Toronto Mike

Pascal's Wager


I love long weekends.  This seemed like a good long weekend to write about Pascal's Wager.

Blaise Pascal was a seventeenth century mathematician who came up with an argument for why one should live as if God exists, even though this cannot be proved or disproved through reason. You'll find Pascal's Wager in his work Pensées, and the argument runs as follows:

If you erroneously believe in God, you lose nothing (assuming that death is the absolute end), whereas if you correctly believe in God, you gain everything (eternal bliss). But if you correctly disbelieve in God, you gain nothing (death ends all), whereas if you erroneously disbelieve in God, you lose everything (eternal damnation).

In other words, logic be damned!  Evidence, schmevidence.  Failure to accept God's existence risks losing everything with no payoff on any count. The best bet, then, is to accept the existence of God.

This chart does a pretty good job of explaining why people often bet their chips on the existence of God:


I'm sure Homer Simpson has a nice paraphrase of Pascal's Wager.... let me just check my Homer Quotes... Ah yes, here it is:

Homer's Quote of the Week

"And what if we picked the wrong religion? Every week, we're just making God madder and madder!"

I'll leave the last word to Marcus Aurelius and return to my glorious long weekend.

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