Pascal’s Wager

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Pascal’s Wager

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And so after leaving the army I didn’t come into contact with anything religious. After all, why would I; left to my own devices, church and all the rest never entered my head.

Fast forward a few years, and I was living and working in Italy. I then met my partner, and we were now living together in Switzerland, in the mountains overlooking Lake Lugano, and life did indeed seem just perfect. We decided to get married, and finally tie the knot!

My wife is Italian, and so we thought it logical to get married in her home town of Ravenna, on the Adriatic Sea. She, like all Italians, is Catholic, and so we decided to get married in church.

However, when we went to see a priest, things started to get complicated. We first went to ask the priest Lucia had had bible studies with when she was young. Great! He was very enthusiastic. When it came to me, British –  okay – Church of England – that’s more of less the same as Roman Catholic isn’t it. But then, when he realized that in fact I’d never been Christened, let alone Confirmed, a real stumbling block had been discovered. We even went to another priest, the one from Lucia’s mother’s local church; of which her mother is a regular member of the congregation. Oh! No, no, no! Both priests suggested I get Baptized as a Catholic, and then the problems would disappear. My immediate thought was, ‘Yeah, I can do that.’ After all it’s only a little formality. However, on giving it a little more thought, I came to the conclusion that it would nonetheless be inconsistent with what I believed, and my way of reasoning, and my way of life. Furthermore, I thought that, ‘If there were a God (God forbid!), I’m sure he would take a very dim view of anyone getting Baptized cynically just to be able to get married in a church!’ And so I thought, bollocks I won’t do it, and we got married in the council offices of Ravenna. And a very good wedding it was indeed!

I remember a few years later, Lucia’s uncle had been shocked by the fact that I wasn’t Baptized, and said it didn’t actually matter whether you believed in God or not. He said I should get Baptized, and then I’d be like part of the club: so that when you die, if there is a God, you’ll be alright and go to paradise. If there is no God, you have nothing to lose! This is of course more or less the same as Pascal’s Wager. The difference being Pascal said it was better to believe; not be Baptized and not believe; presumably God being all seeing and all knowing would suss that one out straight away!

I must say though my reasoning has changed in more recent years. Before, I, like many others, would never use things like Ouija boards or try things like magic, but in reality it’s totally illogical. If there is no such thing as magic or spirits and the like, it can’t hurt you to give it a go. Surely? And the same goes for God. If you don’t believe in God, why are you frightened of giving it a go? The same as the story about an eminent scientist who had a lucky horseshoe nailed outside his front door. When asked, ‘Surely you don’t believe in the magical qualities of having a horseshoe up outside your house?’ He responded, ‘ Of course I don’t! But, I have heard it said that even if you don’t believe in it, it still works!’

I have indeed now prayed and done magic of sorts many, many times, in the firm knowledge and cynicism that if it’s not true and it doesn’t exist, why of course should you then worry about the outcomes. Why indeed! The incredible thing is though, that when you do give it a go, it seems to work: I have discovered Rupert Sheldrake recently, who I enjoy reading, and appears to give reason to my madness, and that things are not merely coincidences but rather normal occurrences and in fact true. Strange? Surely yes!

What’s the first thing you think of when they tell you, ‘ Don’t think of the colour blue!’ That’s right, blue. And when you see crazy unbelievable things happening when you wish for them… Perhaps I am a little mad, after all!

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