The Pascal's Wager has been criticized because presupposes that the only possible god is the Christian god.

Pascal acknowledges the the existence of his god is doubtful. But even if we suppose that the divine existence is indubitable a new problem arises.

Melisandre can say "Worship R'hllor or you will suffer eternally". And she can (reasonably) prove that R'hllor is real.

Now the new problem: is R'hllor saying the truth when he says (by the mouth of Melisandre) that he want be worshiped? Maybe he is a sadistic prankster that punishes his believers.

Surely my objection isn't terribly original, but I have not found anything similar in my (not terribly exhaustive) search.

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    I do think this is interesting in some way I have yet to articulate to myself. But Pascal's wager is, briefly, about consequences and probability, a rationalization for judgments in what appeared to be a pure state of doubt or uncertainty. Your case is more concerned with a Cartesian type of doubt. I'm not sure what you mean by R'hllor being "reasonably" real, but I don't think this matters. I don't see anything in this Cartesian situation that can be judged under probabilistic thinking of the sort Pascal helped originate. Oct 18, 2020 at 2:29
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    The many gods objection goes back to Diderot, who pointed out that "imam could just as well reason the same way". And an imam would be in a better position than Melisandre, who is a fictional character, and according to whose own religion the Lord of Light is opposed by the Great Other, and is in no position to make unconditional promises or threats (assuming we take the Game of Thrones mythology at face value).
    – Conifold
    Oct 18, 2020 at 2:46
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    "Miracles" do not make gods "indubitable", what we can do would look like miracles to cavemen. If there are multiple gods the wager makes little sense regardless of what they are saying and whether it's true, since they can not vouch to deliver. On the other hand, if there is one omnipotent god who made that fact indubitable there is no point to wagering, as his existence is a certainty already. This sort of wager only gets off the ground with one omnipotent god as the only option, but whose existence is uncertain.
    – Conifold
    Oct 18, 2020 at 7:17
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    Note that all Melisandre can prove is her pyrokinetic powers. All we have to link this to R'llhor's existence is her word. She has more credibility than a real world prophet, but is not beyond reasonable doubt.
    – armand
    Nov 20, 2020 at 5:44
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    It always confuses me when theist scholars state that God is beyond our understanding and then proceed with describing him in detail. If that contradiction isn't enough to convince you that they are at best speculating then I don't know what will. I'm not against speculation whatsoever, but circular arguments, false dichotomies and question begging, should never serve as proof about anything. The existence of said deity is what needs to be proven, no threat over disbelief should be sufficient to rationally believe in that deity.
    – Ted
    Dec 20, 2020 at 9:19

2 Answers 2


Actually this is very old. The Christian Gnostics of a certain stripe suggested that the God we know in Christianity is not the God of the Universe, but only the Demiurge of some lower order of reality, and therefore the only form of eternal life that can be offered by such a God is really a form of limitation and therefore a kind of eternal suffering.

Their argument is basically the argument from evil. Only a God that was flawed or insane would have created material reality, which is at best a confusing delusion, and at worst a trap. So any higher reality offered by such a God probably isn't exactly what He thinks it is.

They aspired to look beyond Him to a higher order of the Real Universe ruled by a more ultimate God sometimes known as the Monad.

(Sometimes they limit this only to all forms of Christianity continuous with Judaism, since they identify the Demiurge with Yahweh in particular, and propose there are messages hidden in the words of Jesus that point to the higher reality, sometimes through the mystery of the Trinity, etc. This explains how these variants remained Christian, preserving Jesus as a Savior figure, and did not become variants of 'Satanism' like others (If God is evil, and Satan is real, then he is your friend.) Since every form of the tradition was ultimately suppressed as a heresy, it is hard to know what parts were actually commonplace, and which ones just happen to be expressed in the remaining traces nobody destroyed.)

More recently we have the Evil God Challenge. The challenge to prove that the philosophical version of God is not just as likely to be ultimately evil (and sometimes therefore also the ultimate liar) as He is to be ultimately good in any way. If he is just as likely, or more likely, to be evil, then all the continuity between actual religious beliefs and most of the theology that borrows from Plato and Aristotle is broken.


I will ignore R'hllor and instead answer for the christian God. I think this probably applies to any God and religion.

An important statement that is repeated often in the Old Testament is to remember what God did to their ancestors (namely, free them from egyptian captivity). This is then used to say that God will also act in this way, good, towards the current people if they listen to what he says.

In other words: Trust God because he was trustworthy in the past.

Another angle:

An insincere God can "punish" you in the afterlife whether or not you obeyed his commands. A sincere God is sincere in that the people who follow him will be blessed in the afterlife.

Thus, in the spirit of Pascals wager, you gain nothing by assuming an insincere God but lose a lot if God is sincere but you are not following his advice. In the spirit of Pascals wager it would be therefore beneficial to assume a sincere God.

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    Yes, Pascal is implicitly thinking in the Christian god. But he explicitly says: " But we know neither the existence nor the nature of God, because He has neither extension nor limits." Oct 20, 2020 at 7:35
  • @Martín-BlasPérezPinilla Not sure what that has to do with the question, or the answer. I am using the religion that I know about to answer a general question about religions (fictional or real). The question I understood is: "Why (do people) trust God?", and that seems independent of whether said God exists, what nature he has, or how much about that nature is known. We can even ask "Why do people trust other people?" and probably get to a similar answer.
    – kutschkem
    Oct 20, 2020 at 8:13
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    @Martín-BlasPérezPinilla Also, although both Pascal and Melisandre take this for granted I suppose: There is also another uncertainty which is the Prophet/Priest: Are the people who claim to speak in God's name actually doing so? This issue is a very big one in the real world.
    – kutschkem
    Oct 20, 2020 at 12:52
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    The OT also offers examples of God being untrustworthy, like when he told Abraham to sacrifice his son only to test him, hardened pharaoh's heart, got the Hebrews to be lost for years in the desert, played favorites with David, etc... The second angle however is very relevant.
    – armand
    Nov 20, 2020 at 5:56
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    If the bible is not to be taken literally, it can't be used to establish God's trustworthiness either. YMMV, but Abraham's "it was only a test" episode is clearly a deal breaker to me. The other punishments were never established beforehand, always arbitrary. I forgot to count the Flood, an arbitrary genocidal punishment on people who never saw it coming, all due to an inability to own one's mistake in creating a wicked world. The OT God is (involuntarily) described as a petty, careless, unpredictable individual I wouldn't approach with a ten feet pole.
    – armand
    Nov 20, 2020 at 8:39

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