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Game Theory: Which Faith Gives the Best Payout?

By Pastor Billy-Reuben, VP of Evangelical Outreach

Pastor Billy-ReubenI'm sure that most of you are familiar with Pascal's wager. It proves that atheism is a gamble not worth taking. If the atheist is right, then when he dies he's just dead, and the Christian doesn't fare any worse for being wrong. If the atheist is wrong, however, then he will pay for it by burning in Hell for eternity while the Christian receives eternal bliss in Heaven.

The situation can be summed up by the following chart, showing the payoffs of the two beliefs compared to the truth or falsehood of those beliefs.

Christianity is True Atheism is True
Christian Heaven (+∞) Dead (0)
Atheist Hell (-∞) Dead (0)

As you can see, the atheist gains nothing by being right, and the Christian loses nothing by being wrong. You would have to be really bad at math to think there is any benefit to atheism.

Last Friday morning I was doing some street preaching in Raleigh just across Hillsborough Street from the NC State campus, and I brought up this topic. An atheist heckler in the crowd shouted at me, "What if the Muslims are right? Then you'll be in Hell with me!"

I said in response, "You don't know what you're talking about, friend. According to Islam, Christians like me are considered 'people of the book', so in the off chance that Islam is true, I will also go to their Heaven. I would be a Dhimmi, or a second class citizen, but that's better than the Muslim Hell, which is where unbelievers like you would be."

A tired objection that skeptics always raise to the Pascal's wager argument is that it only accounts for belief vs. unbelief, and is unhelpful in choosing among religions. So I expanded the payoff chart to account for Christianity, Atheism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Wicca.

Before I compiled the chart, I knew how it was going to turn out. Christianity is the only religion where salvation is based solely on faith. All other religions are either partially or completely works-based.

I counted any Heaven as infinite payout and any Hell as infinite punishment. I arbitrarily decided that Dhimmitude in the Muslim Heaven is half as good as being a first class citizen of Heaven, but any fraction of infinity could have been used without affecting the relative payout. I also arbitrarily chose +1/-1 as the values for being reincarnated into a better or worse life, respectively, but any positive/negative fininte numbers could have been used without affecting the relative payout. More...


Replies:
Jedediah (23-12-2011 07:06 AM): Maybe an eternity of fornication appeals to some, but it is irrelevant, as they will be cast into fire. I very much look forward to joining Christ in Heaven, cleaving to His bosom, gazing into His eyes, ...
Johny Joe Hold (29-09-2015 07:29 PM): There are lots of wishy washy theological arguments. For example, it is claimed Hinduism is an old faith. Or, Islam is the fastest growing faith. But, these are no match for the scientific conclusion ...
Ph0enix808 (29-09-2015 07:57 PM): I always say, invest in Pastor Zeke and Landover Baptist Church and you cannot go wrong. haven't heard anything more true ...
James Hutchins (29-09-2015 08:43 PM): Joos? They die. Life on Earth is Hell for them:lol: Mooslimes, 72 virgins (right, like there is a virgin girl in in towelheadistan under the age of two who has not been raped by every family member and ...
Regens Kuechl (03-10-2015 07:57 AM): Regardless of what happens in the 70 years on earth, 70 years, as a percentage of eternity is nothing, nil, zero, zilch.Limbo is a catholic concept and thus a lie. There is no Biblical evidence for limbo. ...
Basilissa (03-10-2015 04:48 PM): EVEN IF it were the case that there exists no biblical evidence for a Dogma of Catholicism IT would not matter for real true Christian Menschen ! Since Catholicism is the only True Christianism anything ...
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