Four arguments against Pascal's wager: objections, rebuttal and reversal

The historical dimension

In the way we look at the past, we must keep a sufficient critical distance.

  • On the one hand, the historical description must be factual. Pascal's wager must be approached with neutrality, placing him in his own time and not judging him by current criteria. At the time, the calculation of probabilities did not yet exist. It was Pascal who took the first steps in the creation of a new chapter in mathematics, for which we are indebted to him (see The genesis of probability calculus [in French]). Pascal is a great spirit that I respect. Concerning the calculation of limits and the convergence of sequences, rigorous definitions were only established in the 19th century.
  • On the other hand, I denounce a way of presenting the history of Western culture when it is imbued with a missionary spirit. In particular, certain Catholic circles have made Pascal's wager a tool for 21st century indoctrination. More generally, this attitude tends to affect all those who attribute a sacred value to spiritual traditions.

My criticism does not focus on Pascal as a historical figure, but on the belief that his wager would still be relevant today.

Reducing the scope of the Pascal's wager

The Wager is reserved for people who admit a priori the following hypotheses:

  • the human soul is immortal;
  • deities observe us and judge, reward or punish us;
  • we can influence our future in the afterlife through appropriate behaviour;
  • rituals can arouse divine favour.

For those who do not fully subscribe to it, there is nothing to save, nothing to gain, so the Pascal's wager is irrelevant.

First objection

Second objection


Rebuttal of Pascal's wager [HTML and PDF]

Appendix : Mathematical aspects of Pascal's wager [HTML and PDF]

Given that everyone, often by religious clan, sets its own dogmas, none of which are universal, the believers who incite me to participate in their arbitrary "game" are not credible.


The possibilities that cannot be excluded by evidence are so numerous and varied that a bet can only be placed on those that are solidly supported. The others must be deliberately ignored.

The probability of the existence of a personal God is too low for there to be any interest in getting involved in religion, and even lower still for a God who would have dictated guidelines to us. In Pascal's wager, the game is not worth the candle. One can, without damage, give up betting and move away from the gambling table of beliefs, because it is more useful and constructive to invest one's time and energy in the secular field.

Wisdom consists in detaching oneself from utopias, i.e. practising religious indifference.

Exploitation of the wager

The indoctrinators use the method of slippage a lot: believing in God implies - or at least we are led to believe - adhering to Catholicism, the only true faith. And, against all logic, the amalgam works: because they believe in God, many people feel morally obliged to be Christians. The state can then be committed to imprinting these "truths" in the minds of all schoolchildren.


What if, instead of betting on God, we wager on man: humanism inherited from the Age of Enlightenment, human rights, democracy and the quest for the common good?
What if we reserved our commitment to what is universal, away from communities of believers?
What if teaching were to be based not on the authority of the Church, but on the development of critical thinking, independence of mind and intellectual autonomy, within a secular framework?
Wouldn't reason be better served?

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