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Criticism Of Pascal's Wager Essay

1537 words - 6 pages

The proof for the existence of God is an issue that may never be resolved. It has caused division among families and friends, nations and society. The answer to the question “does God exist?” is almost an impossible one to give with certainty seeing that there is a variety of people, ideas, cultures and beliefs. So how does one know if one’s actions here on earth could have eternal consequences? What is, if any, a “safe bet” to make? Blaise Pascal was a 15th century philosopher and a mathematician who proposed the idea that although one cannot know for certain that God exists, one can make a “safe bet” that it is far better to believe in God than not to believe in God. This is not a proof for the existence of God but rather an idea that suggest that if there is a God, it is in the person’s benefit to believe rather to disbelieve because the odds are in favor of the believer. This gambler-like idea is better known as “Pascal’s Wager” or “The Gambler’s Argument.” Nevertheless, this sort of play-the-ponies idea is not quite precise. Although Pascal’s Wager serves as a stepping-stone for non-believers, it is a rather vague, faithless and inaccurate argument.
Pascal’s wager takes the position of a gambler. It says that it is far more logical to believe in God because the odds are in one’s favor. Pascal lays it down on a diagram like so: if one believes in God and lives a good, moral, and Christian life and in the end finds that God exists, that person has hit the jack-pot, if I may, gaining eternal life in the presence of God. At the same time, if the aforementioned person comes to the end of life and finds out that God does not exist, then that person really did not loose all that much. Sure probably missed a few parties, didn’t drink as much, stayed off drugs and vices; in short, that person did not partake as much, or at all in all the worldly pleasures that most of mankind engages in. But even so, when thought about it carefully, that person lived an admirable life—a life to be proud of. All the earthly pleasures mentioned above will not take a great deal of importance at the end of that person’s life. Thus, one can conclude that even though the person in a sense did “waste” time praying, going to Mass, offering sacrifices, perhaps in the priesthood, living a chaste and celibate life, and fasting, all of these things were not for the detriment of the person but for the benefit of the person.
On the other hand Pascal presents another situation in his argument. If a person does not believe in God and lives a completely sinful lifestyle—partying, receiving all pleasures, drinking, doing heroin, having a blast—and in the end finds out that there is not a God, then that person is “free” in a sense. That person will not be eternally condemned for all the wrongdoing that person did in life. In Pascal’s final scenario, he presents an alternative outcome to the previous situation. If the aforementioned person comes to the end of life to find out that...

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