering Artur Yusupov Arturo Pomar Ashland University football Astrakhan Grand Prix 2010 attack attacking chess Austrian Attack Averbakh Awonder Liang Baadur Jobava Bacrot Baku Grand Prix 2014 Baltic Defense Bangkok Chess Club Open Baskaran Adhiban Bazna 2011 Becerra beginner's books Beliavsky Ben Feingold Benko Gambit Bent Larsen Berlin Defense Biel 2012 Biel 2014 Biel 2015 Biel 2017 Bilbao 2010 Bilbao 2012 Bilbao 2013 Bilbao 2015 Bilbao 2016 Bilbao Chess 2014 bishop endings Bishop vs. Knight Blackburne Blaise Pascal blindfold chess blitz blitz chess Blumenfeld Gambit blunders Bob Hope Bobby Fischer Bogo-Indian Bohatirchuk Bologan Book Reviews books Boris Gelfand Boris Spassky Borislav Ivanov Borki Predojevic Boruchovsky Botvinnik Botvinnik Memorial Branimiir Maksimovic Breyer Variation brilliancy British Championship British Chess Magazine Bronstein Bronznik Brooklyn Castle Browne Brunello Bu Xiangzhi Budapest bullet chess Bundesliga California Chess Reporter Camilla Baginskaite Campomanes Candidates 2011 Candidates 2011 Candidates 2012 Candidates 2013 Candidates 2014 Capablanca Carlsen Caro-Kann cartoons Caruana Catalan Cebalo Charles Krauthammer Charlie Rose cheating Cheparinov chess and drugs chess and education chess and marketing chess books chess cartoons chess documentaries chess engines chess history chess in fiction chess in film chess in schools Chess Informant chess lessons chess openings chess politics chess psychology chess ratings chess strategy chess variants Chess24 Chess960 ChessBase DVDs ChessBase Shows ChessLecture Presentations ChessLecture Videos ChessLecture.com ChessUSA ChessUSA blog ChessVibes ChessVideos Presentations Chigorin Variation Chinese Chess Championship Chithambaram Aravindh Christian faith Christiansen Christmas Colin Crouch Colle combinations Commentary computer chess computers correspondence chess Corsica Cristobal Henriquez Villagra Cyrus Lakdawala Dan Parmet Danailov Daniel Parmet Daniil Dubov Danny Kopec Danzhou Danzhou 2016 Danzhou 2017 Dave MacEnulty Dave Vigorito David Bronstein David Howell David MacEnulty David Navara Davies Deep Blue Deeper Blue defense Dejan Antic Delchev Denis Khismatullin DGT errors Ding Liren Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam Dmitry Andreikin Dmitry Gurevich Dmitry Jakovenko Dominic Lawson Donald Trump Dortmund 2010 Dortmund 2011 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2012 Dortmund 2013 Dortmund 2014 Dortmund 2015 Dortmund 2016 Dortmund 2017 Doug Hyatt Dragoljub Velimirovic draws dreams Dreev Dunning-Kruger Effect Dutch Defense DVD Reviews DVDs Dvoirys Dvoretsky Easter Edouard Efimenko Efstratios Grivas Eltaj Safarli Emanuel Lasker Emory Tate en passant endgame studies endgames Endgames English Opening Ernesto Inarkiev Erwin L'Ami Esserman Etienne Bacrot European Championship 2015 European Club Cup 2012 European Club Cup 2014 European Individual Championship 2012 Evgeni Vasiukov Evgeny Bareev Evgeny Najer Evgeny Sveshnikov Evgeny Tomashevsky Exchange Ruy expertise Fabiano Caruana Falko Bindrich farce FIDE FIDE Grand Prix FIDE politics FIDE Presidential Election FIDE ratings Fier fighting for