Pascal’s Wager goes underappreciated as a rational justification for the God of faith as such. Stripped to the basics, we get:

A good bet is rational

The God of faith is a good bet.

Some commentators try to make the bet a sure deal (the “infinite payouts” / “infinite punishments” and all that) but a sure deal seems more like a fix than a bet.

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1 Comment

  1. October 28, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Talking about infinite rewards and punishments would not make the bet a sure deal unless you are sure that those rewards and punishments will actually happen.

    In theory it would make the expected value of the bet infinite, but without making it a sure deal. But this is really an abuse of the idea of expected value; you should not assign an infinite value to something, not even something infinite in itself, in those situations where you would not take a bet no matter how bad the odds. And there is no reward which would get you to take a bet no matter how bad the odds, so there is no situation (not even regarding eternal salvation) where you should assign an infinite value in terms of an expected value calculation.

    But once you admit that the value, in terms of the calculation, is finite, it follows that the ultimate outcome of your calculation is going to depend on particular circumstances. It may be a good bet for some people but not for others. People dislike this result: they want the bet to be a good idea for everyone, or a bad idea for everyone. But this is a mistake.


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