# Pascal’s Wager—Is It a Good Bet?

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was a 17th century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist. Apparently, he was also a theologian of sorts since he is the author of what has come to be known as Pascal’s Wager.

## What is Pascal's Wager?

In a posthumously published book, Pensées (“Thoughts”) Pascal posits that all humans must bet that God exists or that God does not exist. He then ventures into a field of philosophy known as “Christian Apologetics” which attempts to defend Christian beliefs using reason rather than faith.

In simple terms, Pascal asks us to consider the question of God’s existence as a wager. He asks us to assume that we must place our bet; it is not optional. Therefore, we must look at the gain or loss inherent in each side of the bet.

In statistical theory (not yet invented in Pascal’s time), he is talking about the consequences of making a Type I or a Type II error. In statistics, the “null hypothesis”—the hypothesis that something does not exist, is always the hypothesis tested because science does not accept anything as true until it has been proven to be true.

• A type I error occurs when you conclude something is true when it is actually false (a false positive).
• A type II error is when you conclude something is false, when it is actually true (a false negative).

## Testing the Hypothesis

No God

No God

No error

None

None

No God

Yes, God exists

Type I error

None

None

Yes, God Exists

No God

Type II error

None

Hell

Yes, God exists

Yes, God exists

No error

Heaven

None

It is easy to see from this chart that the safe bet is to bet that God does exist. If there is no God, you lose or gain nothing no matter how you bet. If there is a God, you win Heaven if you are correct and you go to Hell if you are wrong. The rational choice is to bet that God exists. Pascal concluded that If you do not believe, you should seek to “cure yourself of disbelief.”

If only it were so simple. Unfortunately, this simple wager fails to consider many logical fallacies and false assumptions. Here are a few of them.

## 1. Is it possible to cure yourself of disbelief?

Can someone just say, “OK, I believe” and abracadabra, he is a believer? I think not. If you do not believe, you could try to persuade yourself to believe, for instance, talk to people who do believe, read books on the subject, etc., but if you remain unconvinced, you cannot force yourself to believe.

## 2. Which God should you believe in?

Pascal is clearly biased—he wants us to believe in the Christian God. However, throughout history and even in modern times, there have been thousands of different religions, each with different ideas about the identity of God. Some religions believe that there is more than one God. If you choose the wrong God, will the “real God” be angry with you? If you choose one of a multitude of real gods, will the other gods be mad at you for not choosing them?

Some religions, like the Mormon religion, are relatively new (founded in 1830). You have to ask yourself, “Why did God wait so long to reveal Himself?”

## 3. Can you fool God?

Since you cannot force yourself to believe, should you pretend to believe? Can you fool God? Can you lie to God?

Since God is described as all-knowing, pretending to believe is not going to do you any good. In fact, your lie might make God angry at you. As I understand it, God does not like the “bearing of false witness.”

Scroll to Continue

## 4. Is there really no cost to belief, even if you are wrong?

If you sincerely believe, there are some benefits during your earthly life.

• It is comforting to know that a “Heavenly Father” cares about you and looks after you and that not only will you have eternal life, but you will be rewarded for your belief in the afterlife.
• If you go to church, you become part of a community and can become friends with like-minded people. It can even be good for you financially, if you meet people at church who become your clients or customers.
• Church also gives you an opportunity to be altruistic and to do “good works” (although you can also find these opportunities elsewhere).
• Finally, some people get a great deal of pleasure from the feeling that their particular brand of religion makes them better than others.

However, there are costs to belief ,even if you are a sincere believer, if it turns out that you are wrong about the existence of God.

• You have spent a lot of time in worship and things like Bible study. You might have spent that time doing more enjoyable or beneficial things.
• You have also given your money to the church through donations and tithes. Again, you could have spent that money on more enjoyable and beneficial things.
• You may have been misled into doing and believing things that you might otherwise have found to be practically and morally wrong. Perhaps you were forced to shun a member of your family or to give birth to an unwanted child due to your religious belief. There are even people who murder for religious reasons. (Remember 9/11. Remember witch burnings.)
• You may feel like a "sinner" and have low self-esteem because you don't conform to the teachings of your church. (For instance, you are gay or divorced.)You may feel guilty because you can not reach an impossible standard of perfection in behavior or even because of your thoughts.
• You give up the joys of critical thinking and rational reasoning. You give up the joy of figuring out for yourself how to give your life meaning.

There are also costs due to an acceptance of non-rational thinking (“magical thinking”).

• When someone is taught to take something “on faith” and to reject the scientific method and the use of reason to discover what is true or not true, he can easily be manipulated by others.
• He may think he can substitute prayer for action or he may have a fatalistic view of life.
• He can fall victim to spiritual leaders or politicians who sound convincing, but are actually charlatans.

## 4. Is there really no cost to pretending to believe?

If you are a non-believer pretending to believe, you can enjoy some benefits from this.

• You will “fit in” if you join the church to which the majority of the people in your country have joined. (This will be different depending on what country, or even community, you live in.)
• Also, if your family has a tradition of belief, you stay in their “good graces” if they think that you believe what they believe.

On the negative side, a non-believer may pay psychological costs if he forces himself “to live a lie.” He may be forced to do things he does not want to do.

• He will feel that he is wasting his time in church.
• He will suffer the distress of taking positions he knows are morally wrong. For instance, perhaps he will have to appear to oppose marriage equality, reproductive freedom, or scientific findings when actually he is in favor of these things.
• Finally, it is very damaging to the psyche to be lying all the time to everyone you know. What a burden that must be!

## 5. Being a moral person can bring happiness, but is a belief in God necessary to make you a moral person?

Most people are moral regardless of whether they believe in the existence of God (or gods or goddesses). They are moral because it really is true that virtue is its own reward. It is a simple as this: If you lie, steal, cheat, you will feel bad about yourself and you will be socially isolated. Most people have a conscience that prods them to be good.

