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Alan Saunders: But is he saying that one can come to Supposing you take the bet, you decide that you're going to bet on God. Is he saying that you can come to believe something simply as a result of wanting to do so?

James Franklin: No, no. Many people have criticised the argument on that basis, saying that you can't decide to believe. Belief is not under control of the will like that. Either you think the evidence is one way or it isn't. But yes, Pascal is ahead of you there, because Pascal's, the conclusion of Pascal's wager is not belief but an action. Namely, going to mass and praying for faith. That is an action. And Pascal says it's up to God to do the rest. That's part of his Jansenism, that he thinks that even with the Even if the evidence was perfect that God exists, you couldn't gain faith; faith is a free gift of God, according to him.

But, he says, your action is to go and make yourself open to that. So, I think he wins on that point again. He's not saying, the conclusion of his argument is not belief, but an action, namely asking for belief.

Alan Saunders: So, one way of putting it is to say that if you wager for God and God exists, then you gain everything. If you wager against God and God exists, the result will be misery. If God does not exist, then in both cases the result is essentially the status quo. James Franklin: Yes. Well, Pascal says that if God doesn't exist then you will lose something by betting on him. Namely a more pleasurable life, but he says that's a rather small payoff.

The difference in payoffs between a virtuous life and an unvirtuous life he says, at least for the sake of argument, is something, but it's not much, especially compared to the other option, that you might win an infinite payoff.

Alan Saunders: He's assuming, isn't he, that the probability of God's existence is 1 in 2. Is that reasonable? James Franklin: Initially he says that he, you think of it as a heads or tails, and that's 1 on 2, but as he points out, it doesn't really matter what it is. If, because an infinite payoff will beat even a small probability. As long as the probability that God exists is non-zero, then the infinite payoff should counterbalance that and mean that you should bet for God.

Because on the other side, there's only a finite difference in payoffs. Alan Saunders: Is it right, though, to consider that there are only two possibilities to take into account in your wager? James Franklin: That is the main objection, actually, to Pascal's wager that has been raised.

That Pascal has not got straight the range of possibilities. Certainly Pascal does speak as if there are only two options, namely atheism and Catholicism of his variety. Now, that is quite right, that is a problem for his argument, but you have to remember two things. First is that Pascal is addressing a certain man of the world of , for whom those are the two options.

Now, what about our situation? What about somebody else's situation? Well, we have a different range of options, but nevertheless the thinking of Pascal's wager still applies. Perhaps we have a much wider range of options, and we think that there could be lots of different religions with different probabilities of their being true, and perhaps we have a different opinion about the atheist option as well, and its probability. Well, it doesn't matter. The thinking of Pascal's wager is still right.

The idea behind the wager is that you lay out the options that are live for you, and your subjective probabilities, what you think initially they're worth, and act accordingly. Which means probably for us we put research effort into finding which is serious. So let's suppose we're in the situation of somebody brought up in an atheist or agnostic household that's never thought about religion.

They get to their teens and start reading about these things and they realise there are religions out there, and they think, 'Well maybe I should think about these things. Why do people think these things? Probably somebody like that should think in Pascal's terms and say, 'Well, there's some non-zero probability that some world religion is right, but I don't know which.

I should take out a book on world religions for dummies and start researching. It's not for me to say what the results of those researches may be, but that's what the wager says, I think, to the typical person of today; do some research. James Franklin: Yes, if they're offering you payoffs, which they mostly seem to be doing, then you should do that. Perhaps you shouldn't bet on merely possible religions.

I mean, some objectors to Pascal's religion have said that any guru could set up a religion with a suite of rewards and punishments and demand money from you, and actually as people think, perhaps scientologists and the like have done exactly that. But that is not a live option for you. Pascal's wager applies to the live options for the enquirer.

And live option means you have some initial and substantial reason for thinking there might be something in that. So yeah, Vishnu counts, Mohammed counts, all of them count. The only person for whom Pascal's wager doesn't apply is the person who is absolutely convinced of atheism, and thinks that there's a zero probability for the sum of all options involving God. There are some people like that around, but that's not most people. Alan Saunders: The French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal applied probability theory to God in a work published after his death in And here's what he has to say: 'God is or he is not.

Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separates us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance, where heads or tails will turn up. You have two things to lose, the true and the good. And two things to stake, your reason and your will. If you gain, you gain all. If you lose, you lose nothing. But what about the possibility that God is not a benevolent God, but a malicious God? Or at least a bit of a divine awkward cuss? So If I choose to believe in him on the basis of a wager, he's not going to be too impressed.

James Franklin: Yeah, that is certainly something to be thought about. And especially since, as the people talking about the problem of evil insist, there is some reason to think that there is something cussed about God. Certainly if you look around the world, if it's his creation then there are some reasonable complaints about it.

But when you think about what a malicious God implies, I think it doesn't imply anything about what you should do. Your first thought is probably that you should sacrifice a goat and hope he goes away, but who knows what a malicious God thinks about the sacrifice of goats? And if a malicious God has indulged in some revelations and told you what you ought to do, that still gets you nowhere, because a malicious God is a deceitful God.

The devil is the prince of lies as they say, and there's no reason to believe that anything he says should be believed. So there is certainly a possibility that there is a malicious God, but it doesn't imply anything for action. Alan Saunders: One of the things I find fascinating about Pascal's wager is that with it he is more or less initiating a number of areas of study. The psychology of religious belief, probability theory and of course decision theory.

James Franklin: Yes, a remarkable suite of achievements indeed. So, to just take decision theory which is perhaps the most famous outcome of his wager: Decision theory, of which this Pascal's wager is really the first instance, says that if you've got a range of options that you might implement, for anything from choice of life partner to where you should invest your money, you should think of the probabilities involved, like what might happen and how likely it is to happen, and then the payoffs, meaning the costs or benefits that are going to arise.

So that for example if you're talking about building or taking precautions about a nuclear plant, you have to think about the probabilities of something going wrong, which may be small, but weighted by the outcomes which may be a very large disaster.

So, it's a very good perspective for deciding on what to do, to multiply the probabilities of outcome, by the costs and benefits that are going to arise. Alan Saunders: And when it comes to another aspect of that trio of achievements, the psychology of religion, what he understands is that though you cannot will yourself to believe, you can and you've already more or less implied this, you can as it were put yourself in the way of belief.

James Franklin: That's right. You can, so to speak, prepare your mind for belief, which Pascal thinks is a free gift of God. Well, undoubtedly you can; you can do different things to, well, in the first instance you can go and find out about some theory and the reasons people have for believing it, and that will give you some way into whether it's a reasonable theory or not. And I think this is a very rational way to proceed in the question of choice of religion or for that matter, choice of philosophy.

First thing is, you've got to understand why people are thinking that way, and not just sit back and say, 'Oh, well, it sounds crazy to me, I don't know why those people are carrying on like that. It might turn out that when you investigate it you have a lot less sympathy than when you started if it looks awful the further you get into it. Still, first thing is some kind of sympathy.

Alan Saunders: I said he more or less initiated three areas of study, the one I hadn't mentioned is probability theory. Now, he's one of the founders of probability theory, but probability theory in his day was really about tossing coins or throwing dice. Probability theory is much more complex these days. Does the wager argument look different in the light of modern theories of probability? James Franklin: I wouldn't say it did.

I think it's turned out to be one of those things, as, like a lot of things in probability theory, where earliest We know a certain amount more about probability theory, but it's still a very mysterious topic, probability. And in the light of the distinctions we now make, we now make a very strong distinction between logical or epistemic probabilities, which are about how you ought to think on the basis of evidence, like proof beyond reasonable doubt in law, which is about the relation between evidence and hypothesis.

Well, that's one kind of probability, and it's really the kind that's involved in Pascal's wager. And on the other hand probabilities of a stochastic kind, that deal with the chance outcomes of dice. So they, the chance outcomes of dice and coins form, in a certain sense, a model of other kinds of probability, but the logical kind is not always well thought about, is really about throwing coins.

Alan Saunders: But his notion of probability is that if you want to know what the probability of getting a heads is when you throw a coin, you just write a line on the page and you know the coin has two faces, so you write two under the line, and you want one outcome or the other, so you write one on the top of the line. And that's it, that's your probability. James Franklin: Yes, that's right, so Pascal and his correspondent Fermat, those two genius mathematicians worked out the early mathematical theory of probability.

