According To Math, You Should Believe In God


And worldly life is nothing but a sport and a pastime. And surely the abode of the Hereafter is better for those who are righteous. Will you not then understand? (Al Quran 6:33)

two dices

Source: Business Insider

By Andy Kiersz, who is a quant reporter at Business Insider. Andy studied mathematics at the University of Chicago and Purdue University.

There are countless arguments for and against the existence of God, but one famous argument involves analyzing costs and benefits.

 Blaise Pascal was a brilliant seventeenth century mathematician. He made foundational contributions to statistics and to our understanding of how air pressure works. He was also a devout Catholic, and came up with an interesting argument for why one should believe in God, now known as Pascal’s Wager.

Pascal laid out the wager in part 233 of his Pensées, a series of notes for an uncompleted defense of Christianity that were published posthumously.

Pascal argued that, while it’s impossible to prove whether or not God exists, people should believe in God anyway. The essential component of the argument is the relative payoffs and costs for believing or not believing in God under either the assumption God exists or God doesn’t exist.

If God exists, Pascal argued that belief would lead to eternal joy in heaven, while disbelief results in damnation and torture in hell for all time. If God doesn’t exist, belief just leads to a finite cost: giving up sins and living a godly life. Disbelief brings only a finite benefit: sinning can be fun and sleeping in on Sundays is nice.

This is usually summarized in a table like the one below:

pascal's wager table

The argument is based on the infinite nature of the afterlife. No matter what the costs in this life are of believing in God, they are always outweighed by the benefits, if God exists. Similarly, however large the benefits of atheism are, if God does exist, those benefits are massively countered by the infinite cost of going to hell.

Further, since the benefits of belief and the costs of disbelief are infinite in the case God exists, we don’t need any actual estimate for the probability that God exists, so long as that probability is not zero. Even if there’s only a one in a trillion chance for the existence of God, one in a trillion times infinity is still infinity.

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Categories: Americas, Religion

1 reply

  1. Liebnitz invented the binary system, based on zero and One. He said “Everything is Zero. God is One.”
    Euler (famous Swiss mathematician) argued with a Frenchman Atheist and used a strange formula to prove the existence of God, as follows:
    He said (a+b^n)/n=x, so God exists. This somehow defeated the atheist and he ran away to France.
    We cannot understand how the above equation can be used to prove the existence of God.
    But Euler is very famous for a most wonderful mathematical relation, the most surprising having 10 special points in it, as follows:
    e^(j*pi)+1=0. This is true and remarkably, it has the two transcendental numbers, e and Pi and the imaginary number j (or i), as well as + and minus symbols and power and root and zero and One and equal sign all in one equation.

    The imaginary axis is at right angle to the real axis. The imaginary quantity is defined as something which cannot be denied as well as cannot be shown (or presented). It is considered something beyond our comprehension, something abnormal, uncommon. It is called imaginary because we cannot quantify it in our normal life. In a way, it enters a field of impossibility.
    But, even then, it is not entirely imaginary. It is very much real and has its usefulness in our daily life usage of electricity.
    Example can be the capacitive and inductive reactance which is imaginary resistance but it is very much real and exists in alternating current circuits.
    So God Almighty is some One we cannot present and show to any one but at same time we cannot deny Him. There are reasons to believe that He exists, same as we believe that there must be an answer for the square root of a negative number.

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