Additionally, there are civil laws that keep negative tendencies in check among those with insufficient inherent morality. Our laws do not derive from religion. Our laws go all the way back to prehistoric times. The first known codification of civil laws goes back to The Code of Hammurabi in Babylon, in 1754 BCE.

Do you really think that not having a belief in God turns people into thieves, rapists, and murderers? Many people who are devout--pedophile priests and hypocrite preachers come to mind—do immoral things.

Most atheists, just like most believers, are law-abiding and moral people. There are some atheists who are not good people, but their bad behavior has nothing to do with their non-belief.

Finally, can you really say someone is moral if the only reason for their good behavior is a fear of punishment, whether by the civil authorities or by God?

## 6. Will God really punish the non-believer?

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was a well-known writer and atheist. He often took part in public debates with Christians. I was present at one of those debates. He was asked what he would say if he discovered after his death that God does exist after all and he was now going to be banished to Hell as punishment for his sin of disbelief. He replied, “I would say why did you not provide sufficient proof of your existence? Why did you give us reason, if you did not want us to use it?” In other words, he did not believe that a just God would punish someone for disbelief.

Do you also find it hard to believe that a just and loving God would punish a person who led a good life simply for not believing in His existence or for not worshipping Him. Could God be that petty?

I have always thought it was very self-serving hen some churches say you can’t get to heaven by good works, but only from accepting Christ as your savior. Convenient isn’t it? You have to join their church to get to Heaven.

## In conclusion, Pascal’s wager is not a good bet.

Having used my reason to evaluate the pros and cons of this bet, I have concluded that it is not a good bet. It is more advantageous to be a non-believer than to be a believer. Of course, you may use your reason and come to a different conclusion. I did not write this essay to “convert” anyone to belief or disbelief. I am fortunate to live in a country which provides freedom of religion which gives everyone one the right to believe, or not believe, as they choose.

One last point. Pascal’s writings about this wager were published after his death. The argument about the wager was found among his notes. I like to think that this wager Could may have just been some musings that upon further reflection, he might have set aside because he, himself, recognized the faults in his logic.

## This video says it all, and does it beautifully--and in just six minutes.

J E HOLMES on August 07, 2019:

I can prove a negative ; I can prove that root2 is not a rational number

Incidentally science is also a faith subject

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on January 13, 2017:

Sirman: Thanks for your conment. Trying to trick God is only one of the many illogical aspects of the wager. I point out quite a few more.

Slrman from Joao Pessoa, Brazil on January 13, 2017:

What Pascal's wager is really saying is that you think god is so stupid he will not be able to recognize genuine belief from fake "just in case belief." Rather disrespectful, in my opinion

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on September 14, 2016:

Rex Jamesson: You make a very good point. I never thought of that one. What if you do everything Pascal's God wants you to do, but then he still doesn't admit you to Heaven. Why? Because I, thy God, am a capricious god.

Rex Jamesson on September 14, 2016:

Great article, Catherine!

One thing that I'd add is the question of, "Is god really good and true to his word?" I haven't seen anybody address this fallacy of the wager with regards to the biblical god. Pascal's Wager hangs on the implicit assumption that god will do what he says, yet in numerous examples in the Judeo/Christian scriptures, this is not the case: After commissioning Moses to meet with Pharaoh and telling him how he (god) will accompany Moses, we have the odd Exodus account of god trying to kill Moses enroute. Balaam (Numbers 22) is told by an angel to accompany the men who are bribing him to curse Israel, yet while obeying, the story continues that god tried to kill him on the way. Judges 20 recounts three times god instructed Israel to go to war against the tribe of Benjamin, yet in all but the third time, their warriors suffer devastating defeats. God in "David's census temptation" decides he is angry with Israel - no reason given - and tempts David to take a census so that god can have his excuse to kill off some of his people via plague, starvation, or war losses. And there are more examples in the bible indicating a deity that is anything but trustworthy...

You may be correct that it IS a truism that you cannot prove a negative, but it doesn't remove the burden of proof. Anyone who makes a claim -- either that God exists or that God doesn't exist -- is still responsible for providing proof for that claim (even if, in the latter case, it is a theoretically impossible task). This is why claiming that God doesn't exist is so problematic, and why we must take care in how we frame our statements on this issue.

In any case, it's a moot point with regard to Mario's comments, for he made a positive claim -- that a hypothesis exists to disprove God's existence. And I hope he returns to explain it, as I'd genuinely like to hear it!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 05, 2016:

Paladin: It is a truism that you can not prove a negative. Thus it is incumbent upon the people who claim that there IS a God, to prove that their claim is true.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'd very much like to hear this hypothesis that proves that there is no such thing as God! I've been contemplating and studying this question for decades now, and I have yet to concoct or come across any single hypothesis or argument that constitutes such proof. This could be interesting!

Mario Zermeno Alvarez on May 05, 2016:

I did not care for the so called wager. I have always been totally convinced that there is absolutely no such thing as God, under any religion. I ha proved it to myself a long time ago with my own hypothesis. And can prove it to any one with sufficient common sense and understanding of logic. More over, in fact I have, and in many cases passing by believers have admitted it to be so; and only add, "you know I think you got something there. No no, I think you are right, that man created God when he named it so, like he created everything else, when he named it so."

Commonsensethink on January 03, 2016:

CatherineGiordano: thanks. I will happily look into that. My wife is a practising Buddhist, and once in a while I accompany her to one of the local Buddhist temples - so it will serve to increase my knowledge of the subject.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on January 03, 2016:

Commonsensethink: Your comment shows not only your common sense, but also your ability to think deeply on a subject. The reason why everyone does not agree with you and me on this is because they are positively sure that the god they worship is the only true god.

