Pascal’s Wager and the Rational Gambler
An Interesting Approach to Blaise Pascal's Wager
The French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal claimed that we are making a similar bet when it comes to God. By the way in which live our lives we are either betting that there is a God or that there is not. Since there are no third options, we are either making the decision either ignorant default or by rational choice.
Like Unwin, Pascal believed that there is no overwhelming evidence that can remove all doubt about which choice we should decide. Practical reason may help us determine which is more probable but it cannot ultimately decide the matter one way or the other. What we can do, according to Pascal, is make a rational gamble.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume (as Pascal does) that the evidence will lead us to choose between Christian theism and atheism.* Each choice will result in different expected values based on the unique payoffs and costs.
In order to determine the costs, let’s make the distinctions as clear as possible for our rational gambler by bringing in a cruel dictator to compel him to make his choice. The tyrant not only forces the gambler to bet but vows that if he selects Christianity he will be instantly martyred. If he bets on atheism, however, he will have a life of ease and pleasure – a daily ration of brownies and milk.
See, the remainder of the essay Wagering a Life: Part 2 – Pascal’s Wager and the Rational Gambler from the The Evangelical Outpost.