French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal believed that because God is so “wholly other,” Christians do not believe they can, nor need, to prove the existence of God on rational grounds. Instead, every person must make a wager—heads or tails—whether God is, or isn’t.
Of course, there are ample rational grounds to believe, even if we can't prove. Nevertheless, reason alone cannot decide the question. Yet, as you will see below, reason alone requires belief in God. To do otherwise is insane.
Scenario 1: According to Pascal, if you wager heads that God exists, you can either win or lose. If you lose, you lose only what you were going to lose anyway, so you are not putting anything additional at risk. In essence, you have risked nothing. But if you win, you win everything—eternal life and infinite happiness.
Scenario 2: If you bet tails that God does not exist, you can also either win or lose. If you win, you win only what you already have, so there really is nothing to gain. If you lose, and God does exist, then your loss is immeasurable.
So if you bet tails that God does not exist and win, you end up with the same result as if you bet heads that God does exist and lose. In either case, you end up as you already are.
So, on rational grounds alone, you are obliged to bet heads, because you stand to win an infinite gain if you have wagered correctly, and have nothing to lose you wouldn’t lose anyway. To do otherwise is to renounce reason.
Even though, as Pascal has proven, reason alone compels you to bet that God exists, reasonable people still find themselves unable to believe.
What if you still cannot bring yourself to wager yes?
Giving It a Try
Would it make sense for your daughter to say, “I could never ride a bike,” when she had never given it a try?
Suppose a boy at a school party wanted to ask a girl to dance. But he didn’t ask because he thought, “She would never want to dance with me.” Would it be right for him to now dislike her for not doing what he never asked?
If a doctor prescribed a medicine for your illness and you didn’t take it, it wouldn’t be fair to say, “I didn’t take it and therefore the medicine doesn’t work.”
It doesn’t make sense to reject something you’ve never tried. In the same way it wouldn’t be fair to reject Christianity because you never tried it.
If you struggle with the idea of faith in general, and faith in Christ in particular, why not put God to the test. Take the wager.
How? Tell God your honest doubts, tell Him you want to believe, and tell Him you are willing to believe. Then read the Gospel of John while repeatedly praying to Jesus that He confirm His existence and give you the gift of faith by His grace.
Yes, it's a wager, but completely reasonable. In fact, it would unreasonable not to give it a try.
Until every church disciples every man...