Pascal’s Wager

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# Pascal’s Wager - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Pascal’s Wager. Epistemic Reasons. Epistemic reasons to believe are related to truth. If I believe there is a God because I think the evidence supports this belief, then my belief is epistemically justified. I believe because I think its likely to be true.

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### Pascal’s Wager

Epistemic Reasons
• Epistemic reasons to believe are related to truth.
• If I believe there is a God because I think the evidence supports this belief, then my belief is epistemically justified. I believe because I think its likely to be true.
• The ontological argument, the argument from design, and the argument from contingency try to provide an epistemic reason to believe that there is a God
Causal reasons

Sometimes we explain why somebody holds a belief by appealing to its causes.

“I believe that God exists because I am afraid of death”

“I believe we should vote Democratic because I was raised as a Democrat”

A causal reason does not need to be an epistemic reason. It is independent of epistemic justification

Prudential reasons
• Some beliefs might be in my interest to hold.
• For example, If I am sick it might be in my interest to believe I will get better—Optimism may actually improve my chances of recovery.
• Pascal thinks that there is a prudential reason to believe in God.
1. Either God exists or God does not

2. If God exists and I believe I gain a great deal (heaven)

3. If God exists and I don’t believe, I lose little.

4. If God does not exist and I believe, I lose little if anything

5 If God does not exist and I don’t believe I gain little

In believing I risk a little to gain eternal happiness
• In not believing I risk a lot, in order to gain relatively little
• Therefore, it is rational to believe in God
Criticisms
• Is the belief that you get from the wager a real belief?
• Does the wager accurately reflect all the real possibilities? (what about the possible God that damns to Hell all Christians? Doesn’t this negate the possible Christian God who damns all non-Christians?