Who made this argument for believing in God?

I have this argument that I know I’ve heard somewhere, but I can’t place it. It goes something like this:

It takes no effort to believe in God.
If you don’t and he does exist, you’ll regret it.
If you do, and he doesn’t, you won’t regret it.
Therefore, it’s better to believe in God.

Does this ring a bell at all? My brother mentioned it to me and it’s been bothering me.

That’s Pascal’s Wager, my friend. Google it.

Hey, this is a full-service message board!


Mea culpa. But I was beaten to the punch on my last few GQ answers!

Thanks a lot. I couldn’t remember the name, is all.

But can you will yourself to believe something if it appears false?

The Wager is not as clever as Pascal must’ve thought it was, and that’s one reason. Even if it appears true, I’m not sure you can will yourself to believe something.

It also requires one to mentally substitute “the beliefs of this one particular Christan sect” for “God”. If one doesn’t do that, the wager has no meaning. The point of the bet is that one is regretting a certain concept of the afterlife that is hardly to be found in all religions or all determinations of “God”.

In actuality the bet becomes: are the tenets of Pascal’s particular religion correct? The answer is so obviously “no” that it’s a bet anyone can take for any stakes required.

Also consider that if God exists and is truly omniscent then he knows our *motivation * for believing in him. If belief in him is merely to not go to Hell and you don’t maintain any other tenets of the religion - would you truly be saved?

I can see this is heading go GD in a hurry, but isn’t that why a lot of people do believe? That’s what those fire & brimstone sermons are (or at least used to be) all about!

So? Where’s the evidence that they’re right?

Pascal’s wager is yet another in the long series of attempts to dress faith up in a cloak of reason. They all have failed, as they must.

“I’ll bet you that you’re wrong!” - B. Pascal

How do the odds stack up against, say, craps or Powerball? Inquisitive number-crunchers want to know.

If this weren’t GQ, I’d make a snide remark about believing that Iraq was involved in 9/11. But its not, so I won’t.

In answer…
Yes, I can make myself believe things against evidence to the contrary. I don’t like doing it, and avoid it at all costs.

The concept also fails to take into account that most religions equate belief in god with having to actually DO stuff… like pray, repent, follow certain rules, etc. Which is anything BUT “no effort”…

Another significant flaw is the assumption that ‘believing in God’ automatically entails picking the right one - 'Oh, I believe in whichever God is listening" may not be specific enough, “Oh, I believe in Blodeuwedd” may be specific enough, but wrong.

“Ooooooooh. Sorry
folks, the correct answer was Mormonism.”
– Satan, South Park


I should point out that Pascal’s Wager isn’t intended to convince an agnostic to believe in God (unlike, say, Anselm’s ontological argument or Aquinas’ “Five Ways”) - it’s intended more as a counter to the atheist claim “Belief in God is irrational.”

But belief in God is irrational by definition. That’s why it’s a faith, not a knowledge.

Just for balance:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God? (Epicurus)