Pascal’s Wager: Impulse of Faith Or Con-Trick?

Pascal’s Wager: Impulse of Faith Or Con-Trick?

From the YouTube Platform…

Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was a British-American author and journalist who wrote or edited over 30 books (including five essay collections) on culture, politics, and literature. Hitchens described himself as an anti-theist, who saw all religions as false, harmful and authoritarian. He argued for free expression and scientific discovery, and asserted that they were superior to religion as an ethical code of conduct for human civilisation. He also advocated separation of church and state. The dictum “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence” has become known as Hitchens’s razor. (Source: Wikipedia)

Editor writes…

Christopher Hitchens (deceased) has never hidden his hatred of the Catholic Church – above every other religion, he detested Catholicism. Check out the short video clip below to witness this for yourself.  He is masterful in the way he distorts and perverts Church history and recent scandals.

To his point in the interview with Jeremy Paxman – I’ve never thought of Pascal’s Wager as he describes it, a cynical con-trick as if it is possible to fool God.  Rather, I’ve always seen it as an impulse of faith, which – in a manner of speaking – opens the heart and mind to the workings of grace in the soul.  Hitchens uses the “wager/gambling” concept to accuse God of being “stupid” whereas it is the person who thinks he can con his way into Heaven who is (profoundly) stupid.  Hitchens was once asked if he thought he might change his mind on his deathbed, perhaps ask for a priest, to which he replied that if he did that, it meant he was not himself, and to ignore it.  I wonder where he is now.

Anyway, share your thoughts on Pascal’s Wager… and why it is, that so many people, like Christopher Hitchens, hate the Catholic Church. Oh, and I’m publishing this as the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima draws to a close, so remember to offer a wee prayer for all the Christopher Hitchens-think-a-likes out there – God bless their tartan socks…

Comments (21)

  • Leitourgos Reply

    Pascal’s Wager, from Wikipedia: ‘Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas if God does exist, he stands to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (an eternity in Hell).’

    The trouble with Pascal’s Wager, it has always seemed to me, is that inauthentic belief (hedging one’s bets) is not belief at all, especially not in the biblical sense where to believe is not so much an intellectual exercise, but to base one’s very existence on God, body, blood and soul.

    It is not true that there is no evidence for God’s existence, or for the proposition that Christ is the Son of God, but such evidence is not of the ‘2+2=4’ variety, because if it were, human beings would be obliged to accept God and Christ, with all that that would imply for their free will.

    There are many and varied reasons why people have hated the Catholic Church over the centuries and still do so today. Take the contemporary variety. A lot of it has to do with perception, and the secular press over almost three decades had presented her as Jurassic Park run by pedophiles. In this it has been very effective indeed, but only up to a point. But to pay too much attention to particular periods and particular reasons for this hatred is to miss an extremely important theological point: the World hates the Church and there is a part of the World for which Christ does not pray.

    This is something completely lost on Holy Father Francis and the Jesuit order in general. They, in thrall to Father Rahner (the great elephant in the room of this pontificate), are convinced that Church and World are more or less the same. Thus their problems are the world’s problems (e.g. climate change), with absolutely no interest shown in preaching the Gospel of conversion to Jesus Christ, unless to Jesus Christ the perfect man who did not use plastic.

    I am convinced that Francis’ policies, unless drastically reversed, will usher in a period of persecution of the Church. The World hates her, but surely no more intensely than when her chief shepherds pretend she is what she emphatically is not.

    May 14, 2022 at 3:59 am
    • Michaela Reply

      Leitourgos

      I always think of Pascal’s Wager just as you quoted it from Wiki, but I also think if someone does that, makes that bet, it can be really an underlying expression of hope that there really is a God, and I think it’s possible, IMHO, that God will reward that human hope with the gift of real faith.

      A person might start off with inauthentic belief, as you say, but maybe “the God of surprises” would take over, LOL!

      May 14, 2022 at 11:41 am
      • Mack

        Michaela,

        I wouldn’t encourage that way of thinking, if I was you – Baptism is more reliable if you want the gift of faith!

        May 14, 2022 at 4:22 pm
    • Faith of Our Fathers Reply

      I never could go Hitchens as am sure that on His Video on the BBC against a good Bishop it was a set up with the Awful Homosexual Stephen Fry being Hitchens Wing Man . The BBC audience itself of course was hand picked. As for Hitchens talking about Pascals Wager . It is a very poor Human Being who reached the Age Hitchens reached and never have felt or admitted they felt the Hand of God.
      Maybe am just fortunate to be Chosen but I believe all Adult Human Beings get the Chance to feel the Hand of God whether they chose to accept it is up to them .