the initiative Finegold Fischer Fischer-Spassky 1972 football Francisco Vallejo Pons Fred Reinfeld French Defense Fritz 15 Ftacnik Gadir Guseinov Gajewski Gaprindashvili Garry Kasparov Gashimov Gashimov Memorial 2017 Gata Kamsky Gawain Jones Gelfand Gelfand-Svidler Rapid Match Geller Geneva Masters Genna Sosonko Georg Meier Georgios Makropolous GGarry Kasparov Gibraltar 2011 Gibraltar 2012 Gibraltar 2013 Gibraltar 2014 Gibraltar 2015 Gibraltar 2016 Gibraltar 2017 Giorgios Makropoulos Giri Go Grand Chess Tour Grand Chess Tour 2017 Grand Chess Tour Paris 2017 Grand Prix 2014-2015 Grand Prix Attack Greek Gift sacrifice Grenke Chess Classic 2013 Grenke Chess Classic 2015 Grenke Chess Classic 2017 Grinfeld Grischuk Grob Gruenfeld Defense Grünfeld Defense Gukesh Dommaraju Gulko Gunina Guseinov Gustafsson Gyula Sax Hannes Langrock Hans Berliner Hans Ree Harika Dronavalli Hastings Hawaii International Festival Haworth Hedgehog helpmates Hennig-Schara Gambit Henrique Mecking HHou Yifan highway robbery Hikaru Nakamura Hilton Hjorvar Gretarsson Hort Horwitz Bishops Hou Yifan Houdini Houdini 1.5a Howard Staunton humor Humpy Koneru Ian Nepomniachtchi Icelandic Gambit Ignatius Leong Igor Kovalenko Igor Kurnosov Igor Lysyj Igors Rausis Iljumzhinov Ilya Makoveev Ilya Nyzhnyk Imre Hera Informant Informant 113 Informant 114 Informant 115 Informant 116 Informant 117 Informant 118 Informant 119 Informant 120 Informant 121 Informant 122 Informant 124 Informant 125 Informant 126 Informant 127 Informant 128 Informant 129 Informant 130 Informant 131 Informant 132 Informant 133 Informant 134 Informant 135 insanity Inside Chess Magazine Ippolito IQP Irina Krush Irving Chernev Ivan Bukavshin Ivan Sokolov Ivanchuk J. Polgar Jacek Oskulski Jacob Aagaard Jaenisch Jaideep Unudurti Jakovenko James Tarjan Jan Gustafsson Jan Timman Jan-Krzysztof Duda Jay Whitehead Jeffery Xiong Jennifer Yu Jeremy Silman Jim Slater Jimmy Quon Joe Benjamin Joel Benjamin John Burke John Cole John Grefe John Watson Jon Lenchner Jon Ludwig Hammer Jonathan Hawkins Jonathan Speelman Joop van Oosterom Jorden Van Foreest Jose Diaz Jose Raul Capablanca Ju Wenjun Judit Polgar Julio Granda Zuniga junk openings Kaidanov Kaido Kulaots Kalashnikov Sicilian Kamsky Karen Sumbatyan Karjakin Karpov Karsten Mueller Kasimdzhanov Kasparov Kateryna Lagno Kavalek Keanu Reeves Ken Regan Keres KGB Khalifman Khanty-Mansiysk Grand Prix Kim Commons king and pawn endings King's Gambit King's Indian King's Tournament 2010 Kings Tournament 2012 Kirsan Ilyumzhinov KKing's Gambit KKing's Indian Klovans Komodo Komodo 11 Komodo 12 Korchnoi Kramnik Krishnan Sasikiran Kunin Lajos Portisch Larry Christiansen Larry Evans Larry Kaufman Larry Parr Lasker Lasker-Pelikan Latvian Gambit Laurent Fressinet Laznicka Lc0 Le Quang Liem LeBron James Leinier Dominguez Leko Leon 2017 Leonid Kritz lessons Leuven Rapid & Blitz Leuven Rapid & Blitz 2017 Lev Psakhis Levon Aronian Lilienthal Linares 2010 Linder Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu Loek van Wely Lombardy London 2009 London 2010 London 2011 London Grand Prix London System Lothar Schmid Luke McShane Macieja Magnus