Discussion 1 to Meditation 58
On Pascal's wager
by Art Haykin
Blaise Pascal was a brilliant 17th century mathematician, logician, philosopher, and author of stunning prose. He practically "invented" probability math and game theory, and was quite skeptical about organized religion, and said so quite eloquently, notwithstanding being a convinced theist. Of course, this sort of thing was quite common among men born in 1602, and more than one had to flee for making heretical statements. Like many fine minds, he totally lost it at the end, and died quite mad, a complete mystic, and babbling about God. I adore him!
The Wager avers that is a safer bet to believe and conform, because if there IS a god, your place in Heaven is assured, and if there is NO god, you've lost nothing by believing and living a "Godly" life.
The flaws in his otherwise impeccable reasoning are these:
- ANY god worth his salt would quickly see through the attempt to believe simply to avoid Hell. After all, god IS all-knowing.
- You DO lose something if you believe, only to find out you were wrong: time, money, and energy...not to mention dope, porn, x-rated movies, booze, impure women, gambling, cussing, and all that good stuff that believers NEVER do!!! But worse, you give up your most precious birthright: your personal sovereignty and sense of self.
- It's hypocritical! You're saying "I'll elect to believe and be moral IN CASE there's a god and a reward in heaven," so it's a "cost effective" choice worthy of a corporate bean counter, and I'll do ANYTHING to be on the safe side. The Atheist says, "Morality exists outside of belief and religion, and I'll be good because IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO."
And scripture tells us that Christ hated the hypocrite most of all.