I have done some research into Buddhism. While some sects of Buddhism are properly called religion, the teachings of Buddha have no supernatural elements and are only a philosophy of how to live. See my hub: "Was Buddha a Real Person: The Life and Teachings of Buddha"

Commonsensethink on January 02, 2016:

I think that you make the points very well.

The significant points for me:

1. If I cannot scientifically and logically prove the existence of a god, then it is intellectually dishonest to believe in one, purely to "hedge my bets".

2. It would be a false belief anyway and obviously transparent.

3. There is more than one belief system. The logic that tells you that the Christian God cannot exist also applies to all other gods - Allah, Odin, Zeus, Quetzalcoatl etc. And if you "hedge your bets" by "believing" (falsely) in the Christian God and the Norsemen had it right all along - then Odin, Thor and Freya etc. will not be impressed and you lose anyway.

So to "hedge your bets" properly you have to believe in dozens of different gods, although no one religion will normally allow for that. Buddhism can work to a point on mix and match, but try believing in, say, Norse mythology and Islam at the same time? That is not going to work.

I see you've discovered Qualia Soup, one of my favorite YouTubers. He has an amazing ability to comprehensively analyze a theological issue in detail, using great animations. Nobody does it better.

Unfortunately, it appears that neither he nor Theramin Trees (I think they're brothers) do new videos anymore. But their channels have quite an excellent collection of videos, and I hope you (and everyone else!) takes some time to check them out!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on July 28, 2015:

I published this six months ago, but I just came across an amazing must-see YouTube video, so I added it. If you have seen this hub before, it is worth a second look to see the video. If you have not seen this Editor's Choice and Hub of the Day selection before, take a look now, and don't miss the video.

With all due respect, I do understand your point. But, while most people are aware of the mass genocide that went on in North America, they are often unaware that a similar genocide occurred in Central America, South America and the Caribbean as well.

It may not have been as premeditated as the infamous "smallpox blankets" of the American West, but it was just as catastrophic, and just as clearly demonstrated how European Caucasians regarded natives as lesser beings than themselves -- even less than human.

In any case, I now fear I've taken the discussion off on a minor tangent, and for that, I apologize.

Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on June 20, 2015:

Paladin - what I meant was, the natives of Central and South America were not annihilated like the ones in the United States and Canada.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 20, 2015:

Actually, I must correct a statement made above that the Catholics "did not annihilate the natives the way the Protestants did."

This is unequivocally not true. The Catholic religion arrived in the Americas with Christopher Columbus' first voyage, and almost from the beginning, they were literally worked to death by their Catholic masters in the plantations, gold and silver mines.

In fact, the importation of African slaves ultimately became a necessity, once it was discovered that they could survive longer in the brutal slave conditions than the American natives, who were wholly exterminated in some locations.

Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on June 20, 2015:

Thanks, CG! They are titled, "What Takes More Courage than Rebellion? Considering Another Point of View."

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 20, 2015:

Thank you Say Yes to Life for your thoughtful comment. You have brought some good ideas to the discussion. I am now going to read some of your hubs about religion. I'm sure I will learn something.

Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on June 20, 2015:

" "Some religions, like the Mormon religion, are relatively new (founded in 1830). You have to ask yourself, “Why did God wait so long to reveal Himself?” "

I'm going to take this statement and run with it.

Christianity was officially founded 30 CE, in Israel. Originally, it was a tiny offshoot of Judaism. It was spread throughout the world through bullying tactics. In other words, God chose to reveal Himself in a tiny part of the world, VERY late in world history, even for those who believe it has existed only 6000 years.

Here's more; it is known that the Protestant denominations, particularly Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses, love to attack Catholics; after all, Protestant means protesting against Catholics. Yet, it was the Catholic church that established Christianity as we know it. Also, while Catholics spread the religion to the Americas, it did not annihilate the natives the way the Protestants did. They were also not quite so harsh slave masters, believing the slaves had a soul to save.

Having recently published four hubs on the 10 most practiced religions, I find it highly interesting that Christianity is the only major world religion whose Leader did not write any books; in fact, His existence is difficult to prove.

God may or may not exist, but Christianity appears to be the biggest hoax in the history of mankind.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on June 14, 2015:

Cath

you have done the right thing and for that you have gained more respect. However I still note that Randy has continued to focus his attacks not on my sound arguments but on myself. Hence he is still continuing in personal attack and technically should be banned from at least this Hub.

I always maintain a succint and scientific approach and avoid verbosity.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 14, 2015:

Jonathan Norburg: I'm very happy to welcome you to hub pages. Go to my profile page and read the hub "One Year on HubPages." It will be at the top of the list because it is my latest hub. It is full of advice that should help you get started. I 'm not an expert, but the tips and tricks seem to work for me. Somebody may have pasted my hub on the fb page because I don't think I posted it there. As for trolls and spammers--water off a duck's back.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on June 14, 2015:

No problem, Catherine. :) I've had dealings with Oz before and he plays the sympathy card often, especially when he's on the losing end of the discussion. LOL! I trust your judgement as a moderator of your hubs, as I should. :)

Jonathan Norburg on June 14, 2015:

Thank you for the welcome. I've been active on Facebook for a few weeks (I'm a very late adopter as far as social media is concerned) and I happened to run across one of your posts on "Creationism vs. Evolution" I think it was, and that led me here. I'm quite familiar with trolls and spammers from my days on usenet and such, but I hadn't encountered such blinkered, philistine, pig-ignorance as some of the comments which I've read on FB. Truly, my mind is boggled as I can comprehend no better way to understand the universe and our place in it than through the lens of science and the scientific method.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 14, 2015:

Thanks Randy for explaining about the gadflys (the most polite term I could come up with) to Jonathan. You may have noticed that I did delete your comment about "big boys." Criticism of other comments is OK, but I'd like to keep it polite.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 14, 2015:

Jonathan Norburg: Welcome to HubPages. I'll be on the look out for you hubs. Thanks for your praise of my article. If you stay on HubPages, you will learn to ignore the gadflys. They ruin the conversation for everyone else. And I see that Randy Godwin above has explained this very well in the above comment.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on June 14, 2015:

Welcome to Hubpages, Jonathan. There are plenty of religious folk just like Oz who get really sensitive when someone disagrees with them about their religion. This is especially so when those who disagree uses science and common sense argument to indicate the believers are mistaken in what they think is true.