Carlsen Main Line Ruy Malakhov Malcolm Gladwell Malcolm Pein Mamedyarov Marc Arnold Marc Lang Marin Mariya Muzychuk Mark Crowther Mark Dvoretsky Mark Glickman Mark Taimanov Markus Ragger Marshall Marshall Gambit Masters of the Chessboard Mateusz Bartel Matthew Sadler Maurice Ashley Max Euwe Max Judd Maxim Matlakov Maxim Rodshtein Maxime Vachier-Lagrave McShane Mega 2012 mental malfunction Mesgen Amanov Michael Adams Miguel Najdorf Mikhail Antipov Mikhail Botvinnik Mikhail Golubev Mikhail Osipov Mikhail Tal Mikhail Zinar Mikhalchishin Miles Mind Games 2016 Minev miniatures Miso Cebalo MModern Benoni Modern Modern Benoni Moiseenko Morozevich Morphy Movsesian Müller Murali Karthikeyan music Nadareishvili Naiditsch Najdorf Sicilian Nakamura Nana Dzagnidze Nanjing 2010 Natalia Pogonina Navara NDame football Negi Neo-Archangelsk Nepomniachtchi New In Chess Yearbook 104 New York Times NH Tournament 2010 Nigel Short Nihal Sarin Nikita Vitiugov Nikolai Rezvov Nils Grandelius Nimzo-Indian Nino Khurtsidze NNotre Dame football Nodirbek Abdusattarov Nona Gaprindashvili Norway Chess 2013 Norway Chess 2014 Norway Chess 2015 Norway Chess 2016 Norway Chess 2017 Notre Dame basketball Notre Dame football Notre Dame Football Notre Dame hockey Nov. 2009 News Nyback Nyzhnyk Oleg Pervakov Oleg Skvortsov Olympics 2010 Open Ruy opening advice opening novelties Openings openings Or Cohen P.H. Nielsen Pal Benko Palma Grand Prix 2017 Parham Maghsoodloo Parimarjan Negi Paris Grand Prix Paris Rapid & Blitz passed pawns Paul Keres Paul Morphy Paul Rudd Pavel Eljanov pawn endings pawn play Pawn Sacrifice pawn structures Pentala Harikrishna Pesotskyi Peter Heine Nielsen Peter Leko Peter Svidler Petroff Philadelphia Open Philidor's Defense philosophy Phiona Mutesi Pirc Piterenka Rapid/Blitz Polgar Polgar sisters Polugaevsky Ponomariov Ponziani Potkin poultry Powerbook 2011 Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu Prague Chess Train problems progressive chess prophylaxis Puzzle Rush Qatar Masters 2015 QGD Tartakower QQueen's Gambit Accepted queen sacrifices Queen's Gambit Accepted Queen's Gambit Declined Queen's Indian Defense Rabat blitz 2015 Radjabov Radoslaw Wojtaszek Ragger rapid chess Rapport Rashid Nezhmetdinov Rathnakaran Kantholi rating inflation ratings Ray Robson Raymond Smullyan Regan Reggio Emilia 2010 Reggio Emilia 2011 Reshevsky Reti Reuben Fine Rex Sinquefield Reykjavik Open 2012 Reykjavik Open 2017 Richard Rapport Richard Reti Robert Byrne robot chess Robson Roman Ovetchkin rook endings RReggio Emilia 2011 rrook endings RRuy Lopez RRuy Lopez sidelines Rubinstein Rubinstein French Rudolf Loman Rudolf Spielmann rules Ruslan Ponomariov Russian Team Championship Rustam Kasimdzhanov Ruy Lopez Ruy Lopez sidelines Rybka Rybka 4 S. Kasparov sacrifices Sadler Saemisch Sakaev Sam Collins Sam Sevian Sam Shankland Samuel Reshevsky Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2011 Sao Paulo/Bilbao 2012 satire Savchenko Savielly Tartakower Schliemann Scotch Four Knights Searching for Bobby Fischer Seirawan self-destruction Sergei Tiiviakov Sergei Tkachenko Sergey Erenburg Sergey Fedorchuk Sergey Karjakin