Pascal's Wager

Pascales wager is often rendered as "it is beter to believe God exists on the chance He may and it would be beneficial to do so!" However the argument may be formally given along the lines;

The wager uses the following logic (excerpts from Pensées, part III, §233):

  • 1.) God is, or God is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.
  • 2.) A Game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.
  • 3.) You must wager (it is not optional).
  • 4.) Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
  • 5.) Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
  • 6.) But some cannot believe. They should then 'at least learn your inability to believe...' and 'Endeavour then to convince' themselves.

So we should infer that it is a positive statement for the individual to believe in God and this positively outweighs the strength of arguments against the existence of God. That is, if the argument above has any weight.

I do not hold to this proof as being particularly helpful at all. But it has its place. No matter how correct the religion is logically, there is still the wager as to whether God exists. Then there are subsequent choices on which religion to decide upon: only one has the actual truth if we are honest with ourselves.

Therefore the best position is not to hold to the argument above, but rather to assume the existence of God and continue to show that a particular religion or "faith" has a logically consistent basis and a model exists that to all intents and purposes, should be such as to show itself correct in its construction.

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