They Must Not Teach Probability in Seminary School…

Fr. Alfonse Nazzaro of the St. Monica Catholic Church in Dallas, Texas is a Catholic priest with a blog, and he has a post up about how atheists don’t believe in God because we had bad childhoods or really want to sin…

He’s wrong, but I don’t even care about any of that.

It’s this part that infuriates me (italics his):

… Even [atheists] still buy a lottery ticket, while at the same time denying any chance in heaven that God exists.

What chance is there of winning the Powerball or Mega millions lottery? One in a billion. What chance is there of God existing? Fifty-fifty. After all, either God exists or He doesn’t. But if he does and I believe, then I just won the jackpot!

Yes, Pascal’s Wager. Rebuttable.

But what the hell is up with that fictional probability?!

There is absolutely not a 50/50 chance of God existing. Just because there are only two options doesn’t mean each has an equal chance of getting selected. Using the priest’s own “logic,” he could have said, “You either win the lottery or you don’t, so there must be a 50/50 chance of winning! I’m gonna be rich!”

Thankfully, one of our own frequent commenters Brian Westley was there to correct Fr. Alfonse:

… Using your “logic”, there’s a 50% chance of unicorns existing. And Batman. And that Elvis is still alive. And any other proposition with only two possible outcomes.

Either I will be dealt a royal flush, or I won’t — so my chances are 50%.

So there’s a 50% chance Vishnu exists? And Brahma too? And Shiva? That would mean there’s an 87.5% chance that at least one of them exists, and when you add all the other 33 million gods of Hinduism, about 16.5 million or so should exist.

Brian is right about all of that and this would be the point where the priest laughs at his mistake and admits he screwed up.

That’s not what happened. Instead, Fr. Alfonse doubled-down on his innumeracy. (This may be the greatest thing I’ve read in a long time.)

Not so fast Brian. I mentioned God. You mentioned multiple Gods. Therefore, the liklihood that God exists just increaed, not decreased. It seems like you only took logic in middle school. Try it in College. It helps…A LOT.

And by the way, just for your basic knowledge: a priest has to take Philosophy, which means he has to study logic, and not just one class of it either. Now, given the fact that I was an engineer and have a Master’s degree of science, I would say that I probably took more logic and more science classes than you. I don’t know, I might be wrong, but given your answer…I don’t think so.

He said that. He really just said that.

Apparently, if people believe in more than one imaginary thing, there’s a greater likelihood it exists. (So when I dream of having a million dollars, I guess I should really be dreaming about a billion dollars, because then I’d have a better chance of getting rich?)

Fr. Alfonse is bad at probability. He’s bad at logic. He was apparently an engineer despite not being able to crunch numbers. And he somehow got his Masters degree, too. Let’s hope that degree comes with a warning label.

More importantly, he has the gall to ridicule the person pointing out his mistakes for not being as smart as him.

I emailed the pastor and invited him to redeem himself and issue an apology. I’ll update this post if I hear back…

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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