Pascal’s Wager

Does God exist?

The Bible understands why there is doubt, but it asks us to accept the overwhelming evidence for God’s existence in the midst of that doubt

Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher, who lived from 1623 to 1662. He is generally regarded as laying the foundation for the modern theory of probability. Pascal’s Wager is about the existence of God. He argued that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (missing out on some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains (eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell).

Decision Theory

Pascal argued that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or not. His argument comes in several versions, all of them employing decision theory. In short, even under the assumption that God’s existence is unlikely, the potential benefits of believing are so vast as to make betting on theism rational.

Pascal claimed that humans bet with their lives that God exists or not

Pascal argued that if we do not know for sure whether God exists or not, then we should play it safe, rather than risk being sorry. Just to be clear, Pascal’s Wager in itself does not give legitimate grounds for believing in God.

Uncertainty and Risk

For those of you who don’t believe in God or are not sure, consider whether you actually base your decision to reject the existence of God on incomplete knowledge. Thomas Edison said: “We do not know one millionth of one percent about anything”. Assuming you have 1% of all the knowledge in the universe, isn’t it possible that in the 99% of knowledge that you don’t have, there is evidence that God exists?” Both Einstein and Darwin believed in the existence of God. In other words, can anyone make ‘absolute statements’? Can we be 100% sure about anything? In order to make an absolute statement about anything, we need to have absolute knowledge.

The point that Pascal tried to make is this: Why take a risk? Why not err on the side of caution? If you completely reject the idea of there being a God, then you are taking a huge risk. If it turns out that the message of the Bible is true, then there are terrible consequences for those who have been told about it and reject it. That is what the Bible tells us.

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