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Pascal's Wager

Ronald Wallace

At the age of thirty-two, Blaise Pascal,
the seventeenth-century scientist, turned to God,
because, if God existed, think of the reward,
and if God did not, what had you, really, to lose?
In a book called Voodoo Science, Robert Park
ridicules Pascal for copping out and thereby
justifying every scam that’s got us since:
cold fusion, the manned space station, every
perpetual motion machine we’d bet our lives
on, as if our lives were worth the wager.
But are they not? If the aliens among us are,
as one of my young students so aptly put it,
just a “fig of our imagination,” isn’t it better
to give a fig about something, than to believe
in nothing at all? If not the Self, or God, then
why not winning the Florida lottery, meeting
that special someone, beating the odds on
cancer, which has just pulled up a chair
in your lymph nodes and seems to be holding
all the cards? If the choice comes down to one
between cold logic and Pascal, I'll take Pascal.
Believe me. It’s a wager I would bet on.

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