Pascal’s Wager


One thing that all atheists agree on (just kidding, all atheists don’t agree on anything except the absence of deities) is that if you ask us Pascal’s Wager we’ll think you’re an idiot.  Especially if you think you’re being original.  I’ve been asked this ever since I became an atheist at age 14.

Pascal’s Wager, just in case someone has no idea what I’m talking about, is that you have nothing to lose by believing in God if he does not exist, but everything to lose by not believing God if he exists, so your best bet is to believe.  Scholars such as Dawkins and Hitchens have refuted this much more eloquently than I ever could.

My biggest objection to Pascal’s Wager is that I can’t just make myself believe something if I know it to be untrue.  Some people probably can, and some people probably pretend so as not to rock the boat.  Of course a god or goddess would know you were pretending, so that wouldn’t really help you.  But even if I decided Pascal’s Wager made sense, I could no more believe in a god than I could believe that the Earth is flat.  Mark Twain said it best: Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.

There are other arguments against the Wager, of course.  One of the largest problems with it is that it doesn’t tell us which of the thousands of gods humanity has created is the TRUE god.  What if we believe in the wrong one?

It also assumes that some sort of heaven and hell exist, which is an awfully big assumption.  Even if heaven does exist, what is it like?  If it’s full of fundamentalist Christians, it’s not somewhere I’d want to be.  Other religions have versions of heaven that aren’t that appealing either (though the Wiccan Summerland does sound kind of nice.)  Maybe people should choose their religion by which type of heaven they would be happiest in.  I know some guys who would really enjoy Valhalla.

I’ll end with a quote from Alan Dershowitz:  “I have always considered “Pascal’s Wager” a questionable bet to place. Any God worth “believing in” would surely prefer an honest agnostic to a calculating hypocrite.”

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