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Is Fear Based Faith Real?

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Is Fear Based Faith Real?

Is Fear Based Faith Real?

Pascal’s Wager acts as an attempt to prove God’s existence through way of self-interest and blind faith. The Wager is included in 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal’s work, titled Pensées, and the premise of Pascal’s Wager is that it is of the best interest of humans to believe in God. Pascal argues that this interest makes the belief justified and rational. The argument is that humans need to assume that God does exist and that by choosing not to believe would lead to an unhappy and unfulfilled life. Pascal begins his argument with the theory that proof of God’s existence can neither be proven, or disproven. He continues with that humans may not utilize logic or reasoning to find belief in God’s existence, but rather we should live our lives as though God does exist and if he does, that person has achieved status to enter heaven. Likewise, if God does not exist, there is no monumental loss. Alternatively, if humans were to live as though God did not exist, and were to never seek to find him, and he does exist, those persons would enter into hell and an afterlife of pain. Pascal went as far as to suggest living in faith even if the person was incapable of believing, as that may lead to a future substantial faith. Pascal states: “If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.” The Wager serves as a guide to suggest that all humans have the ability to believe in God, and according to Pascal, the rational choice would be to blindly believe in God to save one’s self from future pain on the chance that God is real.

The foundation of Pascal’s Wager is that humans possess the ability to believe, regardless of the ability to do this deliberately. According to Pascal, one would not just say that they believe in God’s existence, but rather honestly believe him to be real. The controversy within this argument is that this would require humans to believe by will. It is difficult to believe in something that you cannot prove to be true. Humans are also able to choose their actions, meaning that one could choose to follow and attempt to find God without a true belief. Furthermore, a person could intend to follow God, believing the probability of his existence, but not actually believe. While Pascal insists that humans are not able to prove whether or not God exists, he provides a wager for consideration. His formal structure follows (excerpts from Pensees):

1. "God is, or He is not."

2. A Game is being played…”where head or tails will turn up.”

3. According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.

4. “You must wager. It is not optional.”

5. “Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.”

By laying ground work for the wager, Pascal is asking for one to disregard reason and follow God with a lack of proof or understanding. He argues that since humans are unable to determine if God existence is real that each person must make a wager with themselves to believe in God. According to Pascal, this decision is mandatory as humans are already in existence. To make this wager one must take in to account the consequences of their decision, and humans should only make this decision based on their resulting gains and losses of happiness and rewards.


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