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Pascal’s Wager

February 13, 2007

We were talking about the wager in philosophy today. Though it seems to be a brilliant ploy there is one fatal flaw in it by the standards of today:  You can’t bet a soul you don’t have. It is the saddest part of our society that if all we have to live for is this life; then it follows that everything hinges on the here and now. Professor Tingley said something I thought was really important. It was something along the lines of the idea that someone would say: “If I take this wager and live the way a Christian should if I die and there is nothing after this I’ll have missed out on the full life.” I thought this was a true reflection of our culture.

This is sad in two ways. The first is that this opinion shows the sad view of Christianity that most people have today. It seems like we offer the world either a shallow, materialistic message that only reflects the world that so many already want to escape (just look at how big the drugs, sex, and partying lifestyle is). Or we offer them meaningless traditions and rituals that they can’t grasp the full meaning of. It seems the two pathways are either to become so relevant that we’re indistinguishable or that we cling desparately to tradition the world can’t get a hold of.

The second reason this seems sad though is it reflects the hopelessness of our age. What is the point of living apart from pleasure? If there is no ultimate purpose the only reason we have left to live is to “eat, drink, and be merry” as the Epicurians said. So why doesn’t Pascal’s wager work? The modern world has stolen our souls. You can’t bet a soul you don’t have.

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