Hedge Fund

Long before Game Theory was formally developed as a branch of mathematics, Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher developed what is known as Pascal’s Wager. The wager is predicated on the premise that God rewards those who believe in him with an eternal life in Heaven. The gist of the wager is that since there is no downside to believing in God if there is no God, but a great upside to believing in God if there is a God, then it makes sense to believe in God, just to improve your chance at the big payoff.

It’s like a joke I heard once. This devout man spends all his time in service of the Lord, except for one night a week when he prays to God to let him win the lottery. He works in a hospital so he can be of aid to the sick and dying. And after work every Wednesday, he prays to God to let him win the lottery. He spends his evenings and weekends working at the local soup kitchen, except for Wednesdays which he spends praying to win the lottery. This goes on for years. He donates his savings to a relief organization, he spends his vacations working for Habitat for Humanity, but even then takes out time for that one evening of prayer. Finally, one year as he’s getting nearly old enough to retire, he’s down on his knees before bed, praying to God, “Please, God, let me win the lottery this week,” when all of a sudden a blinding light fills his room and the most beautiful, deep and sonorous voice he’s ever heard says, “Meet me half way, buy a ticket.”

So while I didn’t inflict my mediocre joke telling on God, I did ask him how he felt about people that take Pascal’s Wager to heart and because of it accept God into their lives.

He told me that he’d rather they had the courage of their convictions. Either believe in him or not, but don’t treat him like a slot machine.

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