In short, Pascal’s Wager states that if God doesn’t exist, a person who believes in and “follows” him only loses out on some finite pleasures they could have had in this life. If he does exist, those who don’t believe and follow lose out for all eternity.
When I first heard of Pascal’s Wager I thought it was reasonably sound logic. However, after I came to know Jesus more and walk in a deeper relationship with him, I began to see inconsistencies with this and what the Bible shows us of his love and grace.
First, this holds people under an assumed threat, something like, “you better believe just in case.” God doesn’t want “just in case” belief though. He’s not in the business of selling fire insurance policies. If we believe out of fear, then we are only wanting to go to heaven to avoid hell and not because we are in love with our savior Jesus and want to be with him.
Second, this seems to assume that works based faith gets us to heaven. In this scenario, we perform good works not out of our love for Jesus, but out of expectation that we are earning eternal life. Likewise, we expect our abstaining from “secular” things to get us closer to God. While abstaining from certain things might be a byproduct of that relationship, it doesn’t produce it nor does it earn one iota more of salvation. The same applies for good works.
Third, as touched on before, just believing that God might exist isn’t enough. It’s a relationship, not just wishful thinking. Performance and wishful thinking only create a religion. A relationship forms as a result of experiencing God. How do we have this initial experience? We open ourselves up and allow God to reveal himself to us.
The one area I can (sort of) agree with Pascal on is: what’s there to lose? This isn’t to say it is a life-long probing to see if God exists. It’s more of an asking that God reveal to us how he has already been working throughout our entire lives. God loves us too much to force us into this type of revelation as then we would only follow out of fear and obligation of knowing. Likewise, we show others to Jesus by our love relationship with him, not by threatening them that if they’re wrong then they’re doomed.
All in all, Pascal’s Wager seems to be a subtle form of doubting God’s existence as well as manipulation when used to attempt to convert others.