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Still confused on G-d not punishing

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Rabbi David Sperling

Nisan 5, 5781
Question
All inifities are as big as another, but probabilities are not. So I dont particularly think that I need to look for some esoteric religion, when the chance of it being true are much smaller than for Islam or Christianity. Regarding service because its the truth, thats a good thing, but following the truth is a far lower priority than avoiding eternal suffering. For the same reason you wouldnt go to the edge of an icy cliff to pick up a penny. It makes no sense that HKBH could care so little about what we do, and would still to be followed even when allowing other belief systems that threaten eternal damnation to exist.
Answer
Shalom, Thanks for writing back to us. Let’s look at what you wrote point by point – 1. “All inifities are as big as another, but probabilities are not. So I dont particularly think that I need to look for some esoteric religion, when the chance of it being true are much smaller than for Islam or Christianity” I certainly agree with you, in general. What I wrote to you was in order to answer your question as to Pascal’s wager. In relation to that wager, there is no reason not to take into account even the smallest possibility. For Pascal argued that either a religion is true or not – a 50-50 chance, and so one is better off taking the side that it is true. On the basis of such a wager, one is “betting” on a chance that is possibly 0% of being true, merely because of the possible outcome in the next world. So, logically, one would have to take into account all possibilities, even those that are not so probable. What you have written here is a different argument all together (one that I agree with much more). And that is what is more probably true. This has nothing to do with what is best “bet”. For example, when choosing a diet, one would examine which diet is more correct, or more probably correct, rather than one that if true, gives the best outcome. Pascal’s wager was based on the idea that one cannot deterime at all which path is more true (whether belief in G-d is true or not – just whether it pays to act as if it is true). (By the way, this is one more of the major criticisms of his work – it does not relate to whether G-d is true or not). Now, if we are to examine what is more probable – there I believe Judaism is a very strong religion. All of Christianity and Islam believe in the basic tenants of Judaism. I’m sure you can find many writings on the truth of Judaism. (Although I stress that there are no absolute proofs of any religion). 2. “Regarding service because its the truth, that’s a good thing, but following the truth is a far lower priority than avoiding eternal suffering” – I’m not sure. Men are willing to suffer greatly for the truth. In any event, we believe that if it is the truth one will not suffer eternal suffering. Rather they will have eternal reward. 3. “. It makes no sense that HKBH could care so little about what we do, and would still to be followed even when allowing other belief systems that threaten eternal damnation to exist.” – I do not follow you on this one. Where do you see that G-d cares so little about what we do? And why should He not allow other belief systems to exist? They serve a good purpose in the world, to help the non-Jews get close to the truth of Torah. I do not deny that they have their share of problems – but let us not be blind to the very great good they do in the world. In any event, it is great to see you delving into these questions – some of the greatest questions there are. You should continue to search and learn. Jewish religious thinkers have been dealing with these issues for many years. From the Rambam to Rav Jonathan Sacks, from the Kuzari to Emmanuel Levinas, from The Duties of the Heart to Rav Soloveitchik – and many many more. May you be blessed to study and grow in knowledge and faith. Blessings.
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