Pascal’s Second Wager

Blaise Pascal was famous for many reasons, but one of them was his religious wager. If Christianity is true, those who reject Jesus Christ will go to Hell for their sins. If Christianity is false, nothing happens. Are you willing to take the risk?

I would propose a second wager as it relates to Moral Consensus. Would you be willing to give up your personal liberty for the sake of the greater good? For instance, if it was demonstrated that abortion had no affect on the greater good of the country, would you be willing to legalize the practice? If homosexual marriage were proven to have no affect on the greater good of the country, would you allow it to be legal? The answer that most Christians would give is “certainly not.” However, those same Christians expect those in favor of abortion, homosexual marriage, and wealth transfer programs to suddenly acquiesce if it is proved that such ideologies hurt the country. But why do Christians expect such if they are unwilling to take the same wager? This is certainly inconsistent and does not help the goal of consensus.

Many Christians seem to have a deep rooted fear that perhaps Christianity is ineffective. It is has been argued elsewhere, both in this blog and other sources, that Christianity simply works. Christianity presents the best way to be a family and to run an ethical society. This is not an argument for an American theocracy but the simple fact that the Bible presents the best way to live in God’s creation. Obviously, that “best way” involves Jesus Christ, but Scripture also promises indirect blessings upon the nations and the surrounding culture when Christianity is allowed to thrive (simply read the writings of Tim Keller on this subject). So why are Christians fearful that this will be proven otherwise? Why are Christians afraid that Christianity will not be the ‘best way?’ Good question, but this fear certainly explains quite a bit.

It explains why Christians are hesitant to talk about their faith. It explains why Christians are afraid to interact with culture or with their neighbors. It explains why Christians do not engage the topic of ethics but hide in their own enclaves, emerging only to vote in large elections. I considered this even further this week as I drove around town putting flyers for the church on mailboxes. The postman and a local police officer both looked at me funny as I drove on the wrong side of the road to stick the flyers in the newspaper box, but I had a thought as I drove along. If I knew my neighbor was dying of a disease but I had the cure, would it not be unethical of me to withhold that cure? Even Peter Singer, an avowed Atheist, stated “if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral significance, we ought to do it.” While he was talking about social action, his statement certainly applies to our willingness to share our Christianity. Christianity holds the ‘secret’ to correct living (just ask Duck Dynasty below) and yet Christians often withhold this information, perhaps out of fear that this is not the case. I realized that here I was nervous about what a postman might say to me, yet also believing that I was placing potentially live saving flyers in my neighbors mail. My faith in the effectiveness of the Gospel motivated me to continue.

The same is true in order for Moral Consensus to be achieved. It would appear that we need to be willing to meet those of the opposite view point halfway, to put up or shut up, to take the step of faith and lay it all on the table, taking the wager that the Biblical viewpoint is better. If we ask others to lay it on the line and take the wager of giving up their viewpoint for the greater good, we should be willing to do the same, especially when we know and believe that we will be proved right in the end (cf. Daniel 1). We should challenge those of opposite perspectives to take the wager, a wager which in faith we should take as well.

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