Many people have been trying to establish the possibility of God’s existence. Theism argues that God is indeed there in our lives, while atheism claims that the concept of God’s existence is false. Belief in God depends on rational argument or a balanced idea supported by knowledgeable discussion.
However, placing money on theism is not a good bet because it is difficult to provide evidence that God exist and thus the bet may be misguided. This is due to the fact that different people explain the existence of God in different ways and there is always a contradiction between scientific theories and faith of individuals.
According to Feinberg and Shafer-Landau, there are always some disagreements in providing evidence on the existence of God. Traditional points of view about the existence of God are based on experience or without experience. The ontological argument, started by St. Anselm and supported by Descartes, and Spinoza is based on lack of experience (2).
This concept strictly explains that God must exist in order to have the definition of God, even if someone has knowledge on whether He exists or not. However, philosophers like William Rowe objected the ontological argument because it is defective and brings about philosophical questions. This implies that there should be some sort of evidence before concluding that God exist.
Other arguments about God’s existence are cosmological, historical, practical, and arguments from spiritual experience. Cosmological argument requires a true cause in order to provide a conclusion. Historical arguments depend on things like miracles. Practical arguments include the concept outlined by Pascal; this is explained in the following paragraphs. Spiritual arguments outline that God is a divine being who has all the perfect qualities.
He is believed to be everywhere and He is everlasting. Looking at these arguments, it is difficult to bet that God exist because at one point we are forced to contradict ourselves. Next, we look at Pascal’s argument and provide explanations on why it is not safe to bet on God’s existence.
A practical argument proposed by Blaise Pascal explains that when people believe there is God they should not worry about providing evidence.
Pascal pointed out that it costs less if God exist or does not exist (Feinberg & Shafer-Landau 5). Pascal’s reasoning is popularly known as Pascal’s Wager and it is against atheism. This argument or math is wrong because there are different aspects that determine whether we bet or not and in what grounds are we betting on God’s existence.
First, Pascal does not give us direction on which is the best religion to engage in. In this changing world, different religions have emerged with different beliefs and therefore it is possible that when we believe in the teachings of one religion, it might occur that our beliefs are the definitions of hell in another religion.
In addition, if we accept that God exists, it doest confirm that there is only one God. The question is, which God should people believe in? And if we consider all of them, how are we going to determine the genuine rules to follow?
Secondly, Pascal points that you are considered to have lost nothing if you behaved as if God existed. This is incorrect in its sense because it may occur that you are betting on the wrong God and therefore the right God might sent you to hell for your stupidity.
It is important also to take into consideration of the number of individuals who have died simply because they refused to follow medical prescription since they depended on only prayers.
This implies that belief in God does not necessarily involve leaving everything to God, but it calls for knowledge and understanding of what is wrong and right, hence ethical belief.
Furthermore, Pascal’s statement assumes that there are two chances which can be considered as equal or in other words related in some way. That is, either you believe that God exist or not. In real sense, if we take the chance of God’s existence to be close to zero, the statement can be seen as less convincing.
Therefore, the statement only persuades those who already believe. In other words, most moral people argue that belief is driven by evidence and not the consequences outlined by Pascal. For someone who does not know if God exist, it is useless to consider not believing in God. This also raises a major issue on if God knows everyone, whether a believer or a wager, He can use His own powers to know the correct believer (Mathew 1).
Therefore, assuming that you are betting on the correct God, if it turns out that God exist and you behaved as if He doesn’t, that means that you will face the punishments documented in the scriptures and other philosophical documents.
On the other hand, if you believed that God exist and it turns out that He doesn’t then you have nothing to loose because there is no actions to be taken against you for such course. This to some extent justifies the explanation of Pascal. However, from the explanation provided in this paper, it is not safe to bet on God’s existence. If truly God is just and fair, He judges people based on their dealings in life and not by merely betting on beliefs.
Feinberg, Joel, and Russ Shafer-Landua. Reason and Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy. 13th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008. Print.
Mathew. “Common Arguments.” Internet Infidels. 1997. Web. 11 Dec. 2010.