What Is Pascal’s Wager?

What Is Pascal's Wager?

Pascal’s Wager is an argument in philosophy presented by Blaise Pascal in the 17th century. It makes the case that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not.

Arguments For And Against God

Pascal begins with the observation that there are countless reasons to believe in God, but they all depend on uncertain evidence. For example, one might appeal to the apparent design of the universe or the fact that religious people seem to be happier than non-religious people. But these arguments are not conclusive; one could always explain away the design of the universe because of natural causes, and happiness could be due to other factors unrelated to religion. So even though there may be good reasons to believe in God, they are not certain enough to warrant betting one’s life on it according to Pascal.

On the other hand, there are also many reasons to disbelieve in God. One might point to all the suffering in the world or the fact that religious beliefs often lead to conflict. But again, these arguments are not conclusive; one could always argue that suffering is due to human sinfulness or that conflict is due to misunderstanding of religious teachings. So even though there may be good reasons to disbelieve in God, they are not certain enough to warrant betting one’s life on it, also according to Pascal.

How To Decide?

Pascal then asks what would happen if we did bet our lives on whether God exists. If God exists and we believe in him, then we will go to heaven and enjoy eternal bliss. If God exists and we do not believe in him, then we will go to hell and suffer eternal torment. If God does not exist, then it does not matter whether we believe in him or not; we will simply cease to exist after we die. Therefore, betting on God’s existence is the only rational option because it is the only option with an upside and no downside.

Conclusion: 

Pascal’s Wager is a philosophical argument presented by Blaise Pascal in the 17th century. It posits that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not. Pascal argues that betting on God’s existence is the only rational option because it is the only option with an upside and no downside.  But the belief one comes to must be genuine.  If someone is only believing as an insurance policy, that is not the definition of true Biblical faith.   

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