Pascal’s Wager, an argument for belief in God, was formulated by 17th Century French Philosopher and Christian apologist Blaise Pascal.
The “Wager” argues that if one lives as an agnostic, he is betting his life on the non-existence of God. If, upon death, he discovers that he was wrong, then his wager has cost him his eternal life. On the other hand, if he chooses to live as one who believes in God, and discovers at death that he was wrong, he has lost nothing because he has still lived an unselfish, honorable and satisfying life. Either way, Pascal argues, the wise wager is to believe in God and live accordingly.
Applying Pascal’s Wager To Finance
I believe the same logic applies to the handling of finances. Our two choices are:
- Living for today, or
- Planning for tomorrow.
If one chooses to live for today, he is betting his future that he will have no unmet needs later in life. If he is wrong, he will some day be preparing meals from the cookbook, “98 Ways to Eat Alpo and Love It“.
On the other hand, if one plans for tomorrow and somehow doesn’t live to enjoy the fruit of his plans, he still wins. Why? Because the very process of being in control of his money has made his life better. This choice produces healthier marriages and more peaceful lives. “Stuffitis” is a non-issue because he has learned that stuff can never make him happy. He avoided the stress of too much debt and the nagging voice in the back of his mind that says, “What will you do if you lose your job or your health? How will you handle an emergency?”
One definition of character is the ability to delay pleasure for a greater good. Don’t bet your life on living for today. It is a losing wager.
In case you want to read more, here are some more reads from Jeff’s blog:
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Pascal’s wager is an interesting idea, I’ll give it that. But on the other hand, I think to believe in God just to hedge your bets may not be the best way to live. I believe in God because I do, not because of what may or may not happen to me later on. I think that if one follows this method to “play the odds”, one might have some explaining to do when it’s time to meet one’s Maker.
But, as it pertains to personal finance, I like the lesson. Living only for today is indeed a very foolish choice : ) Sorry to go ( slightly ) off-topic.
Great application of a well-known faith story to personal finance! While Rob probably has a point about true belief v. “playing the odds”, you’re always best to do what you can to prepare for tomorrow in the realm of personal finance.
Mirandas last blog post..Where Are You On the Path to Financial Freedom?
Lazy Man and Money says
I think Llama Money has a good point here. If God is all-powerful (as we make him/her out to be), there’s no doubt (s)he’ll see through the act.
One time in college a friend told me about a story about a non-believer meeting his Maker. God said, “It was never necessary that you believed in me, for it is I who believe in you.” In short, do good or great things and it won’t matter what you believe.
I don’t know if I believe the application of Pascal’s Wager to finances. It’s true that having a secure tomorrow is healthy, but sometimes you have to do things that cost money today. When I’m 90, I may not enjoy certain rides at Disney World for example.
Lazy Man and Moneys last blog post..Alternative Income Streams – January 2009