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.

Issues with the Wager

Lack of Biblical Foundation

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.

Other World Religions

Another flaw with the wager is that is presumes that there are only two options: the Christian God, or no deity at all. It does not take into consideration the possibility (solely from a philosophical, not a Biblical, standpoint) that if a deity exists, it could be one held by another religion (such as Allah in Islam, Buddha in Buddhism, or Krishna in Hinduism). Most religions (including Christianity) penalize a belief in the wrong deity more severely than the belief of no deity at all.

See also