Der französische Philosoph und Mathematiker Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) glaubte an Gott. Pascal war sich bewusst, dass er nicht an Gott zu glauben hätte. Doch er wusste auch, dass – selbst wenn er sich entscheiden konnte – ihm vernünftigerweise keine Wahl bleibt: Falls es Gott nämlich nicht geben sollte, würde er mit seinem Glauben kaum etwas verlieren. Und falls Gott tatsächlich existierte, wäre nicht nur der Gewinn gewaltig, sondern auch die Konsequenzen einer Fehlentscheidung fatal. Die Argumentation der Pascalschen Wette liest sich folgendermassen:
Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake,[Pg 67] your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. 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. It is all divided; wherever the infinite is and there is not an infinity of chances of loss against that of gain, there is no time to hesitate, you must give all. And thus, when one is forced to play, he must renounce reason to preserve his life, rather than risk it for infinite gain, as likely to happen as the loss of nothingness.Pensées, Section III, 233 – Quelle.
PS: Ich bin heute aus der Kirchgemeinde ausgetreten und habe statt einem Apfel Schokolade gegessen.
Bild: Ausschnitt aus Komachi Praying for Rain (ca. 1765) vmtl. von Torii Kiyomitsu, MET Museum – Quelle.