Pascal's wager

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Pascal's Wager is a philosophical proposition which takes the following form:

God either exists or not.

  1. If God does not exist and you do not believe in God, you gain nothing and lose nothing.
  2. If God does exist and you do not believe in God, you are condemned to Hell for eternity; infinite loss.
  3. If God does not exist and you do believe in God, you gain nothing and lose nothing. Some argue that you lose the price of piety (for instance, you unnecessarily went to church every Sunday instead of doing something else more productive). If so, this is still a finite loss, far less than infinite.
  4. If God does exist and you do believe in God, you will receive an eternity in heaven; infinite gain.

Blaise Pascal reasoned that, given the relative gains and losses for each scenario, the only sensible course for a rational human being was to believe in God since the potentially infinite gains and losses which occur if God exists outweigh any possible loss in a finite situation if God does not exist. This is true regardless of what probability one assigns to God's existence as long as some possibility is assigned. Even if some finite loss value is assigned to the possibility that God does not exist and you believed in God, an infinite quantity minus a finite quantity is still an infinite quantity. Therefore, this is inconsequential.

The concept of such a wager has no Biblical foundation. Nowhere in the Bible are any people expected to guess as to God's existence or will; rather, God reveals Himself to them, at times with great miracles authenticating Himself as the all-powerful Jehovah, but in all cases through both His creation and His Word, the latter of which provides explicit commands which the people are to obey. God's people, elected and predestined to salvation before the foundation of the world, respond to the revealed Word, and they are saved by grace through faith, with the Holy Spirit bearing witness from within that they have been justified. There is no gambling involved.

Logically invalid

Even if an individual took up Pascal's Wager, and even if he removed the obvious truth of the Christian God from the equation, the wager would be an idiotic one- most religions (including Christianity, if one is Catholic) penalizes the belief in the wrong deity more severely than the belief of no deity at all. There are many more than two religions that follow this example. By taking Pascal's Wager, even from a purely liberal and atheistic point of view, one would be wagering ones' soul against very bad odds, particularly since he would almost certainly not sincerely repent to whichever God he chose before death, due to the belief being purely selfish.

See also