# Pascal's Wager: It is better and rational to believe in God

Pascal argues that if we believe in the Christian God we gain heaven and lose nothing and if we do not believe then we lose heaven and gain nothing. Therefore it is best and rational to believe in God and devote oneself to Christian living. This seems fair to me since if I am wrong then I will lose nothing, But if I am right than I would gain heaven.

So then the best possible option would be to believe and strive for my reward in heaven. If I am wrong then I lose nothing. If I am right than I gain eternal joy and peace beyond my imagination.

But in order to do so, you have to submit yourself to a life full of something you don’t believe in, which is not something I personally enjoy. I’m not willing to give up the beliefs that make me happy (not to mention my Sunday mornings) just because there’s an infinitisimal chance that I might get to Heaven for it.

Also, the same logic applies to every other religion that offers Heaven, Nirvana or whatever. Should we follow them all, just to be on the safe side?

Your gain is greater than the sacrifice, and it is not much off a loss anyway, because when you die, it is over, no pleasure you refused to give up will mean anything. It seems a small sacrifice to give a few of these things up and live with the hope that there might be a God in the end. There are many religions, but Pascal speaks of the Christian God. But whatever religion you choose, if you have a slightest bit of faith in it, it would seem the best option to seek a committed religious life for the possible ultimate gain.

What Pascal is saying is “Why not believe?” The advantages outweigh the disadvantage overall. But he is not neccessarily saying that you must TOTALLY believe without a doubt but is really saying to just rationalize it and move accordingly.

and you have to ask which christian god?

which interpretation of dead languages that only a handful of people can read do you trust? god’s word? not even close…

pascal’s wager creates a false dichotomy and fails logically…

-Imp

Why must one need “God’s word?” God can be what an individual knows him to be. Furthermore, just because a few people can read the “dead languages” does not make “God’s word” false.

it isn’t even god’s word…

it is some white guy’s word claiming it is the word of god…

god can be this or that… who decides? one christian god says women must serve and obey their husbands (as if their are the husband’s property)…

-Imp

What white guy? The Gospels are eyewitness accounts and they have been translated. Perhaps, the translation may not be perfect, I don’t know, but to insist that it is all worthless is a huge leap. Women serving and obeying their husbands do not make them slaves.

When we were children, we spoke as children, we understood as children, we thought as children… But now we are grown, and it is time for us to put away our childish things.

“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted [him] up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.”

How many times must we fall back into the arms of dogma, looking for a miracle balm to ease our passage in this uncertain existance…? How long till we realize that the crutches leant to us by loving others hinder, rather than heal…?

Pascal’s wager costs nothing…? It costs you your whole life, and worse still, costs you any original contribution you could have made to the world. This world. The one around you. Now.

Why do you think suicide is dubbed a mortal sin…? Because the only logical answer to Pascal’s wager, is to kill yourself directly after confirmation in the religion of your choice.

When death finally comes, have the guts to judge yourself.

How many times must we fall back into the arms of dogma, looking for a miracle balm to ease our passage in this uncertain existance…? How long till we realize that the crutches leant to us by loving others hinder, rather than heal…?

Why is it “falling back” and how is it a “harmful crutch”?

Pascal’s wager costs nothing…? It costs you your whole life, and worse still, costs you any original contribution you could have made to the world. This world. The one around you. Now.

Er, what sort of “original contribution” is hindered by believing in God? Anal beads?

Why do you think suicide is dubbed a mortal sin…? Because the only logical answer to Pascal’s wager, is to kill yourself directly after confirmation in the religion of your choice.

If the Christian God exists why would a Christian logically kill themself? They now believe they have been created by God and have been put here for a purpose, to love and serve God if nothing else.

When death finally comes, have the guts to judge yourself.
I have the guts to judge myself now.

Faith requires no proof and offers no proof. I can and do believe in God as the benevolent creator of the universe and all that is in it, but that doesn’t mean I collapse into religiosity and dogma about everything, nor does it mean I’d present my faith as logical proof that what I believe is right.

As Imp said, the problem with Pascal’s wager is that it’s a false dichotomy that fails to analyze all the possibilities to be accounted for in the wager. A god who will send you to hell if you don’t believe in him vs. no god at all are not the only possibilities. On the flip side, there could be a god who sends people to hell who DO believe in him, or there could be a god who sends people to hell who focus on an eternal reward to the exclusion of their fellow man here and now. In these cases, being an atheist might be considered ultimately beneficial.

If you want to argue Christianity, argue it in a Christian way. Defend the claim that the historical books of the New Testament (Gospels and Acts) are essentially accurate. Once one is convinced of this, he must admit that “God so loved the world…”

I am not convinced that the gospels are eyewitness accounts in regards to the most essential events; therefore I do not believe and Pascal’s wager has no power over me.