Sergey Kasparov Sergey Shipov Sevan Muradian Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Shamkir 2015 Shamkir 2016 Shamkir 2017 Shankland Sharjah Grand Prix 2017 Shenzhen 2017 Shipov Shirov Short Shreyas Royal Sicilian Sinquefield Cup sitzfleisch Slav Smith-Morra Gambit Smyslov So-Navara Spassky spectacular moves Speelman sportsmanship Spraggett St. Louis Chess Club St. Louis Invitational St. Louis Rapid and Blitz 2017 stalemate Staunton Stephen Hawking Stockfish Stockfish 4 Stonewall Dutch Suat Atalik Super Bowl XLIV Susan Polgar Sutovsky Sveshnikov Sveshnikov Sicilian Svetozar Gligoric Svidler Svidler-Shankland match sweeper sealer twist Swiercz tactics Tactics Taimanov Tal Tal Memorial 2009 Tal Memorial 2010 Tal Memorial 2011 Tal Memorial 2012 Tal Memorial 2012 Tanitoluwa Adewumi Tarjan Tarrasch Tarrasch Defense Tashkent Tashkent Grand Prix Tbilisi Grand Prix 2015 TCEC TCEC Season 10 TCEC Season 11 TCEC Season 12 TCEC Season 13 TCEC Season 14 TCEC Season 15 TCEC Season 8 TCEC Season 9 TED talks Teimour Radjabov Terekhin The Chess Players (book) The Simpsons The Week in Chess Thessaloniki Grand Prix Three knights Tibor Karolyi Tigran Gorgiev Tigran Petrosian Tim Krabbé time controls time trouble Timman Timur Gareev Timur Gareyev Tomashevsky Tony Miles Topalov traps Tromso Olympics 2014 TTCEC Season 14 TWIC Tyler Cowen types of chess players Ufuk Tuncer Ultimate Blitz Challenge underpromotion Unive 2012 University of Notre Dame upsets US Championship 2010 US Championship 2011 US Chess League USCF ratings USCL V. Onischuk Vachier-Lagrave Valentina Gunina Vallejo value of chess van der Heijden Van Perlo van Wely Varuzhan Akobian Vasik Rajlich Vasily Smyslov Vassily Ivanchuk Vassily Smyslov Velimirovic Attack Vera Menchik Veresov Veselin Topalov video videos Vidit Gujrathi Vienna 1922 Viktor Bologan Viktor Korchnoi Viktor Moskalenko Vincent Keymer Viswanathan Anand Vitaly Tseshkovsky Vitiugov Vladimir Fedoseev Vladimir Kramnik Vladimir Tukmakov Vladislav Artemiev Vladislav Kovalev Vladislav Tkachiev Vlastimil Hort Vlastimil Jansa Vugar Gashimov Vugar Gashimov Memorial Walter Browne Wang Hao Wang Yue Watson Wei Yi Welcome Wesley Brandhorst Wesley So Wijk aan Zee 1999 Wijk aan Zee 2010 Wijk aan Zee 2011 Wijk aan Zee 2012 Wijk aan Zee 2013 Wijk aan Zee 2014 Wijk aan Zee 2015 Wijk aan Zee 2016 Wijk aan Zee 2017 Wil E. Coyote Wilhelm Steinitz William Golding William Lombardy William Vallicella Willy Hendriks Winawer French Wojtkiewicz Wolfgang Uhlmann Women's Grand Prix Women's World Championship World Champion DVDs World Championship World Cup World Cup 2009 World Cup 2011 World Cup 2011 World Junior Championship World Senior Championship WWesley So WWijk aan Zee 2012 Xie Jun Yasser Seirawan Yates Yermolinsky Yevseev Yoshiharu Habu Yu Yangyi Yuri Averbakh Yuri Razuvaev Yuri Vovk Yuri Yeliseyev Yuriy Kuzubov Zaitsev Variation Zaven Andriasyan Zhao Xue Zhongyi Tan Zug 2013 Zukertort System Zurab Azmaiparashvili Zurich 1953 Zurich 2013 Zurich 2014 Zurich 2015 Zurich 2016 Zurich 2017
    « The World Rapid Championship Starts Today (Monday) | Main | Paul Keres: Part 4 »
    Sunday
    Dec252016