They then act hurt and insulted even if they started the name calling to begin with. However, most see right through this with the result being loss of credibility.....if they have any to begin with. :)

@Cathering--feel free to delete my comments at any time if you feel they are detrimental to your hub...or even if they're not. :)

Jonathan Norburg on June 14, 2015:

Excellent hub! I've just discovered this site and to find an article so well written and informative right off the bat is a joy.

I have to say, though, that I find oztinato's comments more and more trying as he is repeatedly posting an opinion backed up by hearsay evidence with no citations of any kind. "Look it up on Google," is not now nor has it ever been a legitimate form of documenting that what one says is true. As a result, I must take the skeptics path and conclude that his pronouncements are probably false; not definitively, as proving the null position true on any subject is logically impossible.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 14, 2015:

Oz: I do delete posts that I feel cross the line. I deleted one just now. I will manage my comments as I see fit. Your comments are on the antagonistic side, so don't be surprised when others reply in kind.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on June 13, 2015:

I note again that the hub author here has persistently allowed personal insults and hate speech. Hub rules clearly state that personal attacks are not permissible.

This pollutes any alleged intellectual honesty

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on June 13, 2015:

Well we are blessed with mathamaticians greater than Godel on HP....as if.

I note that the hub author here has not deleted personal attacks. Bias?

Thanks, Catherine. I didn't want to presume, as I know that's been a bit of a sensitive topic lately. Here's the link:

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 12, 2015:

Paladin: People have been posting links so you might as well do so also. I'd like to read that hub.

So, Oz, we're back to claims about Gödel's "God" theorem, are we? All right, I'll ask you once again (for, what, the tenth time?):

Can you please explain to us -- in your own words -- how you know his theorem was proven? If you can't, you don't know that it was proven, so you must therefore quit claiming it was (incidentally, as I've already done countless times, I CAN explain why it WASN'T proven).

For anyone else who may not be familiar with Gödel's theorem, it's simply another version of the age-old ontological argument, and fails just as miserably. Instead of Anselm's being greater than that which can be conceived, Gödel simply defines a "God-like being" (a distinction with its own inherent problems) as "possessing all existing properties."

I actually wrote a hub examining it in detail, explaining why it fails on numerous points. With Catherine's permission, I'll post a link in a subsequent comment (or you can just go to my profile page and look for Gödel).

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on June 12, 2015:

Ha, Oz! Do you even know what a theorem is? Using math to prove something with so may ifs, involved does away with logic in the first place. The theorem can be mathematically proven but it is flawed by pure logic. Check out the last paragraph in this article for the end result.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/scient...

By the way, the final equation also suggests there may be many gods present in the universe and not merely one, the way I read it. Good try though!

"On the contrary he has a proven god theorem tested and proved by modern super computers!"

I wasn't aware a MacBook was regarded as a modern super computer. :P

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on June 11, 2015:

Just google kurt godel god theorem.

Godel was einsteins anointed successor.

I note the failure of the hub author to remove your personal attacks.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on June 11, 2015:

Post the link then, Oz. I'll be happy to take a gander at it. I hope it's not on some nutty fundie site.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on June 11, 2015:

On the contrary he has a proven god theorem tested and proved by modern super computers!

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on June 11, 2015:

Godel was a good mathematician, but his views on religion was merely his personal opinion. He didn't prove there was a god nor an afterlife. He was simply a theist with an opinion. So you haven't used science in your points, neither succinctly or in any other manner, Oz.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on June 11, 2015:

I have made calm succint scientific points without anger. Pointing out personal attacks is the morally correct procedure. Its up to the hub author to delete them.

Kurt Godel gave scientific definitions of God.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 11, 2015:

Thank you so very much for your praise, comment, and commiseration. It is very trying to deal with long, off-topic, and ill-informed comments, especially when the same person is commenting over and over saying the same thing each time. I did convince one person to write his own hub. I even let him link to his hub in my comments. When it gets too overwhelming, I remind myself that a view is a view whether the viewer agrees with me or not.

Suzie from Carson City on June 11, 2015:

Catherine.....Congratulation on a most deserving HOTD. I found it very interesting as well as educational. I must also comment on your patience & civility with trolls, spammers and the "like" who insist upon rambling jibberish ( and repeatedly at that!.)...simply amazing how grotesquely ignorant some people so boldly present themselves. They are actually proud to be most annoying. In fact part of their belief is that the more hated they are by man...the more pleasing they are to their Jehovah. How very special for them.

I wonder how many times you must suggest that certain comments are TOO LONG, they do NOT relate your topic..and they should spend their time & energy on a HUB of their own. Perhaps that would be too sensible a thing for the confused to pursue.

I'm most impressed with your writing as well as your topics, Catherine. You are a pleasure to read. Thank you.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 11, 2015:

You read all my hubs about religion, but you never seem to take away one bit of knowledge. (I assume you read them because I see your comments. Perhaps you comment without reading. It does seem that the latter is likely to be the case because your comments often seem to be unrelated to the thesis of the hub.) This makes people get a little exasperated and they respond with anger.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on June 11, 2015:

That is not the "scientific" definition of a god, Oz. Why do you get so angry when you get caught in an untruth? You're always threatening to report someone who doesn't agree with your opinion. Grow up why dontcha!!

