Quote of the Day

You’ve heard of Pascal’s Wager right? The sum of which boils down to,

If you erroneously believe in God, you lose nothing (assuming that death is the absolute end), whereas if you correctly believe in God, you gain everything (eternal bliss). But if you correctly disbelieve in God, you gain nothing (death ends all), whereas if you erroneously disbelieve in God, you lose everything (eternal damnation).

Julian Barnes has a new book out called Nothing To Be Frightened Of. It would appear to be Barnes’ reflections on death and dying. From their review of it SOMA quotes this gem:

The Pascalian bet  sounds simple enough. If you believe, and God turns out to exist, you win. If you believe, and God turns out not to exist, you lose, but not half as badly as you would if you chose not to believe, only to find out after death that God does exist. It is, perhaps, not so much an argument as a piece of self-interested position-taking worthy of the French diplomatic corps; though the primary wager, on God’s existence, does depend on a second and simultaneous wager, on God’s nature. What, for instance, if He disapproves of gamblers, especially those whose purported belief in Him is dependent on some acorn-beneath-the-cup mentality? And who decides who wins? Not us: God might prefer the honest doubter to the sycophantic chancer.

I think Barnes has something there.

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2 thoughts on “Quote of the Day

  1. I remember this old chestnut from my church days. There was a time when this kind of thinking was something of a stabilizing force, but deep down I think I found it to be over the hills and far away from what I held the idea of faith in anyone to be – an act of trusting someone, not hedging your bets.

    Anything less in this particular context is God’s Game Show, and who wants to spend eternity with a hairdo and loud sport coat? “Let’s tell them what they’ve won…”.

    Surely, if there is a god who cares about our existence, She’s not quite as crass as this supposition would suggest.

  2. Rob,

    You wrote: “Anything less in this particular context is God’s Game Show, and who wants to spend eternity with a hairdo and loud sport coat? “Let’s tell them what they’ve won…”.
    Surely, if there is a god who cares about our existence, She’s not quite as crass as this supposition would suggest.”

    Ok, that’s rich! That’s exactly what it’s like. I have a feeling She wouldn’t be quite that crass either. 🙂

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