If it lands on no God existing, you lose. If it lands on the Hindu God existing, you lose. In fact, no matter which way the dice lands, unless it lands on the Christian God of the Bible, then you lose. Assigning which religions have the highest probability for being true can quickly turn paradoxical.

Does each religion have an equal chance of being true or is there a hierarchy? Do all religions have at least a greater than zero chance at being true? What if I made up a new religion right now? You can break the odds down even further by contemplating which version of Christianity is the right one. Maybe you roll the dice and it lands on C for Christian. When you look close, you notice even the Christian religion is broken down into several sub-categories.

Hopefully, whatever version of Christian you are is close enough to the way God intended that he lets you slip by. What if the Christian God is the one true God but the Westboro Baptists were actually the only ones playing the Christianity game in the way God intended? Each of those religions has subsets of doctrinal differences ranging from minuscule to incongruent.

Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism all have millions of followers who are quite sure their particular brand of their particular religion is the right one. You might hear a Christian share a story of lying awake at night agonizing over whether to believe in God.

They finally decide that all this beauty could not possibly have just happened at random. They wake up the next morning as proud Christians somewhere in the US of A. Of course, on the other side of the world, someone else had the exact same internal debate and came to the conclusion that without Brahma none of this would be possible. What about the countless Native Americans who lived and died believing in a completely different spirit world?

Whether we believe Jesus or Mohamed is a likelier path to heaven has everything to do with our upbringing, not a logical argument for or against either one. What an idiot. It would be nice if God set it up to where we could just walk through the God Does Exist Door and call it a day. Even if we decide to believe that there probably is a divine being somewhere out there, we still have to find the right door. Just kidding, though.

This is America. One slot can be reserved for the slim chance there is no God and another slot can be for the slim chance some other religion is right. The rest of the slots are for the Christian God of America. We all think we have the corner market on truth.

Out of curiosity, are you not even the slightest bit worried that Islam might actually be the one true religion? What about Judaism? Even a one in five shot at picking the most likely God is better than not even trying. If you zoom the telescope of belief back you start to notice common threads that run through all the major religions. When you factor in our propensity to believe with those in our tribe it starts to look like picking the correct religion is really just a matter of dumb luck.

But if no religion is universally regarded as the most likely why would we assume any religion is true? It would be like asking you if you lose sleep over not believing in Santa Claus. Real atheists just take their lack of belief one God further. For atheists, the pursuit of intellectual honesty outweighs the desire to throw a last-second hail mary pass and pick a door at random.

But, can I really choose what to believe? Am I really picking the Christian God door just because I want that to be true? Could you choose to believe in Santa Claus just because the potential reward outweighs not believing in him? Burrito Bowl is a year-old man from Whitefish, Montana who likes to draw stick figures and say things that sometimes relate to finances, but not always. View all posts by MrBurritoBowl. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.

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Such arguments are well organized and appear to lead to their conclusions and so they are called valid indicating that if their premises were true their conclusions would be true as well. However valid they may appear their soundness and cogency are not at all well established as their premises have been severely criticized over the centuries.

It has fairly well been demonstrated or proven that their premises are not obviously true nor can they be verified as true through empirical methods. So these arguments have been rejected by many as having unwarranted conclusions or as not being cogent or convincing. Non-Epistemic proofs are arguments for the existence of God that are not knowledge-based arguments. If understood properly, the non-epistemic proof should invoke a personal response.

The power of Pascal's Wager is not found in valid rules of inference but in probability and possible outcomes. The Wager appeals to the feelings in us- to our emotions, our fear of loss or punishment and our hopes for rewards. Should human beings accept such arguments? Should rational human beings act on less than rational arguments?

Some say it is immoral to so act. Others disagree.. Clifford argues against such a wager and the Ethics of Belief. He claims that we should never hold a belief without sufficient justification. We may believe what goes beyond our experience, only when it is inferred from that experience by the assumption that what we do not know is like what we know. We may believe the statement of another person, when there is reasonable ground for supposing that he knows the matter of which he speaks, and that he is speaking the truth so far as he knows it.

It is wrong in all cases to believe on insufficient evidence; and where it is presumption to doubt and to investigate, there it is worse than presumption to believe. In his essay, W. Clifford maintains that beliefs based upon insufficient evidence are always wrong. In essence, believing in something just because it may prove to be beneficial in the long run is not genuine belief. To illustrate his point, Clifford gives an example of a ship owner who sees that his ship is old and in need of repairs.