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on June 11, 2015:

Randy

that is very close to a personal attack/hate speech. Also it doesn't make sense: the definition of God is an all knowing compassionate entity so how is that a "lie" ??

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on June 11, 2015:

More BS from Oz!

"Otherwise how could It be scientifically defined as an all knowing compassionate entity?"

What a blatant lie!! No surprise coming from a Christian who wouldn't know a scientific fact if it hit him in the face. LOL!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 11, 2015:

Oz: I was unaware that God had bee scientifically defined. Thanks for commenting.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on June 10, 2015:

The Hindus believe in millions of gods but of course know they are all just different aspects of the same One god. This is such a basic truth that no amount of blind prejudice either from theists or atheists can affect it.

Again the intellectual dishonesty is apparent as such truisms are ignored for the sake of deliberate confusion and obfuscation. Misrepresentation of such basic easy to understand truths has therefore an unscientific foundation.

The One god adapts to time place and circumstances such as language and culture. Otherwise how could It be scientifically defined as an all knowing compassionate entity?

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 10, 2015:

Oz: on of the flaws of Pascal's wager is that he assumes only one god, but if you consider that there are thousands of religions all with different ideas of god and how he should be worshipped, you can never be sure that you are believing in the right one.

My essay on Pascal's wager is not based on science, but rather logic. I present reasons for deciding on both side of the wager. I think I am fair to belief and non-belief.

I can't comment on demons. I know nothing about demons.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on June 09, 2015:

Cath,

my comments began here in response to a dialogue regarding "gods and demons" (or "good and evil") which came about in the normal course of the discussion here in this Hub by yourself and others. It is intellectually dishonest not to admit this.

Atheist Peeps/Joseph,

the fundamental fault in Joe's thoughts is that (exactly like atheists) they are based on religious intolerance. In Joe's case it is an intolerance to all other religions or even other Christian sects other than the JWs. This is remarkably similar to atheists who likewise have this same tragic flaw in reasoning which fundamentally discredits their logic. Hence the reasoning re Pascal's wager of any other topic becomes tainted by intellectual dishonesty masked as science: science does not admit prejudice and intolerance as it contradicts its own scientific objectivity.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on June 09, 2015:

Conscience, not consciousness.

Dawkins is always talking about it

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 08, 2015:

Randy Godwin: Thanks for your comment about the main flaw in Pascal's wager. So many people just can't wrap their head around the fact that there could be a different god than the one they believe in.

Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on June 08, 2015:

Catherine, enjoyed reading this hub. I don't really take Pascals Wager seriously as it ignores all of the other gods which may also be in the mix. If there's one, there has to be more! :)

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on June 01, 2015:

hussain ali Thank you for your kind words about my writing. It's so nice to now that people look forward to something new from me.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 28, 2015:

Ozinato: Could you please direct me to just one post on the topic. Also, there is no reason you can't write on the same topic as others. Everyone of my hubs is on a topic that someone else has also written about. People still read and like my hubs. There's quite few hubs on Pascal's wager (See the Related Hubs to the right on this page) , yet each is different, reflecting the authors' unique take on it.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on May 27, 2015:

Cath

there are ample hubs and online info on this. Its common knowledge.

It relates directly to this hub and the numerous associated comments here by others including yourself.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 27, 2015:

Thanks Paladin. I appreciate your comment. I told Polanco if he puts links in his comments, I will deny them. so he stopped using links, but still comments a half dozen times on each hub. I told him to put his ideas into his own hubs and I will read them. As for religion and consciousness, I appreciate knowing that you do not know what he was talking about either. I suggested writing a hub about it so I could be enlightened.

Catherine, sorry for not getting back to you earlier (I've been very busy working on a gas line for my mom's stove, and getting the garden going).

As for your earlier questions to me (regarding Joe), I really feel I shouldn't add any additional comments, because I don't want to 'resurrect' the issue (if you'll pardon the pun), and I wouldn't presume to tell you how to run your hubs. I only thought it fair to warn you about one of our resident spammers (and I'm grateful to see Oz doesn't condone it, either).

As for 'mainstream' atheists claiming that religion is 'responsible' for human consciousness, I must admit I'm not aware of this trend, and would be interested in hearing more about it. But, as you said, that is a topic unrelated to this hub.

Perhaps Oz will write a hub about it...

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 27, 2015:

Sorry Oztinato. I don't know what you are talking about and it doesn't have anything to do with Pascal's wager. Why don't you write a hub about it.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on May 27, 2015:

Cath

its all of the mainstream atheist theorists not just Dawkins who have made it a constant glaring theme and criticism for almost the last two decades etc. They all claim negatively that religion is responsible for conscience. Surely no one can deny that this has been one of the constant atheism criticisms.

Many many religions claim the soul and conscience are synonymous and that animals have souls.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 27, 2015:

Ozinato: I am not aware of Dawkins saying anything about conscience arising from religion. The best way I can respond to your question about ethics is to refer you to my hub Beliefs, Morals, Values, and Ethics. Thanks for your comment.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on May 27, 2015:

Cath

Although I admire your intelligence I have to respect the (often atheist) official research that claims religion is responsible for conscience.

The other problem is one of basic intellectual honesty: how can for example Dawkins (or other atheists ) say religion is to blame for conscience on the one hand and that the conscience is valued by atheists as separate to religion?

