Saturday, 17 January 2009

A Good Bet

You may have heard of 'Pascals wager'. The French philosopher’s stance doesn't necessarily prove anything, but it’s definitely food for thought. As a philosopher who was surrounded by scepticism and disbelief, he approached the question of God in a slightly different way. Starting with the premise that we can never really be sure of God’s existence, he went on to analyse the various options that stand before us.

If the followers of God continue living a life which ultimately makes them happy in this world, then even if it turns out that the God concept is simply a myth, they haven’t lost anything. If the purpose of life was simply to 'have a good time', then they achieved it. However, if God did turn out to be a reality then they did really well! The possibilities for the theist: “No loss” or “Eternal Gain”.

On the other hand, the nonbeliever, according to Pascal, is in a slightly more precarious position. If life was simply a one time show, then there is no extra gain. The theist was happy in his life, and so was the atheist. However, if God was a reality then his existence would surely take a turn for the worse. The possibilities for the atheist: “No gain” or “Eternal Loss”.

Pascal posits that a person should "wager" as though God exists, because so living has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. Not everyone will agree, but it is an interesting position...

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