Reformed Perspectives Magazine, Volume 8, Number 2, January 8 to January 14, 2006

The Epistemology of Pascal's Wager:

A Christian Presuppositional Argument

By Joel Esala

In the last entry of the first chapter of Pascal's apologetic for the Christian faith, he makes his intention clear:

Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.1

Pascal's immense task is to take the Christian faith that men despise and show them that it is not unreasonable as many so readily assume. Secondly, he seeks to show that Christianity is so attractive that his readers will wish it were true. Finally, and most difficult of all, he seeks to show the reader that Christianity is in fact true. In short, Pascal is attempting to bring the skeptics of his day to an authentic conversion into the Christian life.

Undoubtedly, the part of his work that has received the most attention in philosophical discussions is his chapter on the wager, in which Pascal attempts to demonstrate through logic that "religion is not contrary to reason but worthy of reverence and respect." In light of the entire Pensées, the wager is by no means the only argument Pascal offers in favor of Christianity, yet it is often treated as such. Ignoring his insights into human nature and the inner workings of the heart, philosophers often attack this argument of reason. Such attacks are not surprising from secular philosophers, since they often view their discipline as a search for what is in fact reasonable through wholly secular means.2 Pascal can pontificate over the psychology of religious belief all he wants, but the instant he claims that Christianity is reasonable, he enters holy ground, in which religious belief has so often been labeled "unclean" by the priests of philosophy.

Most if not all efforts to expose fallacy in Pascal's wager do not take into account the complex epistemological framework in which Pascal stakes his claim. The wager is often regarded as an elementary argument that demonstrates nothing except that betting on the right God is good utility. Since Pascal says, "We are therefore incapable of knowing either what [God] is or whether he is,"3 on whom or what we are supposed to wager is thought to be uncertain. If we are left to guess at God's nature, we bet that he is good or evil, and therefore it is often thought, as Alan Carter concludes, "Pascal's wager establishes, in effect, nothing at all."4

Such criticism does not take into account that the wager is part of Pascal's larger apologetic and cannot be evaluated alone. Specifically, Carter's criticism does not recognize how the wager fits into Pascal's epistemology. To miss this is to miss a central theme of Pensées, which has immense implications on our understanding of the wager. Contrary to Carter's thinking, the wager does not establish "too much."5 Rather, it accomplishes precisely what Pascal intends within his epistemological scheme. As we will see, Pascal proposes three different epistemologies for what he regards as three distinct realms of knowledge, which he refers to as "orders."6 When this is understood, we see that the wager works within one particular epistemology to establish that living as though God exists is both prudent and reasonable, in light of what we know about God. To understand the wager, then, we must understand it within this framework.

Pascal's epistemologies run through the entire Pensées, but fragments 298 and 308 are the most detailed accounts of what he saw as distinct faculties in human knowledge. In fragment 298, Pascal writes,

The heart has its order, the mind its own, which uses principles and demonstrations. The heart has a different one. We do not prove that we ought to be loved by setting out in order the causes of love; that would be absurd. Jesus Christ and St Paul possess the order of charity, not the order of the mind, for they wished to humble, not to teach.7

When Pascal uses the word "order," he is referring to a realm of knowledge that we use specific faculties to access. Here he distinguishes two faculties of knowledge: the heart and the mind. Both bring real knowledge, but they are different in content and perceived by different faculties. The faculty of the mind "uses principles and demonstrations" and seeks causes, while the heart finds truth through other means. In seeking love, the heart does not reason like a scientist. According to the twentieth-century logical positivists, scientific knowledge is the only real knowledge. In Pascal's scheme, this limits knowledge to the order of the mind. He scoffs at such limits and asserts that the heart is capable of real knowledge, though it is of a different kind than that of the mind. To ignore the validity of heart knowledge is, for Pascal, to miss the highest potential of humanity.