      As an example this story is true.
      Years ago God Fearing People tried to get this person to believe in God as He was on a 12 Step Program .
      They said to Him surely you must have asked for God’s help once in your Life. He said ” Well there was a time I was on a Winter Hike got lost and seperated from my friends . I thought I would Freeze to Death and then I asked please God Help Me. ” Well said his Friends He must have. ” No if a Big Indian hadn’t come along I would have Froze to Death. ” It’s sometimes up to us to accept it was God’s Help . Of course Hitchens pride would never have let Him admit GOD ever helped Him. And we know where Pride is in the 7 Deadly Sins.

      May 14, 2022 at 5:20 pm
  • Josephine Reply

    It really is quite a mystery, the gift of faith, because we are given it at Baptism and yet, in reality, so many people go through their life as if they were don’t really believe. They have a sort of mental reservation going on, as if “I’ll live the way I want but to to Sunday Mass” – which is just as much of a con as someone who tries Pascal’s Wager.

    I agree that the person who thinks they’ll try Pascal’s Wager could then well be brought to real faith. So, it’s a gamble that could pay off in God’s favour!

    May 14, 2022 at 12:26 pm
    • Michaela Reply

      Josephine,

      That’s really what I was trying to say – that the gift of faith can be there, but not recognised (or just ignored, in the case of baptised Catholics) and that is what really causes someone to try “Pascal’s Wager”. They think they’re gambling on the possibility that there is a God but they are really expressing a “reserved” belief, which God can bring to fruition.

      I’m not sure I’m making myself clear, but I know what I mean, LOL!

      May 14, 2022 at 1:07 pm
      • Leitourgos

        Josephine, Michaela,

        You both make a fundamentally important point. In the Catholic analysis of the act of faith, faith is a divine gift which comes of grace. One cannot believe unless God bestows this gift on one. Thus I think Pascal was focused on the ethical dimension of faith.

        May 15, 2022 at 9:10 pm
  • Jacinto Reply

    Editor: COMMENT DELETED. This is the latest in a string of ignorant and disgusting comments submitted for publication here, over time, second today. For publication here? In your dreams.

    Please note that if you write any more filth on this blog again, your evil-doing will be reported to as many authorities as I can find. Take up knitting or – better still – praying, in an effort to both occupy your filthy mind and to change your outrageous behaviour. In short, get lost.

    May 14, 2022 at 2:52 pm
    • Mack Reply

      Editor,

      Where do these nutcases get the time? Most of us would love to blog more often but can’t always find the time. These lunatic trolls are irritants, and they deserve to be brushed aside like annoying little flies. So, “get lost” has got my vote, LOL!

      May 14, 2022 at 4:24 pm
  • RCAVictor Reply

    Our Lord claimed for Himself three attributes: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” That middle attribute seems to be the one that is hated the most by the slaves of the underworld. By extension, since the Catholic Church is the sole Way to salvation, is animated solely by the Life of her Bridegroom, and the divinely-appointed teacher of Truth – well, that puts a rather large target on her back.

    As for the Church being accused of authoritarianism, that is the habitual screed of people who confuse “liberty” with “license.” Pope Leo XIII dispatched that delusion in his masterful Libertas praestantissimum.

    May 14, 2022 at 3:55 pm
    • Fidelis Reply

      RCA Victor,

      Talking about hatred of the Church, and “confusion” – here’s Hitchens mocking Christ and questioning his existence on earth, he is one very nasty and ignorant man who doesn’t realise the first thing about interpreting scripture. Yet, his followers think he was a genius! He doesn’t give any evidence for anything he says, and the answer to his comments about Socrates, and whether he existed or not, is really not that it doesn’t matter (which is what he says) but that nobody ever questions whether Socrates lived or not, the way people like him claims Jesus did not exist. Like I say, some genius!

      May 14, 2022 at 4:12 pm
      • editor

        Fidelis,

        I was stunned hearing him totally fail to understand the concept of trusting in Divine Providence, which does NOT, of course, mean we don’t take action to provide for ourselves – he just completely misses the point, and it’s such a basic point that I find it hilarious that people praise him as if he’s some kind of mastermind. Er, nope! I’ve never gotten round to checking, but I wonder if he’s a tad better at understanding Shakespeare? Or did he doubt Shakespeare’s very existence?!

        I decided to test right now to see what would come up if I Googled “evidence that Jesus existed” – a string of articles appeared, but I’ve selected the very first one, titled “14 Compelling Pieces of Evidence” – I’ve not studied it but took a quick look and the key material is there, safe and sound, so I’m sure the whole article will be worth reading. If only Christopher had taken a couple of minutes to do that, we wouldn’t now be discussing his idiocy. What a chump. Numpty.

        I do, though, genuinely wonder where he is now… Maybe he’s thinking that Pascal’s Wager wasn’t such a bad idea after all… 😀

        May 14, 2022 at 11:26 pm
    • Nicky Reply

      RCA Victor,

      I agree with you totally and just want to add that it’s laughable for people to criticise the Church’s “authoritarianism” when they have blindly followed the Communist-led Covid restrictions on their freedom, really evil authoritarianism, for the past two years!

      May 14, 2022 at 4:20 pm
      • Mack

        Nicky,

        The Church isn’t guilty of “authoritarianism” when teaching, that is being authoritative. There’s a big difference. Authoritarianism can be, usually is, I think, abusive. Being authoritative just means you know what you are talking about! You have legitimate authority to say or do something.

        I agree about the nitwits who just blindly followed the rules these past two years, just accepting that sort of authoritarianism without using their reason.

        May 14, 2022 at 4:27 pm
  • Nicky Reply

    What strikes me in the interview in the introduction, is that Jeremy Paxman, now retired, had the reputation for being a bulldog interviewer, never missed a trick when questioning politicians and so on, but in that clip, it’s like he’s babysitting a puppy dog, stroking him and speaking gently! Hitchens is a fellow atheist, of course, so no in-depth challenging since that would mean challenging himself, LOL!

    May 14, 2022 at 4:18 pm
  • Rapport Reply

    HItchens died a decade ago. Why resurrect him?

    May 14, 2022 at 9:58 pm
    • editor Reply

      Rapport,

      Why not?

      May 14, 2022 at 11:16 pm
  • RCAVictor Reply

    Apologies to the Limeys on this blog, but I’ve noticed that British “intellectuals” tend to be much more cocksure and cynical than others of their ilk, and also much more cavalier about perversion (e.g. input on this blog from certain parents of John Fisher School). Perhaps certain sectors of British society think they have replaced the Department of Divine Justice? One bang of the gavel, or one interview with a leftist media stooge, and viola! God is just a mirage in your rear view mirror….

    As a British friend of mine once said, in a self-deprecating moment, “A British accent serves to disguise all manner of stupidity, and make the speaker sound intelligent.”

    May 15, 2022 at 12:34 pm
    • editor Reply

      RCA Victor,

      To be fair, Christopher Hitchens is half yours! He was born in England, of course, but I believe he departed this earthly soil in the USA – so, I would argue that the “cocksure and cynical” half was achieved during his time in the States (!)

      You are correct, of course, about the accent. There’s nothing quite like a posh English accent to fool some of the people all of the time! And Hitchens used his posh accent to full effect – as evidenced on the video clips on this thread.

      I should mention that his brother, Peter Hitchens, well known journalist, is (as far as I know still is) a practising member of the Church of England and not anything like as hostile as Christopher to the Catholic Church.

      Indeed, I was very impressed with Peter when he appeared on one of the Sunday morning TV discussion shows, when he defended the celibacy discipline for Catholic priests; he was the last member of the panel to speak, the rest being a mixture of disaffected/”liberal” Catholics (i.e. Catholics in name only) and other versions of the Brain-Dead Brigade. After listening to each of them savaging the Church, Peter pointed out that everyone knows that Catholic priests are required to be celibate, nobody is forced into the priesthood, so if anyone objects to the discipline, the obvious answer is not to apply for the priesthood! Exactly.

      The brothers were estranged for a number of years but, thankfully, reconciled before Christopher’s death.

      May 15, 2022 at 11:00 pm
  • Michael 🙏 Reply

    Dear friends

    The problem with these individuals is that God to them is a concept to be either accepted or rejected. Whereas for us God is a profound reality, not an intellectual construct, that may be believed or negotiated with etc.

    Hitchens and company are so completely enamoured with self pride, self aggrandisement and Hubris. That they lack humility which is necessary to be open to the ultimate Truth which is God. In doing so they close themselves by an act of the will and intellect to the Grace of God.

    They are completely self absorbed in the ie own self pride and vanity. In this they resemble the self love of Lucifer who could conceive of nothing greater than himself.

    I have more concern for those people who listen to Hitchens and his ilk as if they embodied all there is to know and understand about the existence of God, the meaning of life etc.

    When society turns its back on God and people consider themselves to be the source and summit of all there is, then these individuals will always be listened to and followed.

    More the fool them.

    I for one have no interest in blind guides.

    Every blessing

    Michael 🙏

    May 15, 2022 at 5:11 pm
    • Leitourgos Reply

      Michael, You are on to something! You might have gone the whole hog and said that for us God is a person.

      May 15, 2022 at 9:04 pm

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