Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Question of the Week . . . Pascal & A Wager

Fifteenth century French mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal posthumously published Pensees which deals not with matters of math or physics but with religion and the existence of God. One of Pascal’s curious arguments was known as the argument of the wager. God exists or God does not exist, and we must of necessity lay odds for or against God. And it basically goes like this:
  • If I wager for and God is -- infinite gain;
  • If I wager for and God is not -- no loss.
  • If I wager against and God is -- infinite loss;
  • If I wager against and God is not -- neither loss nor gain.

Does Pascal’s logic translate to the twenty first? If yes how and if no is there anything that the church today can learn from Pascal’s argument?


Stushie said...

If I look for God's justice on earth, I will receive no mercy from Him.

If I look for God's mercy on earth, there is no need to look for justice.

If I receive God's mercy on earth, then, there is only His justice after death.

If there is only God's justice after death, then I need His mercy now.

Becky Ardell Downs said...


Becky Ardell Downs said...

No, neither one of these really gets to it for me. My experience backs up what I read in the Bible-- that no matter what I believe, no matter what I "wager", God believes in me. Having had this revelation, I can do nothing but seek God's justice and mercy for all those whom I meet. And so it goes on . . .

John Shuck said...

No, I do not think Pascal's argument will work for a 21st century theology. It is a faith based on fear. It assumes hell is the punishment for those who don't pass the exam. A 21st century theology, in my view, must move beyond rewards or punishments for living an authentic life (ie. trust in God, however we name God).


Stushie said...

Why are we all so afraid to talk about God's justice in eternity? Why are we theologically dumbing down His sovereignty? Mercy applies here on earth, but not in the after-life - otherwise Dives would be forgiven and brought into heaven to be with poor Lazarus.

If God is going to judge us completely beyond death, then we needs Christ's mercy now. Without it, we have no hope beyond death.

If people don't want to accept the judgement and fear of God, then don't read the Gospel.

John Shuck said...

I think Dives will be forgiven!

This is something I often think about. If there is no heaven or hell, is there a need for Christianity?

Or would you still be a Christian (and what would it mean to be one) without believing in eternal reward or punishment?


Stushie said...

You are writing your own Gospel if you think Dives will be forgiven and that, dear friend, is heresy.

Perhaps you want to become a Gnostic?

The early Christians would never have sanctioned what you said about Dives - and they gave up their lives defending the Gospel. What you think doesn't matter - what Christ says does matter.

And as for the other writer's comment "God believes in me" - you don't find that in the Bible - that's egocentricism - where we try to make God revolve around our own universe. We are created to believe in God, not the other way around. That's poor theology.

Anonymous said...

But didn't Pascal later come to a deeper faith that had nothing to do with logic? I seem to remember reading that somewhere...