Pascal’s Wager, developed in the 1800’s by Blaise Pascal, is an argument for God’s existence. This argument is actually quite popular amongst Christians. It may perhaps be one of the most commonly used arguments for believing in God. Yet many Christians use Pascal’s Wager (also known as Pascal's Gambit) without realizing its premises or even being aware that it was created hundreds of years ago.
William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, explains Pascal’s argument as follows:
“The founder of probability theory, Pascal argues that when the odds that God exists are even, then the prudent man will gamble that God exists. This is a wager that all men must make- the game is in progress and a bet must be laid. There is no option: you have already joined the game. Which then will you choose- that God exists or that he does not? Pascal argues that since the odds are even reason is not violated in making either choice; therefore, reasons cannot determine which bet to make. Therefore, the choice should be made pragmatically in terms of maximizing one’s happiness. If one wagers that God exists and he does, one has gained eternal life and infinite happiness. If he does not exist, one has lost nothing. On the other hand, if one wagers that God does not exist and he does, then one has suffered infinite loss. If he does not in fact exist, then one has gained nothing. Hence the only prudent choice is to believe that God exists.”Pascal therefore argues that belief in God is a win-win situation, and there is no benefit to believing in atheism.
As I’ve indicated, Pascal’s Wager is a very famous and popular argument for the truth of Christianity. As I see it, the Wager should be used as an argument to investigate religion closely not as a hammer to compel belief by threats or force. Perhaps, once some nonbelievers are convinced of the foolishness of their lackadaisical attitude, they will be opened to the truth of the gospel and by God’s grace eventually discover that Christianity points True North - to the One who is Truth.
The above graphic is Pascal's statue at the Louvre.