    Merry Christmas!

    It's still Christmas Day in the U.S., but don't forget the "12 Days of Christmas": this is just day one of 12. Therefore, I won't consider this posting late, even for my European and Asian friends and readers.

    Some readings for the day - or days - of Christmas:

    "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings"; what can this mean? A short reflection from one of my favorite Christian philosophers.

    While some of what Jesus of Nazareth said can be appreciated from a wholly secular perspective, and even more so the sorts of things he did, the truth claims of Christianity are in large part claims about history. For some reflections on the topic, see this essay (and I would commend the entire site to those who are interested in further research - this is a good place to start). As for historical evidence and argument for Jesus, this is a very good, very readable book.

    A final reference, to an interesting article on a slightly quirky topic: people who have had religious experience but haven't felt compelled to convert based on that experience or even necessarily to consider doing so.

    In the last piece, the author makes a passing reference to Blaise Pascal's famous, infamous "Wager", which he (Ross Douthat, not Pascal) mischaracterizes in a common way. The wagerer is often seen as betting that God exists, but that's not quite right. In what follows I'll offer a short sketch of what Pascal is really doing in the Wager, and we'll see that on this interpretation it's much more sensible than it might seem on the short, caricatured model.

    The caricature essentially goes like this: a person should believe in God. Why? It pays: if God exists and you believe, you win eternal bliss. If you believe but God doesn't exist, then your life is still going to pretty decent most of the time, so the cost is minimal. If you don't believe and God doesn't exist, then your "payoff" won't be too different from the theist in the second case: you'll live an ordinary life with its ups and downs, and that will be the end of it. However, if one chooses not to believe and there is a God, then at best someone fails to "win", and at worst, well, uh oh. Therefore, it is rational in terms of expected value to believe in God, even if the evidence is terrible. If one has a one in a million chance of winning an infinite payoff, the strictly rational thing to do is to make the bet.

    Plenty of objections have been raised to this. Here are what I take to be the four main objections: the many gods objection, the minimal evidence objection, the bad faith objection, and the argument from doxastic involuntarism. (If you get nothing else from this post, you can at least impress your friends with that phrase.)

    The many gods objection notes that with different god-candidates, each or at least some of which are incompatible with each other and make mutually exclusive claims, one cannot reasonably choose between them. Christianity tells us to bet on Jesus, Islam proposes a different bet, and still other theistic religions can offer their own, similar arguments. Ultimately, they all cancel each other out, at least practically.

    The minimal evidence objection suggests that if one takes the evidence for Christianity (or for God as expressed in some other religion promising an afterlife) to be extremely poor, then it is still irrational to bet on it, the infinite payoff notwithstanding. None of us would wager on a freshly invented religion proposing a blissful eternity for all who put their trust in the Great Pumpkin, and this even if we granted that there was an incredibly minsucule but nonzero chance of its truth.

    The bad faith objection argues that the "faith" expressed in the Wager is not the genuine article. Belief in God for the sake of goodies is not the sort of faith the Bible speaks about, and I doubt there is any other major religion that call such faith the real thing, either.

    Finally, the objection from doxastic voluntarism is this: a person cannot just make himself believe that something is true. Try, for instance, to produce in yourself the belief that a red elephant in a tutu is riding on a small pony in the room where you're reading this. You can try to imagine it, but believe it? No, and this would be true even if I offered you $100 to believe it. In the same way, one can't just make oneself believe in God, even if one agrees that it's the practically rational thing to do, on the Wager.

    I think these are pretty good arguments against the quick version of Pascal's Wager; fortunately, I think they all fail when put up against what seems to be the Wager as he actually intends it.

    In the Pensees (the book including the Wager) Pascal spends a fair amount of time offering evidence for God in general and the biblical faith in particular. (For instance, he often refers to Old Testament prophecies of the first coming of Jesus.) So this suggests that he does care about evidence. When Pascal writes things like "reason cannot decide", he doesn't mean that there is no evidence for the Christian faith, but that it may not be enough to absolutely compel belief. But this is true of many things in our lives where we're forced to "bet": a choice of university, which job or career we pursue, who we marry, and to give a very humble example relevant to this blog's usual content, we often don't even know what move to make in a chess game. We have reasons for a given move, but sometimes we have reasons for other moves, or reasons to doubt the candidate move. But we have to do something, if only because doing nothing entails an inevitable loss on time.

    This takes care of the minimal evidence objection, because Pascal assumes that belief in God is at least roughly on a par with its denial. Moreover, in the context of his book the many gods objection can also be dispensed with: he's offering evidence for the truth of the Christian faith. Now, that won't help someone who finds the evidence for competing religions on a par with each other, but the point is that what Pascal has in mind is one particular religion (Christianity, in the Pensees) being roughly as likely as not.

