Consider an argument called “Pascal’s Wager.” This argument was developed by the 17th century philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal. Do you accept this argument? Why or why not?
Pascal’s wager can be summarized as follows:
Either God exists or God does not exist. And either one can believe that God exists or one can reject belief that God exists. Logically, this permits the following four options:
- God exists and you believe that God exists.
- God exists and you do not believe that God exists.
- God does not exist and you believe that God exists.
- God does not exist and you do not believe that God exists.
Now, since this is an existentially significant issue, you ought to weigh the options and choose the one that has the best consequences for your life. What are the consequences of each option? Pascal says the consequences of option (1) include indescribable joy forever. The consequences of option (2) include great misery forever. The consequences of (3) include being wrong but deriving some comfort and well-being in this life, although there is no afterlife. The consequences of (4) include being correct about God, but since there is no afterlife, death is the end for you. Pascal says that if you don’t find other arguments for God plausible, since (1) has the best consequences, you should believe in God for pragmatic reasons.