Pascal’s Wager, for the one or two people that unaware of the formal name, is the theistic apologetic argument that it is better to believe and be wrong, than to not believe and be wrong. In other words, if you believe in god and there is no god, you lose nothing. If you believe in god and there is a god then you gain eternal life. If you do not believe in god and there is a god then you lose everything since you spend eternity being punished for rejecting god’s unconditional love.
So why is the wager a poor argument for belief? Even though it may seem the wager allows for the possibility that god does not exist, the conclusion “begs the question” that “he” does exist since it makes the assumption that it is better to believe in the type of god that punishes and rewards strictly based on a human’s belief in “Him.” Clearly, this is the god of Abraham who is assumed to exist. Any dismissal of the multitude of other gods is special pleading. How can one be sure, using this premise, that they have the “correct” faith? One cannot have this knowledge, so the problem now becomes one of a “double faith wager.” You not only have to have faith that a god exists, but you also have to have faith that it is the correct god that would reward belief, regardless of morality, and punish non-belief regardless of goodness.
Superficially, Pascal’s Wager works. If the argument is only cursorily examined it makes perfect sense to someone who is already prone to believe or someone who already believes. It acts as a confirmation bias: “Of course I should believe in God. It would be foolish of me not to.” Conversely, as most non-believers have realized, it is a pathetically poor argument. Actually it makes no sense. Can someone believe in god purely for self-interest? Is that belief? Is that cynical logic compatible with morality? Would a god obsessed with human’s living their lives according to His standards of morality, faith, and worship accept such selfish stance? If it did then he would be a shallow, egocentric, tyrant that deserves no such praise.
Good thing there is no valid reason to believe in such nonsense.