Leaving aside the obvious objections to Pascal's Wager, imagine a general form of the Wager that could be formulated from the perspective of any religious belief system. Since some religions are more "exclusive" than others, I would imagine that there are quite a few combinations of religions that could be practiced without other followers of those religions believing you're entirely "reprobate" (for lack of a better word).

For instance, many Christian denominations would not think you were "going to Hell" if you started to practice Buddhism (though they'd definitely think it was pointless, and probably getting in the way of your Christian practice).

What would be the set of beliefs and practices (in order, if necessary) that would satisfy the greatest number of living people that you were, if not entirely "one of them", at least headed to the right afterlife?

1 Answer 1


If you're going strictly by numbers, Christians are 33% of the world's population, so your best "bet" is to start there. Muslims are another 23%, so you'd have to look at whether you'd gain or lose more people by shifting from a specifically Christian viewpoint to a more generally monotheistic one.

Hinduism at 13% is non-monotheistic, and can be pretty open to incorporating beliefs and practices of other religious traditions, so you could potentially pick up a few extras "for free". Buddhism, at 6%, is technically a philosophy, not a religion (at least in its purest form) so you might be able to pick up some Buddhists as well. None of the other groups are large enough to move the dial much.

So the answer to your question is almost certainly some core set of Christian beliefs and practices that are not specifically Protestant or Catholic.

  • A lot of Christian groups (including the ~17% of the world population who are Catholic) would specifically deny the salvation of practitioners of other religions, though. Most Muslims would as well, I think.
    – sehrgut
    May 19, 2014 at 21:28
  • 1
    Yes, that's why the answer to your question lies with endorsing the core beliefs of the numerically largest group. That way, you get all the people to whom those beliefs are important --that's the largest single group it's possible for you to to get-- and then you can add to that total (of people, not beliefs) everyone whose beliefs are close enough, or who aren't as strict. The naive intuition might be that some kind of syncretic approach such as practiced by the Bahai might give the highest yield, but you actually reduce the number of believers as you add beliefs, not the other way around. May 20, 2014 at 2:32

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