The Gamble of Politics and Pascal’s Wager by Rocket Kirchner

Dice [149/365]

Image by Knight725 via Flickr

by Rocket Kirchner
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Rocket Kirchner (blog)
Rocket Kirchner (youtube channel)
February 17, 2014

Stepping into the arena of politics from everything to voting, to becoming an activist, to even running for office has a high risk of chance that that neither you nor I will get out of government what we want. Every pollster worth his salt knows this.

There is an ethical stoicism that goes with seeking to change the world via government that was known in antiquity as arete for the Greeks and virtus for the Romans. This quality of active life seeks to raise itself above the herd. However, it is a very risky gamble, even when putting ones time and money behind even the most noble of candidates. How many times have these high expectations let those who have committed to movement after movement down through history? Too many to count. Only Zogby, other pollsters, and the best historians know.

Considering the fact that there are just so many hours in a day in our lives, and life is short, gambling for something finite to attain something finite, only to most likely be let down again, we have to all ask ourselves: should we continue? Are the odds worth it? And, if we do, how much good old fashion elbow grease should we apply to cause after cause if the outcome mathematically keeps coming up short? For discussion sake, let us call this: The Lesser Consolation, or hope in the political only.

Blaise Pascal was a child prodigy in mathematics in 17th century France. At age 19 he invented the world’s first mechanical calculator. His father and he watched aristocrats (the noblesse d’épée) gamble ferociously in an effort to do what they could not accomplish in battle. The exchange of land and money was literally and vicariously done through their gambling. This is high stakes at its best. The poor on the other hand gambled out of desperation.

In fact, to roll the dice for the aristocrats of the day was challenging fate and the gods itself. It was so important that for one to truly understand the gravity of this one must know that the word for dice is the plural for die, which comes from the Latin word data, which comes from the word dare, which means “to give”. Egyptian inscriptions as far back as 2,000 B.C. depict dice games, as well as the Chinese dating back to 400 B.C.

Smack dab in the middle of all of this high drama is Pascal, the math genius, who suddenly has a conversion experience with Christ, to what he calls his “Night of Fire”. During this Age of Reason, atheists, deists, theists, and Christian thinkers were really going at it. Pascal wanted to express his faith to others, but rejected all of their arguments that used reason for and against the existence of God. He viewed them all as being abstract and anemic. Then suddenly it dawned upon Pascal to present the gospel of Christ as a mathematical wager. Let us call this: The Greater Consolation, or hope in God only.

Pascal’s Wager goes thus: no one can prove that God exists. No one can prove that God does not exist. Reason stands helpless in his discussion. However, the odds are much greater and of eternal consequence when this coin is flipped. The lesser consolations of governmental change and political turmoil has far less an outcome than the once and for all flip of the coin of the existence of God. So Pascal is essentially proposing to wager something finite for something infinite. “What do you have to lose?” asks Pascal.

Pascal goes on in his famous book Pensées in chapter 3 entitled “Of the necessity of the Wager”, to state that if one stakes one’s faith in God and Christ’s gospel is not true, then one has really lost nothing. If, on the other hand it is true, then one has gained everything. The everything of eternal happiness beginning at the moment of the Wager. Conversely, if one bets that God does not exist, and God does not exist, one has lost nothing. But, if God does exist and one bets that God does not exist, one has lost everything forever.

In the world of probability that existed in the high seriousness of gambling at the time, Pascal is not appealing to philosophers, but the Zeitgeist of the Era, as expressed in the vox populi, be they rich or poor. Every player stakes a certainty to gain an uncertainty. This is the nature of gambling. Since we are not talking about card games, but only dicing, it is all 100% chance. There is no reason or skill here. Those of us who are progressives active in working to change the world in political ways are staking a certainty to gain an uncertainty. This we do according to our convictions, even if it is quixotic in outcome. I see no reason to stop. Sometimes mountains do move.

