Pascal’s Wager: Logical Consistency And Usefulness As An Argument For The Existence Of God -- By: Robert Peterson

Journal: Global Journal of Classical Theology
Volume: GJCT 05:1 (Jul 2005)
Article: Pascal’s Wager: Logical Consistency And Usefulness As An Argument For The Existence Of God
Author: Robert Peterson


Pascal’s Wager:
Logical Consistency And Usefulness As An Argument For The Existence Of God

Robert Peterson

There are only four possibilities, four and only four. The question being ‘Should I believe that a Christian Theistic God exists?’ The possibilities are, simply put; I believe and such a God does exist, I believe and such a God does not exist, I do not believe and such a God does exist, or I do not believe and such a God does not exist. This far is simple logic, either a Christian Theistic God exists or not and either I believe or not. Pascal’s wager analyzes these possibilities and concludes that one possibility has such a greater reward than the others as to make it alone worth following.

Blaise Pascal was born in the year 1623 in the French city of Clermont. His father, Etienne, was a well-educated and successful lawyer. His mother died when Blaise was three years old, leaving his father to raise the three children. It is apparent that Etienne did a good job with the education of his children, as they all seem to have become successful at their various ventures in life. He insisted that they be schooled at home and he took the lead role in their instruction, using tutors only when by necessity he could not fulfill the job at hand. Blaise had a sound grounding in Latin, Greek, mathematics and science. “Also important were the people he met through his father, united by a common interest in mathematics and science. . . . Descartes (mathematician and philosopher) . . . the Parisian members of the Mersenne circle (Pere Mersenne was the unofficial agent in Paris for Descartes). . . Desargues and Fermat the most famous mathematicians in France .”1 Blaise Pascal, himself, became known for his mathematical abilities and his general ability to critically analyze the new scientific thought of his day.

In order to understand Pascal and his religious thought two major influences in his life must be mentioned. First, in 1646 his father was injured in an accident and had to have continual medical help for an extended period of time. The two brothers that were employed to assist were deeply religious and had a profound effect on Blaise and his family. The brothers were followers of Saint-Cyran who expounded on the ideas of the Jansenists and had been influential at the spiritual retreat known as Port-Royal. Blaise Pascal “experienced at this time what is usually called his ‘first conversion.’”2 The Jansenists were a reforming movement within the French Roman Catholic Church. Their beliefs “entailed an austere form of piety and a rigorously puritanical morality. Also Jansen argued in favor of absolute Predestination, in which humans are perceived as incapable of doing good without God’s unsol...

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