Pascal’s Wager

by Witty Ludwig

Having recently heard of Ma Nuit Chez Maud,  in preparation for watching it, I reacquainted myself with Pascal and this of course led to re-reading the infamous wager:

1. “God is, or He is not”
2. A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.
3. According to reason, you can defend either of the propositions.
4. You must wager. (It’s not optional.)
5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
6. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (…) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.

I thought this merited a quick blog entry because it epitomises the very problem I keep reiterating:  the one of bivalency.  My main contention, of course, is with the first two premises.  The very first proposition means nothing to me–  I want at this point to say:  “Why?”… “How so?”… “What exactly do you mean by that?” … “How did this “god” you speak of enter the equation?”

Notice the huge leap in the second proposition, where it is analogous to flicking a coin–  a misleading comparison.  After all, for either the tails or heads outcome, it is dependent upon both already existing and an established rule/acceptance that each outcome has an equal possibility. 

1. “Glorb is, or It is not.”

Or: it’s sheer nonsense.

Not everything can be assigned a truth value.

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