Pascal’s Wager – Note 233 of Pascal’s Pensees

**Basically, this is Pascal’s take on whether or not we should choose to believe in a God.

Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which
will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see
which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the
good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your
knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun,
error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather
than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point
settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in
wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain,
you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without
hesitation that He is.--"That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may
perhaps wager too much."--Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of
gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you
might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have
to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be
imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain
three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there
is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being so, if there were
an infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, you would
still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act stupidly,
being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a
game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if
there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is
here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain
against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is
finite. It is all divided; wherever the infinite is and there is not an
infinity of chances of loss against that of gain, there is no time to
hesitate, you must give all. And thus, when one is forced to play, he
must renounce reason to preserve his life, rather than risk it for
infinite gain, as likely to happen as the loss of nothingness.
(to read more, see Project Gutenberg)
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~ by cjt on May 23, 2008.

One Response to “Pascal’s Wager – Note 233 of Pascal’s Pensees”

  1. That sir, is what we call a false dichotomy.

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