One of the really daffy explanations used by theists to validate the assistance of God may be the philosophical and mathematical philosophy of the Pascal's Wager.
Written by Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, Pascal sought to reconcile the belief in God with mathematical probability as well as a somewhat cheesy, one-sided view of belief: That a belief in something is better than a belief in nothing, since a belief is considered "infinite" in comparison to non-belief.
In Pascal's unfinished treatise, the Pensees, Pascal postulates that reason cannot be used as a determinant for the choice of belief:
"If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is....
..."God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions."Pascal thus assumes two basic suppositions:
i. We have no evidence to make of with regards to the existence of our souls, much less the existence of a supposed heaven or hell. In order for Pascal's Wager to run its course, one has to assume that a real, non-material soul exists, a case of "heads of tails", or the flip of a coin, so to speak.
ii. Since reason can neither make a preposition nor a decision for us, we must then choose between belief or non-belief; because we have no foreknowledge with regards to the existence of God, it would be a more sensible option to pick on the safer side, even if we must choose on the side of error:
"......Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. 'That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much.' Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite."
Here, Pascal speaks of staking a person's current life on this planet as a hedge bet for his eternal soul: Given that a person has no inkling of his prospects after death, he faces an eternity either as an unfortunate victim of hell, or an eternal existence in heavenly bliss.
To summarize, Pascal wager states two major suppositions:
1. If you believe in God:
i. If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite
ii. If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.
2. If You do not believe in God:
i. If God exists, you go to hell, your loss is infinite.
ii. If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.
The mathematical calculations are as follows:
|God exists (G)||God does not exist (~G)|
|Living as if God exists (B)||+∞ (heaven)||−N (none)|
|Living as if God does not exist (~B)||−∞ (hell)||+N (none)|
Mathematically speaking, using the parameters as set by Pascal, Pascal's Wager (based on playing on the safe side of belief) is a bet based pretty much on common sense and a great dose of pragmatism: Regardless whether God exists or not, you do not stand to lose everything.
The Real Wager
The real wager, however, does not constraint belief within the confines of just one singular religion (In the case of Pascal, it was Christianity he was alluding to. Buddhism also has a similar argument).
The equation changes, however, if we add a few other parameters to the list.
i. A belief in a non-existent God isn't a negligible result (N), as assumed by Pascal: Because belief requires both expending energy, resources and time, if the God you do believe in does not really exist, then it will really be a rip-off for the believer, or the congregation of believers who, through blind faith and Pascal's wager, have pinned their eternal hopes on the deity in question.
ii. That there are a myriad of other religions, and that each religion will make similar assertions with regards to the existence and exclusivity of their deities. In this case, we will have to add a myriad of, perhaps upwards of a few thousand other possibilities: Each religion and deity represents a real case for the rivalry of belief, and since Pascal's wager does not account for any sort of proof and evidence, a believer has to resort to blind faith and dumb luck in choosing his right religion.
iii. Suppose a real deity exists, and he or she is amongst the contingents of Gods and Goddesses worshiped by reverent, pious people throughout the passage of time: Choose the right deity to prostrate yourself unto, and off you go to heaven's realm upon your death. Choose the wrong God, and eternal suffering awaits.
Pascal's Wager: Not A Reasonable Concept
Because Pascal's Wager is based on the choice between one religion and non-belief, it is not exactly a true collation of reason and belief.
That a pantheon of past Gods and Goddesses have accompanied past civilizations and walked straight into the annals of history books, is a good indication of the frivolity and incompatibility of religion with any concept of truth.
If Pascal's Wager has any ounce of truth in it, it is that Pascal has rightly elucidated the fact that reason has nothing to do with choosing a religion, and that if anything else, religion is a terrible bet to hedge all your time and energies onto.
-"Suppose we've chosen the wrong god. Every time we go to church we're just making him madder and madder." - Jolly Good Homer