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It's Safer To Believe In God Than Be Wrong And Go To Hell
Rethinking Pascal's Wager
In his book, Why There Is No God, author Armin Navabi takes on a popular apologetic known as Pascal's Wager. The wager goes like this:
- If you believe in God and he exists, you will be rewarded with eternity in Heaven.
- If you believe in God and he does not exist, nothing will happen to you.
- If you reject belief in God and he does exist, you will be doomed to an eternity in Hell.
- If you don't believe in God and he doesn't exist, nothing will happen to you.
Navabi says of Pascal's Wager that, "As a Christian apologist, his argument works only for the Christian God…Viewed in the context of world religions, the wager falls apart completely." Navabi has it backwards. The wager only works for atheism. And it was intended that way. Allow me to explain.
Navabi is making a critical error by attempting to apply Pascal's Wager to all other truth claims. This would be like pouring ketchup on your Corn Flakes. It might tastes good on a hamburger, but it wasn't made for your cereal.
Clearly, Pascal's Wager was written specifically as a defense against atheism, and it intentionally does not apply to other truth claims. Different wagers would have to be developed for other claims to demonstrate the Bible's defensibility against other religions. The non-applicability to Pascal's Wager to other truth claims does not invalidate it because it was not crafted to address those claims. It was only crafted to address atheism. Within the function for which is was designed it works perfectly as a series of logical statements.
Once you realize that Pascal's Wager remains valid for the limitations it was crafted to address, you are still left with a decision of how you will respond to the wager.
Pascal's Wager does not specifically lead a person to faith in Jesus Christ. Its only function is to present an argument for why believing in God is a wise choice. It then behooves the reader to begin asking questions, such as, "Which is the right God to believe in?" The wager is a starting point, not a destination. So, if the wager is a sound, what will you do?