Quantcast


Twitter icon


Facebook icon

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links

Recommended books

Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
BUDDHISM
CHRISTIANITY
-Christian definition
 -Shared beliefs
 -Handling change
 -Bible topics
 -Bible inerrancy
 -Bible harmony
 -Interpret the Bible
 -Persons
 -Beliefs & creeds
 -Da Vinci code
 -Revelation, 666
 -Denominations
HINDUISM
ISLAM
JUDAISM
WICCA / WITCHCRAFT
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic beliefs
Atheism
Agnosticism
Humanism
Other

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Quotes
Movies
Confusing terms
Glossary
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs. Religion
More information

Spiritual/ethics
Spirituality
Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

Peace/conflict
Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious freedom
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten Commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Cloning
Death penalty
Environment

Same-sex marriage

Homosexuality
Human rights
Gays in the military
Nudism
Origins
Sex & gender
Sin
Spanking
Stem cells
Transexuality
Women-rights
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news

Sponsored links

!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.


About God and Atheism

Three weaknesses in Pascal's Wager: It
may not be safer to believe in God after all

horizontal rule

Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

Pascal's Wager is described in detail in a separate essay

horizontal rule

Pascal's Wager:

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was a 17th century French mathematician and scientist. In brief, he suggested that:

  • The probability of the existence of the Christian God is greater than zero.

  • Christian teaching implied at the time that if a person does not believe in God, they will certainly end up being tortured in Hell for all eternity.

  • If a person believes in God, then they have a chance of spending eternity in Heaven.

  • Thus, it is safer to believe in God.

This essay describes some errors and weaknesses in Pascal's Wager.

horizontal rule

Weaknesses #1  -- Is believing in God sufficient for salvation?

Pascal seems to assume that those who believe in God will be automatically rewarded be attaining Heaven, whereas those who disbelieve in God will automatically spend eternity in Hell. i.e., simply believing in the existence of God guarantees ones "salvation." But different religions, (and different traditions within certain religions) have very different criteria for salvation. Many require that a person do more than simply believe in the existence of God. Passages in the Bible, interpreted literally, seem to imply that salvation is dependent:

bullet Solely on good deeds, as in the words of Jesus in Matthew 25.

bullet Solely on faith.

bullet On faith plus the act of baptism.

bullet On repentance.

bullet On faith, coupled with good deeds,

bulletetc.

T.M. Drange describes this in greater detail. He wrote: "According to the Bible, more is required for salvation than mere belief in God. One also needs to:

bulletBelieve in God's son (Mark 16:16; John 3:18,36, 8:21-25, 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; I John 5:12),

bulletRepent (Luke 13:3,5),

bulletBe born again (John 3:3),

bulletBe born of the water and of the Spirit (John 3:5),

bulletBelieve everything in the gospel (Mark 16:16),

bulletEat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood (John 6:53),

bulletBe like a child (Mark 10:15), and

bullet Do good deeds, esp. for needy people (Matt. 25:41-46; Rom. 2:5-10; John 5:28-29; James 2:14-26)." 1

horizontal rule

Weaknesses #2  -- Which God must we believe in?

Pascal apparently assumed that one either believes in God or one didn't. But the situation is more complex that than. Consider both Christianity and Islam:

bullet The Christian Scriptures, in John 3:16 to 18 states: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." This implies that anyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ will be condemned. Since the Christian Scriptures only talk about two eventual resting places after death -- Heaven and Hell, one might conclude that anyone who does not believe in Jesus, God, and the relationsip between them will spend eternity in Hell.

bulletThe Qur'an is the Holy Book of Islam.

bulletSura 69:15-18: "On that Day shall the (Great) Event come to pass. And the sky will be rent asunder, for it will that Day be flimsy. And the angels will be on its sides, and eight will, that Day, bear the Throne of thy Lord above them. That Day shall ye be brought to Judgment: not an act of yours that ye hide will be hidden.

bulletSura 69:30 -33: "(The stern command will say) "Seize ye him, and bind ye him. And burn ye him in the Blazing Fire. Further, make him march in a chain, whereof the length is seventy cubits! This was he that would not believe in Allah Most High."

Now, if one interprets these passages literally, then:

bulletChristians generally believe in the Trinity of God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. But if Christianity is wrong, and Islam is correct, then Allah will punish the Christian believer with horrendous tortures.

bulletMeanwhile, Muslims believe in the single, indivisible deity Allah, who is very different from the Christian Trinity. If Islam is wrong, and Christianity is correct, then the Christian God will torture all Muslims for eternity without any hope of mercy or a cessation of their pain.

"This is often described as the 'avoiding the wrong hell' problem." 2

Actually, the problem is even more complex than is indicated above. There have been countless deities among the tens of thousands of religions in which people believe or have believed. The Farrars have written a pair of books that list 1,000 Gods and 1,000 Goddesses. 3 Many of these Gods and Goddess are jealous deities who demand worship from their followers and who punish those who do not believe in them. The probability of choosing the right God or Goddess is chancy at best.

horizontal rule

Sponsored link:

horizontal rule

Weaknesses #3  -- Does any human belief matter?

Many Christians believe in Predestination - a concept promoted by John Calvin and other theologians. The theory is that God has divided humanity into two groups:

bulletA small percentage of people who God will save and who will attain heaven. They are not chosen by God on the basis of any merit on their part -- because they have led good lives, for example. They have done absolutely nothing to deserve this fate.

bulletA much larger group, that God has decided to not save. They will spend eternity being tortured without mercy in Hell. They also have done nothing to warrant being chosen differently from those who are saved.

Only if God has chosen an individual will they be able to understand the Christian Scriptures and accept salvation. To the unchosen, the Gospel is meaningless. Pascal himself wrote: "We shall never believe with an effective belief and faith unless God inclines our hearts. Then we shall believe as soon as he inclines them." 4 The implication of predestination is that nothing that the individual does will determine their fate after death: heaven or hell. It is all up to God. One's fate is sealed before birth. We are powerless to change it.

horizontal rule

Arguments 4 to 9 are covered in the next essay

horizontal rule

References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. T.M. Drange, "Pascal's Wager Refuted," at: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/
  2. "Pascal's Wager (God is a safe bet)," The Internet Infidels, at: http://www.infidels.org/news/atheism/
  3. Janet & Stewart Farrar, "The Witches' God," and "The Witches' Goddess.
  4. Passages cited by Rick Wade, "Blaise Pascal: An Apologist for Our Times," Probe Ministries, at: http://www.probe.org/docs/pascal.html

horizontal rule

Site navigation:

Home > Christianity > Christian personalities > God > Pascal's Wager > here

Home > Religious information > Pascal's Wager > here

Home > Spirituality > God> Pascal's Wager > here

 Home > Ethical groups etc > Atheism > Pascal's Wager > here
 Home > Ethical groups etc > Non-theistic groups> Pascal's Wager >Atheism > here

horizontal rule

Copyright © 2001 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-OCT-26
Latest update: 2012-SEP-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

Sponsored link

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or go to the "Pascal's Wager" menu, or  choose:

Google
Web ReligiousTolerance.org

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?


Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsored links