Thursday, February 1


Daniel Nkado: Everything Wrong with Pascal's Argument on Religion and Atheism

by Daniel Nkado

During the 17th century, a French mathematician and Catholic theologian known as Blaise Pascal presented an argument in religious philosophy known as the Pascal's Wager.

In his line of reasoning, Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God.

If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains ( sweet eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell).

In other words, that it is better to live as though God exists and comport oneself likewise, and thus share in an eternal reward, than to live as though God does not exist and automatically forfeit any possible reward.

But there are three major flaws with this argument:

1. Pascal's argument presumes there is only one religion to follow.

According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.

So what if you follow the wrong one?

What if you work for a Christian afterlife, only to realize that it is actually Muslims that have been right all along?

Or the Hindus?

Or one of the other countless religions, each with its own rules and principles?

What makes you so certain that yours is the real deal?

If you look at the entirety of world religions, you’ll see that Pascal’s Wager is a no-win game, in which case one can actually argue it's safer to be an atheist who doesn't believe in any religion at all.

2. Pascal's argument presents belief in God as a mere bet.

The philosophy emphasizes the fact that there is no actual proof that God exists.

Though Pascal's argument was intended to reinforce the value of faith, in the end it only ended up giving more conviction to agnosticism -- the belief that no one really knows for sure if God exists or not.

3. Pascal's Wager also confirms that people's belief in God is mostly based out of fear of hell fire.

A love based on fear is not real love. A more appropriate term will be abuse.

I imagine a little, helpless child being forced by his abusive father to always love him and do his bidding, otherwise he sets him ablaze.


Daniel Nkado is a Nigerian writer and journalist, and the founder of DNB Stories.


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