Fragment 308 contains the most complete single discourse of Pascal's epistemology. He begins by clearly distinguishing three faculties of knowledge:

The infinite distance between body and mind symbolizes the infinitely more infinite distance between mind and charity, for charity is supernatural. All the splendor of greatness lacks luster for those engaged in pursuits of the mind. The greatness of intellectual people is not visible to kings, rich men, captains, who are all great in a carnal sense. The greatness of wisdom, which is nothing if it does not come from God, is not visible to carnal or intellectual people. They are three orders differing in kind.8

Within this terse paragraph, Pascal claims that three distinct faculties of knowledge are available to humanity: body, mind and charity. Between these three types of knowledge lies an infinite distance, meaning they cannot be reduced to one another. They are qualitatively different categories of knowledge, and he believes that people tend to live primarily within one of the three types.9

With regard to the order of the body, humanity shares this faculty with all sentient creatures. The order of the body is roughly analogous to empiricism, in that both affirm that sense impressions are the faculty by which we discover knowledge.10 In this realm of knowledge, Pascal equates power with knowledge. To know something in the realm of the body is to take what you want based not on reason but bodily desire: "The carnal are rich men and kings. Their interest is in the body… Things of the flesh are properly governed by concupiscence."11 On its own, the body cannot be governed by anything other than instinct or passion because any external limit on action can only come from rational thought, which is of the next order. This is why we do not consider animals moral agents, since unlike humans they do not participate in the order of the mind. So, with regard to epistemology, the order of the body involves sensory stimulation and takes by force.

Because humanity shares the order of the body with other animals, Pascal considers it the lowest of the orders. Rational thought is what distinguishes humans from animals, according to Pascal. Fragment 200 clarifies this:

Man is only a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed. There is no need for the whole universe to take up arms to crush him: a vapour, a drop of water is enough to kill him. But even if the whole universe were to crush him, man would still be nobler than his slayer, because he knows he is dying and the advantage the universe has over him. The universe knows none of this. Thus all dignity consists in thought. It is on thought that we must depend for our recovery, not on space and time, which we could never fill. Let us then strive to think well; that is the basic principle of morality.12

Here Pascal affirms that the qualitative difference between the order of the body and the order of the mind is rational thought. Pascal has a profound respect for rational thought, and he believes it is what makes humanity unique. Though mankind is a mere speck compared to the massive cosmos, Pascal contends that humanity is worth more than the entire physical universe because of its ability to think. Rational thought distinguishes humanity from everything else in the universe. Non-sentient matter, though certainly of value, "knows none of this" because it is epistemologically incapable of any knowledge at all. Non-human sentient creatures participate in the order of the body, and so they are epistemologically capable of knowledge, unlike the vast majority of the universe. Their knowledge, though, is of infinitely less value because no moral categories can be properly placed upon them. The qualitative difference between knowledge of the body and knowledge of the mind is so vast that Pascal describes an infinite distance between them. Because of this, humanity has dignity in which the rest of the universe does not participate.13

Pascal never exhaustively describes the epistemology of the order of the mind, but he left enough traces to get a clear understanding of what he intended. While rulers and politicians functioned primarily in the bodily order, scholars work primarily out of the order of the mind.14 Where the bodily order roughly is equivalent to the senses, the mental order is roughly equivalent to reason. Logic, reason and their application to the material order is how knowledge is acquired in the order of the mind. He cites the ancient mathematician Archimedes as a "prince" of reason.15 As cited earlier, the mind seeks knowledge through "principles," "demonstrations" and by "seeking causes."16 Pascal's use of the word "demonstration" likely refers to experimentation. Himself a noted scientist and mathematician, Pascal was deeply familiar with both disciplines. We can safely assume that he thought both mathematics and science were epistemologically valid means to knowledge within this order. He distinguishes within this order two different ways of thinking: intuitively and mathematically. Intuitive minds can grasp conclusions at a glance, while mathematical minds labor prodigiously over principles to find solutions. To be truly great in the realm of the mind, one must have both these characteristics.17

Epistemologically, within the order of the mind, Pascal advises the use of experimentation and reason to find inductive empirical knowledge. Because this knowledge is essentially inductive, it cannot be certain, only probable.18 In this way, Pascal affirms the legitimacy of scientific knowledge as a means to truth, though unlike the logical positivists, he does not limit all knowledge to this one order. Pascal sees a myriad of contradictions within the lower orders that either render knowledge despairingly faulty, or indicate the existence of a third order that reconciles the contradictions. In reference to the limitations of the body and the mind, Pascal says:

Man is nothing but a subject full of natural errors that cannot be eradicated except through grace. Nothing shows him the truth, everything deceives him. The two principles of truth, reason and senses, are not only both not genuine, but are engaged in mutual deception. The senses deceive reason through false appearances, and, just as they trick the soul, they are tricked by it in their turn: it takes its revenge. The senses are disturbed by passions, which produce false impressions. They both compete in lies and deception.19

Though the senses of the body and the reason of the mind are definite paths to real knowledge, the two faculties deceive one another. If our sense impressions are the ultimate criteria for truth, what assures us we are not deceived? False appearances and passions corrupt our senses from perceiving the world as it is, and as such they are not infallible sources of knowledge.