Continuing to be political activists and taking Pascal’s Wager are not opposed to each other. Granted, there may be more odds to the Wager, and the outcome is infinitely more rewarding if true, but there is no either/or here, but a both/and. We can change the world politically and take the Wager spiritually. Which brings me to my next point: Many of my fellow activists that I work with daily that are risking more for less, they seem to ignore the Wager that can bring the possibility of a greater consolation. The whole notion of the infinite seems to just get swept under the rug. To me this makes no sense. Why not do both? What have they go to lose?

Pascal already anticipates his critics of his proposition of ultimate seriousness of infinite force. The extremity of infinite distance of either heads or tails, of which one will turn up, he can hear them balking already when he puts himself in their place and says, “The true course is not to even wager at all.” Pascal’s response, “Aha! Yes, but you must wager. You exist. You are embarked. Which will you choose then?”

This begs the question to all of us who seek real change and are not just dilettantes. Do we stop short with the lesser consolation of political action that is mercurial at best, or do we take Pascal’s Wager, meanwhile doing the best we can to change our little corner of the world? The dice are ready for the rolling.

Bruce Cockburn: Call It Democracy

BruceCockburnVEVO | Dec 15, 2011

Suggested Links:

Pascals-Wager-The-Played-Dice/dp/0060766913

http://tribune.com.pk/story/592420/disillusioned-in-politics-political-parties-duped-the-youth-activists-say/

http://www.truethevote.org/news/how-widespread-is-voter-fraud-2012-facts-figures

The-That-Failed-Arthur-Koestler/dp/0231123957

The-Other-that-Failed-Deradicalization/dp/069100823X

Decline-American-Empire-Story-Series/dp/1878825003

John Michael And Terry Talbot: Behold Now The Kingdom

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47 responses to “The Gamble of Politics and Pascal’s Wager by Rocket Kirchner

  1. David Llewellyn Foster

    To Patrick: re yours of 28th Feb ~ hmm…can’t say that I really subscribe to this assumption that gambling on what is obviously a 50:50 wager is especially smart or even a useful analogy. Place your bets M’sieur, ‘Dame ~ rouge ou noir?

    Sure it’s a nice rhetorical flourish, but in the real world I think it’s just sophist, even histrionic posturing…Chinese love the yab-yum, yin-yang risk. Even their traditional almanacs are based on it, lucky-unlucky days.

    It doesn’t matter what you profess to believe, or how you frame the odds of its probability of being “true” ~ it’s what you DO that counts.

    • rocketkirchner

      David , the Wager according to Pascal is an act of doing . it is not just a mental exercise ., or an act of desperate men and women . when you read ch 3 of his ”Pensees” , he talks about what to do in bringing forth the fruits of repentance as a natural outcome of he Wager.

      Pascal says that on must act and do and live as if there is a God , and do what Christ teaches . That doing is faith . that doing is what counts.

      • David Llewellyn Foster

        Thanks Rocket ~ it was a while back, and we’ve had a couple of other intermediate exchanges since then, I think.

        What is interesting to me is that if we act “as though” then in effect, we are creating Godliness by our rightful doing, and that is sensible and indeed commendable. In fact I find this far nobler than “behaving well” to impress one’s “superior…”

        I am sure there is definitely such a thing as spiritual evolution, and this seems to corroborate that supposition.

        • rocketkirchner

          David , indeed . but let us not forget that Merton and Suzuki dialogue in NYC , and the importance of a superior –father confessor –zen master — or whatever , can help keep a person who is serious about spiritual things in check so they don’t fall back into the false self . Pascal can just take us so far with the Wager , but the whole purpose of any kind of spiritual authority figures ( when they work ) , is to lend objectivity to the practitioner .

          there is a great story in Zen . A stranger comes to visit a Zen monastery and says to the Zen master ” i have come all this way to get enlightened ”. Tell me what to do . The Master says ” we have a lot of dishes that need to be washed … do the dishes ”. the seeker is perplexed . He keeps coming back to the Master with the same question . Master has same answer ”do the dishes ”.

          this goes on for along time . Finally he wakes up one day not perplexed cause he realizes that you don’t seek enlightenment , it comes while you are just doing mundane things. so , yes it is not about behaving well , i agree. but it does help (as Merton points out) to err on the side of the superior’s foresight/insight than to fall back into the pathos of the false self .

