Monday, January 16, 2017

Pascal's wager

Introducing decision theory in a popular book on stats that I'm currently reading (Matthews, R. Chancing it.), this table illustrating Pascal's Wager was shown:

Pascal was working on a 50/50 chance of God existing. Matthews asserted that for something about which we know nothing, this was a bit rich.

But the whole thing is a 'bit rich'!

Firstly, despite his piety, Pascal has got it wrong.

He sums up (in Matthews' rendition, above) the content of 'belief in God'...and it must be the 'philosopher's god, not the real time and effort in rituals. No mention of grace, relationship, fulfilment, ontological context, and so on. He misunderstands, at least, Biblical theism as though belief in God is some sort of ticket, rather than the fellowship and love that we know.

The misunderstanding is compounded in the 'God exists and Choose not to believe' quadrant. The context missing here is not a vengeful God, but God continuing the unbeliever in the unbeliever's chosen state: alienation from God.

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