Pascal's Wager vs. Losing Your Eyebrows

Hello everyone! Henwli here, the latest official contributor to WotM Watchdog. I'm an English major student from Finland with a strange fetish that involves iPods and Way of the Master Radio. Further introduction can wait as I tentatively stick my metaphorical toes in the virtual waters of online authorship with this little ditty:

Now, if you step outside of your house and get near a road, there's a chance you'll be wrestled into the back of a car, clobbered senseless and later wake up on a hill without your eyebrows. This stuff apparently happens.

Everyone knows (Blaise) Pascal's Wager, right? In short, the argument goes that if God exists, it's ultimately better to believe in Him, because if you don't you are headed straight to hell. The wager is based on simple math. Heaven is infinitely good, and hell infinitely bad. If you believe, either you go to heaven or nothing happens. If you don't believe, either you go to hell or nothing happens. So basically you're left with two choices:

A: nothing (0) or infinite good (+∞)

B: nothing (0) or infinite bad (-∞)

So, just in case God exists, aren't you really better off putting your money on the selection that will let you suckle angel teat for infinity after your time here is done? A fool would put their eternity on the line and willingly choose the hot poker up the bum option, surely.

Few people take the wager seriously any more. It's nothing more than a simple scare tactic. The WotM ministry has reinvigorated this old beaten battle horse and rides it's rickety carcass to town with their fishermen every day! Of course they don't present the wager in it's classic form, but sneakily implant it in their droning witness encounters.

If a person they're interviewing says that they do not believe in the Christian God, or they do not believe that they're going to hell, or they don't have a specific moment when they were “born again”, or hell, just happen to have one of the thousands of available attributes that makes them “not Christian” to a WotM advocate, they will be posed with a question:

“Rergardless of what you believe; if what I'm saying is true (that God judges everyone according to His standards), would you go to heaven or hell (implied infinity)?”

This is actually Pascal's wager in disguise.

By taking a person through the Ten Commandments, the WotM witnesser establishes that the witnessee (I'm making up words as I go!) has actually broken several of God's laws; that they are adultering, blasphemous thieves. Now in the theoretical situation that the supposed hell (and thus its counterpart also) exists, how screwed are you. Infinitely, of course. The question they pose always contains that one particle I can't quite understand – the “if”, which implies that the “nothing happens” scenario has also been taken into consideration. Why do they say “if”, if they truly, truly believe that what they say is a stone cold fact. Does it sound more persuasive? Isn't that being disingenuous toward you own beliefs? In essence the question posed is:

“You're a bad, bad person and I love you and God loves you, but if what I'm saying is true, would you rather choose:”

A: nothing (0) or infinite good (+∞)

B: nothing (0) or infinite bad (-∞)

The whole Pascal's wager is implied within this technique, and it works just as well in this guise: you still need someone who finds it in themselves to believe in these things. Non-believers, I believe, are called non-believers for a reason.

“Dear Henwli. I write in teary-eyed with shaking hands to thank, because you have saved my soul by converting me to believe in God with Pascal's super awesome wager! It totally rocked my socks right off my feet! And I was wearing shoes! But what did the eyebrow story have to do with anything? Thank you, you are a true angel! XOXOXOXO P.S. u r sooo hot"

It has been actually documented that there is a chance that someone will nab you off the street, beat you up and steal your eyebrows. We could go to the previous victim (who is, I am sure, the first victim in a long line of malevolent attacks that will keep all owners of eyebrows on their toes for decades to come) and observe his hairless ridge. If asked, he will most likely tell you that the event was very unpleasant. Now, the next time you go out, ask yourself is it worth the risk? There are two chances:

A: nothing (0) or you have a merry skip across the park and greet the birds that chatter the message of all-permeating happiness and universal love (+1)

B: nothing (0) or you get beaten up, lose facial hair (-1)

You'll notice that infinity does not appear in this scenario, but has been replaced by (arbitrary) finite numbers. Of course, one of these options is statistically more probable, but both options are based on the world we live in and are absolutely feasible. The infinity in the original wager is irrelevant, because it relies so much on speculation. Math that requires you to believe in the existence of a number didn't really apply last time I checked.

Living life under irrational fear brought on by a faulty mathematical equation sounds kind of exotic though, give it a shot and report back to me how it worked. And by the way, if you do send me e-mail or comment on this post, be careful not to be electrocuted by your computer.