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The conventional formulation of Pascal's Wager hinges on the uncertainty of awaiting confirmation until after death to determine the success of the wager. This assumes that the occurrence of death holds extraordinary epistemological significance, as it is seen as the gateway to unveiling the truth of what lies 'beyond the grave.' Curiously, this truth appears inaccessible with a similar degree of epistemic clarity beforehand.

For those who lack the patience to await such post-mortem revelation and confirmation, I am interested in exploring whether there exist variants of Pascal's Wager that offer the potential benefits, along with the associated epistemic breakthrough, to be realized on 'this side of the grave.' In other words, are there reinterpretations of Pascal's Wager that posit that the insights or tangible outcomes can be attained within the confines of our present existence, should the wager be executed correctly or prove successful?

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    If the wager could be settled in life, it would be an empirical experiment and would no longer have the character of Pascal's Wager. Jan 21 at 6:58
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    If the mainstream cults are not insane enough for you, smaller cults promise all kinds of benefits if your easily baited. Your diseases will disappear, you will be more successful in partnerships, instant levitation, mind reading, there is really a rich buffet of crazy cults promising gifts in this life if you join them. That's why they are called crazy cults.
    – tkruse
    Jan 21 at 7:21
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    Pascal claimed benefits in this life already:"You will be faithful, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful. Certainly you will not have those poisonous pleasures, glory and luxury; but will you not have others? I will tell you that you will thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you take on this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognise that you have wagered for something certain and infinite, for which you have given nothing."
    – Conifold
    Jan 21 at 10:06

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Pascals wager can trivially apply to any benefit offered for faith. As such it is not restricted to afterlife benefits. (I agree though that if there were a guaranteed immediate supernatural benefit, then this would not be a wager anymore, but rather a transaction). Every petitionary prayer for something to happen is such a wager.

So philosophically, not additional consideration is needed.

It's just that even at Pascals time, the religious promises of benefits in this life had proven too unreliable to be taken seriously in philosophy.

But if you believe faith will cure disease, stop bullets on the battlefield, let you levitate in meditation, ... whatever, Pascals wager applies there as well. There is no shortage of cults who will promise most tangible benefits starting right tomorrow in your life for "very reasonable" prices.

Wouldn't you benefit from knowing your immediate future? Surely a fortune teller provides their services in your area, too. You could not go there and have no benefit (other than keeping your money), or have your future told and possibly have a benefit if it's not bullshit. People still take that gamble.

The same goes for prayers, most cults that encourage prayer insinuate that prayers can have a benefit in this life. Like praying for business success. That's also a wager, if any divine intervention based on such prayers exists, only those praying have a chance to receive it.

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  • If the wager can be settled without dying, then it's not Pascal's Wager; it's an empirical experiment. Jan 21 at 8:37
  • Yess @DavidGudeman... at least in principle. I dont think death per se is required but one (or even two) absolutes/infinities that make the approach significant. In its classic/original form — infinite hell vs infinite heavenly benefit at finite risk-cost. Its just that death is an absolute point in any/all systems
    – Rushi
    Jan 21 at 9:00
  • Strictly speaking, that is only true if the benefit is certain. If the benefit is uncertain, like a lottery, then a potential player has the choice to participate or not, with only participants having a chance to win. If the benefit is so unlikely to be undistinguishable from chance statistically, a player might still consider whether to engage or not. A lottery at near zero cost but tiny chance of benefit would still be a wager.
    – tkruse
    Jan 21 at 11:03
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Pascal’s wager means to make a decision about one’s belief in God: What is more advantageous, to believe or not to believe in God? It is a wager under complete uncertainty. The correct answer about the existence of God will be revealed after the lifetime of the candidate. Pascal emphasizes the advantage of belief.

The OP’s question is about a similar situation. But where the answer about the existence of God is revealed already during the lifetime of the candidate.

I do not know about a philosophical reinterpretation of Pascal’s wager in the sense of the OP’s question. For philosophical considerations about the issue see Pascal's wager.

But a similarity is found in the Jewish testament, when Jahwe requests Abraham to sacrify his son Isaak as a test for Abraham's belief in Jahwe (Genesis, 22.2ff). The narration exemplifies Abraham's decision. But it does not indicate whether Abraham interprets the situation as a wager.

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Don't go for a swim in Loch Ness, because there is a monster. Well, we think there is a monster. Don't go for a swim anyway. If there is a monster, it will eat you. If there is no monster then you have lost nothing other than a swim which you could have taken somewhere else anyway.

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While variations of Pascal's Wager may shift the focus to life before death, they still rely on a speculative leap. Converting subjective benefits into objective evidence is not possible through belief alone.

So, the essential dilemma remains: Experiential benefits in the present don't provide empirical confirmation of theological claims about the afterlife or God. The leap of faith is still necessary, as it is not based on indisputable facts.

Then how the wager be executed correctly or prove successful?

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  • Wouldn't this objection also hold even for the case of benefits being obtained after death? If you experience a eternal life of bliss, wouldn't a leap of faith still be required?
    – Mark
    Jan 22 at 0:53
  • It is not proven they are obtained, or afterlife exists, people believe in this.
    – user68439
    Jan 22 at 1:04

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