Chris Brunk, an all-too-loyal MR reader, writes to me:
I developed a thought experiment that I wanted to share with you. I call it “The Grand Gameshow”.
In this thought experiment you are a contestant on a gameshow. The host of the gameshow (let’s call him Alex) has a notecard that says whether or not god exists and to what extent he is involved in the affairs of mankind. You start with $1,000,000 that you must allocate across five possible categories:
- Category 1 – Scriptural literalism. Bet into this category if you believe that one of the religious texts is precisely accurate.
- Category 2 – God is omnipresent. Bet into this category if you believe that god is everywhere and intimately involved in our lives.
- Category 3 – God as a guide. Bet into this category if you believe that god is only there for the major turning points in life and/or when we reach out in prayer.
- Category 4 – God as a watchmaker. Bet into this category if you believe that god set the universe in motion but is no longer around.
- Category 5 – Atheism. Bet into this category if you believe that god does not exist.
You can distribute the money however you like (e.g. all $1,000,000 in one category or $200,000 in each). After you’ve allocated your $1,000,000 Alex flips over the notecard and reveals which of the five categories is correct. You keep any money that you’ve allocated into the correct category.
Some footnotes. For the purposes of playing this gameshow assume that your financial situation is that of a farmhand in Mexico. You earn about $4,000 per year and have no substantial savings or degrees. I classify simulism as being category 4.
I would be very interested to hear how you’d allocate your funds versus say, Russ Roberts or Robin Hanson.
What about Thor? Or Taoism? Or Buddhism? Or multitheism?
Privileging Judeo-Christian traditions just makes you look silly to me. Any teleology makes you look stupid; one which implies that world religions reached some sort of apogee in one particular messianic jewish cult which happened to be adopted by one particular medium sized, medium-duration empire of premodern Eurasia makes me just plain sad.