    What about the argument that the Wager is religiously inappropriate, a case of bad faith? This can be answered while simultaneously addressing the objection from doxastic voluntarism. What Pascal prescribes for the person who agrees, based on the expected value of the Wager, is not that he or she somehow spontaneously produce the requisite belief and thereby 'win" the heavenly lottery. Pascal recognizes that belief doesn't work this way. What he proposes instead is that the wannabe-believer "bet on God" in the sense of trying to live the sort of life that will tend to produce genuine faith. The person will go to church, pray, read spiritual works, hang around with mature believers, and so on.

    When we speak about doxastic voluntarism, we must make a further distinction between two species: direct and indirect. Direct doxastic voluntarism is acknowledged by pretty much everyone who has considered it to be false: aside from philosophically jokey cases (e.g. I can make myself believe that I'm going to make myself believe something [namely, that proposition itself]) I can't spontaneously make myself believe things. At any given moment, I simply find myself believing certain things, disbelieving others and remaining unsure or unaware of the rest.

    By contrast, indirect doxastic voluntarism, the thesis that one can (often, typically) do something such that a new belief will come to be held, is most likely true. And Pascal recognizes this, and thus when addressing someone who doesn't yet have faith, but recognizes that belief in God isn't irrational and is worth having, he proposes that they embark on a course of life likely to bring that faith about. We recognize the legitimacy and effectiveness of this approach in everyday life, as a way to overcome irrational thoughts and prejudices, or as a way to gradually change one's mind on disputed matters. To someone who can't help but reflexively feel that members of group X are vicious, even when he knows that this feeling must be mistaken, we would suggest that he spend time with members of that group, to read about them - especially their exemplars - and to engage in reflective activity likely to erode his prejudices.

    Likewise, this slow, lifestyle approach will fix the "bad faith" worry. Embarking on the kinds of practices that are likely to lead to a change of belief will typically lead to a change of attitude as well. Being a part of a well-functioning (say) Christian community will tend to produce the appropriate sorts of attitudes, at least once faith is formed in the wagerer.

    To say all of this isn't automatically to say that everyone should wager on Christianity. For that, one should first think that Christianity is a live option; that is, that even if one doesn't yet find him- or herself believing it, one does at least think it's a rational option. (To try to determine that, a first step might be consulting some of the works and sites mentioned above.) But once one reaches that point, then the Wager makes sense.

    Finally, one might use a version of the Wager, even in something like its caricature form, as an impetus to investigate the evidence. If you investigate it and find it compelling (or at least compelling to Wager in Pascal's true sense), then you "win" big if you come to believe and it's true. If you investigate and believe, but turn out to be wrong, then no harm done (assuming death is the permanent end of one's existence). If one doesn't investigate and death is the end, then the slight gain in time taken by not investigating is only a small boon at best, while if one fails to investigate and is wrong it could prove costly. So the rational thing to do is to investigate.

    PrintView Printer Friendly Version

    EmailEmail Article to Friend

    Reader Comments (4)

    Aside from the "shoulds" of religious belief, why not just let the believers revel in their god-ecstasy and let the non-believers revel in their worldly-ecstasy? Nobody stands worse when nobody claims they are the better.

    [DM: In one sense, absolutely: classic tolerance is a good thing, both from religious believers to other religious believers and to unbelievers, and in the other direction as well. Both freedom of worship (or non-worship) and freedom of conscience are good things, and I support them wholeheartedly. Nor should someone be obnoxious in communicating his beliefs. But when it comes to dialog, while one ought to respect the other's freedom of worship or non-worship, keeping one's beliefs (more or less) wholly private only makes sense if religious belief doesn't matter or is something like a matter of taste. Maybe there are some religious beliefs like that, but clearly other religious beliefs aren't: they are, if true, a great good to those who accept them, and they make objective truth claims about the way the world is. For that matter, some religious beliefs are, if false, harmful to their adherents and/or society. So periodic discussion and debate is healthy for individuals and societies, at least/especially when conducted in an open, honest, and friendly way.]

    December 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSorenzo

    And for those who find the Christian description of heaven to be not much of a reward? :D

    [DM: That's a very fair and interesting question. I'll offer a very quick comment here, and then send you off to the books (if you're interested) for a much fuller and richer answer. The quick answer is that it's a mistake to view heaven as a place whose inhabitants sit or stand around playing harps all day or engaged in some other monotonous activity, or to see hell as an eternal barbecue pit. For many of us, even for many of a religious or spiritual bent, an eternal harp concert would be a sort of hell in its own right.

