Examining Pascal's Argument for God Essay

Examining Pascal's Argument for God Essay

Length: 1062 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

There have been many responses to Pascal’s proposition. British humorist Terry Pratchett cleverly summed it up in one of his books with a story of a philosopher who said, “Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it's all true you'll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn't then you've lost nothing, right? (Pratchett 51)” To the average person, it seems as though there are two choices of religion; to believe in God or not to believe in God. Pascal’s theory is that it is better to believe in God, even without reason, because in so believing, you lose nothing, whereas if you do not believe, you stand to lose significantly. On the surface, this wager seems to make an adequate amount of sense, but upon further examination, the argument begins to break down.

Pascal states, “According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions. (Pascal 444)” He does not think that reason is sufficient to prove God’s existence, nor is there solid evidence one way or the other. “There is an infinite chaos which separates us, (Pascal 444)” Pascal says, meaning that if there is a God, humans cannot comprehend Him or His actions. This is to say, even if God exists, humans could not possibly know enough about Him to prove His existence by proof or reason. This, Pascal says, is why the wager is necessary; we cannot know if He exists, we must decide to either believe or disbelieve based on logic.

Pascal says that the choice is between several sets of human qualities or characteristics: the true vs. the good, reason vs. will, knowledge vs. happiness, and error vs. misery. He theorizes that the believer who turns out to be correct in his belief will have true good, agreement with rea...

... middle of paper ...

... of belief that have been created around the deity by humans. Even if there is a God and belief in Him is founded, there is no way to know if He will or will not bestow rewards upon His followers.

Pascal’s theory would make sense if it were based on anything other than religion. Theology depends more on personal motivations than a desire for some unknown reward that may or may not exist. Pascal seems to be merely covering his own ass with this wager, telling himself that he is believing in anticipation of his eventual reward. This is not a satisfactory justification for believing in a God for which one has no evidence.

Works Cited

Pascal, Blaise. “The Wager.” Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings. William L. Rowe and William J. Wainwright, ed. Harcourt Brace, Orlando, FL. 1973.

Pratchett, Terry. Hogfather. Harper Prism, London, England. 1996.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

A Critical Discussion of Blaise Pascal's The Wager Essay

- 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....   [tags: Pascal God Argument Philosophy of Religion]

Strong Essays
2073 words (5.9 pages)

The Ontological Argument For The Existence Of God Essay

- One of the most intriguing and admittedly baffling arguments for the existence of God is the ontological argument. It was developed by St Anselm in the 11th century, and the reason said argument is considered unique is because it is an a priori argument rather than an a posteriori argument , which most other arguments for the existence of God tend to take form. It attempts to prove the existence of God, not through any physical evidence, but rather by claiming that the very definition of God is proof enough of his existence; that he is an underlying truth in much the same way mathematical truths are inherently known....   [tags: Ontology, Ontological argument, Existence, God]

Strong Essays
1063 words (3 pages)

The Ontological Argument As A Proof For The Existence Of God Essay

- Explain the reasoning of the Ontological argument as a proof for the existence of God. Ontological arguments, by their nature attempt to prove the existence of God using deductive reasoning to a point of logical necessity. Constructed as an a priori proof Anselm’s ontological argument works from a position of faith in an attempt to strengthen his belief in the existence of God. Anselm asks the question, ‘can what I know about God, be thought of as correct?’ However, the argument does, in some forms, attempt to prove the existence of God reductio ad absurdum....   [tags: Ontology, Ontological argument, Logic, God]

Strong Essays
1025 words (2.9 pages)

The Existence Of God And His Powers Through The Ontological Argument Essay example

- In the Proslogion, Anselm tries to prove the existence of God and his powers through the ontological argument. This argument redirects the argument of God’s existence from science and observation to logic, where Anselm explains that there has to be a being that nothing greater can be thought of, and that is God. One of Anselm’s main topics of contention is God’s omnipotence and whether He is actually infinite. In the Proslogion, Anselm talks about God’s omnipotence and if it can be disavowed because of self-contradictory statements, how God’s non-action gives him more possibility and power, and how being all-powerful can lead to God being both merciful and yet not feel the pains of sinners....   [tags: God, Omnipotence, Ontological argument]

Strong Essays
1231 words (3.5 pages)

Pascal's Wager: To Believe or Not to Believe in God Essay

- How can someone believe in a “person” that they have no corporeal knowledge of. Can a person put all of their faith into a deity that may not even exist. Religion has been a part of human existence since the beginning of time, but Christianity formed less than 2000 years ago without being at all taken down, shows that there has to be some sound proof to this religion. Christianity, Pascal’s own religion and the basis of the Wager, is the largest religion in the world, with a following of over 2 billion people, which spans over approximately thirty denominations worldwide....   [tags: matters of faith, religious beliefs]

Strong Essays
1372 words (3.9 pages)

Pascal 's Wager And Loss Essay

- Pascal’s Wager and Loss Pascal argues within Pascal’s Wager, that we should wager in the belief of God. The strongest support given by Pascal for this claim is his third premise, in which he states, “if you gain, you gain all;if you lose, you lose nothing”. I will argue that this argument fails because there is much more to lose with this wager than Pascal leads us to believe, such as free will, and a question of existentialism that would be hindered by the following of religion brought upon in this way....   [tags: Theology, God, Free will, Faith]

Strong Essays
775 words (2.2 pages)

Criticism of Pascal's Wager Essays

- The proof for the existence of God is an issue that may never be resolved. It has caused division among families and friends, nations and society. The answer to the question “does God exist?” is almost an impossible one to give with certainty seeing that there is a variety of people, ideas, cultures and beliefs. So how does one know if one’s actions here on earth could have eternal consequences. What is, if any, a “safe bet” to make. Blaise Pascal was a 15th century philosopher and a mathematician who proposed the idea that although one cannot know for certain that God exists, one can make a “safe bet” that it is far better to believe in God than not to believe in God....   [tags: Religion, Does God Exist?]

Strong Essays
1542 words (4.4 pages)

Craig's Argument for the Existence of God Essay

- Craig/Kalam’s Cosmological Argument One of the most argued topics throughout human history is whether or not God exists. It is argued frequently because there are several different reasonings and sub arguments in this main argument. People who believe God exists argue how God acts and whether there is one or several. People who do not believe God exists argue how the universe became into existence or if it has just always existed. In this paper, I will describe Craig's argument for the existence of God and defend Craig's argument....   [tags: cosmological arguments]

Strong Essays
875 words (2.5 pages)

Moral Argument for Existence of God Essay

- All moral arguments for the existence of God work on the principle that we all have a shared sense of morality. Despite cultural differences, broadly speaking, humans worldwide have a vague idea of what is right and what is wrong; a moral argument for the existence of God would say that this mutual understanding is proof of God's existence. Immanuel Kant put forward this argument (although, not a moral argument); God as the source of objective morality. Firstly, he addressed the categorical imperative; our own sense of duty, and that being moral was case of following this principle, for example, paying your debts....   [tags: Religion Argument Analysis]

Strong Essays
1604 words (4.6 pages)

René Descartes' Argument on the Existence of God Essay

- René Descartes' Argument on the Existence of God The problem with René Descartes' argument about the existence of God has to do with his rationalist deductive reasoning. Descartes deduces that truth about the existence of God lies within his idea of a perfect God and God's essence (as a perfect being who must exist in order to be perfect). A rationalist philosopher, Descartes discounts human knowledge as a product of our sensory data (our senses) but supports the epistemological stance that our knowledge is obtained through the reasoning processes of our own minds....   [tags: Philosophy God Existence Religion Essays]

Strong Essays
1537 words (4.4 pages)