What is Pascal’s Wager?

BibleAsk Team

Pascal’s Wager

Pascal’s Wager is an argument suggested by the mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal to deal with God’s existence. To help explain here is an illustration: Suppose someone you loved is dying, and the doctor offered to try a new “drug” that he could not guarantee but that would have a 50-50 chance of saving the life of the one your care about dearly. Would it be reasonable to try that drug? Without doubt you would!

Now, suppose that God might or might not exist. It is a gamble whether you believe in Him or not. As with any gamble, you should consider the odds. Pascal described the pay-off of this gamble as follows: If God does not exist, then you neither gain nor lose anything from believing or not believing. 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 life in peace and love. On the other hand, if you choose not to believe in God, and you are wrong, then your pay-off is going to hell, suffering and death.

To summarize:

Table of Payoffs

Believe in God

Don’t believe in God

God doesn’t exist



God exists



In Pascal’s 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. Pascal says, “Either God is, or he is not. But to which view shall we be inclined? Reason cannot decide this question. Infinite chaos separates us. At the far end of this infinite distance [death] a coin is being spun that will come down heads [God] or tails [no God]. How will you wager?”

According to Pascal’s Wager, it is therefore the ultimate foolishness not to “bet” on God, even if you have no assurance, no proof, no guarantee that your bet will win. Thus, atheism is a horrible bet. It gives you no chance of winning the prize. After finishing the argument in his Pensées, Pascal wrote, “This is conclusive, and if men are capable of any truth, this is it.”

For the atheist, the agnostic, and the indifferent, the Wager presents a logical “seed” for faith.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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