Pascals Wager states:
There are only two possibilities:
1) there is a God or
2) there is no God.
One can believe or disbelieve. But if there is a God the believer wins, the unbeliever loses. However, if there is no God, the believer and the unbeliever loses. The disbeliever has zero chance to win.
If there is only one God or a thousand or even 100's of thousands only the believer has even a remote chance of winning. The unbeliever still has zero chance of winning.
Pascal's Wager is said to have been discredited centuries ago, but the discrediting arguments were based upon assumptions falsely attributed to Pascal.
It has a hidden assumption that people who claim to believe in God (whether they really believe in him or not, since they're basing their belief on the Wager, a probability calculation rather than a genuine conclusion) go to heaven, ...
This was one of the false attributes: if one claims to believe when he does not, this is insincerity not genuine belief.
while people who sincerely believe - having weighed the information available to them as best they could - that there is no God go to hell.
It's impossible to _know_ for an absolute fact there is no God. One can only disbelieve.
But the argument put forth by Pascal doesn't demonstrate that assumption at all, or provide any reason to believe it's true. And without that assumption, there's no argument for the Wager.
This makes no distinction between sincerity and insincerity, honesty and dishonesty. It's all the same.
Maybe God prefers people who are sincere (regardless of whether they are sincere theists or sincere atheists) and try their best to figure out the truth to people who attempt to "game the system" to get the best outcome for themselves (that is, people who follow Pascal's Wager).
Trying to "game" the system is dishonest, not sincere belief. It equates to disbelief.
Or maybe Zeus doesn't have much against atheists, but really hates Christians for taking over the Roman Empire. So if Zeus gets to decide, atheists go to Elyrium and Christians to Tantalus.
He may be able to see over the horizon of eternity and knows where you and I do not. So, perhaps Zeus has seen the errors of his ways and turned to the God whom he _knows_, but we cannot.
Or maybe.... you can construct a lot of possibilities like this. Pascal doesn't take any of them into account.
Pascal was a brilliant Frenchman, there's no justification for pretending he accepted such non-virtues as insincerity, dishonesty, corruption would be understood and taken into account by his God, or God would not recognize the difference between sincerity and insincerity. The argument automatically takes insincerity, lying, deception, dishonesty out of the picture.
Personally, I think anybody who "believes" in God, because they buy into the (invalid, as it turns out) argument of Pascal's Wager, simply doesn't have the courage of their convictions.
If this wager _effects_ conviction, this is caused by a selfish and self-serving interest. In such cases sincerity and honesty are absent. It's very strange when one doesn't draw a distinction between honest belief and insincere claims of belief.
One can not know for 'certain' that God, an afterlife, heaven or hell exist (we aim for being 'beyond-reasonable-doubt' see below) and also see Angels & Evolution. Many people do honestly believe it. Another way to look at this issue: Believers have the comfort and assurance while they live that after death (which is certain) there is an afterlife. Thus they face certain death with this assurance; it is not the end. There is an eternity. One of eternal life in heaven, with their God, which awaits them. They do have this assurance and promise.
If it's the reality: atheist have been right all along, after death there is nothingness, oblivion, extinction, how much worse off will believers be than atheist after everyone is dead ?
(Copied With Permission From The Author)
Perhaps of interest too -
The Case For A Creator excerpts on Youtube.
Or The Case For Christ, The Case For a Creator, The Case For Faith 3-DVD Collection (They may require a multizone DVD player if not in the US, otherwise the books may be of interest)
The Case For Christ book, The Case for a Creator book, The Case for Faith book.