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Essay sample - Pascal's Wager
Pages 2 (502 words)
Pascal's wager refers to the argument put forward by the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal (June 19, 1623-August 19, 1662). In his book, Les Penses, Pascal reveals an interesting twist to the rationality of believing in God. The book was also very influential in the development of apologetics, decision theory, probability theory and philosophy in general…
Pascal's Penses, then, is totally different from conventional reasoning since it endeavors to provide practical reasons for belief in God. Taking the gambler's parlance, Pascal is saying that one should "wager that God exists because it is our best bet (Hajek). According to Ryan (1994), this line of reasoning has roots in the writings of Plato, Arnobius, Lactantius.
Pascal's wager, in a nutshell, is: if you believe in God and he does not exist, you share the same fate as those who do not believe in God - death. However, if He does exist, you stand to gain salvation, while the unbeliever still faces a static destiny - death. So the believer, technically, has nothing to lose and all to gain, while the unbeliever whether right or not about his or her wager will only face death in the end. Therefore it is only logical to wager on the choice that makes the most sense - belief in God. It, in a sense is a philosophical win-win situation.
Pascal maintains that we are incapable of knowing whether God exists or not, yet we must "wager" one way or the other. Reason cannot settle which way we should incline, but a consideration of the relevant outcomes supposedly can.
Pascal's line of reasoning is intriguing. ...
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