Pascal’s Wager Squared
Blaise Pascal, the Jansenist who helped discover the theory of probability, proposed a famous Wager; is one to believe that God exists, or not? His reasoning was that if God does not exist, then it does not matter if one believed or not; but if God does in fact exist, then it would be far better to believe; and therefore belief is the better wager.
This gambler’s theology is undermined by its hidden assumptions, for there is more than one way to believe. Take for instance these two unbelievers; the atheist and the agnostic. The atheist asserts, “I know that there is no God,” and the agnostic says, “I don’t know if there is a God.” If God does not exist, then there is little difference between their attitudes, but if God does exist, then consider the difference between these encounters:
Atheist: God does not exist.
God: Oh really?
Agnostic: Does God exist?
The way I show it here, both were surprised, though the agnostic more pleasantly. If God does not exist, then there is no difference between atheism and agnosticism; but if God does exist, then agnosticism is better. Therefore, by this version of Pascal’s Wager, agnosticism is better than atheism.
Believers have their two variants also; the dogmatist and the worshipper. Both affirm God, but in different ways. The dogmatist is proud to possess the unique and inspired Word of God, while the worshipper does not seek to understand the divinity adored. If there is no God, then both are equally mistaken; but if there is a God, then consider the difference between these encounters:
Dogmatist: I understand God.
God: Oh really?
Worshipper: I love God.
The way I show it here, both are surprised, though the worshipper more pleasantly. If God does not exist, then there is no difference between dogma and worship, but if God does exist, then worship is better. Therefore, by this version of Pascal’s Wager, worship is better than dogma.
Therefore I propose the following:
Bet that you might be wrong.