Pascal's Wager for Atheists

The French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal was a true genius, and much of what he wrote in his famous Pensées has become greatly influential in modern philosophy, especially as it relates to questions of existentialism, phenomenology and human psychology. Here is a nice and short discussion of Pascal's philosophical insights, from Philosophy Bites:



Unfortunately, Pascal's fame outside of philosophical and mathematical circles seems to have become relegated to his wager: the idea that believing in God is the logical consequence of rational self-interest.

There are many problems with the argument, but one quick way to understand them is by considering its logical implications (as Edward Current did in this amusing video clip), or by arbitrarily changing its already arbitrary starting conditions, as David Mitchell does in the following clip:



Fortunately, some versions of Pascal's wager do have practical applications :)


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