Is it a good idea to take into account all the logically possible religions? Why not only the real religions, which are of a certain size?

Pascals wager only works if you cover ALL your bases, ie strive to please every known interpretation of god/gods
I don’t think there is enough hours in a day to do that.

The real problem with Pascal’s wager is that it amounts to a threat. Should a threat be treated as a valid argument to believe in something? Why would God ever have to threaten His creation into believing in Him? All He would have to do is demonstrate His presence to those who doubt. When we want to demonstrate some abstract, non-obvious point to someone we’re debating, we don’t bring a baseball bat (at least, not if we have a leg to stand on, argumentatively), we explain ourselves to him/her!

It seems to me that some entire denominations could be called the “Church of Pascal’s Wager”, because that’s about the only thing they offer in terms of believing in God. A carrot and a stick. Believe us, or else! Since when did believing something, a state of mind that doesn’t affect the world, doesn’t help anyone, doesn’t hurt anyone, doesn’t do anything by itself ever become the sole standard by which people would be tormented forever, or infinitely rewarded? Whatever happened to love of your neighbor or virtue or benificience?

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that God would create an entire universe (Earth is an infintesimal dot of it), an entire world full of things that don’t believe in Him, a world full of humans, all of which arrived at entirely different concepts of Him (before wars were fought to standardize everyone’s notion of God), and He only values and loves those who get His personality and associated history of miraculous intervention right? I guess the rest of the universe is just some horribly inefficient process to produce true believers? The rest of humanity is worthless? Vestigal trash that can be, not just discarded, but tormented endlessly, because they just didn’t happen to believe the right religion? Doesn’t this strike you as mind-numbingly arrogant?

I just wanted to qualify my previous post. I’m not trying to attack you or specifically what you believe (I don’t know specifically what you believe, actually). I was just trying to attack Pascals Wager as an argument and the notion that belief is some sole ultimate virtue, and disbelief or wrong-belief some sole ultimate vice.

Yes, some signs let us think that God is not very concerned with the accuracy of our beliefs.

Hi PhilosophyGrrl,

What is ‘your own thinking’? Some kind of solipsistic, ahistorical source of data? In what sense is it ‘your own?’

What is ‘unique’, as far as I am concerned, can only emerge through a particular relationship with the past. There is no unmediated or objective ‘unique’ which we attain to merely by means of our being alive. Being original means understanding the past and your inheritance in such a way that you are able to create a ‘free’ relationship with it. How do you know what to evade, in terms of dogmas, prejudices etc, if you are running blindly in whatever direction happens to ‘feel right’ at the time? If you do not consciously orient yourself towards tradition, you will do so unconsciously, unreflexively. Being ‘original’ means ‘attending to the origin’, and fixing your trajectory based on this. It is not blind faith in some abstract notion of ‘uniqueness’, full of pretty snow flakes and holding hands. There is no such thing as being ‘free from prejudice’, if this means being ‘unsituated’ or ‘context-free’. Only good prejudices and bad prejudices, knowing acceptance and unknowing acceptance, freedom and ignorance. So you tell me what is ‘laziness’ and ‘denigration of self’? Whatever it is, it is hardly exclusive to any single ‘badly written novel’, nor, would I think, are we exempted from it merely by invoking the individualistic notion of ‘free thinking’.

Once something becomes the ‘foundation’ of your thinking, it can hardly by termed ‘belief’, unless you want to call my reliance on gravity when I take a leak a ‘belief’. It is a kind of knowledge rather, and it is something I am happy to rely on as it is necessary for me to be able to function in my day to day life. A Christian world-view may well be wonky, but I am highly skeptical that it is because of the reasons you have enumerated here.

But do regail me with your knowledge of theology. I would be interested to see on precisely what grounds you consider Christianity to be ‘wonky’.

Regards,

James

Othafa

`````` Pascal wrote primarily to show how an atheist who wanted to believe could set about making himself into a believer. His wager was just a preamble to that, to give a cursory reason why a person ought to believe in the first place.  Following Pascal's reccomendation, the whole idea is to become a honest believer in Christianity, so this wouldn't really be a concern.
``````
`````` Pascal's intended audience was the atheist who already wanted to believe. One who saw something envious in the Christian (for example), and who thought of his own skepticism as a burden.  This kind of question you ask isn't relevant for such a person. If you are a skeptic who enjoys his skepticism, and who doesn't see any merit in any particular religion, nothing Pascal has said will sway you, and it wasn't intended to.
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Ooh - A scrap…!

Can I answer tomorrow…?

Or would that be a fallicious premise of mine too…?