Modified Pascal's Wager


One can quite rationally choose to rebel against an arbitrary and unjust God and such dictates as this describes.

Say rather that every rational person who ONLY cares about what is in his own best interest regardless of issues of justice and its rationality would certainly comply with this.

Please forgive my density, I’m not sure I understand the question. I will try to respond, but feel free to correct me if I have misunderstood.

Fortunately, I don’t have to judge who has it and who doesn’t.

Since we are discussing Christianity, I was referring to faith in Christ.

Correct. This has long been viewed as the fatal flaw for Pascal’s Wager. The original Wager is binary: Atheism vs Christianity. It breaks down when one begins to consider other possible gods. (The same is true for the so-called “Updated Wager” that I proposed.)

I agree. If this is how you’re going to make your decision, you should not choose Christianity. Simply “betting” on Christianity does not get you the payout, one must come to faith in Christ.

Perhaps you have identified one of the flaws in this Modified Wager. The argument accounts only for probability and value – could there be other relevant variables?

Also, I think the deeper flaw in this type of thinking is looking for a purely rational argument to help make this decision. What proof do you have that such an argument exists? Is there any evidence, or do you simply trust that it is out there?


I am glad that is one barrier you do not have to overcome. Sorry that I read in a position which you do not hold.

You’re understanding is crystal. So as at least two thirds of the World doesn’t have that, whatever it is, what are the consequences, what aren’t they saved from? Now? What is your understanding?

Why only a false dichotomy?

There is much discussion and debate on this topic. For the sake of this conversation, I’ll call it eternal separation from God.

Wow! What do you have to do in this blink to get that?!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” - Ephesians 2:8-9
There isn’t anything that you can do to get it. You simply accept the gift, secured for you at great cost.

Or what? . . .

Is this a different question than what was asked before? If so, would you clarify?

Are we drifting off of the original question about Pascal’s Wager? Is this a topic that we should bounce to its own thread?

I’m monist. There’s only ever one thing going on. Pascal was damnationist as are all else here, unless they say otherwise.

How many things had to be going on and beginning when to accomplish the >50 sigma lottery win? That God is omnitemporal in his providential sovereignty fits quite nicely, although it is not something that we can get our time-bound heads around.

There are a number who are annihilationist, and less supportably universalist when giving the Bible more credence, but per dictum, that needs to be discussed in PM.

The flaw in Pascal’s wager (modified or not) is the assumption that one can choose to believe something that one does not actually believe. IMO that is epistemologically impossible. In an actual wager I can bet on the Jacksonville Jaguars because of a favorable expected value, even if I don’t believe they can win. But with salvation I must (for the sake of argument) truly believe the gospel, not just claim to in order to avoid disaster if I’m wrong.


I like that–and–that would ordinarily make sense, but I’d be interested in your reaction to this. Religion seems to be, in large part, a mindset. The greatest extent of growth seems to come not from conversion, but from fertility. Children absorb what they’re taught–and also a community tends to follow its leaders, whether they’ve intellectually assented or not. There are always some outliers, but they seem to be a minority of independent thinkers, don’t they? So, with the mass conversions of Charlemagne and conversions and re-conversions of people groups (like in the back-and-forth of Asia Minor between the Muslims and Christians, and the reconquista of Spain), it seems that we make a conscious decision to place our faith in something, frequently. I’d be interested in what you think of that–I’m still wrapping my mind around our frailty in deciding what to believe or not believe. Thanks.

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Interesting point. But I’m inclined to think the choice of what one decides to place their trust in isn’t arbitrary. I doubt that reason plays the biggest part in what we come to believe deserves our faith. Reason and language can present us with a menu of options but then what clicks for an individual will only align with one or some of those. There is something that isn’t arrived at by reason which reads as hotter or colder with each possibility. Maybe?


I think that’s well put. I probably put it badly–I meant that, really–that the reasons for which we believe are not logical, and that our choice doesn’t follow ultimately logically and abstractly, but more from how we feel about something. So, I think my life can reflect a choice which doesn’t involve logic as much as (at least I) would like to say it does! Thanks.


I think a good bit of that faith might just be faith in the idiocy and corruption of the current people with guns to make my family’s life miserable (or nonexistent) if I don’t say the words they want to hear. So many around the world are just wanting to be left alone and so just keep their heads downa and “adopt” whatever the current powermongers are pushing. It isn’t just Afghanistan right now but many many countries around the world where instability seems to be the only “norm”. One militia comes through, and then later another to “liberate” the village from the prior one. The beleaguered father is forced to walk the tightrope of trying to convince the present tyrants that he was really opposed to the last ones. But attempt that tightrope he does! And so would most of us when our family’s existence depends on it. That may be the real faith that you see in play: a bid for survival. Covering it all with the veneer of “Christ” or “freedom” or “Muhammad” or whatever is just the chocolate coating to conceal the real medicine (or toxin) underneath.


Absolutely! And shame on me for not emphasizing that. Yet, it’s amazing how we all fall in with the leaders in that way–and many in a very sincere manner. If I were born in a country that had accepted a given religion by force, it’s entirely possible that I would have grown up very devout in that kind. The Children’s Crusade and Balkan Ottoman wars wound up with many European Christian children being sold into slavery, and presumably their descendants are now part of a devout group belonging to the religion of their adopted countries. The same is true of African Americans and American Indians, many of whom are Christian–indirectly by force in many cases. It kind of throws me back to remembering that maybe God doesn’t really care too much how we believe the nuances if this happens–or at least, that He looks at the heart. Thanks.


I cited this the other day (as Christians we should more than hope for, but profoundly desire and seek confident knowing, if we don’t have it):

Do you question or doubt who your earthly father is? Equal or better confidence of your Heavenly Father is achievable, and it’s not just braggadocio.

Several decades ago and after been a Christian for decades before that, when reading through Psalm 18:1, “I love you, O Lord, my strength”, for the umpteenth time, I finally recognized that I had never owned it and said it for myself. So my prayer immediately was, “Do I love you, Lord? Help me to love you.” It wasn’t too long before I could confidently say (and still do), “I love you, Lord, not well enough – help me to love you more!”

(Almost daily, I sing a slightly edited Christmas carol verse, “I love you, Lord Jesus, look down from on high, and stay by my cradle 'til morning is nigh.”)

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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