Mark 9:24, Pascal’s Wager

And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

//Blaise Pascal, a 17th century philosopher, proposed that belief in god is logical, if perceived as a wager. Either God exists or he does not, and reason can defend neither possibility. Therefore, the practical solution is to weigh the gain and loss in wagering that God exists. If you gain, you gain much: an “infinitely happy life.” Because the stakes are so high (indeed, infinitely high) the logical course of action is to measure the slight loss that may accompany believing with the potential tremendous gain.

But some cannot believe. Pascal recognized this weakness, and offered advice to these unfortunate people. They should mimic the actions of believers, endeavoring to convince themselves, until it becomes possible to fool themselves into belief. (I’m paraphrasing, but the instruction seems clear enough.)

In today’s verse, the father of a child possessed by a demon comes to Jesus asking for an exorcism. Jesus says no, you have to believe first. Then I can help you. The man begs Jesus with tears, pretending to believe while confessing the truth about his unbelief.

Pascal would approve. Apparently, so did Jesus.

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