Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists. ~ Blasie Pascal
Pascal’s Wager is one of the most famous arguments in the philosophy of religion. I thought I understood it until I started studying it. Many hours of reading later, I can say with some certainty, that if salvation were based on mathematical equations, I’d be lost, literally.
I’ll attempt to summarize, minus the math. There are one of two truths in the universe, and one of two ways to live in relation to those truths. The truths are: either God exists, or He doesn’t exist. You choose how to live based on which truth you believe.
- If God doesn’t exist, and you live as though He doesn’t, you have no losses.
- If God doesn’t exist, and you live as though He does exist, you have no losses and gain the advantages of a better life.
- If God does exist, and you live as though He doesn’t, you lose immeasurably.
- If God does exist, and you live as though He does, you have no losses and gain everything.
I’m certain that those who believe #1 would take issue with #2, seeing no better life as an outcome. The argument against #4, I would think, would be that if you don’t believe, you can’t really live as if you do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t pretend ‘just in case’.
It isn’t like smiling and or acting kindly and hoping your emotions catch up. The Wager is for higher minds than mine. I’m thankful for the gift of faith that frees me from the we have everything to gain and nothing to lose proposition.
It sounds so arrogant to say that I know – but I do know. Clearly it’s not because I’m so terrifically smart. It’s grace and only by grace that I know: