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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

Blaise Pascal (the 17th century French mathematician, physicist, inventor, philosopher, writer, and Catholic theologian) is world famous for his little "wager". Most atheists are painfully aware of it.

Pascal was inspired to write it in 1654, in one of his most famous works Pensées, after having a "religious experience". This unlikely state of mind puzzles me, since Pascal was an intelligent man who wrote in defense of the scientific method. (Science and superstitious beliefs make strange bedfellows.)

Pascal's Wager is essentially an argument intended to prove the existence of God. According to Pascal, we are all wagering with our lives, as to whether or not God does exist or does not exist. So why not conduct this wager logically?

Here is his advice: There are only two scenarios:

1) if God DOES EXIST: one stands to receive INFINITE PLEASURE by spending their afterlife in Paradise for an eternity—and avoid the eternal pain of Hell.

2) if God DOES NOT EXIST: one stands to receive INFINITE PAIN by spending their afterlife in Hell for an eternity—and avoid the eternal pleasure of Paradise.

Sign me up! I'm a believer! ...Oh...wait a minute. This "wager" is nothing but a simple logical fallacy called petitio princippi (begging the question). The entire argument is PRESUMING that God does exist and that heaven and hell also exist. But THAT is precisely what is in question: "DOES God exist?"

Sorry Mr. Rascal—er I mean Pascal—but you are nothing but a snake-oil salesman and your argument is as slippery as a preacher.

As a matter of fact, I can think of a far better wager: Permit me to call it "Andy's Wager"—and I fully expect to receive untold fame and fortune in the near future! (I wager I'll lose!)

See 3 images—>

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Comment was by Joan Denoo on April 5, 2022 at 10:26pm

I LOVE your "Andy's Wager"!!!!

Comment was by Joan Denoo on April 5, 2022 at 10:23pm

If there were a god, there would be no conflict within or between religious communities. Each would be called to treasure the gifts of living things and all people, without regard for gender, race, nationality, or institution. There would be no imperative to have dominion of one over the other but rather an obligation to live life fully and require that we participate as part of the fauna and flora of the planet. 
Religions and their gods exist to explain and excuse power, one over another with the use of brute force if necessary. Why else would a so-called Christian god mandate that their members slaughter members of another religion or group or obligate women to submit to men simply because of their birthright? Why would any ethical and moral god call one group of people to conquer other groups, or steal land and property with impunity? How could one Homo sapiens enslave another? 

If the United States was founded on the principles of Christianity, why were the Founding Fathers and Mothers so eager to put a wall of separation between church and state? 

If the U.S. ethics and morals as defined in the Constitution, i.e. "to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, why were the Native populations exploited so badly, or the Africans, or the Chinese who built our railroads across the nation?

Hypocrites, manipulators, bigots, and sophists seem to have taken over not only our nation but the manner of the ways one can express his/her spirituality or lack of it. As to Pascal's Wager, he represents all that is fake, false, let's-pretend of the idea. 

I write, not as a hater of the U.S., but as one who defends the basic principles upon which our nation was born. 

Comment was by Stephen Brodie on April 1, 2022 at 10:16am

I don't know if it's Facebook's algorithm or just policy but they seem to cut much of the criticism of religion but mostly Islam. The treatment by Facebook of Ex-Muslims is appalling.

Comment was by Andy Stout on April 1, 2022 at 9:01am

I can't believe that Facebook doesn't allow me/us to REPLY to viewers' comments!

I guess Facebook is all about faces and not mouths. Wow.

Comment was by anon_atheist_stuff on March 25, 2022 at 1:35pm

Hi -

You wrote:

"....Here is his advice: There are only two scenarios:

1) if God DOES EXIST: one stands to receive INFINITE PLEASURE by spending their afterlife in Paradise for an eternity—and avoid the eternal pain of Hell.

2) if God DOES NOT EXIST: one stands to receive INFINITE PAIN by spending their afterlife in Hell for an eternity—and avoid the eternal pleasure of Paradise...."

I like the topic but based on your other graphics and such, isn't number 2 above a misstatement of his wager?  If God does not exist, then there is no hell to spend eternity in, is there?  I must have missed something.

Comment was by Loren Miller on March 22, 2022 at 2:11pm

Further on that, Stephen: the only venue I know of where faith gets any traction is religion.  With any other objective discipline, you either show your work or you go home, put up or shut up.  And that said, I'm going to cite this again:

If I could change just one thing, it would be to dissociate the idea of faith from virtue—now and for good—and to expose it for what it is: a servile weakness, a refuge in cowardice, and a willingness to follow, with credulity, people who are in the highest degree unscrupulous.
-- Christopher Hitchens

And while I think about it:

If you've got the truth, you can demonstrate it. Talking doesn't prove it. Show people.
-- Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Comment was by Stephen Brodie on March 22, 2022 at 12:56pm

Why wouldn't a half-decent god make its presence known? Faith is an overrated virtue in my opinion. And if I were to fake my belief in an all-knowing God wouldn't that God know?

Pascals wager amounts to cowardness 

Comment was by Steve F on March 22, 2022 at 12:20pm

I'm not religious, but I think Pascal gets a bad rap. He was a very smart guy, but the Wager is always misunderstood and oversimplified. Religious folks or atheists who think it means believe or burn in hell are missing the point.


There's an existential core to the Wager that is a demonstration of agnosticism: Pascal was saying that the human condition itself is a state of uncertainty and we can't know our way to the truth.

"We sail within a vast sphere, ever drifting in uncertainty, driven from end to end. When we think to attach ourselves to any point and to fasten to it, it wavers and leaves us; and if we follow it, it eludes our grasp, slips past us, and vanishes for ever. Nothing stays for us. This is our natural condition and yet most contrary to our inclination; we burn with desire to find solid ground and an ultimate sure foundation whereon to build a tower reaching to the Infinite. But our whole groundwork cracks, and the earth opens to abysses." - Pascal, Pensees section II

No god is going to show up and tell us to believe in it, and the facts depend entirely on context and interpretation. For those reasons, there's risk involved in such an important decision. The religious and secular worldviews are both a leap into the unknown. We can rationalize our choices after the fact using Scripture or science, but no one is simply obeying God's will or just following the evidence, we're making choices according to what's important and meaningful to us.


That's my take on the Wager.

Comment was by Loren Miller on March 22, 2022 at 9:39am

Pascal's Wager fails in multiple ways:

  • How do you know you've got the right god?
  • If you DON'T have the right god, aren't you just pissing the right one off?
  • Do you seriously think that believing “just in case” is going to fool an omnipotent god?
  • Why should I believe in something, especially an extraordinarily unlikely something, without EVIDENCE?

And that's just off the top of my head. Pascal's wager amounts to “crossing your fingers,” which is pretty infantile, when you think about it.

Comment was by Stephen Brodie on March 21, 2022 at 10:41pm

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to spend eternity praising a Devine dear leader.

Thanks, Andy.

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