Travels of a Generic Christian

A Christian shares the joy of his walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Comment on Pascal's Wager

A highly distilled form of Blaise Pascal’s famous “wager” may be stated as follows:

If God exists then we have everything to gain by believing that He exists, but we have everything to lose if He exists and we decide that He does not. Naturally, if God does not exist then there is nothing to be gained or lost by either believing or not believing in Him. Therefore, the wise, no-brainer “wager” is to believe in the existence of God and act accordingly.

… Uh, actually, I just found out that what I was going to say has already been said better by others. What I was going to say was that the desired/induced result of Pascal’s wager is no belief at all: it is merely lip service. But, like I said, this problem has been nicely addressed by many others, see, for example:'s_Wager#Does_not_constitute_a_true_belief

Full Circle

It seems to me that one of the big problems that atheists have with religion is that most, if not all of the world’s major religions claim that you have to know and accept the right things about God in order to be “saved”. And as we all know, each religion offers its own set of beliefs about God, tacking onto the end of them (in one form or another) that warning that if you don’t exclusively accept their set of beliefs, you will be condemned by God. I think religious outsiders looking in have a legitimate gripe with this scenario: if there is a God, how are they ever supposed to choose the right set of beliefs ‘from the outside’? It isn’t fair: if they happen to end up adopting the wrong set of beliefs, God will say to them, “Oopsy… wrong choice—you’re toast.”

Atheists therefore make the assertion that even if God does exist, he certainly isn’t a good God, worthy of worship; if he were, he wouldn’t condemn someone who was honestly seeking the truth, but just happened to get it wrong.

I agree with the atheists in this assertion, but I recently discovered something that is overlooked in the argument: We are simply incapable of utter honesty. (Until just a few days ago, I didn’t recognize this and felt that utter honesty was the ultimate thing that God asks of everyone. But, for a Christian, that’s the wrong answer—one I couldn’t get around.) Even hardened, atheist-scientists fully recognize our incapability of utter honesty as evidenced by their affinity for double-blind experiments. The design eliminates (to the greatest extent possible) any subtle, even unrealized, bias in the human experimenters.

So where does this leave our atheist friends once they realize that they can’t even be honest in their assessment and digestion of the evidence regarding the ultimate nature of reality? I suggest that if they really are open minded and are willing to consider that there is an ultimate, conscious Truth (albeit a Truth/God different than all the caricatures painted by the world’s religions—including, sadly, Christianity), then the only thing left for them to do in order to have a chance of being right with this Deity is to realize that they have no other options and simply throw themselves out into the emptiness of metaphysical space, trusting that the Truth, whatever or whoever it may be, will eventually draw them into Itself.

But wait! That’s the Gospel of Jesus! He said, “I AM the Truth”! Once we realize that we are utterly incapable of knowing, finding, achieving, or acquiring the Truth ourselves and finally, in philosophical desperation, fling ourselves into the insanely unsafe abyss--that which is anything and everything EXCEPT ourselves--trusting the Truth to draw us into Itself, then we have accepted the Christian Gospel. No wonder Jesus said that there were those who were not of “this fold” who would see the Kingdom of Heaven.