Free Essay On Pascal Wager
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What is Pascal Wager? Describe and critically analyze that argument for the belief of God.
Pascal Wager is an argumentative philosophy on the existing and non-existence of God. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) did it and he was trying to show that there was no need of not believing the existence of God since the rewards were more serious than in not believing. Pascal used this as an apologetic method in a form of a wager to convince the atheists and agnostics that God exists and there is heaven and hell. It is an appeal to the atheists’ chief god who was worshipped.
What if you are told today you going to die tomorrow and you supposed to sell all that you have? What about you go to a lottery and you supposed to buy two tickets, one will lead you to winning and the other to losing and you do so by picking one ticket randomly, will you buy the ticket? The Pascal wager is like playing a game which has only two sides the head and the tail so as to know whether God exists or not. Here reason may not help in choosing one thing over the other, you have to gamble. To Pascal it is better not to wager because you have no idea of what you choosing. He states he cannot blame the persons choosing for whoever chooses head or the tail both are at fault.
In Pascal’s argument, he states that in the belief of God is like waging a wager: the super-dominate argument can be used to show the existed of God is dominant over the non-existence. When one decides to wager, he/she has two options, theism and atheism. In this you only, have two things to lose the truth and the good; and having two things to stake, reason and the will, knowledge and the happiness. In choosing, the reason does not account but the happiness does. One has to weigh up the gains and the loss involved if God does exist. He explains that one does not lose or gain anything from believing or disbelieving if God does not exist. One will only die and that is the end about him. However, on the other hand, one will lose or gain if God exists. If one is right by believing that God exists then the reward is infinite; one gets a reward of eternal bliss in heaven. On the other side if one is wrong in choosing not to believe in God and He does exist then you get a negative infinity that is eternal suffering in hell. This is represented in the matrix below:
The outcome of the matrix shows that when one wagers for God, when He does not exist is not rewarding since it is associated wagering against Him. It is worse when one wagers against God when He exists and thus wagering for God is better than against. In this Pascal concludes that rationality is required in wagering for God. This argument may be concluded to be invalid if there is no assumption of a probability of God’s existence and rationality is not needed in wagering for God if His existence is given a probability of zero. Pascal counters this by giving God’s existence a positive probability and thus super-dominating the argument.
Expectations argument; if one had to gain only two lives then he/she might wager since the risk of losing or gaining is equal. However, one may be forced to play if three lives are presented and he/she needs not to chance his/her life to gain three since the reward is eternal happiness. In his hypothetical two and three live cases, it can be concluded that rationality is require, one of the rewards is the eternal happiness. One will wager because of the expectation of the rewards at the end of wagering for God or against. The expectation argument gives us two assumptions; the probability of God existing and the reward of wagering for God if He exist to be infinite. In defending this classical interpretation of probability that offers all the probabilities equal weight is needed. This argument can be said not to apply to all for instance when Morris 1994 argument is taken into consideration, he argues on the basis that may be there is an agent who has evidence against and for God’s existence. Pascal counters this when he stated that one is either an atheist or theist and cannot be agnostic. Using the probability of ½ in arguing the existence of God and the rewards is not conclusive and thus the third argument rose.
Generalized expectations argument; Pascal states that one has an infinite reward of a happy life in the chances of gain against a finite reward of unhappy life in the chances of losing. To him it is stupid in refusing to wager one life against three in a game in which the outcome will give you one life or will gain. this is not helpful since one may refuse to wager if the life in stake is bigger than zero as he says that you can wager since the probability should not be less than zero, one should toss a coin or play in a lottery when he knows the prize is finite and not less than what he puts in stake.
However, the wagering for or against God if he exists gives an infinite utility. Authors such as Martin 1983 gives this value a negative infinite while Sobel 1996 gives it a finite value and there is a quote that supports this argument and it states that God’s justice should be as vast as. His compassion but this is not the case since there is less justice to the outcast while there is vast compassion to the chosen.
There are only two options, atheism and theism, choosing three options is not allowed, that is theism, atheism and agnosticism. Agnosticism is not knowing which side you lie or just being skeptical and having uncommitted attitude in believing in God. Agnostic will claim that it is better on to wager and leave the matter the way it is but one has no option of not wagering. Wagering helps one to be rational or irrational about the existence of God.
After the analysis of the infinite rewards of believing or not, one may refuse to believe on the existence of God in saving his soul, thus the wager game will work if he changes the motive. One has to have total faith, hope worship and obey God if He exists and that’s the justice that has to be done but if he one does the opposite then he is doing injustice to God. If one cannot bring himself in believing in God, he has to reduce on his passions instead of getting more prove on God’s existence. In the Brothers of Karamazov Father Zossima advices the “woman of little faith,” to have an active and indefatigable love of the neighbor. In both cases, one needs faith by living the faith.
The objectives of Pascal wager are; is the entrance criteria to heaven. The wager suggests that for one to enter into heaven has to believe in God. The rewards and punishments will be distributed according to beliefs or disbeliefs in God. The existence of God is unlikely since the possibility of receiving infinite reward or punishment is small thus leading to discounting of the belief or disbelief. The third objective is on not choosing to belief, one has no of option of choosing to believe. There has to be evidence to believe in something and this Pascal’s wager never provided, he only prescribed the belief in God. Believing without reason.
Is the Pascal Wager argument valid? Most authors have sided with the wager such as Hacking 1972, Mackie 1982 and stated that it is right to wager God for positive probability of God’s existence. While others such as Hajek 2003, Duff 1986 criticized and their argument is that there are different ways to get the infinite expectations from God than wagering Him.
The Pascal wager is a game that one has to play whether you like or not. It is not optional and thus you have to choose to believe whether God exists (theism) or not (atheism). It is possible that the Christian God exists and it is possible that the Christian God does not exist. It is good to conclude that the Pascal’s wager involve the following: one will receive infinite reward if God exists and he believes in that if not he receives infinite punishment, loses, or gains nothing if he does not exist. It is better in believing the existence of God because of the infinite rewards in heaven than not believing.
Alan, H. (2012, November 6). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from Plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/.
Fyodor, D. (2013). Brothers of Karamazov. New York: Cricket House Books.
Jesse, R. (2012). Pascal's Wager. New York: Book On Demand.
Paul, S. (2010, May 17). Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from www.iep.utm.edu/pasc-wag/.
Richard, A. (2012, September 26). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from plato.stanford.edu/entries/fideism/.
Robin, P. L. (2012). Agnosticism. New York: Oxford University Press.
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