|Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)|
Also known as Pascal's Gambit, Pascal's Wager is the suggestion that, because the existence of God (and by that he meant the Christian god of course) can't be determined by pure reason, a person should 'wager' that one existed. He reasoned that if it turns out (i.e. is 'discovered' after death) that there is no god, then one has lost nothing. If it turns out that there is one, then one has gained everything. So, in effect, one is betting nothing against infinity.
Apart from its abject, and frankly disgraceful, abandonment of reason, in the implicit assumption that reality can be determined by a wager, where else does Pascal's Wager fail?
Well, as many people have pointed out, and as many apologists for other gods have shown, Pascal's Wager can be just as easily used for ANY deity, whether actually believe by anyone or merely hypothetical, whose supporters claim promises eternal life to believers and eternal suffering for non-believers. Indeed, it is frequently used for the Islamic form of the Judeo-Christian god.
But apart from that damaging error, there are several unstated and fatal assumptions in Pascal's Wager which show that it only 'works' if you assume a priori the following:
- There is an after-life - requiring a priori belief in the existence of a god and a soul.
- The Judeo-Christian-Islamic belief in Heaven and Hell is valid - requiring a priori belief in the existence of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic god.
- That the Judeo-Christian-Islamic god is the only god, requiring a priori belief in the existence of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic god.
What if we exclude these assumptions?
- The wager fails since there is no difference in outcome no matter which we opt to bet on.
- The wager fails because what happens, even if there is an after-life, may not depend on which option you bet on.
- The wager fails because you will have almost certainly lost everything by opting to believe in the wrong god. With an infinite array of all possible gods being bet against just one, the bet to believe becomes indistinguishable from the bet not to belive.
So, without these a priori assumptions, where does that leave Pascal's Wager? It leaves it as a gamble in which you opt either to sacrifice your intellectual integrity, independence of thought and action and responsibility for your own beliefs and actions, against a life of freedom, personal integrity, self-reliance and personal responsibility.
You surrender freedom and self-respect in favour of abject, cringing, voluntary slavery.
And what benign, benevolent, loving god could respect a person who did that?
And this is the final nail in the coffin of Pascal's Wager: it assumes the god it purports to promote is too stupid to notice that it's 'believers' don't have any real reason to believe in it but are just pretending to believe in case it's true.
In fact, Pascal's Wager, far from being the trump card many apologists like to keep up their sleeve for when they look like losing, actually shows what poor, tenuous things religious faiths, especially the Judeo-Christian-Islamic faiths, are that they need to depend on such weak and hypocritical fallacies to maintain themselves.
Pascal's Wager is an attempt to fool an omniscient god. (Tweet this).
Or is it an attempt to fool a gullible people by those who know they're pushing a lie?