Suppose someone you loved lay dying, and the doctor offered to try a new “miracle drug” that he could not guarantee but that would have a 50-50 chance of saving your beloved’s life. Would it be reasonable to try that drug?
Pascal’s Wager is a suggestion posed by the mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal to deal with God’s existence.
Pascal described the pay-off of this gamble as follows: If God does not exist, then you neither gain nor lose anything from belief or disbelief. In either case, you just die and that is the end.
However, if you choose to believe in God, and you are right, then the reward is infinite: eternal bliss in heaven. On the other hand, if you choose not to believe in God, and you are wrong, then your pay-off is going to hell.
Table of Payoffs
Believe in God
Don’t believe in God
|God doesn’t exist|
In the Wager, believing in God produces the larger gain whereas not believing produces the greater loses. Therefore, Pascal concluded that it was a much better choice to believe in God rather than not.
While, I don’t agree with all of Pascal’s philosophy, for the atheist, the agnostic, and the indifferent, the Wager presents a logical “seed” for faith.