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Meditation 230
Pascal's Wager, Again

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Even though it was not Pascal's intention, Pascal's Wager is really aimed at agnostics. It is irrelevant to believers; they already believe. It is irrelevant to strong atheists; for them there is no god. But for agnostics, there is always that small element of doubt. Perhaps it is worth considering.

But consider the possible outcomes - and by listing them, I am not suggesting they are of equal probability.

  • There is no god
  • There is / was a deistic god
  • There is a loving god
  • There is a jealous god (or evil god.)

In the first case, obviously time and money spent following any particular theistic religion is wasted. The same goes for the second case, as god's job was done with creation.

In the third case, a loving deity, then I suggest Abou Ben Adhem (Meditation 229) covers the situation. Live a good life, love thy neighbour, and this god won't take your lack of religion amiss.

Only in the fourth case, where the god demands your unconditional love, your unconditional obedience, your total submission, your surrender of your free will; only in this case does it make sense to follow a particular religion. And yet, with all the varieties of this god around, it is nearly impossible to pick the right one. So to try following this god is a losing proposition. The odds are high you would pick the wrong one.

In the end, Pascal's Wager points to a single simple solution - devout agnosticism.