This is what I am getting when I am claiming that atheism seems to dull a persons perception of ethics: it often appears in such basic reasoning as just described.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 26, 2015:

Ozinato: I understood what you said, but I think, based on my readings, that conscience came first. Perhaps even animals have it. I have heard people say their dogs look contrite when they know they have done something wrong. Any animal that lives in a pack has to have something like a conscience in order for the pack to survive. Later conscience gave rise to religion. Religion gave this instinct a name and put rules to it. Thanks for commenting.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on May 26, 2015:

Catherine

I am not saying atheists have no conscience just that atheist science agrees it Evolved out of religion. As it Evolved out of religion it stands to reason that removing religion from the equation will weaken the conscience.

Paldin/Cath

I do not condone any of Joes comments.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on May 25, 2015:

Perhaps, there are more atheists that read here or at least respond to your hubs. You are no doubt a very prolific writer. I don't like disagreeing with your point of view at all but like you, I have an obligation to write for myself and the few people that have a tendency to see and agree with my point of view. Sometimes, we agree on some things and that's okay.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 25, 2015:

Thanks word55. I appreciate your comments especially since you don't agree with my point of view sometimes. I've been writing hubs on atheism because it may be my niche. Hubs on this topic are among my most successful hubs. I always try to be fair and present both sides of the story.

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on May 25, 2015:

Oh yes Catherine, I really liked the hub. I thought that was insinuated... As for the spammed comment I've received about 3-4 of them. I usually delete them because they usually don't relate to the hub commented on. In your case here since people responded to his comments it won't hurt to just leave it all there... I like all of your writings that I read and comment on. There's no uncertainty about that.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 25, 2015:

Word 55 Thanks for your good wishes. I hope you liked the hub.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 25, 2015:

Al Wordlaw from Chicago on May 25, 2015:

Hi Catherine, Congrats on this HOTD! I've mentioned before that God's existence is only attested to by an individual's and or agreement of two or more of people's firm belief. Thank you for this presentation and prolific research here. Keep smiling!

I think you should know, Catherine, that you're being spammed.

Joseph has a bad habit of copying and pasting the same comments -- verbatim -- on numerous hubs, being sure to include links to his own website (he once actually tried to C&P a 4,000 word comment on one of my hubs!). If you're curious, copy and past some of his above comments into any search engine, and see how many results you get!

Joseph has demonstrated time and time again that he has absolutely NO interest in honest discussion, only in the promotion of the Jehovah's Witnesses and his own pre-packaged diatribes.

My comments may strike you as somewhat vindictive or off-putting, and I apologize for their tenor. But I thought you should be forewarned. You seem to be a reasonable person, open to honest discussion and debate, and your hubs shouldn't be abused by spammers.

Joseph O Polanco on May 25, 2015:

It’s true, all sound individuals rely on their innate moral awareness, their conscience. This is why, since time immemorial, even the most primitive cultures, regardless of their metaphysical values, enforced laws and regulations against homicide and various other acts of evil.

But the truth is that, just as with our verbal communication abilities, for instance, our conscience has to be refined, calibrated, made more robust. If not, it could be stunted, or worst, perverted such that evil behavior is deemed good with good ones perceived as evil.

Because of this, the eternal well being and happiness of mankind is inextricably bound to the objective moral values and responsibilities lovingly given to us by our Maker. Without these you have absolutely nothing to guard your conscience from becoming disoriented perhaps even corrupted.

An exceptional instance of this can readily be observed with child soldiers. They are demonstrably much more coldblooded and ruthless when compared to their older counterparts. “More than 300,000 children—some as young as 7—are fighting as soldiers in 41 countries around the world,” said an Associated Press dispatch. Most are between the ages of 15 and 18. “Besides being used as front-line fighters, children are used to detect land mines and also as spies, porters and sex slaves, according to the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.” Drugs are often administered to make children fearless. Those who refuse drugs are killed, said a 14-year-old rebel soldier in Sierra Leone. Regarding his fighting in 1999 when he was 15, a North African youth reported: “They put all the 15- and 16-year-olds in the front line while the army retreated. I was with 40 other kids. I was fighting for 24 hours. When I saw that only three of my friends were alive, I ran back.” The Coalition’s report stated that governments recruit children because of “their very qualities as children—they can be cheap, expendable and easier to condition into fearless killing and unthinking obedience.”

And so we arrive at the heart of our exchange. Whether or not someone possesses a conscience isn’t truly the issue. It’s if or not an individual possess a reliable one, and particularly, if he/she honestly obeys it.

This predicament calls to mind a very old Cherokee lore. It goes, roughly speaking, like this:

“An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."”

With that in mind, take into consideration what another equally wise and ancient passage reveals:

“This is what Jehovah has said [] “I, Jehovah, am your God [Creator], the One teaching you to benefit [yourself], the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments. Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” - Isaiah 48:17,18 (Brackets mine.)

As would any caring mother or father, our Creator, Jehovah God, is keenly interested in our well-being. To this end, he instructs us on the best ways to preserve and also make full use of the conscience he produced us with.

To close, here’s a remarkable example of this loving guidance at work as reported in a well known intercontinental journal:

“In Liberia, Alex served as an altar boy in the Catholic Church. But at the age of 13, he joined a warring faction and became a notorious child soldier. To make himself brave in battle, he turned to witchcraft. Alex saw many of his companions killed, but he survived. In 1997 he met Jehovah’s Witnesses and found that they did not look down on him. Rather, they helped him to learn what the Bible says about violence. Alex left the army. As his faith began to grow, he followed the Bible command: “Let him turn away from what is bad and do what is good; let him seek peace and pursue it.”—1 Peter 3:11.

Meanwhile, a former child soldier named Samson came through the town where Alex now lived. He had been a choirboy but in 1993 became a soldier and got involved in drug abuse, spiritism, and immorality. In 1997 he was demobilized. Samson was heading for Monrovia to join a special security force when a friend persuaded him to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, and as a result, he developed a Bible-based faith. This gave him the courage to abandon his warlike ways. Both Alex and Samson now live peaceful and moral lives. Could anything but Bible-based faith make changes in lives that had been so brutalized?” - http://bit.ly/18WopZ0

Has it become apparent to you now exactly why each of us needs to scrutinize and make use of what the Bible teaches?

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 25, 2015:

Oztinato and Polanco: Conscience based on reason is stronger than conscience based on religion. When one comes to moral conclusions through the use of one's own reason, one "owns" it.

It is possible that some people take up religion for the reasons Pascal gave. They think that it is the safe bet.

Thank you for commenting.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 25, 2015:

Oztinato: Have you actually read Freud and Dawkins? I think you have got their views entirely backwards.

Thank you for commenting.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 25, 2015:

Thank you Yogesh. I appreciate that you read my hub and took the time to comment.

Joseph O Polanco on May 25, 2015:

The only way that's possible is if objective moral values and duties were a reality grounded in God.

Andrew Petrou from Brisbane on May 25, 2015:

Catherine

all high ranking atheist scholars (Freud, Dawkins etc) agree that religion caused the "birth" of conscience. They also blame religion for this tendency.

We can see a rapid weakening of conscience as traditional religion comes under attack as unfashionable/not sexy etc.

Yogesh on May 24, 2015:

Very nice hub.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 24, 2015:

I had to look that up, Larry Fields. Godwin's Rule states that if any online discussion goes long enough someone will compare someone/something to Hitler or Nazism. We got there in under 50 comments. Thanks for being here, Larry.

According to Wikipedia, whoever brings up Hitler or Nazism automatically loses the debate. Sorry Joe. Debate over. You lost.

Larry Fields from Northern California on May 24, 2015:

Hi Joseph,

Congratulations! You have just won today's Godwin Award.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 24, 2015:

DzyMsLizzy: Thank you for your comment and your praise. I definitely agree with you about hypocritical politicians who use religion for their own ends.

As for the Satan thing, I guess some people just can't understand that there are people who don't worship any entity. They think that if you don't worship their god then you must worship Satan. Either that or they are deliberately trying to insult people who believe differently than they do.

I tried to be fair to both sides, giving the pros and cons for belief and disbelief.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 24, 2015:

my girl sara: Thank you for your praise and for your open-mindedness. Apparently, we don't agree about which side of the bet has the odds in favor of it, but I'm glad you think I made my case well. As you observed, my focus was on reason; not emotion. I'll leave it to others to make the case with "the heart" as you say.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 24, 2015:

Larry Fields: It was a pleasure to read your comment. You had me chuckling by the end. Roddenberry was a master. I'm so delighted to read how much you liked my article. Thank you.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 24, 2015:

Joseph O Polanco: No

Joseph O Polanco on May 24, 2015:

@Dzy

Would that mean, for instance, that if everyone agreed the Holocaust was a great moral good that would make it so?

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on May 24, 2015:

Congrats on HOTD! VERY well done, and laid out with calm reason.

As a non-believer myself, I agree that one does not need church or religion to behave morally. Look at all the hypocrites among our politicians who are trying to cram their brand of religious beliefs down our throats by means of putting them into various bills designed to become laws--all in clear violation of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion and speech. Yet, they have nearly all been caught up in one scandal or another.

Another argument the religious try to use against atheists is to accuse them of being Satan worshipers instead. That, too, is faulty logic, in my opinion. I don't believe in such an entity any more than I believe in a god; a person isn't going to worship something in which they do not believe.

Voted up, interesting and awesome.

Cynthia Lyerly from Georgia on May 24, 2015:

Best HOD in a long time! Love the way you used his probabilities. It's a great way to share with people who are more analytical about faith in God. So sorry you are choosing to place your bets against the odds. Just goes to show that the Christian faith is more that just a decision of the mind but of the heart as well. There are lots of other statistical reasons why IT IS all true but I really like this hub as an intro to share with others. I do pray that God will reveal to you and others that He is real and true.

Larry Fields from Northern California on May 24, 2015:

Hi Catherine,

Congratulations on a truly outstanding hub, and on HOTD! You and the commenters appear to have covered all of the bases. You have written one of the strongest arguments for Free Thought that I have ever seen. For some reason, I'm reminded of two episodes from classic Trek.

Kirk and the the crew of the Enterprise encounter two supernatural entities Apollo and a locally omnipotent being, named Trelayne., who are both portrayed in a less-than-favorable light.

Freethinkers can say: Aha, most religions are like that. On the other hand, True Believers can say: Ho hum, another false god. Roddenberry was able to encompass two diametrically opposed world views in these two episodes. Before that, Pascal and I would have wagered that this was impossible!

Joseph O Polanco on May 24, 2015:

Can you, perhaps, supply an example or two of specific Bible prophecies that are "vague enough to fit just about anything"?

Romeos Quill from Lincolnshire, England on May 24, 2015:

Typo ' 942' - it's late :)

R.Q.

Romeos Quill from Lincolnshire, England on May 24, 2015:

With respsect, I think you may be mixing up prophecy with retroactive clairvoyance. People try to squeeze events to fit in with Nostradamus' 394 quatrains, who was an occultic seer yet prophecy is about events yet to come to pass.

For example in the Bible, a Messianic prophecy about Jesus the Messiah being nailed by His hands and feet is found in Psalm 22:16, where it prophetically states: " For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet."

That was written at a time when crucifixion was not a method of execution in Israel. So how did they know that?

R.Q.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 24, 2015:

Thanks for your comment, Romeos Quill. I agree that Pascal's wager is just too easy to take apart.

As to your comment about prophecy, that's easy to take apart also. They are usually vague enough to fit just about anything. It's like fortune telling and psychics. I've heard people claiming that all of Nostradamus's prophecies have come true also. With the Bible predicting stuff about Jesus, it is entirely true when people were writing the story of Jesus's life, they made it fit the Prophecies.

