Pascal's Wager

Formal Argument


P1. Believers and non believers alike, agree that payoff is good, punishment is bad

P2. If God is real, then you receive infinite punishment for disbelief or infinite pay-off for belief

P3. If God is not real, then you really neither lose nor gain anything either way


C1. Even if there is strong evidence against God, it is still better to believe

God might or might not exist. It is a gamble whether you believe in him or not. As with any gamble, we 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 belief or disbelief. 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 bliss in heaven. On the other hand, if you choose not to believe in God, and you are wrong, then your pay-off is negative infinity: eternal suffering in hell.

To summarize - table of payoffs:

Believe in God Don't believe in God
God doesn't exist 0 0
God exists +∞ (heaven) −∞ (hell)

  1. "Pascal's Wager". Religions Wiki. Retrieved on 11/14/2020.
Last updated on 11/14/2020


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