October 4, 2011
7. Pascal's Wager
0. Some biographical details about Blaise Pascal
The dialectical state of play
An argument for the rationality of religious belief
Pascel invented probability calculus
Laid the foundations of infinitesimal calculus
Built the 1 calculating machine
Experiments in physics- fluid dynamics
Religious thinker and write
1. Pascal's fundamental vision: in a situation of unsurmountable unceertainty the
best we can do is think about probabilities and make a rational best guess.
Pascal thought the arguments for the existence of God were not compelling also for
the agruments against
He thought we were caught in inescapable ignorance about whether bad exists or not
So… he lowered the bar: he proposed that if we can’t settle the truth of the matter
about the existence of God?
o Is it reasonable to believe in God?
o Is it more rational to believe in god and behave accordingly or not believe in
God and behave accordingly? What the best bet?
2. Constructing the wager, the rational calculation:
Where G stands for the proposition that God exists, along with the traditional (Christian)
G may be true or may be false and I may believe G or not believe G
Cross dividing these we get