Belief In God Is The Best Bet, According To Pascal's Wager

Belief In God Is The Best Bet, According To Pascal's Wager

Many great minds have sought proof for God's existence. For French philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal, God's existence was beside the point. He conceded that nobody knows whether or not God exists, but because it's in our own best interests to behave as if he does, that's the most rational choice.

This is what's known as Pascal's Wager, since it argues that it's your best bet to believe in God. (Pascal wrote of the Christian God, but this same argument could apply to any god). If God doesn't exist and you behave as if he does, you haven't lost much—just some sleep on Sunday and a few opportunities for sin. But if God does exist, you have everything to lose or gain: act as if he does exist and you spend eternity in heaven; act as if he doesn't and you spend eternity in hell. An argument like this is known as an appeal to self-interest, in contrast to an appeal to evidence. Pascal's Wager argues that you should behave as if God exists not because there's proof of it, but because of its impact on your life. Delve into the philosophy of religion with the videos below.

Pascal's Wager

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Philosopher Blaise Pascal

Learn about the man who is simultaneously one of the most cynical and cheery contributors to Western thought.


from The School of Life

Descartes' Proof Of God

Hear about one philosopher who thought proof of God's existence WAS important.


Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Descartes' mission in "Meditations" was to doubt everything. (0:29)

  • 2

    Descartes circulated copies of his work and asked for critiques. (3:41)

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