    In fact the Bible doesn't have an awful lot to say about heaven, and most of what it does say is in the book of Revelation, which is written in a genre where practically everything is symbolic. So I'm perfectly happy to leave the details of what it's like up to God, assuming that an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good being has in mind something that won't bore everyone to death (or to a wished-for death). The late philosopher Dallas Willard used to say something very interesting, that echoed the implicit perspective of C. S. Lewis in The Great Divorce: anyone who can stand to be in heaven will be there.

    Now for the books. One I just mentioned a couple of sentences ago, and the other is Jerry L. Walls's Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: Rethinking the Things that Matter Most.]

    December 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

    Honestly, using fancy phrases like 'doxastic voluntarism' doesn't change the what-should-be-embarrassing fact that you believe in an invisible man in the sky who made the universe,

    [DM: Actually, I don't believe it. No Christian does. That you think that's what Christians (or any traditional theists) believe should be embarrassing. At least know what people you disagree with actually think.]

    and are apparently proud of it. Like you're in the stone age or something. Ah humans they crazy. Well, at least you've stopped burning "non-believers" recently.

    [DM: You know that ad hominem attacks are fallacious, right? If we're comparing death tolls and persecutions, 20th century atheism fares massively worse than Christianity during the Crusades and the wars in Europe, but neither side's worst actions disproves their beliefs, unless those actions are sanctioned by those beliefs.]

    Pascal's wager is convincing if you believe in the sky-man;

    [DM: Again, no one believes in the "sky-man". As for reasons to believe in the traditional theistic God, I referred to a couple of sources in the post. You're welcome to check them out or not, but again, it's better (to put it mildly) to have a discussion when both people know what they and their interlocutors are talking about.]

    if not, it's not. Like the rest of your ridiculous story. No really, the main orthodox versions of the whole god and Jesus story must be the silliest, craziest story that anyone believed, ever. Outside of paranoid schizophrenics etc. I assume you will censor this comment, anyway.

    [DM: I thought about blocking it, but not because the comment is intellectually threatening. It's that it doesn't advance discussion. There are plenty of well-informed, brilliant people on both sides of this discussion (past and present), so claims that Christianity are as dopey as you suggest are not well-founded - especially from someone who can't, or at least didn't, get the most elementary aspect of Christian belief right.]

    Sorry, but the sight of you abusing your intelligence with pages of pompous pseudo-relevant philosophizing seems to merit more an attempted stern wake-up call, than silence or bland humouring.

    [DM: This is a wake-up call? Hardly. First of all, it's almost impossible for someone in the "West" (which, culturally, includes the land down under) to be unaware of the faith's cultured despisers. And second, I've gone in the opposite direction: I have graduate degrees in philosophy and have publicly debated Christian theism. (And I enjoy reading popular books on science, e.g. on physics in general and cosmology in particular, and on the brain sciences, so while I don't have professional credentials there I'm not living in a philosophical or theological bubble.) It doesn't guarantee that my views are correct, obviously, but it does mean that a few lines of argument-free rhetoric aren't going to shake my world to their foundations. Indeed, lines about the "sky-man" shouldn't even influence someone whose faith is one good argument or one worrisome experience away from turning away from God.

    Future comments of this sort - ones that treat intellectual opponents like morons, or that their beliefs are moronic - will be blocked. (Quadruply so when they engage in straw men.) And this goes both ways.]

    December 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAdamP

    One has to admit, it is difficult to find a good argument against the "doxastic voluntarism ". My personal view is that religion, and I mean all religions do not make sense. What I would like to know, is why are some smart people so devoted. Could there be a genetic explanation.

    [DM: Perhaps because they believe it? :) In some cases, they even suppose there are good reasons for their belief, and in other cases they take themselves to have veridical experiences of God. (The two possibilities are not mutually exclusive, of course.) It doesn't mean they're right, but since they are smart people (by stipulation) it would be reasonable and at least charitable to assume that they're not nuts or really badly self-deceived.]

    December 31, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSerge

    PostPost a New Comment

    Enter your information below to add a new comment.
    Author Email (optional):
    Author URL (optional):
    Post:
     
    Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>