Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The argument was popularized by the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662). The same can be found in his unfinished writing, Pensées (literally, "thoughts").
Briefly, Pascal's wager posits that it is a better "bet" to believe that God exists than not to believe, because the expected value of believing (which Pascal assessed as infinite) is always greater than the expected value of not believing.

"God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up ... Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose ... But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is ... If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.
To recap, Pascal argued that:

To live as if God exists, and turns out God exists: heavenTo live as if God exists, but turns out no God: neutralTo live as if no God, but turns out God exists: hellTo live as if no God, and turns out no God: neutral.


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