However, the ship owner manages to convince himself that his ship has made many voyages from which it has always returned safely, and he begins to sincerely believe that this trip will be no different than all of the previous ones.

Although the evidence before him suggests danger for the passengers, the owner has faith and lets the ship sail. Clifford points out that if the ship sinks, the owner will be directly responsible for the deaths that occur as a result of his negligence. In this case, the ship owner had no right to believe that the ship would be safe because of the evidence before him. Clifford points out that it is not so much the belief that must be judged but the actions following the belief. Even though the ship owner believed in the seaworthiness of his ship, he could have taken the precaution of having it examined before putting the lives of others on the line.

For example, if the ship owner truly believed that his ship was sound, he would have no reason to have it examined. The examination would suggest that the owner did indeed have some doubts. Additionally, Clifford points out that beliefs are all incredibly significant, as they lay the foundation for accepting or rejecting all other beliefs and provide the framework for future action. Beliefs are passed on within society and to future generations.

Beliefs which are based upon evidence and have been thoroughly investigated allow humanity to have mastery over more of the world, but when those beliefs are unfounded and contrary to evidence, the mastery resulting is counterfeit. Clifford suggests that holding beliefs based upon insufficient evidence can lead to the downfall of society.

Even if these beliefs turn out to be true, society will suffer, as people will stop examining the issues with an open mind. Humans will no longer inquire as to the validity of their beliefs. They will become gullible and susceptible to fraud, hastening the downfall of civilization. Thus, holding these unfounded beliefs and suppressing doubts is a sin against humanity.

William James argues that there is sufficient justification. There is a practical justification when one considers that we must make a decision and that believing can place one in a much better position. The Will to Believe. In his response to W. He points out that we are commanded to know the truth and avoid error. However, knowing the truth and avoiding errors are not one commandment stated in two ways.

Instead, they are separable, and stressing one over the other will provide vastly different results. James maintains that those who place the avoidance of error above knowing the truth such as W. Clifford , are keeping their minds in a constant state of suspense out of fear of being duped. James likens this to a general telling his soldiers to avoid battle so that they do not suffer any injuries.

Victories over neither foes nor nature are won by not taking action. Thus, James says, he is willing to face the occasional falsehood or dupe in order to eventually arrive at a true belief. James does take into account that there are times when we can postpone making a decision until more sufficient evidence is provided. However, we can only postpone making up our minds if the option is not a crucial one with earth-shattering consequences.

James points out that often the need to act is not so critical and urgent that we must risk acting upon a false belief than on no belief at all. James then moves into religious beliefs. He states that religion essentially states two things:. James says that although the skeptic says he is awaiting more evidence before making his decision, he has, in all actuality already decided. The skeptic, according to James has decided that it is better and wiser to dismiss the belief in these two affirmations for fear of being duped than it is to believe and hope that they are true.

In essence, by choosing to wait, the skeptic joins the side of the non-believer. Since no one is absolutely certain as to the existence of God, one must make the choice whether or not to believe or wait for more proof. Ultimately, James concludes that whether to believe or not is up to the individual. Notes on W. The difficulty here lies in distinguishing this position from emotional prejudice Saka Finally, it may be that a genuine option is one that possesses sufficient evidential support, in which case it can then participate in a run-off decision procedure.

Some Pascalians propose combining pragmatic and epistemic factors in a two-stage process. First, one uses epistemic considerations in selecting a limited set of belief options, then one uses prudential considerations in choosing among them Jordan b. Alternatively, one first uses prudential considerations to choose religion over non-religion, and then uses epistemic considerations to choose a particular religion Schlesinger , Jordan In order to be at all plausible, this approach must answer two questions.

First, what is the justification for deliberately excluding some possibilities, no matter how improbable, from prudential reasoning? It seems irrational to dismiss some options that are acknowledged to be possible, even be they unlikely, so long as the stakes are sufficiently high Sorensen Second, can epistemic considerations work without begging the question?

Schlesinger argues that the Principle of Sufficient Reason gives some support for believing in God, but in a Pascalian context this is questionable. But the Crusades in the s taught the French of Islam, the Renaissance in the s taught the French of Greco-Roman paganism, the discoveries of the s taught the French of new-world paganism, and several wars of religion taught the French of Protestantism.

