Argument from inconsistent revelations

The argument from inconsistent revelations, also known as the "avoiding the wrong hell problem", is an argument against the existence of God. It asserts that it is unlikely that God exists because many theologians and faithful adherents have produced conflicting and mutually exclusive revelations. Since a person not privy to revelation must either accept it or reject it based solely upon the authority of its proponent, and there is no way for a mere mortal to resolve these conflicting claims by investigation, it is prudent to reserve one's judgment. The argument appears, among other places, in Voltaire's "Candide" and "Philosophical Dictionary".

This argument against God can be seen as the reverse of Pascal's Wager and frequently arises as an objection to it. The Wager invites one to accept the existence of God in the absence of proof as the best strategy because the alternate outcome for disbelief is eternal damnation in Hell. The argument from inconsistent revelations states that, given the content of the proposed revelations, acceptance of one entails rejection of another; Pascal's Wager gives no assurance that a person has in fact made the safest choice. In his "Pensées philosophiques", Denis Diderot stated this objection to the Wager by observing that "An imam could reason the same way."

In mathematical terms, it states that, if there are a number ("n") of equally viable inconsistent faiths one could believe in, each with a corresponding hell, the probability ("p") of having chosen to practice the correct one by making Pascal's Wager is represented as "p" = 1 / "n". Therefore, if there are five mutually exclusive faiths, there is an 80% chance that an incorrect religion was chosen and the believer will go to the correct religion's Hell rather than its Heaven.

Christians believe that Jesus is the savior of the world and the son of God; Jews believe just as strongly that he is not. Similarly, Muslims believe that the Qur'an was divinely authored, while Jews and Christians do not. There are many examples of such contrasting views, indeed, opposing fundamental beliefs (schisms) exist even within each major religion. Christianity, for example, has countless subsets, not all of which are mutually compatible. Acceptance of any one of these religions thus requires a rejection of the others, and when faced with these competing claims in the absence of a personal revelation, it is difficult to decide amongst them. Were a personal revelation to be granted to a nonbeliever, the same problem of confusion would develop in each new person the believer shared the revelation with.

ee also

*Internal consistency of the Bible
*Schism (religion)
*Chosen people
*Conflict thesis
*Continuity thesis


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