The bedrock theme of Pascal's Wager is that if one worships God (and chooses the right God, and carries out the right worship of same) and it turns out that there is indeed such an entity, the worshiper reaps an infinite reward -- but if one fails to worship the right God (or worships the right God but in the wrong way) and such an entity does exist, an infinite penalty follows. But then, another angle exists which seems not to have been fully considered.

First, let's imagine a God exists that is of the type that indeed would actually dole out eternal punishment to anyone, while giving eternal rewards to those who don't get this punishment. Each individual has a higher probability of reaping that eternal punishment than of winning the reward. Why is this? Because, the chances of choosing exactly the correct God and worshiping it in exactly the correct way are pretty slim -- this is particularly so given that every major monotheistic religion is itself divided between numerous sects and branches proposing contradictory behavioral requirements as the sole path to the reward. True, some sects say they are not the only way, but these are are discounted by all the sects that say they are. At best, all but one of these might be wrong; at worst, nobody has it right. And even if the right one is picked and an earnest effort is made to worship correctly, any person may make (or have already made) an unforgivable slip-up, given the distinct possibility that a God that would allow something as disproportionate as eternal punishment to exist at all could be devoid of mercy, or at least lacking in a sense of humor.

Suppose, on the other hand, that there is a place of punishment, a "Hell", and there is an entity (Satan or Lucifer or Beelzebub or "the Devil" or something else that we don't even know about) who is actually in charge of it (rather than being merely consigned to it), said entity being empowered to run the place and directly dole out the punishment. Who is that Hell-ruler really likely to punish? Surely it will punish one who, in life, worshiped a God to which it was in some sense adversarial, but ended up in Hell anyway (as most people probably would).

But what of the one who directed his worship even to the theoretical ruler of Hell? Well, naturally, if even the ruler of Heaven desires worship, it makes sense that the ruler of Hell would desire it as well, and would want to encourage it by rewarding those among the multitudes condemned who choose to worship it instead of the guy upstairs. And given the comparatively meager respect this entity gets, it is liable to be more relaxed in accepting the attentions of those who direct worship even in its general direction. It is easy to envision Satan worshipers who end up in Hell getting the full rock-star treatment -- cold beer and hot sex and laid out banquets of food, and regular performances by the most rocking bands, Richie Valens, Buddy Holly, the Beatles (as soon as they get the rest of the band together) and eventually the original line-up of AC/DC.

Now consider the odds -- if one worships a Hell-making type of God, and chooses the right God, and worships it exactly right, and it's in a particularly good mood that day, then one may get into Heaven and be given the reward of being allowed to sing to God about how wonderful God is, for eternity. But, if one worships a God, and it is the wrong God, then one may go to Hell and suffer infinitely; or if one worships a God and chooses the right God, but that worshiper misses a line in a prayer or does something else that ticks that God off, again with the going to Hell and suffering infinitely. But if one chooses that final option, worshiping Satan, that person gets pretty much a 100% chance of going to Hell (where most everyone is headed anyway), but vastly improves their odds of basically getting a ticket for admission to an eternal fun and awesome party. That is, if there is a God of the type that desires worship and creates a place for punishment of all who fail to grovel for mercy.

Choose wisely.... ----

Yep, this is my second take on Pascal's Wager, the other being The Pandeist's Wager -- difference being, the earlier one is applicable as a general proof, while this one works only where we presume the existence of an irrational punisher-type God -- the type for whom failure to worship would lead to the "infinite loss" envisioned by Pascal....

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