Sharing Your Candy: Pascal's Wager and the Benefits of Belief

May 8, 2019 | by: Dick Borg | 0 Comments

Posted in: Follow Up From Sermons

The following is an excerpt taken from a longer post on Dick's website: Branches in the Vine. 

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Someone said, “Telling your faith in God story is like sharing your candy with a friend”.   Followers of Christ should tell their story to encourage those they know and love to be “seekers” of Christ.  The Apostle Paul put it this way--some “plant”, some “water”, and then “God makes it grow” (I Corinthians 3:6).  Tell your faith-story in a natural unforced way and it will most likely be well received.  However, their responses will vary.  Here are several common responses:         “That sounds good for you, but that’s not for me.”

                        “I’m satisfied with my own beliefs.”

                        “You shouldn’t feel so bad about what you’ve done—everyone does it.”

So what do we say next without sounding offensive or defensive?  What can we say to keep the conversation moving in a positive direction that might appeal to their hearts and minds?  What are some seeds of God’s Word we could “plant” or “water” without using chapter and verse?

Pascal’s Wager

     Well, you don’t need Biblical theological training for your response.  While knowing what you believe is important, it is equally important to have experienced what you believe.  In other words, how well does your belief in God hold up and work out in your real-life experience?  What are the day-to-day benefits of faith in God?  If belief in God is a relationship rather than a religion, then what are the benefits of such a relationship?

     In the mid 1600’s Blaise Pascal (1623-1663), a French Christian scholar of philosophy, science and mathematics, argued that the benefits of believing in God are so vast as to make faith in God a more rational “bet” or “wager” than unbelief.  So much so that Pascal’s decision theory of practical consequences informs us that the benefits of belief in God far outweigh those of unbelief.  Put another way, if the atheist (unbeliever in God) is right and the Christian (believer in God) is wrong, at death the Christian has lost nothing.  On the other hand, if the Christian is right and the atheist is wrong, at death the atheist has lost everything.  So what are the particular benefits of belief in God that are far better for all mankind than unbelief? 

     To begin with I’m not a philosopher, scientist, mathematician or an academic theologian.  I am theologically trained with a strong belief in God having also experienced the many benefits of such belief.  I’m also convinced that the revealed mysteries of God are more than enough to satisfy my faith and live comfortably with the Divine mysteries that have not been revealed.   Deuteronomy 29:29 suggests this clearly:

                        The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things

  revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we

  may follow all the words of this law.”

The unrevealed mysteries of God are beyond man’s comprehension anyway, which I also find rational and comforting!  If man could comprehend every Divine secret or mystery, God would cease to be God and Christianity would become another man-made religion.

     The benefits of belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and further revealed in the advent and mission of Jesus Christ, are vast and immeasurable.  Every page of inspired revelation deepens both understanding and faith.  The myriad of questions raised by mankind on every subject are best answered directly or indirectly by belief in God rather than man’s best thinking or imagination.  C. S. Lewis, a former atheist, sums it up this way:   “I don’t believe in Christianity because I see it, but rather by it I see everything.” Christianity offers the best of all explanations. Therefore, belief in God answers far more questions than the great void left by unbelief.  So for our purpose here let’s consider some broad categories of benefits of belief in God.

Click here to read the entire blog post from Dick's website: Branches In the Vine. 

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