Response to Pascal’s Wager

Often theists and theologians alike try to utilize an old argument from Pascal to try and persuade atheists that it is more prudent to believe in God.  The crux of the argument is, “what is there to lose in believing in God?” when compared to the belief in nothing.
This argument centers around theologian Gods (ie. Christianity) in attempt to convert more passively minded people who do not really care to think about these matters too much.  However, the atheist response focuses on the question of do you really want to wager to waste away your life in worship, doing rituals and living accordingly to the relevant God, that may not exist at all?
What is Pascal’s wager?
Pascal offered this wager to all atheists for a reason to become theist:

Belief/Wager That God Exists:
If God exists: Gain all
If God does not exist: Status quo (nothing)

Belief/Wager Against God:
If God exists: Misery
If God does not exist: Status quo (nothing)

You can essentially see the argument best here as an analogy:

You can bet on two flips of the coin. There are two sets of wagers to choose from:
Bet for Heads:
If Heads: Win $1k
If Tails: Nothing

Bet for Tails:
If heads: Lose $1k
If tails: Nothing

From the above, you can best see which seems intuitively best. It seems to be a strong argument. In fact, many people base their entire beliefs just on this logic.
➡ Immediate Obstacle
The most immediate obstacle that the wager must deal with is the question, “Which God do I wager on?  How do I make this decision?”.  This question, alone, is enough to quell the entire argument as it reaches for reasoning, beyond the subjective.  However, the only real conclusion that theists can use is the subjective.  Subjective reasoning is not enough to logically throw your entire life into a religion.  Or, at least, it should not be.

Atheist Response/Wager

+ Believing in theologian Gods takes away personal meaning to ones life. Likely, if you do believe in the above, that statement will startle you and you immediately want to jump in response to it. Here is why you should not:
– If you believe in a theologian monotheistic God, you believe that everything has been planned out for you, life has been pre-arranged, an entity knows everything about you, etc.
– Essentially, you relinquish personal responsibility – your credibility for all your actions.

+ If you believe in God, you will live a life to fulfill expectations of that God. Of course, this severely depends on your definition of God. Considering that the above wager works from a God that would punish you for eternity if you did not believe in him, I will respond with that God in mind.

+ All you can ever be completely certain of is that you are thinking and live right now (allusion to Cartesian epistemology). The belief in God is primary reinforced on personal revelation and not any sort of intellectual or empirical means. 

Let us work from the standpoint of what we can see and function with.
+ If we work from the above, then a meaningful life would be one that utilizes fundamental and functionally viewable beliefs. 
– Example 1: If I believe in gravity, I will not jump off a cliff.
– Example 2: If I believe in God, I will do my best to abide by their doctrine. 
This would likely include worship, etc.

With these premises in mind, consider this alternate wager:

Belief/Wager God Exists:
God Exists: Gain all
God Does Not Exist: Wasted Personal Life

Belief/Wager God Does Not Exist:
God Exists: Misery
God Does Not Exist: Fulfilling Life.

Confident Atheist Wager

This may also apply to fundamentalist Atheists (ie. those that fervently deny any proof of a God. They believe God does not exist whatsoever). 

Many Atheists are very confident that God does not exist and feel no worry about misery. To demonstrate to Theists how an Atheist views this wager on a more personal level, consider this matrix:

Belief/Wager God Exists:
God Exists: God does not exist, so this would not be a considered wager.
God Does not Exist: Wasted Personal Life

Belief/Wager God Does not Exist:
God Exists: Not a concern; that type of God simply does not exist.
God Does not Exist: Fulfilling Personal Life.

The above is not an argument so much as an illustration of how Atheists tend to think of the manner. It truly comes out looking like this:

Live An Independent Life:

Live A Dependent Life:

Keep in mind before responding that this is in response to the type of God that would punish [misery] for not believing in it, as proposed in the initial argument by Pascal. Other definitions of God are open to discussion, but not entirely relevant.  In any case, this is usually considered a weak argument for any side.  My intent in this article is really just to show how an atheist responds to this argument and views it.  Disregarding the whole problem with theologian God’s to begin with, Pascal’s does not add any leverage to the matter and could only convince those already inclined to believe such nonsense.

What do you think..?

+ Pascal’s Wager. (2004) Stanford University. Retrieved from

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