This shortcoming led Pascal's contemporary, René Descartes, to reject sense data as a legitimate epistemology in favor of what he believed was undeniable rational thought.20 Descartes attempted to sever himself from all empirical observations through methodological doubt to secure an indubitable rational foundation upon which knowledge can be built. Pascal sees this effort as hopelessly naive. Surely in reference to Descartes project, Pascal says:

There is no certainty, apart from faith, as to whether man was created by a good God, an evil demon, or just by chance, and so it is a matter of doubt, depending on our origin, whether these innate principles are true, false or uncertain. Moreover, no one can be sure, apart from faith, whether he is sleeping or waking, because when we are asleep we are just as firmly convinced that we are awake as we are now…What then is man to do in this state of affairs? Is he to doubt everything, to doubt whether he is awake, whether he is being pinched or burned? Is he to doubt whether he is doubting, to doubt whether he exists? No one can go that far, and I maintain that a perfectly genuine skeptic has never existed. Nature backs up reason and stops it from going wildly astray.21

Neither pure rationalism, nor pure empiricism can resolve the contradictions between the body and the mind. The purely rationalistic approach that Descartes attempts is hopeless, according to Pascal, because no certainty can come from the lower orders. Attempting to separate oneself from the body through doubt is impossible because nature is what keeps our reason "from going wildly astray," and yet we cannot know that we perceive nature as it is apart from faith. Pascal rejects both rationalism and empiricism as ultimate criteria for truth, saying that the errors between these two faculties can only be resolved by the third order of grace.

The certainty which humanity longs for can only come from a third order of knowledge, whose epistemology is based on faith as perceived by the heart. In claiming the necessity of faith for certain knowledge, Pascal may be criticized as contradicting what he says about depending upon thought for "recovery" of the human condition in fragment 200. Such criticism mistakes what Pascal saw as the limits of the mind. Reason cannot resolve the contradictions between body and mind autonomously, and this is the detrimental limit of the order of the mind. Yet, at its best reason can point us toward the necessity of the third order. Though distinct from and differing in epistemological method than the third order, the order of the mind can intuitively point to the third order of faith:

Reason's last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it. It is merely feeble if it does not go as far as to realize that. If natural things are beyond it, what are we to say about supernatural things?22

This "last step" of the order of the mind emerges through the humble recognition of reason's own limits, and this is why Pascal says we must depend on thought for recovery. Though inept at resolving epistemological contradictions, the self-conscious limits of reason indicate the necessity of faith.

The third order that resolves the contradictions of the lower orders is the order of charity,23 which comes epistemologically through faith. Contrary to so many who think faith is inappropriate in serious philosophy, Pascal asserts that faith is the only legitimate way of avoiding epistemological despair. As such he argues for its legitimacy in discussing knowledge:

We know the truth not only through our reason but also through our heart. It is through the latter that we know first principles, and reason, which has nothing to do with it, tries in vain to refute them. The skeptics have no other objection than that, and they work at it to no purpose. We know that we are not dreaming, but, however unable we may be to prove it rationally, our inability proves nothing but the weakness of our reason, and not the uncertainty of all our knowledge, as they maintain. For knowledge of first principles, like space, time, motion, number, is as solid as any derived through reason, and it is on such knowledge coming from the heart and instinct, that reason has to depend and base all its argument.24

Similarly to Thomas Reid's "common sense philosophy," Pascal contends that the mind is dependent upon "first principles" that it cannot justify but must take for granted.25 He again refers to Descartes and his belief that sense perception may be the result of a dream. Descartes thought this possibility meant that sense perception must be doubted. Pascal does not concede that our inability to justify the veracity of sense perception should move us toward skepticism, but rather that inability should show us reason's inherent dependency upon faith.

