- Published on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 01:31
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 2050
Pascal's Wager (or Pascal's Gambit) is a suggestion posed by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal that even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because so living has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. To spell it out - acting on the assumption that a god exists causes us no harm whether or not he exists. But if we live our life assuming that there is no god, then we are big losers if there is.
So Pascal said we should assume there is a god - it's the safer thing to do. Unfortunately, this argument does not make sense.
When I was debating religion and ultimately rejected it, my thinking was as follows:
If there is a god, he is either a bad guy, doesn't care or he's a good guy. If he is bad, I'm screwed whatever happens. If he does not care about me (or anyone), then it does not matter what I do. If he is a good guy, then he would not make arbitrary rules or punish or judge in the way churches teach. He would not insist I worship him. He would understand my behavior and thinking. He would not do most of the things that churches talk about and would certainly not be as described in the bible (or the Qu'ran). The god described by churches is totally irrational, unreasonable and incomprehensible - more nearly like the "bad guy" scenario.
So I decided that IF (a big IF) there is a god, then he's not like anything any church teaches, is most likely not a personal god, most likely barely knows we exist let alone follows us individually - so acting like there is a god is a waste of time and energy. Expressed in simpler terms, there's no point in believing in such a god.
The only kind of god that could perhaps exist after all might be something that some call a "higher power". Since with an impersonal higher power there are no personal relationships, it would not make sense for a higher power to create a second existence ("heaven/hell") where every single person lives forever. (By the way, an after-life asks many more questions than it solves and is clearly wishful thinking. Where do all the billions of people go? What version of their earthly body do they assume? Which spouse/lover do they live with forever? What do people do to keep themselves happy/amused/occupied?). So if there is a "higher power" we would not be immortal and the way we live need not be different from the way we'd live if there is no higher power. Since the existence of a "higher power" is irrelevant as well as a big stretch of the imagination, there is no reason or need to believe in one.
So there is no point in believing in any kind of god and the god implied in "Pascal's wager" makes no sense.