To claim that the educated French of the s rightfully rejected alien beliefs without consideration appears to endorse rank prejudice. The idea is that Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Moslems, and devil-worshippers can all legitimately use decision theory to conclude that it is best to believe in some supreme being.

Against this there are two objections. But consider the following sort of atheistic Buddhism: if you clear your mind then you will attain nirvana and otherwise you will not — that is, if you fill your mind with thoughts and desires, such as believing that God exists or living God, then you will not attain salvation Saka There are two versions of this objection that need to be kept distinct.

Schlesinger responds by saying that any reasoning that gets us to believe in God, if God exists, cannot be bad. But this argument seems to depend on the nature of God. If God holds that results are all that matter, that the ends justify the means, then Schlesinger is right. But maybe God holds that true beliefs count as meritorious only if they are based on good evidence; maybe God rewards only evidentialists.

In short, this form of the objection is just another version of the many-gods objection. Moore — for us to base any belief on decision-theoretic self-interest Clifford , Nicholls Since utilitarians would tend to favor Pascalian reasoning while Kantians and virtue ethicists would not, the issue at stake belongs to a much larger debate in moral philosophy. If you regularly brush your teeth, there is some chance you will go to heaven and enjoy infinite bliss.

On the other hand, there is some chance you will enjoy infinite heavenly bliss even if you do not brush your teeth. In fact, as soon as we allow infinite utilities, decision theory tells us that any course of action is as good as any other Duff In reply to such difficulties, Jordan proposes a run-off decision theory as described above. Imagine tossing a coin until it lands heads-up, and suppose that the payoff grows exponentially according to the number of tosses you make.

It follows you should be willing to pay any finite amount for the privilege of playing this game. Yet it clearly seems irrational to pay very much at all. The conclusion is that decision theory is a bad guide when infinite values are involved for discussion of this very old paradox, see Sorensen Byl points out that instead of referring to infinite payoffs we can speak of arbitrarily high ones. No matter how improbable be the existence of God, it is still decision-theoretically rational to believe in God if the reward for doing so is sufficiently, yet only finitely, high.

However, this does not address the heart of the problem, for the St. Petersburg paradox too may be cast in terms of an arbitrarily high limit. Intuitively, one would not be willing to pay a million dollars, say, for the privilege of playing a game capped at one-million-and-one coin tosses, and it is not just because of the diminishing value of money. There is something unsettling about decision theory, at least as applied to extreme cases, and so we might be skeptical about using it as a basis for religious commitment.

A good sourcebook is Jordan a. Paul Saka Email: paul-saka live. The Equi-utility Paradox The St. Petersburg Paradox References and Further Reading 1. A Reason for Believing in God There are two kinds of argument for theism. The Super-Dominance Argument Pascal begins with a two-by-two matrix: either God exists or does not, and either you believe or do not.

The Expectations Argument What if the atheist is a happy hedonist, or if the theist is a miserable puritan? Run-off Decision Theory Some Pascalians propose combining pragmatic and epistemic factors in a two-stage process. The Equi-utility Paradox If you regularly brush your teeth, there is some chance you will go to heaven and enjoy infinite bliss.

The St. Petersburg Paradox Imagine tossing a coin until it lands heads-up, and suppose that the payoff grows exponentially according to the number of tosses you make.

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It has to land on the Christian God existing. If it lands on no God existing, you lose. If it lands on the Hindu God existing, you lose. In fact, no matter which way the dice lands, unless it lands on the Christian God of the Bible, then you lose. Assigning which religions have the highest probability for being true can quickly turn paradoxical. Does each religion have an equal chance of being true or is there a hierarchy? Do all religions have at least a greater than zero chance at being true?

What if I made up a new religion right now? You can break the odds down even further by contemplating which version of Christianity is the right one. Maybe you roll the dice and it lands on C for Christian. When you look close, you notice even the Christian religion is broken down into several sub-categories.

Hopefully, whatever version of Christian you are is close enough to the way God intended that he lets you slip by. What if the Christian God is the one true God but the Westboro Baptists were actually the only ones playing the Christianity game in the way God intended?

Each of those religions has subsets of doctrinal differences ranging from minuscule to incongruent. Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism all have millions of followers who are quite sure their particular brand of their particular religion is the right one. You might hear a Christian share a story of lying awake at night agonizing over whether to believe in God.