Pascal moves beyond Reid by saying that our knowledge does not rest on first principles alone. Rather, the incorrigibility of those principles should point us toward God and his revelation:

Let us then concede to the skeptics what they have so often proclaimed, that truth lies beyond our scope and is an unattainable quarry, that it is no earthly denizen, but at home in heaven, lying in the lap of God, to be known only in so far as it pleases him to reveal. Let us learn our true nature from the uncreated and incarnate truth.26

Essentially, Pascal argues that reason relies upon first principles that cannot be justified by reason itself. This would leave us in epistemological uncertainty as skeptics maintain, except for the fact that God has revealed himself to us. He is most clearly revealed in Jesus Christ and the Scriptures.27

Without Christ and the Scriptures, Pascal sees no way to resolve the epistemological dilemma in which man finds himself. Similarly to Calvin's opening chapters of the Institutes,28 Pascal affirms that our knowledge of God and man are interdependent, and both rely upon Scripture:

Not only do we know God through Jesus Christ, but we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ; we only know life and death through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot know the meaning of our life or our death, of God or of ourselves. Thus without Scripture, whose only object is Christ, we know nothing, and can see nothing but obscurity and confusion in the nature of God and in nature itself.29

As we come to know the love of God through revelation, we come to know ourselves as well. Through this revelatory knowledge, certainty is possible, and the epistemological contradictions of the body and mind are resolved in the assurance God grants to the human heart.

So, the three orders of body, mind and charity correspond to different realms of knowledge. Each involves different epistemological faculties, but ultimately they all rely upon revelation, which makes knowledge possible. The order of the body is governed by sense data. The order of the mind is governed by reason and demonstration, and can bring epistemological probability but not certainty. The highest order of charity is perceived by the heart through faith and brings certainty and coherence to the lower orders.30

When understood through the lens of charity, the lower orders are not contradictory, but rather they work together. When charity is known, all three orders coalesce into a coherent worldview. Pascal alludes to this in fragment 185 when he says, "Faith certainly tells us what our senses do not, but not contrary to what they see; it is above, not against them."31 In affirming the coherence of the three orders, Pascal is not saying that faith clarifies things in such a way that the three orders equally recognize the truth. This cannot be the case because faith often affirms that which is not clear to reason or the senses. But the unresolved contradictions and lack of certainty in the lower orders are put to rest by the certainty of the highest order, understanding that God has revealed that which we need to know. This is the epistemological scheme that runs throughout the Pensées.

With this framework in mind, we can finally now consider what the wager itself is meant to accomplish. Through what we know of his epistemology, we can immediately deduce that Pascal begins the wager by speaking through the order of the mind. He starts with a discourse about the nature and existence of infinity. He does not appeal to intuition in this section; rather he speaks through principles and logic to explore what we can know, if anything, about the nature and existence of God through the order of the mind. Because this is an exercise in reason, we know that Pascal does not intend to prove anything with certainty, since the order of the mind is incapable of certainty. Rather he tries through reason and probability to determine what is more prudent to believe concerning the question of whether or not God exists.

He makes it clear at the outset that this question can be answered with certainty through faith: "But by faith we know [God's] existence, through glory we shall know his nature."32 This is the presupposition of this argument and the entire Pensées. God can only be known with certainty as he has revealed himself through the order of charity. Reason can know probabilities though, so the question at hand is what is most prudent in light of the probabilities we see?

Just after clarifying the aforementioned presupposition, Pascal says,

Let us now speak according to our natural light. If there is a God, he is infinitely beyond our comprehension, since, being indivisible and without limits, he bears no relation to us. We are therefore incapable of knowing either what he is or whether he is.33

Of course Pascal is not saying that God's nature and existence cannot be known at all, but only that they cannot be known through the order of the mind. Pascal has been severely misunderstood in this passage because his epistemology is not understood. James Cargile sees the wager as a misguided invitation to sincere religious practice of any kind, based on self-interest.34 Through what we know of Pascal's epistemology, we must conclude that he would have been horrified by Cargile's interpretation. Pascal does not view all religions as essentially equal. Rather, he argues that all knowledge is ultimately dependent upon God's revelation in Christ.35

No amount of logical principles or reasoned demonstration can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists, much less what he might be like: "Reason cannot make you choose either, reason cannot prove either wrong."36 For that kind of knowledge we need faith in the revelation of Scripture. Thus, the question remains, what does the wager intend to demonstrate?