Romeos Quill from Lincolnshire, England on May 24, 2015:

An engrossing and thought-provoking write; congratulations on achieving another HOTD. I'm familiar with Pascal's Wager and it is often cited as the lowest common denominator of belief in discussions with atheists.

Did you know that all of the prophecies of the Old Testament given by the Prophets ( who obviously believed in God and claim that the Word of the Lord came to them), regarding the coming of Jesus the Christ/Messiah have a probability success rate of 100%?

Here's an excerpt from a book, ' Evidence That Demands a Verdict ' by Josh McDowell which you may find interesting as the facts certainly convinced me:-

"..... According to the science of probability, the chance of any one human being - up until the present - fulfilling a selection of just EIGHT of these prophecies ( including the one on crucifixion ), is 1 in 10 to the 17th power .... And here we are considering only eight prophecies. What if we were to consider FORTY-EIGHT prophecies? the chance then becomes virtually zero ( 1 x 10 to the 157th power )... "

To give you an idea of how vast that number is, the number of photons in the observable universe have been estimated to be between 1 x 10 to the power of 78, and 1 x 10 to the power of 89. Amazing!

http://www.quora.com/How-many-particles-are-there-...

http://www.universetoday.com/36302/atoms-in-the-un...

Considering those odds which mock probability, did you further know that Jesus Christ fulfilled not 8 prophecies, not 48 prophecies, but more than 354 prophecies, perhaps even as many as 456 prophecies concerning Himself? The odds are astounding, so no wager required when there is certainty. ( Here are links to prove these ' probablities ':-

http://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/3...

and the mathematical probability that Jesus is the Christ, Son of God:-

Did you know that Jesus Christ claimed equality with God? Now is that presumption, arrogance or fact? Based on reason, miracles for unbelievers, witness reports and faith, I believe it to be a fact. Here is a link to enhance understanding with further detail:-

http://www.everystudent.com/wires/whodoyousay.html

Regarding religion:-

" A religion that is pure and stainless according to God the Father is this: to take care of orphans and widows who are suffering, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. - James 1:27 ( N.I. V ).

Now how many can claim that, I wonder?

I hope you may find some of this edifying even if you feel that one may have veered slightly off topic in parts.

R.Q.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 24, 2015:

Thanks GutterMonkey: I have actually had HOTD before, but not in quite a while. It is always a nice surprise when it happens. Please blather on as much as you want. It is refreshing not to have to refute the comment. You totally get it. Thanks.

To me, the worse thing about believing things without evidence is that it is possible to believe anything. This can become dangerous when it leads to conspiracy theories and prejudice.

The Gutter Monkey on May 24, 2015:

Hey Catherine! Congrats on Hub of the Day. It was only a matter of time before you got it. Your articles are always top-notch.

And you're on the money in regards to your last comment. The prevailing problem with belief in the supernatural (and UFO's and conspiracies too, for that matter) always tends to be that people use it as the default, "filler" explanation to things they either don't know or can't understand. The beauty of science is that it revels in the "I don't know" and holds off judgement until more data is available; with the end goal being that when we do believe in something, it's something that there's reason to believe. Believing in something due simply to the thought "What else could it be?" is nothing more than a lack of imagination.

But anywho! I didn't mean to blather on. Congrats again!

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 24, 2015:

Keishialeelewis: Your comment is a little off topic, but is very interesting and thoughtful comment. Some people do report having experiences like you describe. However, brain scientists have found that they can induce these experiences at will by stimulating a precise area of the brain. They can also be induced by certain physical states like meditation, starvation, and others. There are alternative explanations for these experiences. It thus becomes a matter of interpretation. If someone says they have felt the presence of God, that is their experience and I can not say that they didn't have that particular feeling. But did they interpret that feeling correctly?

Scientists do not believe something until they see proof of it. Science was pretty primitive until only fairly recently. When was the scientific method first used--200 years ago? If someone provides scientific proof of God, then science will believe it. Believing an unproven thing is way more likely to be wrong than right. Thank you for your comment.

Keishia Lee Louis from Georgia, USA on May 24, 2015:

This is truly an interesting article. However, it fails to take into account experiential belief which comes from walking with the Holy Spirit. What if you walk with God and actually experience supernatural encounters? There are people who do. Since I am human and I do not know everything, wouldn't I have to give some credence to their experiences? Sure I could laugh at them and call them crazy. I could say they are deluded or that they are ignorant. However, who am I to do so? Everyone has a sphere of ignorance. Likewise everyone has special gifts-- or areas of genius. Howard Gardener of Harvard University likes to call it the Theory of Multiple Intelligence. At first the scope was very narrow. Only seven areas were considered. Now it has officially been expanded to eight. Today they are even considering broadening it again to include Spiritual Intelligence as a field of study. How can someone manifest spiritual awareness and power? The spirit realm exists. Just because a person doesn't see all of the components manifested in the physical realm does not mean someone can and should conclude there is no God. It's like saying germs don't exist because I can't see them. That's exactly what some scientists said for thousands of years, until Antony von Leeuwenhoek, a Christian, discovered them with his microscope and proved this to be utterly ridiculous. It's all about the tools you use.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 24, 2015:

hiedithorne: The best compliment can get is "thought provoking." Thank you. I think one can be spiritual without "God" or religion. I agree with you about religion being a way to control people. For example, kings were said to rule by Divine Right. The word "Lord" is used for God and for the powerful on Earth.

Catherine Giordano (author) from Orlando Florida on May 24, 2015:

Ozinato: My belief is that conscience and "morality" came first and gave rise to religion as a way of codifying these innate tendencies. thank you for your comment.