The observable examined

Pascal’s wager -a twist

with 2 comments

Ever heard of Pascal’s wager? In its simplest form, it goes something like this:

If you believe in God and He does exist, you stand to gain infinitely;

If you believe in God and He does not exist, you don’t lose anything;

For the original phrasing look here : Pascal’s Wager

The link provides the broader context for his wager (part of it being his inability to absolutely reject God because he saw many things in Nature that pointed to His existence while at the same time there were many things that suggested He does not exist).

I am a non-believer. But this is where it gets interesting. I am engaged in my own version of this wager and the entity involved is someone dearer to me than God, my deceased wife. While every reason bearing fiber of my being acknowledges the finality of what happened, there is an equally strong “force” which wants to believe that she could possibly exist in an other world ( rational support for this being the notion of the existence of parallel universes now gaining some currency and legitimacy in the outer reaches of Physics), probably not wanting to preclude the possibility that I may still have a chance to meet her again, afterall. This is an ongoing tension between, I suppose, what the brain scientists, would call my left brain and my right brain.

As I write this, my left brain is telling me that it will eventually win out. Nevertheless, being able to entertain right brain thoughts is comforting (another example being , on occasion, I continue to imagine her presence and how she may have (reacted)/enjoyed/approved (to) the accomplishments of my daughter, however small).

This illustrates a generality pertaining to faith, superstitions, belief etc., Unless you can draw on your critical thinking faculties and objectively consider the facts at hand, it is likely you will stay in the comfortable realm of fantasy . Right brain is the default (easier) option for most people.

Footnote : The left brain and right brain terminology, as used here, is meant to distinguish the logical from the emotional and is loosely coupled to an older distinction between logical and wholisitic thinking that permeated much of psychological thinking upto the 90s. Neuroscientific advances have made these distinctions much more nuanced.  More on this topic later.


Written by asterix98

September 6, 2011 at 7:03 am

2 Responses

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  1. With reference to Pascal’s wager, the question that needs addressing is not “does God exist or not” but “What is God”. Pascal’s wager assumes a definition of God that obviously leaves a lot unexplained and therefore, at best, we can give God’s existence the benefit of doubt. Lately, I am getting a sense of what God is – though it may be a tentative answer – a milestone in the quest.

    Lama Lami

    September 18, 2011 at 5:23 am

    • Interestingly, Pascal did not address the remaining possibilities and their attendant consequences. But I think there is more than a hint that he thought of Her as a personal benefactor who would be annoyed by the lack of faith. There is some inherent fear, else why even bother to hedge?

      As you pointed out in your beautiful essay, our worldviews are really mental constructs which we can restructure should we choose to……

      How are you doing Neelam?


      September 18, 2011 at 6:38 am

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