        • David Llewellyn Foster

          I can’t really disagree with that ~ very true.

        • rocketkirchner

          yeah , that pathology of the false self is what e.m.cioran really goes after in ”a short history of decay ”. he takes a scorched earth approach like Kierkegaard did .

          Merton and Suzuki get the sociology of discipleship in regards to how one’s deepest self can work in tandem with various on the level masters in a community setting . its a balancing act.

          now if i can just reconcile the Cioran/Kierkegaard hyper individuality with the Merton/Suziki community living , i will be there. i can do it in my life , but it is tuff to do it intellectually . if i ever can put it all together in my head , then i can write another article called ” Beyond the Wager”. until then …………..

        • David Llewellyn Foster

          I like the notion of adaptive symbiosis as applied to love and will…

    • rocketkirchner

      david , concerning your last march 10 remark . yes ! Rollo May covers that well in his work .

      i just ordered Peter Kreeft’s ”Christianity for Pagans : Pascal’s Pensees. Kreeft teaches philosophy at the university of Boston and is a Catholic convert . He has a lot of insight in his work .A lot .

      he wrote a book ”Ecumenical Jihad ” about Christians and Muslims working together . He also wrote ”Socrates meets Jesus” which is a real romp ! wow !

      so i know he will have some real insight into Pascal .

  2. Pingback: Noam Chomsky on Pope Francis’ Radicalism | Dandelion Salad

  3. David Llewellyn Foster

    My “good response” was addressed to Rocket’s comment on Feb 18th @ 8:42pm…

  4. Late to the party, but I’d like to add:

    With some deep experience under my belt in all the communities mentioned in this article (social justice, gamblers, the elites), I propose that accepting Pascal’s Wager is a no-brainer.

    The less-than-one-hundred people on our planet who control more than 50% of its wealth either don’t at all believe in God, or, more likely, actually believe in and worship his Enemy. The same goes for the less than ten-thousand who control ~75% of the wealth and thus the policies put into place globally. That being the case, there is a “Counter-Wager” already afoot, so to speak, and not taking Pascal’s is putting one’s neck, literally and spiritually, on the block by default.

    We have everything to gain by accepting Pascal’s Wager; we have lost much and are losing more and more every moment to the tiny elite every moment that we do not.

    • David Llewellyn Foster

      Patrick ~ as I recall the Oxfam figure refers to 85 individuals controlling the equivalent wealth of the poorest 50%, which is not the same as total global wealth, but nevertheless is a devastating statistic.

      147 companies allegedly control the entire international market.

      Personally, I cannot completely accept the wager in principle, because belief is conceptual but must be realized subjectively, so may be culturally induced (as the Jesuits knew so well.)

      Whereas direct, imminent spiritual experience, communicates intuitive certainty, that is cognitive (& “neuro-phenomenological”) ~ therefore, manifests as an internal transformative force unless blocked by external interference.

      So I would advocate enlightened skepticism and philosophically robust questioning, tempered by unprejudiced empirical acceptance, by committing to a consistently exercised “reflexive” praxis, not just blind or naive “faith.”

      • David , i have known Pat for years , and i know that he is more than capable of answering your reply . He majored in Philosophy and lives in the Gambling capital of America.

        so , excuse me gentleman while i cut in for this dance . I was reading Kierkegaards’ ”Philosophical Fragments ”last night , and S.K. points out that unless the exitent individual makes a leap of faith toward the MOMENT , that individual will fall back into Socratic recollection, and will miss the chance to have tapped into an eternal consciuoness now , and instead over time will seek to be stuck in an offended consciuosness .

        the offended consciuosness becomes the Reason that sets out to critique the eternal Paradox , only to end up with an acoustic illusion ( Feurbach’s crituque of Christianity ).Such critique of course is in vain , becuase the Reason is dependent on the Paradox , and therefore this makes all reason passive in nature . Therefore helpless as Pascal says.it sands no chanc in regards o such profundity to eternal matters, probablility or no probability. Stats ot no stats.

