Thursday, September 26, 2013

Heads or Tails?

The lottery. It’s a mania in this nation. CNN reports, “More than half of us have played the lottery in the last year…”1

I don’t play the lottery. But if I'm honest, I have to say I've fantasized about what I would do if I won it. I'd get a Harley-Davidson, that's for sure. But because I never play, I will never win the lottery.

I know of a native American girl who won … twice. Once for a six figure payoff, and once for five figures. What are the odds?

People play the lottery because of the possibility of hitting it really big. The odds are mightily stacked against them, but it’s that hope of something wonderful and life-altering that keeps them playing. Human behavior expert, Dr. Wendy Walsh says, "We have the Cinderella complex -- there's a fairy godmother who's going to come in and save us."2

What if winning the lottery was decided by a flip of a coin? Seventeenth Century French Philosopher and Mathematician Blaise Pascal wrote about something just as dramatic. It is called Pascal’s Wager.

Pascal posited that all of us are facing a flip of the coin. We wager our life on the fact that either God is or He is not. We can't avoid playing. By means of reason alone we cannot be sure if there is a God or not. Pascal writes, “Let us weigh up the gain and the loss involved in calling heads that God exists… if you win you win everything, if you lose you lose nothing.”3 It's sort of like hitting the lottery. Win and I'm cruising on a Harley. Lose and I'm out five bucks. Much to gain, not much to lose.

Why don't we do that in religious matters?

The Hindu religion says that all ways-- Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Krishna, trying to be a nice person, - all lead to God. (Although, Hindus don’t really believe that. Just ask one to allow his daughter to marry a Muslim or a Christian, if you don't believe me.) Contrary to Hinduism, Christians believe in the exclusiveness of Christ based on his own statements such as, “no one comes to the Father except through me.”4 No one.

If Hinduism is right, and the coin comes up tails, a Christian should still be okay. All roads lead to God. He doesn't have much to lose except maybe a Hindu wife. But if Christ’s claim to exclusivity is true, and the coin comes up heads, the Hindu has missed his chance at eternal life… he missed the Mega Millions jackpot.

From pure logic it makes no sense to be a Hindu or an Atheist.

I do realize logic is not all that is entailed in religious commitment. It's just one factor.

Pascal urges us, “Do not hesitate then: wager that He does exist… wherever there is infinity, there is no room for hesitation, you must give everything.”5

Famed missionary martyr Jim Elliott once said, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." 

Call it, heads or tails?

1 Jacque Wilson, Why You Keep Playing the Lottery, CNN, May 17, 2013
3 Blaise Pascal, Pensees (London: Penguin Books, 1995) Series II, The Wager(233) p 123
4 John 14:6 (ESV)
5 Pascal, Ibid

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Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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