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A Critical Discussion of Blaise Pascal's The Wager

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A Critical Discussion of Blaise Pascal's The Wager

In the gambling world bets are made based on odds, the probability or likelihood that something would happen. In the court of law, cases are decided upon by the weight of evidence presented by the respective parties. The common link between these general scenarios is that decisions are made based on some outside evidential factor. The more probable something is likely to happen, or the more evidence presented in favor or opposed to something, the greater the tendency that a decision will coincide with that probability or evidence. This kind of logic has also been used when arguing about the existence of God. It has been argued that God’s existence is necessary based on the logic that it is neither contingent not impossible and therefore must exist; it has also been argued that the presence of evil in the world is evidence enough that God, or at least God as we make Him out to be, does not exist. The decisions that people a make about their personal relationship with the being that has been dubbed “God” is usually based on this kind of criteria. But what if someone were to make a decision concerning God’s existence without having any evidence to sway us, how would that someone choose? This problem is addressed by Blaise Pascal in his essay entitled The Wager. Pascal argues that the only rational choice to make about the existence of God with no evidence would be to believe that He does. The following pages of this essay will be a critical analysis and also critique of Pascal’s argument, for it is the argument of the author of this paper that a sincere decision would be impossible under these circumstances and without evidence we would not be able to make a rational choice concerning the issue of God’s existence.

Before the discussion is started let me first clarify some terminology is order to make my argument more clear. In my thesis statement I offered the premise that when given to the criteria put forth by Pascal that a sincere decision about belief in God would be impossible. By sincere decision I mean a decision that you can evaluate and reevaluate against anything that claims the opposite and still be able to hold to it. If you have a belief based on a decision that stems from no evidence then you have nothing to evaluate it by, so that belief cannot be sincere, it is merely a blind ch...

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... of someone else. If you choose to change your actions, you will only change in a way that still lets you hold to your belief, a belief that has shown to be beneficial based on evidence not on some yet to be seen reward.

To close this paper and stop the what could be a continuous rant against Pascal, it is pretty obvious that the issue of God, his existence, and whether or not we should believe will forever be a perennial issue. Pascal, Aquinas, James, or even myself can write essays until we run out of paper and printer ink, but the only thing that would accomplish is further add to the already ample confusion and conflict on this issue. Although Pascal offers a very simple reason of why we should believe in God, it is all to simple. And while I offer nothing but criticisms for his argument, I cannot myself offer a more sound argument that would less susceptible to the same kinds of criticisms I just wrote concerning The Wager.

Works Cited

1. Pascal, Blaise. “The Wager: Philosophy of Religion Selected Readings.

Oxford University Press, 1996: New York, New York.

2. Holy Bible. Book of James Chapter 1, Verse 12; First Corinthians Chapter 10

Verse 13.
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