        Conners points out in his book on the Wager , that Pascal had an influence and was a precurser to Kierkegaard . i am just starting o understand this . So as to David’s continued need for enlightened skepticism and philosphical questioning ( to which i can sympathize ), there comes a time when just flat out blind naive faith itself becomes the shift to the Moment ( or Instant ) that sets in motion the individuals resolve that will bear the fruit fo Praxis , not the other way around .

        Pascal’s Wager is Keirkegaard’s Leap of Faith . The trajectory is complete , although hey wrote to different audiences . back to you gentlemen .

        p.s. down below David , you mentioned your problem with the Wager in regards to its rewards or punishments . You are not a gambler to whom Pascal is talking too. Gamblers understand all too well rewards and punishments . All to well.

        • David Llewellyn Foster

          You’re a tough nut alright, but real Rocket!

          Never mind Pascal for now, I just need those Newie St Louis Monsanto Blues…ever hear BaBa Zula? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRvNEUbmB4g

        • rocketkirchner

          no but thanks for the link ! most of the parents of friends of mine worked for Monsanto. when one of them retired , he found out the real bad news about what he was doing .

        • rocketkirchner

          from down below feb 24 3:30 (this computer keeps fouling up.) OK -where was i? yes, what have you got to lose? the big 6 words. that is music to a gamblers ears . reason cant deal with the roll of the dice. the appeal to the french intelligentsia and aristocracy was a brilliant stroke on the most respected mathematician in all of the Continent at the time.

          and it offer more hope than a political answer. now, the question for us now is, does it offer more hope for a political answer, and Pat’s term ”Counter-wager” seems to point out that it does, for to ignore this wager one can become a grab bag for things that are nefarious.

      • Hi David,

        I see where you’re coming from with the advocacy of “enlightened skepticism and philosphically robust questioning, tempered by unprejudiced empirical acceptance” put in place by “committing to a consistently exercised ‘reflexive’ praxis”. I simply disagree that the result of “direct, imminent spiritual experience [which] communicates intuitive certainty” is a “‘neuro-phenomenological'” event. In my own “direct, imminent spiritual experience” this was clearly an external, unsought Event, which resulted in Faith in a heretofore nihilistic, skeptical atheist. I believe that those who have “blind or naive ‘faith'” indeed have taken a remarkable Leap of Faith, not requiring the direct “Show-Me” proof of faith that other skeptics such as myself have demanded/needed. I believe that, though of course culture can induce false/empty/proscribed faith, just as likely skepticism/atheism can just as easily be “culturally induced”.

        In my pre/post Immanent Spiritual Experience I’ve surmised/discovered that Reason is not the gold standard. Love, which is Suprarational, is. Fear is subrational. Faith is the epistemology (to use a “rational” term) of Love, and Doubt/Skepticism is the epistemology of Fear.

        Circling back to the elites, they use and are used by Fear in controlling whatever percentage of the rest of the world’s economy we wish to stipulate. The further we wish to engage skepticism in dealing with the world, through even the best of intentions, the further we play into their world of fear.

        I really appreciate your response. :) +++

        • David Llewellyn Foster

          Hey Patrick, good to hear from you and yes I do get what you’re saying here, but…I’m not really advocating rationalism per se, only the value of reflexive contemplation as a kind of praxis that mediates and meditates our individuated truth, not a reductionist “explaining away” of mystical experience.

          I completely agree with you about the power of direct transcendence or spiritual imminence, for that matter. Any spiritual encounter or insight that I’ve ever been privileged to be party to, has always been unequivocal and inarguable and no amount of logic-chopping can change that.

          Only I’m deeply wary of the need to stay open to further “opening,” lest the seductions of memory and the gratifications of self begin to sedate us into a kind of spiritual complacency, that actually can atrophy development and stunt our capacity for metaphysical novelty ~ in the true sense of original and new “revelation.”

