Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pascal's Wager

Blaise Pascal was a French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist during the 17th century.  Pascal, although a Catholic, has made numerous contributions to theistic apologetics that can be applied to numerous religions.  Perhaps the most well known theistic argument for believing in God goes as follows:

P1:  If God exists and you believe in Him, then you will go to Heaven
P2:  If God exists and you don't believe in Him, then you will go to Hell
P3:  If God doesn't exist, then you do not gain or lose anything regardless of your belief
C1:  It is in your best interest to believe in God taking into account all possible outcomes

I came up with this syllogism myself based on how I have heard the argument presented.  To better conceptualize the aforementioned argument, consult the image below.

The more colloquial form this argument takes is embodied in the form, "What if you're wrong?"  Richard Dawkins was asked this exact question during one of his lectures at Liberty University.  See for a clip. 

For purposes of my initial counter arguments, I will assume premises one and two (P1 and P2) to be true.  I would like to address the problems of premise (P3).

    1.  How do you know your God is the right one?

What about other versions of hell and other Gods?  I highly doubt that a Christian would advocate believing in every concept God there is to cover their ass.  Why would you use this argument to scare me into believing when someone outside your faith wouldn't be able to do the same to you.

    2.   Believing in God actually doesn't have a "No Loss" value if He doesn't exist.

Believing in God (with a capital 'G') puts you in a religion (some type of Abrahamic religion).  Being in a religion isn't a "No Loss" value if God doesn't exist.  What about all the income you waste on the institution that is teaching falsehoods?  What about the hours of wasted prayers?  What about the time and energy you spent convincing others of false convictions.

    3.   You can't "fake" your belief in something.

Do you think God is too feeble to look through fake believers?  It doesn't matter how scared I could possibly get about Hell, I wouldn't be able to force myself into a belief in God.

Please e-mail me at for questions, comments, or if you disagree.  Also, please leave a comment below and have a great day!

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