Holy Rollers, Pascal’s Wager, If ID is wrong it was an honest mistake
|June 29, 2013||Posted by scordova under Philosophy, Intelligent Design, Religion, Just For Fun|
A scandalous documentary about Christian gamblers was released in 2012 with me listed in the credits.
The documentary is about a group of Christians, the Holy Rollers, that took the casinos for 3.5 million dollars. Myself, by comparison, I’ve accumulated a relatively paltry sum of $30,000 or so over the years. I’ve been tossed out of casinos and abused because I tried to use my brain in the casino. Casinos, like Darwinists, will say: Expelled No Intelligence Allowed!.
I took Turtle Creek Casino in Michigan for $6,000 before they illegally backroomed me. Similarly, I was forcibly escorted out of Hollywood Tunica (thankfully Hollywood got sued for $729,000 for pulling such stunts on other honest players like myself in an illegal way). My photo was then circulated to various casinos via the S.I.N. network:
American casinos refer to these local agreements they have with each other to immediately fax information on suspicious or undesirable players as a S.I.N. (Surveillance Information Network), an appropriate acronym.
I then started wearing quasi disguises and countermeasures to foil the S.I.N network and Facial Recognition Systems. My favorite quasi disguise was the pimp look. Unfortunately, my pimp persona got busted, and the casinos started circulating photos on the S.I.N. Network of me in my pimp outfit…I was walking into casinos, and they were already waiting for me. I had to call it quits…
And as somewhat documented in Lauren Sandler’s book Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement in the course of my casino adventures, I was pulled over for suspected drug trafficking which I described at UD in 2006 New Face of Evangelical Christianity
She reported that I pay my bills by playing cards. Well, I did not say that, but I did tell her over dinner that I won about $1,400 over the previous few weekends when I visited the casinos. She kidded me that it was rent money, but that was her perception, and it was nothing I said seriously.
She reported that I traveled to upstate New York for a card game after an IDEA meeting. That was true. But she missed the really juicy part of the story. After visiting the casino, I was put under arrest for 45 minutes by state troopers and border patrols for suspected drug trafficking up near Akwesasne, New York. About 8 squad cars descended on me. That was really cool. They released me after they determined I was just a harmless tourist….
Apparently the police thought I completed a drug deal at the casino. Come to think of it, some guy with a Mowhawk and lots of jewelry was at my table betting $400 a hand….
But my casino adventures pale in comparison to the accomplishment of my dear friend and mentor Michael Canjar professor of mathematics. He took Turtle Creek for $60,000 before they showed him the door. Canjar’s total winnings were around $250,000, a large portion of which was donated to charity…
Canjar was professor at a Catholic school in Detroit, and he managed to even recruit one of the nuns and other professors in his holy crusade against the evil casinos. Canjar reminds me of Father Fahey:
BOSTON — When the Rev. Joseph Fahey sat at the blackjack tables, he once said, it was “all for the greater glory of God.”
The Rev. Fahey, assistant for finance of the New England province for the Jesuit order, donated tens of thousands of dollars to his order with the help of card counting — the same skills that landed him on blacklists at casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J.
Card counting involves keeping track of the proportion of high and low cards as cards are dealt from a deck.
The Rev. Fahey died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack at the age of 65.
“Many Jesuit missions owe a great debt to him and his abilities at the card table,” said John Dunn, who worked for the Rev. Fahey at Boston College High School.
As president of the school from 1988 to 1998, he boosted its endowment by 500 percent, financing an athletic center, library and computer laboratory.
He had a doctorate in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was ordained a priest in 1968, and was a teacher and administrator at Holy Cross College and Boston College.
He treated Boston College students to a lesson on card counting on the last day of each semester.
But Canjar and Fahey’s crusade against the evil casinos was out done by the crusade waged by the Holy Rollers:
Beyond the Holy Rollers there were several generations of the MIT Blackjack Team, Tommy Hyland’s Teams, Ken Uston’s Teams and others. I heard of one non-blackjack team once referred to as “punters” who supposedly made 2.5 billion, but their methods are guarded secrets…
Curiously, one skilled gambler by the name of Kevin Blackwood really likes ID:
There are many things about God and the Bible I still don’t quite comprehend, but I do believe firmly in an intelligent design behind the universe. I recommend Michael Behe’s excellent book, DARWIN’S BLACK BOX, for more information on the irreducible complexity of the universe.
How is it possible to beat a game of pure chance? It can be done if the rules of the games allow you to gain an advantage through Expectation Values (or Expected Values). The principle is known as Statistical Arbitrage.
Mathematician Blaise Pascal is considered the father of the notion of Expectation Values (or Expected Values). Pascal was a skilled gambler, and the notion of expected values was originally applied to gambling but has now found application in economics, finance, physics (particularly quantum mechanics).
Pascal is one of the most brilliant, and most tormented, figures in the history of mathematics. Forbidden by his father to study mathematics… was troubled by constant illness, including recurrent migraines and what proved to be cancer of the stomach. His various contacts with illness and death from 1646 on, and his own near death in a carriage accident late in 1654, together with the influence of a morbidly religious sister, turned him toward the Jansenist version of Catholicism. On this, his mental energies were increasingly expended.
The notion of expectation values has played a role in a minor scuffle over ID. See: The Law of Large Numbers vs. Keiths, Eigenstate, and my other TSZ critics and SSDD: a 22-sigma event is consistent with the physics of fair coins?.
So how does this apply to ID?
If ID is wrong, it was at least an honest mistake because even Dawkins will admit, the world looks designed.
Some of the greatest scientists who have ever lived including Newton, who may have been the greatest of all believed in God. But it was hard to be an atheist before Darwin: the illusion of living design is so overwhelming.
You ask the questions
But in view of expectation values, what is the better wager? Darwin or Design? To answer that question, let me make a variation of Pascal’s Wager. At a personal level, suppose one accepts ID and it turns out to be false. Suppose further that a person presumed the Intelligent Designer was God, but in the end there was no God, no ID. What is the loss? But if ID is true, and further if the Intelligent Designer is God, so much might be gained. Will you throw your soul away because of the flawed ideas of Darwin, Dennett, and Dawkins?
Even though I’m a Doubting Thomas ID-ist and creationist, despite all the pain in the world, I find it too hard to believe the universe was some mindless accident. From all that I’ve learned in the world of skillful wagering on uncertain truths (of which there are many in skilled gambling), at a personal level, as far as which wager has the most favorable expectation value, I’d take Design over Darwin any day…
[me on the Las Vegas Strip near Mandalay Bay Casino, with Luxor and Excalibur Casinos in the background]
What was one of the nicest experiences in my casino adventures. One that ranks highly are the intelligently deisgned Fountains of the Bellagio Casino set to Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody: