Is there logic or madness in having faith in something you can’t prove to be true?
According to Balise Pascal, reason has no place in deciding whether or not God exists
because He is beyond our comprehension and thus beyond reasoning. We are instead left
to gamble: “either God exists, or He does not.” Either way, we have no choice but to
come to a conclusion about God’s existence. Pascal tells us “you have two things to
wager, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness.” Our reason will
not be affected by making one choice over the other because making a choice is entirely
necessary. Thus, we must make our decision according to our happiness by weighing the
gain and loss involved in making the wager that God exists. We are told, “if you win, you
win all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then, without hesitation, that He does exist.”
By this, Pascal means if God does exist, your belief in Him will be rewarded with an
eternity in heaven. If He does not exist you will have lost nothing. If anything, by
choosing to believe in God and following the rules of the Church, “you will be faithful,
honest, humble, grateful, generous, a true friend, [and] truthful.” Those who have chosen
not to believe in God (in the case that God does exist) will be punished with eternal
damnation in Hell.
I must applaud Pascal on what was, for his time, a groundbreaking idea, however
I cannot help but make objections to his argument. Pascal states that God is “infinitely
incomprehensible” and yet he claims to know how God would punish and reward people.
He claims that if God exists, those that have chosen to believe in Him will be granted an