Pascal's Wager: An Unsafe Bet Essay

1538 words - 6 pages

Christopher McKinney10/15/2014Introduction to PhilosophyPaper 1Pascal's Wager: An Unsafe BetIn this paper, I will argue that Blaise Pascal, in his work Yes, Faith is a Logical Bet, under-represents the possible number of outcomes after death based upon belief and non-belief. More specifically, I will argue that Pascal's wager is not a safe bet, and has holes in its theory - namely, 1) that there are multiple religious faiths who believe firmly in a different faith, 2) that God may not reward prudential belief, and 3) that God could actually love atheists. Then, I will present a rebuttal to my own arguments, and challenge my objections. Finally, I will offer a last rebuttal, which will challenge my counter-arguments and reaffirm my original thesis, which is that Pascal's Wager is not the surefire bet he wants us to believe it is. But first, I will explain the necessary background to understand Pascal's argument in the first place.Pascal's wager goes as follows: theists believe in a potential heaven after death, and atheists believe that life ends immediately following death. Therefore, regardless of whether God exists or not, it is the most rational choice to believe in him. This is because, if you believe in God, and He is real, then you have made infinite gain, but if He is not real, then the loss is insignificant, because you will simply cease to exist, which is what nonbelievers think, anyway. Conversely, if you do not believe in God, and He is real, then you will suffer infinitely, and if He is not real, then you have made an insignificant gain, because you may be right, but you will still cease to exist upon death. This wager uses game theory and probability methods, rather than reason, to argue for faith.Though the argument seems initially appealing, there are several objections that initially come to mind: 1) Even during Pascal's time, there were multiple religious faiths, so presumably there are multiple Gods to believe in, which causes a risk of "betting" for one of the wrong Gods, and Pascal's wager is not surefire, like he purported it to be; 2) It is not certain that God rewards practical bets on His existence, because it may show a lack of sincere and honest faith, which is probably a trait that an honest, pure, all-perfect and all-loving God admires; and 3) There is no certainty that God condemns atheists, particularly those who live admirable, God-like lives, especially when they may lack the language or cognitive skills to conceptualize God Himself, but still have a good enough heart to live a benevolent and compassionate lifestyle.Pascal would surely accuse me of committing a straw man fallacy; in other words, he would believe that my arguments above attack claims that are different than his own. He would say that my arguments are ostensibly rebuttals to his own argument, yet in actuality, they are not necessarily inconsistent, and me presenting them does not affect his claims in any way.For the first example, about multiple...

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