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:
- Scriptural literalism. Bet into this category if you believe that one of the religious texts is precisely accurate.
- God is omnipresent. Bet into this category if you believe that god is everywhere and intimately involved in our lives.
- 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.
- God as a watchmaker. Bet into this category if you believe that god set the universe in motion but is no longer around.
- 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.
There are a couple problems with this set-up, which is why I didn’t send my friend a bet distribution. The nit-pickiest is that I would be really quite happy with $200,000, so I would be betting somewhere between my true expected probability distribution and a simple even split. But the bigger problem is that I don’t think these five buckets are clearly defined enough that I’d feel comfortable betting at all (unless I really trusted the bookie).
Categories 2-4 are too vague and probably need to be coupled with a definition of ‘God.’ Otherwise, a undefined First Cause definitely satisfies 4, but so does a computer science grad student if we’re all living in a simulation that has not been modified since start conditions. Category 2 is so vague that I have no idea what satisfies it.
If you guys can come up with a better way to to divvy up the sample space, I’ll place my bets, and I’ll put together a google form so that the readership can weigh in, too.