An Open Letter to Stephen Hawking on Pascal’s Wager
Dear Dr. Hawking,
Congratulations on your new book, The Grand Design.
I’m glad to see you’re still open to new ideas. You genuinely seem like a good man. I heard that in the 1990s you were attending a small Baptist church outside Cambridge, but haven’t heard anything since.
To be completely honest, I’m less interested in your theories than getting to know you personally in heaven. Obviously, I don’t know the state of your soul, but just in case I want to present you “Pascal’s Wager.”
French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal noted that because God is so “wholly other,” Christians do not believe they can, nor need, to prove the existence of God on rational grounds. Reason cannot decide the question. Instead, every person must make a wager-heads or tails-whether God is, or isn’t.
According to Pascal, if you wager heads that God exists, you can either win or lose. If you lose, you lose only what you were going to lose anyway, so you are not putting anything additional at risk. In essence, you have risked nothing. But if you win, you win everything-eternal life and infinite happiness.
If you bet tails that God does not exist, you can also either win or lose. If you win, you win only what you already have, so there really is nothing to gain. If you lose, and God does exist, then your loss is immeasurable.
To bet tails that God does not exist and win will give you the same result as if you bet heads that God does exist and lose. In either case, you end up as you already are. So, on rational grounds alone, you are obliged to bet heads, because you stand to win an infinite gain if you have wagered correctly, and have nothing to lose you wouldn’t lose anyway. To do otherwise is to renounce reason.
I hope you will not only accept Pascal’s logic, but put your faith in Jesus Christ. If you still attend that church, I’m sure your pastor can show you how.
Patrick Morley, PhD
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