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On Pascal's Wager

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  • On Pascal's Wager

    Wanna bet?

    Link

    --------

    What is this argument? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    We will get back to marriage, but I wanted to write about Pascal’s Wager since I have seen atheists debating it on a Facebook page I belong to and I don’t think I have ever written anything about it. I did make a post in the thread asking how many atheists had read the Pensees. If you don’t know, that’s the book of Pascal that contains the wager. Only one gave any indication.

    Note this is not saying that one should use Pascal’s Wager, nor is it saying one should not. It’s just an attempt to clarify what is going on. Most atheists do not understand the wager.

    Suppose you are one who claims that the wager doesn’t work because there are many other religions to choose from.

    You do not understand the wager.

    Suppose you say it doesn’t work because Pascal gives you no reason to be a Christian.

    You do not understand the wager.

    Whatever you might think of Pascal, by standards of even our time, Pascal was a genius. His intellect was extremely impressive and it’s a shame that he died at such a young age. It is a shame that the #1 thing that Pascal is remembered for is his wager. I think he would be disappointed if he came back today and would ask if anyone had really read the whole of the Pensees, and yes, you should.

    Pascal’s wager is not a logical argument in the sense that if you follow the premises, you get to the conclusion that Christianity is true. That doesn’t mean that it’s irrational, but it is not a classical argument that you would find in someone like Aquinas. This is really an argument that is based on experience.

    Pascal is talking to the person who is saying, “I’m torn really. I see that there’s evidence for Christianity and I am considering it, but I am not sure if it’s true or not.” Pascal is addressing an experiential claim then. If you are not sure, then live like it is true and see what happens. After all, what do you have to lose? If you die and find Christianity is true, you lose nothing. If you die and atheism is true, you have still lived a good life.

    That part is indeed accurate. All atheists and Christians should agree that the Christian claims do have severe outcomes for us. It is at least worth looking into. If you are an atheist who is absolutely sure Christianity is bunk, the wager is not targeting you. Again, Pascal has a specific type of person in mind.

    This might seem dishonest, but many of us know this principle. If you are married and don’t feel love for your spouse, live as if you love them and watch what happens. If you are in a job, live as if you have the ability to do your job well and watch what happens. We are often told that if we act a certain way, we are more inclined to feel that way as well and have the existential question answered.

    Before you comment on the Wager now, ask if it’s really for you. If you aren’t the person in mind, then don’t bother. How can you better tell? Try going and reading the Pensees yourself. There’s plenty more in that book besides the Wager.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters
    (And I affirm the virgin birth)
    Last edited by Apologiaphoenix; 01-12-2022, 08:31 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Nick
    If you are not sure, then live like it is true and see what happens. After all, what do you have to lose? If you die and find Christianity is true, you lose everything. If you die and atheism is true, you have still lived a good life.
    Methinks you made an error above.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
      It is a shame that the #1 thing that Pascal is remembered for is his wager.
      And all this time I thought it was hydraulics. I think of him every time I hit the brakes on my car.
      When I Survey....

      Comment


      • #4
        "Living like it's true" even if one does not actually believe in Christianity does not save, though. Hebrews 11:6 says that "whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him".
        "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Sparko View Post

          Methinks you made an error above.
          Fixed

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Faber View Post

            And all this time I thought it was hydraulics. I think of him every time I hit the brakes on my car.
            Pretty gob-smacking that AP thinks people remember him for the wager. To be fair, he did do some religious stuff later in life after passing his prime.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Juvenal View Post

              Pretty gob-smacking that AP thinks people remember him for the wager. To be fair, he did do some religious stuff later in life after passing his prime.
              In spite of his work in philosophy, science, mathemagics and being an inventor, I'll bet if a poll was conducted the majority of people would cite his "Discourse on the Machine" (Pascal's wager) if they could think of anything at all.

              I'm always still in trouble again

              "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
              "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
              "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                In spite of his work in philosophy, science, mathemagics and being an inventor, I'll bet if a poll was conducted the majority of people would cite his "Discourse on the Machine" (Pascal's wager) if they could think of anything at all.
                I don’t think you can get through high school without running into Pascal’s Triangle.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Juvenal View Post

                  I don’t think you can get through high school without running into Pascal’s Triangle.
                  Outside of Newton I'm hard pressed to think of anyone who had as large an impact on both math and science. And his contributions to philosophy are pretty significant as well. But for how many people will that be what, if anything, they remember?



                  And all the more pity that this outstanding polymath died at the age of 39.

                  I'm always still in trouble again

                  "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                  "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                  "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I never learned about the Pascal's triangle in high school.

                    And my fear is more that if you asked most people what they remember Blaise Pascal for today they would really say "Who?"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have no doubt that he's more associated with Pascal's wager in the public's mind. Though I associate it with a dog my friend had growing up. They were a family of mathematicians.
                      "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
                        I never learned about the Pascal's triangle in high school.

                        And my fear is more that if you asked most people what they remember Blaise Pascal for today they would really say "Who?"
                        That or they would say "oh yeah, that robot from Nier Automata".

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Old time computer geeks would recognize the name.

                          I'm always still in trouble again

                          "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
                          "Overall I would rate the withdrawal from Afghanistan as by far the best thing Biden's done" --Starlight
                          "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

                          Comment

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