Monday, March 31, 2008

Re-examining Pascal's Wager

My Dear Reader,

Some time ago, this French philosopher Blaise Pascal decided that was more beneficial to believe and act as if God existed than to do the opposite. The idea is called Pascal's Wager, and according to Pascal, you might as well pretend that God exists because it's safer to pretend that God exists, act accordingly, and find out that death is the end than to disbelieve in God and risk the consequences if you're wrong. I think that Pascal's wager is very logical, but not very fulfilling. I mean, why would someone want to believe in something because it's safer than disbelieving it?

I've been thinking a little about Pascal's Wager recently, and I almost think that if the only reason I had to believe was the fear of being wrong, I'd risk the consequences. I mean, a lifetime of living Christian values isn't really worth it unless there's a reason behind it, right? Now, in that case, the only viable option would be to change my views to Atheism, and I've never really considered that before. I mean, my honest opinion of Atheism is that it generally is a running away from something than running towards truth, but when I really look at it, I don't think that I could really believe in God by default, and I have to respect the courage people have to have in order to stand alone like that.

I suppose that I am pretty lucky, then, because I have enough religious experience to know, and I mean know, that God exists. Though it's largely discounted by those who are opposed to believing, religious experience is thought by very prominent religious philosophers to be too universal to ignore. I won't go into too much detail at this point about what has happened to me because of the risk of making light of sacred things, but let me tell you plainly that when I pray, I can feel God listen. I've seen things that can only be described as miracles, and I know better than to doubt His existence. I couldn't be more sure that God lives if He came down from the heavens and took me by the hand. It took a long time and a lot of searching, but I suppose that you could say that I found my answer.

Knowing who I am, though, I also know that I can not comfortably believe in something without a really good reason. Maybe it's the rebellious part of me, or maybe it's because of the many people I've known in the past who turned out to be less that truthful, but I just can't do that. So I suppose that with all things considered, if I hadn't had the religious experience, I'd be forced to say that the whole idea of religion seems preposterous. I mean, your average run-of-the-mill Christian theology is crazy enough, with people coming back from the dead and water turning to wine, but when you add The Book of Mormon, it's really fantastic. Still, I have had the experience, and I can't turn my back on that. Not ever. I'd just have to much to lose, you know?

Those who know me know that when it comes to my religion, I'm pretty passionate. In fact, I've been known to talk on and on about the subject until someone had the sense to stop me. At the age of twenty-two, I can say that my affection for the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the closest I've ever come to falling in love, and I really mean that. There is so much good in it, and it has done so much to change me, that I know I owe everything I am to my belief in God and Jesus Christ, and I am not ashamed to admit it. But the more I study the theology of others, the more I wonder if people around me, the ones who don't believe the same way I do, think that maybe I'm playing the same kind of game that Pascal suggests. Or, perhaps, they think that I'm under a variety of other influences that anti-Christians like to theorize about from time to time. I guess that if you didn't have religious experience, it would be incredibly logical. I know, however, what and who I am, and I know that a life of baseless belief is an empty one. I also know that real faith, which is backed up by a kind of proof that is too exquisite to describe, is the key to real, true fulfillment. I just hope that I don't tire my friends too much when I try to spread the word.

Regards, best wishes, and faith,

-Cecily Jane


~Stappsters~ said...

I thought I had evidence that Snoop-dog (or whatever his name is) was a changed man. It all seemed so real. I even emailed this wonderful story to others. But now I know not to rely on mankind (or Megan) for truth.

Anyway, what powerful comments. I love your thought provoking blog Cec!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget all the testators who saw felt and touched Christ resurrected and those that touched and saw angels,dominions and the pages of the gold plates. Yet, in the end the Holy Ghost is the most powerful testator to me while I live out of His presence. MJH

Caryn- I had such high hopes for brother Dog too!