From my memories, there is a well defined definition / concept / name for the following:

A scientist chose to believe in the Christian God because of the following logic:

  • If God does exist, then you may have a chance to go to heaven
  • If God does not exist, then you just believed in something that do not exist.
  • In both case, you either won your place to heaven (perhaps) or you did not lose anything.

What is the name of the concept?

  • 13
    You may be thinking of: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_wager
    – christo183
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 6:22
  • 12
    Pascal's Wager covers that simple (and cynical) reasoning. But note that there also exists a second-level version, the Atheist's Wager, which refutes that argument.
    – Graham
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 14:46
  • 13
    Actually, when you die, Sithrak tortures you forever—whether you're good or not.
    – Vaelus
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 16:11
  • 4
    @Graham: The Athiest's Wager contains a hidden assumption. Splitting the assumption into two more cases breaks the refutation. In any case, Pascal's Wager is useless until the choices for God are reduced to one.
    – Joshua
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 17:22
  • 11
    @Joshua Pascal's Wager also contains the hidden assumption that just saying the words is enough to satisfy the single God. This isn't supported by most religions.
    – Graham
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 17:45

4 Answers 4


Sounds like one version of Pascal's Wager, which the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article labels as The Argument From Superdominance, giving this quote from Pascal:

“God is, or He is not.” But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up… Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose… But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is… If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.

Pascal was mainly known as a mathematician, but he did make some contributions to science as well.

  • This is not the correct answer. His statement is derived from classical game theory.
    – dgrat
    Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 14:59
  • 7
    @dgrat - What is "classical game theory", does it predate 20th century game theory? And are you saying Pascal's statement is derived from classical game theory, or that you think the person Florian Castelain was thinking of was using game theory but Pascal was not?
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 15:35
  • The questioner was asking for a concept whatever this means. You said it is "The Argument from Superdominance". My guess is, it is a simple zero-sum game and the optimal strategy is to choose to belief because there is no penalty (very boring game).
    – dgrat
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 19:08
  • 1
    @dgrat - The questioner was asking for a well defined name for the idea that you should bet on God existing because there's a large upside if you're right and no downside if you're not, and specifically remembered it being associated with a "scientist". My main answer was that the OP was probably thinking of the term "Pascal's Wager", since that's a well-known term for the idea, but the SEP article says Pascal had a few variant versions of the wager, so I said that it seems to best fit the one the article labeled "Argument from Superdominance".
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Oct 4, 2020 at 22:26

You are conflating two different systems of concepts. Belief (religion) is a matter of faith, it has nothing to do with knowledge based on scientific inquiry. A person who studies science ('a scientist') is asking questions about this sensual universe, an entirely different set of questions - what is it? how does it work? Whether you have a belief system that says there is a God or gods, or heaven or hell or a void are not questions within the realm of science, they cannot be answered within the limits of the sensual universe. There have been and will be scientists whose beliefs are across the wide spectrum of beliefs.

  • 8
    This doesn't answer the question at all.
    – JBentley
    Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 8:35
  • 2
    @JBentley No, it doesn't; it merely explains why the question is senseless. Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 12:07
  • 8
    This does not answer the question and it fails as a frame challenge because it does not explain why we do not need to know the name of this famous argument.
    – David42
    Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 1:42
  • 2
    This answer made more sense before the title question got edited from "What is the name behind the concept of being a scientist but believing in god?" (which carried the implication that it is abnormal for scientists to believe in God) to "What is the name behind the concept of believing in God based on this logical deduction?" Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 8:25
  • 2
    @Peter-ReinstateMonica The question is about what this argument is called. Whether or not the argument makes sense is orthogonal to that, and irrelevant. Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 22:11

Rule egoism

Rule egoism is the doctrine under which an individual evaluates the optimal set of rules according to whether conformity to those rules bring the most benefit to himself. An action, therefore, is right if it promotes his welfare at least as well as any alternative rule available to him.


  • Does this somehow apply to scientists more than anyone else?
    – Kevin
    Commented Oct 1, 2020 at 23:15

Intelligent Design

Though it doesn't follow your described logic directly, a different train of thought towards logical deduction to the existence of God is called Intelligent Design.

"The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence. Intelligent design has applied these scientific methods to detect design in irreducibly complex biological structures, the complex and specified information content in DNA, the life-sustaining physical architecture of the universe, and the geologically rapid origin of biological diversity in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion approximately 530 million years ago." [ https://intelligentdesign.org/whatisid/ ]

The theory of intelligent design basically says that the existence of things such as DNA (which is essentially a data storage mechanism) is not explained by natural selection, and goes directly against the second law of thermal dynamics, which as some science text books state: "The entropy of the universe increases in all natural processes." Which essentially means that any system, which is a closed system, will always move away from order and towards chaos. Intelligent design then holds that existence of things like DNA are better explained by the existence of an intelligent creator.

When I saw the posted question without it's description, this is what I thought you were referring to. I understand now, that you were looking for a different train of logic, but I think that others may stumble across this, and be looking for the name for Intelligent Design, so I thought to post here, since it is another answer for a "name behind a concept of believing in God based on logical deduction."

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