Pascal's Wager

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18 Nov 2011
Pascal’s Wager
Inventor of probability calculus
Laid foundations of infinitesimal calculus
Built the first calculating machine
Experiments in physics, especially fluid dynamics
Religious thinker and writer
Views on God
Thought the argument for the existence of God were not compelling
The arguments against gods existence of god were also not compelling
Established that we were caught in an inescapable ignorance about whether
or not god exists
He proposed that if we cant settle the truth about god we should ask…
oGiven the evidence that does not compel us in one way or another, is it
reasonable to believe in God?
oIs it more rational to believe in god (and behave accordingly)
oOr not to believe in god (and behave accordingly)
G – God exists
oG may be true, or false, and I may believe or not believe
oCross-divide to see probability
I believe G G is true GG
I believe G G is false Little Loss
I don’t believe G G is true Feel it
I don’t believe G G is false Small win
The big win and the big loss are immeasurably bigger than the little win and
the little loss
The only way to be sure of avoiding the big loss, you must believe G
oDoesn’t guarantee a big win, but it is the only way to achieve it it
Therefore, it is rational to believe G
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