Pascal’s Wager

Myself and myatheistlife are discussing the use of Pascal’s Wager. For those unfamiliar with the term:

Pascal maintains that we are incapable of knowing whether God exists or not, yet we must “wager” one way or the other. Reason cannot settle which way we should incline, but a consideration of the relevant outcomes supposedly can. Here is the first key passage:

“God is, or He is not.” But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up… Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose… But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is… If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.

Source Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy


In essence the bet is believe. If you are worshiping the true god salvation is yours. If no god, you get nothing. But if god exists and you refuse the wager, oh the horror …

I recognised in a blog the use of Pascal’s wager, which I questioned:

With regards point 4), which is Pascal’s Wager, do we think a God that cares enough to examine our life after death would not see our faith as genuine but a desire for self preservation beyond the grave? Unless like an avid twitterer checking his follower count he does not care if sincerely following their tweets as long as you follow.

The response was that taking the wager would lead to genuine sincere faith with the right study and application in the spiritual community. Having used Pascal’s words above paraphrased I remarked:

A fake it till you make it ploy; a deception this time to get you back into the after life garden of Eden. This hardly makes the gamble on salvation better if the means justify the ends.

Dear Lord I deceived myself till the delusion was real for for me …

The further objections to Pascal’s Wager can be found here.

With thanks to Patheos for the cartoon strip.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78



Filed under atheism, Religion

3 responses to “Pascal’s Wager

  1. When are they ever going to drop that horrible argument. It’s so horribly flawed that anyone with a fully functional brain who spends more than a minute thinking about it can see how.

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