From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pascal's Wager (also known as Pascal's Gambit) is a suggestion posed by the French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist Blaise Pascal that since the existence of God can not be proved (or disproved) through reason, but since in his view there was much to be gained from wagering that God exists (and little to be gained from wagering that God doesn't exist), a rational person should simply wager that God exists (and live accordingly).
Following his argument establishing the Wager, Pascal addressed the fact that many rational people (in spite of being able to reason advantages) will have difficulty genuinely believing in God. He thus proscribed one to live "as though he had faith" and postulated that (like Tolstoy in his autobiographical "A Confession"), this might help to subvert their contrary passions and lead to more genuine belief.
Historically, Pascal's Wager was groundbreaking because it charted new territory in probability theory, marked the first formal use of decision theory, and anticipated future philosophies such as existentialism, pragmatism, and voluntarism.
Pascal formulated his suggestion within a Christian framework, and set it out in 'note 233' of his Pensées, a posthumously published collection of notes made in his last years forming a treatise on Christian apologetics.