Pascal's wager

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

After French theologian Blaise Pascal, who formulated the wager

Proper noun[edit]

Pascal's wager

  1. (religion) An argument for theism (and specifically Christianity, according to the writer) maintaining that belief in Christianity ensures happiness in this life and offers the possibility of eternal happiness (should God exist), whereas atheism, even if it brings happiness in this life, offers no hope of eternal happiness and the risk of eternal damnation.
    • 1997 October 11, Moen, Rick, “TAN: Mormons”, in rec.arts.sf.written.robert-jordan, Usenet[1], message-ID <61ohd0$sgr@myrddin.imat.com>:
      In the unlikely event of losing Pascal's Wager, I intend to saunter in to Judgement Day with a bookshelf full of grievances, a flaming sword of my own devising, and a serious attitude problem.
    • 2001 October 17, Dershowitz, Alan, Letters to a Young Lawyer, New York: Basic Books, →ISBN, OL 3950598M, page 194:
      I have always considered "Pascal's Wager" a questionable bet to place, since any God worth believing in would prefer an honest agnostic to a calculating hypocrite.
    • 2012, Paul de Man, “Mallarmé (1960)”, in Martin McQuillan, editor, The Post-Romantic Predicament, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, →ISBN, part II (Igitur), page 73:
      Moreover, since we have now reached an extreme point in the development of consciousness, and know our own selves through and through, no 'ultimate self-doubt' remains which would allow us to ruse with death – as when, in Pascal's wager, it is the doubt about the afterlife which determines the choice.

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