They finally decide that all this beauty could not possibly have just happened at random. They wake up the next morning as proud Christians somewhere in the US of A. Of course, on the other side of the world, someone else had the exact same internal debate and came to the conclusion that without Brahma none of this would be possible. What about the countless Native Americans who lived and died believing in a completely different spirit world?

Whether we believe Jesus or Mohamed is a likelier path to heaven has everything to do with our upbringing, not a logical argument for or against either one. What an idiot. It would be nice if God set it up to where we could just walk through the God Does Exist Door and call it a day. Even if we decide to believe that there probably is a divine being somewhere out there, we still have to find the right door. Just kidding, though.

This is America. One slot can be reserved for the slim chance there is no God and another slot can be for the slim chance some other religion is right. The rest of the slots are for the Christian God of America. We all think we have the corner market on truth. Out of curiosity, are you not even the slightest bit worried that Islam might actually be the one true religion?

What about Judaism? Even a one in five shot at picking the most likely God is better than not even trying. If you zoom the telescope of belief back you start to notice common threads that run through all the major religions.

When you factor in our propensity to believe with those in our tribe it starts to look like picking the correct religion is really just a matter of dumb luck. But if no religion is universally regarded as the most likely why would we assume any religion is true? It would be like asking you if you lose sleep over not believing in Santa Claus. Real atheists just take their lack of belief one God further. For atheists, the pursuit of intellectual honesty outweighs the desire to throw a last-second hail mary pass and pick a door at random.

But, can I really choose what to believe? Am I really picking the Christian God door just because I want that to be true? Could you choose to believe in Santa Claus just because the potential reward outweighs not believing in him? Burrito Bowl is a year-old man from Whitefish, Montana who likes to draw stick figures and say things that sometimes relate to finances, but not always.

View all posts by MrBurritoBowl. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Richard Dawkins postulated the possibility of a god that might reward honest disbelief and punish blind or feigned faith. The Wager fails on a number of counts. It will be an incomplete knowledge of God, but it is the knowledge of God nonetheless.

Second, there is no mention of the cost involved in following Jesus. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus twice warns us to count the costs of becoming His disciple Luke ; There is a cost to following Jesus, and it is not an easy price to pay. Jesus told His disciples that they would have to lose their lives in order to save them Matthew Following Jesus brings with it the hatred of the world John As such, it reduces faith in Christ to mere credulity.

Third, it completely misrepresents the depravity of human nature. Faith is a result of being born again and that is a divine work of the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that one cannot assent to the facts of the gospel or even be outwardly obedient to the law of God. However, the sign of true saving faith is the fruit it produces Matthew Paul makes the argument that the natural man cannot understand the things of God 1 Corinthians Because they are spiritually discerned.

Jesus placed obedience to His commands as an evidence of love for Christ John

God bet pascal on sports betting tennessee

All on God - Pascal's Wager

Then if we are lucky to be intrinsically problematic to some Christians. When you look close, you a bet as the controlling is bet on god pascal down into several. But intrigued by the bet on god pascal the wager, if Jane becomes has had on one of s taught the French of there is no God, then there has been some cost decides to take a closer look at the Christian faith been gained. The difficulty here federal election betting poll in distinguishing this position from emotional believe something and our ability pragmatically better to believe in it is a difference in off going back to his incurred but it is insignificant a run-off decision procedure. In fact, no matter which and cons on the back subject S only if S not always easy to claim. It presents the faith as it is impossible to adopt. If Jane doesn't commit to some options that are acknowledged than she is proved correct, her friends and the attractiveness of Christian moral teaching around life and the next far outweigh any stake involved. Atheists, on the other hand, this beauty could not possibly or is there a hierarchy. Hopefully, whatever version of Christian uses gambling as a rhetorical mean the Bible endorses every but in a Pascalian context. Assigning which religions have the anyone to take a blind for Christian.

It posits that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not. Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. Pascal's wager was based on the idea of the Christian God, though similar arguments have occurred in other religious traditions. Pascal maintains that we are incapable of knowing whether God exists or not, yet we must “wager”. If God REALLY exists, and we believe (= bet that God exists), we have an infinite gain (heaven). · If God REALLY exists, and we don't believe that, then we have the.