Just a Thought…

If you’re going to be wrong about God, isn’t it better to live your life as if there is a God than live your life as if there isn’t?

[Ed. Note: This topic has obviously generated some thought. Please see this excellent description of Pascal’s Wager for more insight. I should also note that I didn’t intend to imply that I agreed with Pascal on the notion that a belief in God is a better “bet”. I simply think that for me, because I already believe what I believe, the alternatives just don’t make much sense.]


  1. Never thought of it that way. Hmmmmmmmmm.

  2. autodogmatic.com December 2, 2004 at 4:53 am

    I’m not sure how that conclusion follows. Why do you need to believe in God to live a good life? Is it possible to live a better life without believing in God?

  3. Jason, my point was this: Regardless of whether there is a God or not, it seems to make more sense to me that we live our lives as if there is. You don’t necessarily have to believe in God to live a loving, useful, giving, fulfilling, etc., life; but the alternative — living as if there isn’t a God and being wrong — seems unacceptable and, frankly, not very smart.Thanks for the comment./Jim

  4. This is known as Pascal’s Argument (Blaise Pascal may have been the first to advance it).It’s nonsense, because it assumes a particular god. The Christian faith says their god wants this behaviour, the Jewish faith says another, and then there is the Koran, various Indian beliefs, on and on and on. And of course we shouldn’t neglect the ancient gods either: how do you know that the god of the Incas isn’t the one you should be listening to?You don’t. So in fact, the best course is for you to ignore all that nonsense and just live the best life you can. Being “good” is obviously important for societal harmony, and that’s enough reason – you can find valid reasons for morality without involving any belief systems.So although this argument sounds like it promotes belief, in fact it suggests the opposite: if there are gods at all (a doubtful proposition, of course), you don’t know what they want from you. The thousands of conflicting beliefs in that regard can’t be reconciled – so just ignore it all and be a good citizen of planet Earth.

  5. Nope. Afterall, exactly which god should we just go ahead and believe in because they ‘might’ exist? There is more than one. Personally, I don’t waste time thinking about ideas that exist outside of our natural world. I can respect other’s beliefs, but I wish other’s would just live and let live. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  6. Well done, as always…This is not a question of belief, but rather a statement of man’s inability to fathom a power higher than his own.Can you really be sure of the non-existence of God?No… of course not.How many truisms need to be debunked throughout man’s history before we can grasp the concept that our knowledge is fleeting at best, and more than a little incomplete. We can tout Darwinism, or the existence of multiple ‘gods’ via multiple faiths as probable cause for doubting God’s existence, yet to what end? You’ve answered the question for us friend by providing us with context. If you are going to be wrong, it is unquestionably better to have lived and believed than to have not believed at all./Mike

  7. Isn’t that Pascal’s Wager? You have nothing to lose by believing and everything to gain. If you don’t believe you have everything to lose and nothing to gain. On a strictly mathematical basis, it pays to believe.I believe.Uncle Jack

  8. autodogmatic.com December 4, 2004 at 2:31 am

    I can’t fathom a God I’d want to spend eternity with who would cast me to hell despite living a superb life. And this is why Pascal’s wager doesn’t make any sense to me – I’d rather live a life I can defend out of it’s own merits than a life I chose because I was afraid of some consequence of not believing. To me choosing to believe based on this “wager” is wrong, and I have a hard time believing a just God would give it the stamp of approval.

  9. Interesting, Jason… I’m pondering that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. /Jim

  10. Jason,That is the argument against Pascal’s Wager. Why follow the negative deterrent of hell to believe, when the positive reinforcement of living the good life in spite of any consequences is the desirable action?Uncle Jack

  11. As a Godess-worshipping Pagan, I could ask: “Why live your life as if there is no Goddess?” There are many, many religious beliefs, and your argument doesn’t help a person decide which one she should embrace. Religion, to be useful in your life, must have true conviction behind it. I worship the Goddess because I love Her, and I believe in Her. Were I to be a Christian, I would be one because I loved God, not because I feared Hell.

  12. If one must reduce their belief structure to a bet based on living one way or another, in fear of the results…what does that say about one’s faith to begin with? Pascal does not address “true” vs. “convenient” faith. Put another way, what God would be worth worship, if s/he bases decisions on the way one behaves or acts vs the way one truly feels.Then, you spark a discussion on intent vs. act. Does God only concern him/her self with the deed, or the intent of the doer? I would require a much stronger argument to “worship” one particular God or another. So far, one has not been presented to me.

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