Pascal’s Wager

Does God Exists?

In these trying times, the pandemic Covid-19 is spreading like an uncontrollable wild bush fire. Many countries have been ravaged, both economically and socially. First identified in Wuhan, China, it later hits mostly First World countries where their public and private health care system are purportedly to be the best in the world.

Covid-19 is color-blind, non-racist, non-gender bias and no class distinction. Certain age group or those with underlying sickness such as diabetes, hypertension or not of good health may be at a higher risk of getting an infection, otherwise, there is no discrimination.  It can hit the most affluent or the poorest, the educated or the illiterate, royalties or the common man on the street, celebrities or ordinary folks, him or her or perhaps they or them.

With dark clouds still hanging on the horizon, perhaps the most fervent of an atheist might go back to the path of faith in believing that God exists. Did not, Edward Young once remarked: By night an atheist half believes in a God

This post is not an argument on whether God exists or do not exist. It is your choice. You might be born to follow a faith. Or your religion is connected to your ethnicity and cultural background.  Or perhaps in certain stages of your life, you might have experienced a profound calling, a sort of a Eureka and you have found Him.

Rather, this post is a philosophical argument as presented by the seventeenth century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist, Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662).

This is the Pascal’s Wager.

Pascal postulates that a rational person should live as though God exists. He/she should seek to believe in God. Pascal believes that this is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false.  If God does not exist, such a person will only have a small finite loss or lose nothing at all. But he would stand to receive infinite gains if he believes in God and God actually exists.

Pascal’s Wager was based on the idea of the Christian God. The original wager was set out in Section 233 of Pascal’s publication, Pensees (“Thoughts”) which was published posthumously.

Historically, Pascal’s Wager was ground-breaking because it charted new frontier of knowledge into Probability Theory, Decision Theory, and Philosophy in Existentialism, Pragmatism and Voluntarism.

Are you going to bet on Pascal’s Wager?

*Note

Probability Theory: A branch of mathematics concerned with the analysis of random phenomena. The outcome of a random event cannot be determined before it occurs, but it may be any one of several possible outcomes. The actual outcome is considered to be determined by chance.

Decision Theory: The mathematical study of strategies for optimal decision-making between options involving different risks or expectations of gain or loss depending on the outcome.

Existentialism: A philosophy that emphasizes individual existence, freedom and choice. It is the view that humans define their own meaning in life, and try to make rational decisions despite existing in an irrational universe.

Pragmatism: This is a philosophical movement that includes those who claim that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily, that the meaning of a proposition is to be found in the practical consequences of accepting it, and that unpractical ideas are to be rejected.

Voluntarism: Voluntarism psychology is the doctrine that the power of the will organizes the mind’s content into higher-level thought processes. 

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