Those familiar with philosophy have likely come across what is known as Pascal’s Gamble (a.k.a. Pascal’s Wager or Pascal’s Gambit). Pascal’s Gamble considers the existence of God from the sole basis of reason, and his conclusion is that one cannot either prove or disprove the existence of God by reason alone. However, he proposes that the question of God’s existence MUST be answered in each person’s life as a matter of faith. He therefore developed a probability theory (Pascal was a mathematician and physicist as well) to address the proposition of God’s existence. Which leads us to today’s quote, “better to be safe than sorry”.
“It is better to be safe than sorry.” – English Proverb
Believe it or not, that is the conclusion that Pascal’s scientific analysis resulted in – better safe than sorry. Let me explain Pascal’s logic…
- The existence of God is a 50:50 proposition, either He is or He isn’t, like flipping a coin can only result in either heads or tails.
- Consider faith in God as a game, where when you play, only heads or only tails will come up.
- By using only reason, you cannot prove or disprove either position.
- You must choose, and thus you must take the gamble and make a wager.
- In your choosing, weigh the potential for loss and gain. If you choose God and win, you have everything to gain. If you choose God and lose, you lose nothing. If you choose against God and win, you have little to gain. If you choose against God and lose, you have everything to lose.
- Wager therefore that God is, and by so doing you have an infinitely happy life to gain against a finite chance of loss. What you have at stake is finite, what you have to gain in this life and the next is infinite.
- By reason or logic, when you have a game of chance with an equal probability of outcome, and one possible outcome has nothing at stake but infinite potential gain, then choose that one.
Even if you are struggling with faith, if you choose that God is, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
You can learn more about Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662) here.
Related quotes: “Prepare for the worst, hope for the best“.