          Rocket would probably describe this as a sort of Zen thing, or rigorous type of Chan (from Dhyana) meditation. So far as neuro-phenomenology is concerned (& yes I agree it is a helluva a mouthful, that is probably a lot easier for German speakers to handle…!)…I do nevertheless think it’s important and significant, because it is arguably a viable methodology for validating subjectivity.

          Of course whether we actually need to “validate” our cognitive apperception is an academic question and may have no great relevance to direct spiritual gnosis, that if not real has to be relegated to the merely imagined. So how to tell them apart, and communicate their authenticity effectively even if we are personally convinced & certain?

          Corbin’s notion of imaginal worlds as communicable is helpful I believe, but then if we accept that we should accept Levi’s “luminiferous aether” and the occultist/qabalistic doctrines of astral consciousness, and limitless mythic/archetypal planes.

          As I must keep this brief, I think you might find Rupert Sheldrake’s work interesting, about the “extended mind.” His latest book is “The Science Delusion” or in the US, “Science Set Free.”

        • rocketkirchner

          Pat and David, good dialogue. this post is turning into a great conversation . Which makes me do more research on the subject at hand. e.m.cioran’s fav christian as we all know is Petrea Tutrea, and he says that it is the older women who lay prostrate before the divine with complete faith face-down on the floor that are the template of humanity, not those of us who approach this thing intellectually. which brings me to this:

          i am taking out the microscope out on the nature of gambling. not being a gambler myself, i have a real good friend of mine who was addicted to gambling for many years, and was into it with some bad people.

          Pascal’s father was a tax collector and his family knew the King of France. The king would often himself come to Pascal and ask various theological -philosophical questions.

        • rocketkirchner

          At any rate … Pascal just saw people rolling dice everywhere. The Aristocracy was hooked. back to my friend. the key to gambling according to him is to ”increase the odds in your favor”. that works with Poker, Sports, so on and so forth. but not with dice.

          Dicing has no skill , and therefore you cannot get an edge. But everyone wants an edge. every gambler wants something for nothing. Bingo, here comes the Wager.

          there are 6 words that a gambler loves – WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE?

    • Pat , that is a good way to put it . in other words , you inverted the situation to show that it is more costly to the intrinsic quality of life here and in eternity to not take the Wager. Pascal would concur.

  5. Dwight , then it must be me . i am trying to understand exactly where you are coming from in relationship to this article of politics being a lesser consolation than taking Pascal’s Wager of faith in Christ as a greater consolation .

    it seems that as i said there are many involved in changing the world , seem to ignore spritual things . it is like to them they dont exist . Pascal is appealing not to theologicans or philsophers , or even politicans , but to gamblers . ..saying ”what do you have to lose by believing in God ”?

  6. There are many lacks found in the way most people think believe and process information GOOD or BAD. Those that I call soothsayers practicing the ART of black magic follow their need to be important only. Therefore in that situation they have NO CLUE what they do except gain access to the innocent to deceive that when done has been found out by the GREEDY to work well.

    Thousands if not millions of fact filled documents are there for the sake of study to prove that those that come against the knowledge of our ONE GOD for the sake of persevering family values is not in their agenda. Naming names and or institutions is not important.

  7. David Llewellyn Foster

    Nice post Rocket.

    Of course, there’s another aspect implicated in this wager, namely whether God’s efficacy and existence depends upon on our belief or whether it is only our vanity we have to lose ~ in which case cui bono? God or man?

    Or do we take a further step and accept that if man is only the image of God, & the True Self is actually the only way we can experience God’s reality whether we care to acknowledge so or not, then the wager is merely a sophist digression involving false odds since the existential fact of that empirical spiritual reality is the precondition of the wager itself irrespective of our beliefs.

    Its very close to the argument for optimism, because if pessimism is the only alternative we only have it to lose if we are optimistic and it turns out to be right, whereas if the outcome really is dismal, at least we have not been miserable all the time.

    There is also that old saying too, that if horses believed in God, then God would be a horse. So why should (we) humans be any different?

