Pascal’s Wager goes something like this: The cost of not-believing in God and being wrong is much greater than the cost of believing in God and being wrong. Therefore, you might as well believe. This dichotomy suggests you’ve got a 50% chance of getting into heaven.
I think there are a lot of problems with this wager. For instance, what does [not believing] in God entail? If the cost of not believing is eternal hell-fire, then you must believe in one of the religions that defines a hell. But what about the religions that don’t have hell? And what about the religions that have different prerequisites for entering heaven, or different violations that lead to hell?
It seems to me that there are pretty stark contrasts between religious implementations, because standards for behavior differ quite a bit between them. Further, it seems that there are a lot of different God concepts, including polytheisms, where there are multiple Gods. On top of that, there are religions that once existed, but no longer do.
Most of the religions that define heaven and hell are pretty adamant that they have identified the correct God, and the standards for behavior by which one enters heaven or hell.
If there is a God, and he commands particular behavior as a prerequisite for entry into heaven, how do you know which religion’s behaviors are correct? How do you know that a religion that no longer exists wasn’t the right religion to practice. Why do you think the answer to this question is in one of the world’s most popular religions?
If you’re a Christian, what about the hundreds of denominations that define diametrically opposed standards of behavior as a prerequisite for entry into heaven? Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims have a similar dilemma.
In this case, one might even pick the correct God, and still fail to enter heaven, because they didn’t interpret that God correctly.
There are billions of people who practice religions that most people on Earth have never heard of, and each of the major religions has denominations that disqualify other denominations. That doesn’t even include practitioners of thousands of now-defunct religions over the course of human history who were either right or wrong.
How did Pascal’s Wager work out for them? It seems to me that Pascal’s Wager doesn’t carry very good odds.Follow @TimSteppingOut