Pascal's Wager Defined

for the Pensees passage http://www.mala.bc.ca/~mcneil/PEN03.HTM

Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. "That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much." Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play

later our buddy Pascal writes

"I confess it, I admit it. But, still, is there no means of seeing the faces of the cards?" Yes, Scripture and the rest, etc. "Yes, but I have my hands tied and my mouth closed; I am forced to wager, and am not free. I am not released, and am so made that I cannot believe. What, then, would you have me do?"

True. But at least learn your inability to believe, since reason brings you to this, and yet you cannot believe. Endeavour, then, to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions. You would like to attain faith and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc. Even this will naturally make you believe, and deaden your acuteness. "But this is what I am afraid of." And why? What have you to lose?

Pascals goes on but anyways.

Pascal was trying to prove YAHWEH not only existed but controled your soul. Pascal wasnt looking for scientific proof in that part of the chapter but more or less said just buy a ticket and look what you could win. Leave these reasoning doubts and just believe.

NOW I havent earned my membership in the wicked old athiest club, yet :). Nor do I claim great mathematical ability.

> Pascal's Wager is based on a BINARY choice. The additional
> parameter, regarding WHICH of the 10^9 or more gods
> is being referred to, is _secondary_ to the primary
> choice, which is between ZERO of them, and ANY of
> them (be that 'any' millions or only one).

Pascal was argueing for ONE GOD AND ONE GOD ONLY.

Now lets play Lets Make a Deal

Our game show host Curry sees your potential of a devout life. He offers to trade that potential for a lifetime supply of money or whats behind the curtain. I hope you agree that this would be somewhat analogous to the binary choice.

Now lets play again

Our game show host Curry sees your potential of a devout life. He offers to trade that potential for a lifetime supply of money or whats behind the curtains 1 to 4 million. Each curtain may contain a greater prize or maybe nothing at all. I hope the passage of post that I quoted means that ok you chose that lifetime of money vs what ever is behind those curtains then choosing which curtain is a second choice. To maintain that binary condition all the curtains would open and if any god existed you get your prize.

Now our game show host says "whoa there fella" if you choose to turn in your money you may only open ONE CURTAIN ONLY. Now the way to get the prize is no longer binary the great expense of your lifetime of devotion may win you paradise if you correctly among the right curtains or a free trip to hades if you chose the wrong one. In fact each curtain may just contain a bunch of zeroes who knows. But to get that free trip to paradise you have to chose among the MANY CURTAINS. Thus MANY CHOICES not just chosing keeping the money or take the curtains but choosing the money or chosing a particular curtian to the exclusion of the other curtains.

This is what I believe the fallacy of Pascals Wager to be. Perhaps you could explain where the reasoning is wrong.



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