    • David, again , Pascal’s audience is not philosophers. You are bringing in Plato’s theory of Ideas…projection of ( the horses to the ideal horse ). Pascal’s audience is gamblers , and non gamblers who exist in that environment .

      another thing : it is interesting that you should mention optimism. Given the body of Pascal’s work , Voltaire used him as the pessimist in ”Candide”, and Libneiz as Dr. Pangloss as the optimist .

      actually , Pascal paved the way for Kierkegaard’s Christian Existentialism by stating that reason is of no use in matters of discussing the divine , but existence and the Wager is the same as S.K.’s ”Leap of Faith”. So , what i see in Pascal’s Wager is not Sophist digression but the inevitable existentialist challenge to bring this debate out of the mental gymnastics proofs/non proofs to action .

  8. Without an evolution in consciousness, which perforce involves a spiritual ascension, involvement in politics, no matter what changes it brings through social movements or different leadership, is simply not enough. I believe that’s what you’re saying here, Rocket, and I concur. We will create a better world when we care more about each other and begin to honor the web of life instead of destroying it. Love is the creative force of the universe. You can frame it in Christian theology, but the essence, the truth, transcends any theology.

    • Ariel , Bulls-eye . As an activist myself , i find that some of my fellow activists , sincere and effective , that i work with on a daily basis ,just seem to ignore spiritual things as if they are something of a past era.

      But one cannot get around what the Greeks call ”Eternal verities ”,and the Hebrews great wisdom , as well as the great Buddha . To my fellow warriors on the front lines of soup kitchens and homeless shelters , anti war ..etc… limit everything to what is finite .

      my point to them and this article is this is not an either/or proposition , but a both/and. what have they got to lose ? Gandhi worked on both fronts. so did MLK.

    • Mystification has become the fall back position

      As in the revelations found in fact filled history [the shaman, as prophet has led the many for the sole purposes of the few] therefore we as humans have an innate dimensional concept of WHO WE ARE as a species

      Filling in the blanks that often cloud our thinking has OFTEN times been the source of our greatest bouts of CONFUSION.

      Thus we seek a KING to do our bidding —-

      • Mystification is the fall forward position that prompts human beings to believe , even in the face of the impossible when reason fails .

      • David Llewellyn Foster

        I’m not sure it’s possible to generalize about the intentions of prophets and shamans, Dwight

        I’d say that our greatest, most inspired mystics have been deeply radical so far as the power elites are concerned, challenging false power by urging the sovereignty of the individual.

        In Indian mystical philosophy, the equivalent of King is Raja, and what is known as Raja Yoga is the highest discipline to which the mind can aspire.

        • rocketkirchner

          david , i agree about Dwight’s overgeneralization . i really dont think that what he is saying has anything to do with this article .

          in mystical philosophy i cant really say that Raja Yoga is THE highest discipline . There are so many traditions that are very high in discipline around the globe . the thing that the Aristocrats did in 17th century France was a form of the mystic elation when the dice were rolled . self sovereignty challenging very fate and luck and the gods themselves.

          at that exact moment –they felt invincible . Pascal appealed to that and MORE , but also , according to Conner’s book , he also ended it as a once and for all proposition . This is where Pascal’s Jansenism falls apart , and he comes off more like the Jesuits to whom he was debating , by his emphasis on free will toward the Wager.

        • rocketkirchner

          see david …there is no free will in dicing …it is all chance . . but there is in the Wager . so , what ls laid out in the Wager explodes thought of the middle ages , by proposing that the God of the Middle ages cannot be understood by reason , but only gambled upon to exist or not to exist .

          also , Decarte’s ”Cogito Ergo Sum” is blown away also. This is explained in Peneese

        • Rocket

          You have postulated that I have been off track —- thus not following your line of reason. I suggest that I have been on track as good as I can be considering the words used.

        • David Llewellyn Foster

          Well, to be precise, I did specify “Indian mystical philosophy.” But that aside, I’m not entirely clear whether Pascal is betting on God or Christ ~ or both. Does it matter?

          There seems to me to be a sense of a misplaced analogy here.

