Friday, 11 April 2008

Pascal's Wager

Tonight as I head off to bed pondering thoughts far to heavy for sleep I felt it best to lighten my own load by sharing with all of you. With that said I present you with Pascal's Wager

If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is....

..."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. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.

Do not, then, reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know nothing about it. "No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The true course is not to wager at all."

Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. 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. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. "That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much." Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite

It has been weighing on me since first thing this morning when I came across it. My thought is not weather to believe in God (Referring to the Christian deity) but how such a wage would reflect or even be worded for a Wiccan.


Riverwolf said...

I don't know that a Wiccan or other pagan should even be concerned. It seems like a persuasive argument but I think it takes much for granted, from the Christian perspective. As a former Christian, this is very familiar.

Mainly, the argument that you should simply take the chance or bet that God is real--this cheapens belief, IMO. "Oh what have you got to lose?" Plenty. If you take Christianity seriously, it informs you entire worldview and you should spend your energy and life convincing others of the same and ordering your existence on the belief in Jesus salvation and eternal life for the faithful. But if this isn't true, you do lost quite a bit. You lose all of that time, all of that energy, even losing all of eternity. You will have spent whatever time allotted on a delusion, a fable, a fantasy. And to what end?

As a former Christian, I've decided there isn't much reason to believe in God. Christianity has some good things going for it, but I can arrive at those same goals without the accompanying pitfalls. Christianity, unlike paganism, demands absolute allegiance and suffers no others. It's based on fear, not abundance or diversity--which runs counter to everything else I've observed in the universe.

For those who love games of chance [specifically forbidden in Christianity, if I'm correct], betting on God's existence might seem a good way to protect one's own self-interest, just in case. But when making bets, you also have to consider the "chances" of those odds turning out in your favor. What are you basing your bet on? What else have your observed that indicates God exists or that Jesus specifically is the person claimed in the Bible? As someone who has examined these chances or odds and found them wanting, I find this argument to be thin and actually quite irresponsible.

Randilin said...

Reguardless of what I believe life will continue. Moving from one incarnation to the next. Pascal Wager is all about hedging your bets, it's like a person placing multiple bets to minimize his loses at the Horse track. To continue the gamble references am more of an All in type of guy.

Two last thoughts on Pascal Wager:
1) Anyways if the God or Goddess you believe in is truely all knowing wouldn't they know that your just paying them lip service?

2) If they did know you were only paying them lip service and didn't care would you really want to worship a God or Goddess that was so insecure?