Monday, January 17, 2011

Pascal's Wager

 Blaise Pascal, the famous french mathematician, who made the pascals adding machine, an early predecessor of the modern computer, once suggested a wager (= a gamble, a decision we make when we are not sure, weighing all possibilities) about our belief in god - what we call the Pascal's Wager.

His suggestion goes something like this -
As it is that we are not sure whether God exists or not, and have no means to know of it, we have to make a gamble. I suggest you'd better believe in god because if you are right, you stand to gain eternal bliss, and if you are wrong it wont make any difference anyway. On the other hand if you if you don't believe in God and you turn out to be wrong you get eternal damnation, whereas if you are right it makes no difference. In short, the decision should be - Believe in God.

Pascal was dealing with probabilities here and he was probably joking using this particular context here. But the Pascal's wager is often used as argument for belief in God. 

First of all, believing is not something you can 'decide' to do. I can decide to go to the temple, I can decide to recite a 100 lines from the bible, I can decide to light a 1000 candles, I can decide to go on a pilgrimage. But none of that can actually make me believe in God. Belief is not a 'decision'. But I may be able to act like I'm believing. Perhaps that might please god too. According to the wager, people uncertain about God's existence might want to believe in God, just to be on the safer side.

Now let me ask -  what if the God you are believing is not the Real GOD?!! What if you believed in Jesus all through your life and after your death you happen to confront 'Allah'?? Or the greek god Zeus?? Or Lord shiva/krishna/rama??
What if 'his noodliness' ( i respect him u know..) the Flying Spaghetti Monster rules the heavens..??!! You all will burn in hell!!

No wager can help you now to make a decision. :)
I wonder how u people have made your decisions. 


  1. ushaar!!!good one!!

  2. If "believing is not something one can decide to do" what explains the shift in perspective that characterizes true rationalism? When one weighs concepts of faith and doubt is not one also aligning them with a logical rationale of understanding, reasoning and a decision to believe in or not?

  3. true.
    belief is not a conscious decision.
    Belief is a conclusion, our intelligence arrives at, after weighing all pieces of information.
    Poor intelligence and bad information can lead you into wrong belief.