          Whether it’s about the existence of either entity, how can we know one way or the other if they exist? There is no certain outcome. The wager is a false wager, if there is nothing to win except belief; nor is there anything to lose except one’s critical judgment and possibly the truth.

          You say it is beyond reason because it is pure chance, but betting itself is a rational option that is entirely a question of probability based on odds.

        • TO: Rocket and David
          Please let me bow out. I asks that both of your forgive me for getting involved without totally reading dissecting and coming to a firm knowledge before replying. Prior to scanning over the text I had NO knowledge of either. Dwight

        • David Llewellyn Foster

          No worries Dwight, my last was to Rocket, not to you.

          I think closure on this one may be in order…but I’ll wager Rocket may have another word or two to contribute!

          Actually I’m surprised Einstein hasn’t been mentioned yet “God doesn’t play dice!!”

        • David Llewellyn Foster

          Good response, thanks.

        • rocketkirchner

          David , in your response below Feb 19 , you may want to study a little more of the Wager before you reach such conclusions .

          my point in this article ( to which i know you agree ) is that there are many sincere people that are working and seeking to change the world for the better , and things come up short for them and us , but they wont even consider spiritual matters. You and i know the importance of spiritual matters and not just re-arranging he chairs on the Titanic .

          concerning the Wager itself , Pascal is stating in the context of Catholic France that is being assaulted by the Age of Reason , that reason itself in this debate between Atheists , Deists, Christians of all stripes ..etc.. and Theists ( like Paley”Watch and Watchmaker “‘) …. is utterly useless on the topic of a Supreme Being .

          Pascal is a mathematical genius , not a theologian or philosopher . His audience ( though read by philosophers , theologians, mathematicans , etc… is not whom is is shooting for . he is speaking to
          GAMBLERS . of course his Pensees found its way in philosophy because of his deconstruction of Descartes and others.

          now , by ones existence , according to Pascal to not wager is to wager. this kind of gambling that exists in his day , there was no skill involved . there is only chance o gambling something you own to possibly lose something everything in on roll of the dice . my analogy is all the revolutions in history that people have been involved with that fail /. leaving that activist with NOTHING . they gambled and lost . not so with Pascal’s Wager.

          Pascal is saying –all apologetics for or against the existence of God thru history and that is now raging right before our eyes make no reasonable sense , because the absolute God you are referring to cannot be comprehended , proved , or understood by the mortal mind .

          therefore — according o Pascal there is a Mexican standoff. so … WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE BY BELIEVING? NOTHING!

          take the Wager.

        • rocketkirchner

          you can read the chapter on the Wager on line .( ch 3 of the Pensees ) the specifics of it is his : live as if God exists , because you got nothing to lose if he does not . and this is in a christian context.

        • David Llewellyn Foster

          Rocket I can confidently accept the moral advantage of a godly existence, but not the notion that we should behave so for fear of being deprived of some holy reward ~ that is the most primitive type of reductionist control; some old mesmeric codger with a glittering stick in the sky cliche.

          In my book this is just profoundly immoral and self-serving, also deceitful. We should always challenge our own assumptions.

        • “WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE BY BELIEVING?”

          I think that that’s at the crux of a gambler’s mindset, really, David. I think that taking that quote and using it to accept/deny God vis-a-vis “the most primitive type of reductionist control”…I really think that’s getting far too cerebral for the average gambler’s motives.

          The gamblers I know, whether they run the book or “donate” to the book, they’re Fear-driven. Fear is not a logical, head-based thing. Even if Fear is reduced to a neuro-state N27BX or whatever, it’s an emotional/Spiritual thing. The question WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE BY BELIEVING is not a question with rational semantic content, nor rational semantic answers when posed to a gambler. It’s all emotional and spiritual.

          So though you can “confidently accept the moral advantage of a godly existence”, I reallly think that neither that nor “fear of being deprived of some holy reward” have anything to do with the actual question Pascal’s Wager posed to the gambler.

          And I think Pascal’s gambler far more resembles the average human, even of today, than any strawman ideal man constructed by “modern” thought (though I admit “‘modern’ thought is itself a strawman).

          Thanks! +++

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