The wager is an argument based on Christian presuppositions about the nature of the world, meant to demonstrate that in light of the infinite payoff that faith promises, one should seek the knowledge of God. The wager is not "an epistemically unconcerned project," nor is it intended to be.37 Pascal does not attempt to build a neutral argument, based on autonomous reason that will convince the skeptic to convert because no such neutrality exists as far as Pascal is concerned. We live in a world where everyone makes a choice about the question of God, whether they recognize that choice or not. Within this world, neutrality is simply not an option: "You must wager. There is no choice, you are already committed. Which will you choose then?"38

Pascal is attempting to expose the foolishness of pretending to be undecided about such matters, as his contemporary Montaigne recommends. Just because the order of the mind cannot determine with certainty the existence or nature of God does not give anyone the epistemic right to be undecided. This is because God reveals himself in ways that the mind cannot fully understand. This is what Pascal speaks of in the often-quoted (and misquoted) passage:

The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing… It is the heart which perceives God and not the reason. That is what faith is: God perceived by the heart, not by the reason.39

This passage should not be understood as saying that reason is necessarily opposed to faith. The three orders of knowledge are complementary, as aforementioned, but the primary faculty through which this can be known is faith, not reason.

Consistently with Scripture, Pascal concludes the wager by saying that those who lack faith do not primarily have a problem of intellect but a problem of passion.40 To the skeptic who considers himself a fully rational person, such a claim is a crushing blow to pride, which is precisely what Pascal intends. When reason is understood in light of revelation (as it must be, for all knowledge depends on revelation), we are compelled to believe. Yet many people may recognize this and still find themselves without faith. To this person, Pascal recommends:

Concentrate then not on convincing yourself by multiplying proofs of God's existence but by diminishing your passions. You want to find faith and you do not know the road. You want to be cured of unbelief and you ask for the remedy: learn from those who were once bound like you and who now wager all they have. These are people who know the road you wish to follow, who have been cured of the affliction of which you wish to be cured: follow the way by which they began. They behaved as if they did believe, taking holy water, having masses said, and so on. That will make you believe quite naturally, and will make you more docile.41

In light of what we know from God's revelation and the infinite blessing he promises to those who seek him, Pascal encourages the skeptic to seek God through Christian praxis in the community of believers. While the wager is primarily an argument made from the order of the mind, it does not stand-alone from the rest of the Pensées. The entire book is a call to praxis in community in the hope that God will grant faith to those who earnestly seek him. In light of his epistemological framework, the wager accomplishes precisely what Pascal intends it to accomplish: a reasoned call to seek God given by one who has found him.

If this account of Pascal's epistemology were recognized as the backdrop of the Pensées, then the wager would likely receive far less interest in secular philosophical circles, since it presupposes divine revelation. Alan Carter criticizes the wager by saying,

Of course, if it can be established that God is good, etc., and not merely by definition, then it is rational to bet solely on the good God's existence. But if the goodness of God is already established substantively, then so is God's existence; and Pascal's wager does no work.42

Like all who lack faith according to Scripture, Carter does not consider that both God's goodness and existence would be established substantively if only he had eyes to see.

Unbelieving philosophers are no more receptive to the charge that they are blind to the truth than were the Pharisees in Jesus' time. If you must recognize your limitations and wretchedness in order to know the truth, then men will always despise the truth of God. Surely though, all should recognize the complexity of Pascal's epistemology as a sophisticated account of knowledge that is worthy of respect. And to those who have eyes to see, Pascal's epistemology should be considered a faithful attempt to understand knowledge in light of God's revelation.

Perhaps Pascal's orders of body, mind and heart reflect a more Greek understanding of personhood than the unified biblical understanding of the self. Still, various passages do indicate distinct human faculties.43 Even so, the three-fold division may be more pedagogically useful than regarded as biblical ontology. Nevertheless, for his brilliant exposition of the limits of knowledge and his deft ability at exposing the rejection of God as primarily a heart problem and not an intellect problem, Pascal must be applauded. Finally, Pascal's contention that all knowledge is dependent upon revelation is surely at home with those that embrace sola Scriptura, and for this his epistemology should be upheld as profoundly biblical.


1. Pascal, Blaise. Pensées. Translated by A. J. Krailsheimer. New York: Penguin Books, 1995. Fragment 12, p. 4.

2. The secular approach has dominated philosophical circles since Descartes' supposed break from all tradition and prejudice. Pascal, as we shall see, believes this secular approach of his contemporary is wholly faulted.

3. Pascal, Fragment 418, p.122.

4. Carter, Allen. "On Pascal's Wager, Or Why All Bets Are Off." The Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 50, No. 198. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2000, p. 27.

5. Ibid.

6. Thanks to Dr. Charles MacKenzie for making this clear in his lectures and forthcoming book on Pascal.

7. Pascal, Fragment 298, p. 94.

8. Pascal, Fragment 308, pp. 95-96.

9. Once the three types of knowledge are explained, it will be obvious that everyone participates in all three, though individuals may favor one over the other two.

10. Pascal also refers to this as the order as "carnal," "flesh" and "material."

11. Pascal, Fragment 933, p. 298.

12. Pascal, Fragment 200, p. 66.

13. Some may argue that animals are capable of knowledge in the order of the mind, at least to the extent that an infinite distance does not exist between man and animal. Pascal disagreed, but such discussion is beyond the scope of this paper. Certainly from a Biblical perspective, Pascal's affirmation of humanity as endowed with a special dignity is correct, though perhaps not for the reasons Pascal cites.

14. Because humanity is distinguished by rational thought, everyone participates in both bodily and mental orders. He does not mean scholars work in the order of the mind to the exclusion of the body. That would be impossible. But as noted earlier, he believes that people tend to favor one order over the other.

15. Pascal, Fragment 308, p. 96.

16. Pascal, Fragment 298, p. 94.

17. See Pascal, Fragments 510 to 513 where he expounds these differences.

18. Pascal anticipates Locke and Hume's thoughts on this matter. While reason can render empirical propositions probable, certainty is beyond our grasp in this order because there is no empirical observation of causation. As we will see, Pascal regards certainty as an attribute that belongs exclusively to the highest order.

19. Pascal, Fragment 45, p. 12.

20. Descartes, René. Meditations on First Philosophy. I-III.

21. Pascal, Fragment 131, pp. 33-34.

22. Pascal, Fragment 188, p. 56.

23. Pascal refers to this third order by the titles "charity," "heart," "instinct," "intuition" and at times "will." The terms are somewhat synonymous in his scheme, with subtle differences. The divine order of charity is perceived by the heart through the gift of faith. The heart perceives truth not by rationality but by instinct and intuition.

24. Pascal, Fragment 110, p. 28.

25. Reid, Thomas. Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man. Ed. A. D. Woozley. London: Macmillan, 1941, pp. 372-391.

26. Pascal, Fragment 131, pp. 34-35.

27. In fragment 919, p. 291, Pascal gives what may be concerned a hierarchy of revelation. Speaking on behalf of God, he writes: "I am present with you through my word in Scripture, my spirit in the Church, through inspiration, my power in my priests, my prayer among the faithful."

28. Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. 1:1 and 1:4. ed. John T. McNeill. trans. Ford Lewis Battles. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1975. pp. 35-39 and 69-74.

29. Pascal, Fragment 417, p. 121.

30. Again, thanks to Dr. Charles MacKenzie for clarifying this.

31. Pascal, Fragment 185, p. 56.

32. Pascal, Fragment 418, p. 122.

33. Ibid.

34. Cargile, James. "Pascal's Wager." Philosophy. 41. Cambridge University Press, 1966. rpt. in Contemporary Perspectives on Religious Epistemology. ed. R. Douglas Geivett and Brendan Sweetman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. p. 283.

35. Religiously pluralistic interpretations have been put forth by those who affirm the wager as well. They consider the wager as a prudential call to theism, but in doing so, they are not affirming Pascal's wager as he intended it. Presumably, such interpretations abound because theism is thought to be more readily established than Christianity. Pascal's wager knew none of this, though. For such an interpretation see: Lycan, William G. and George Schlesinger. "You Bet Your Life: Pascal's Wager Defended." Reason and Responsibility. 7th ed., ed. Joel Feinberg. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing, 1989. rpt. in Contemporary Perspectives on Religious Epistemology. ed. R. Douglas Geivett and Brendan Sweetman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. pp. 270-282.

36. Pascal, Fragment 418, p. 122.

37. Morris, Thomas V. "Pascalian Wagering." Canadian Journal of Philosophy. 16, 1986. rpt. in Contemporary Perspectives on Religious Epistemology. ed. R. Douglas Geivett and Brendan Sweetman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. pp. 257-269.

38. Pascal, Fragment 418, p. 123.

39. Pascal, Fragments 423 and 424, p. 127.

40. See Romans 1: 18-25.

41. Pascal, Fragment 418, p. 125.

42. Carter, Allen. "On Pascal's Wager, Or Why All Bets Are Off." The Philosophical Quarterly. Vol. 50, No. 198. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2000, p. 26.

43. The Schema makes a similar division of human faculties in Deut. 6:5, as does Christ in his recapitulation in Matthew 22:17. While such divisions likely do not describe ontological realms in the way Pascal does, Pascal's divisions can surely be understood as teaching what these verses teach: Love God with all that you are, with no division in your heart.