An Odd Argument for Belief in God – The Vandivierian Wager

Note: This article was originally featured in April 2013 a guest blog article on JTHMishMash, but that site has since gone offline. So I am publishing it here.

In this article I cover an original argument for belief in God. If this argument holds then belief in the Christian God is preferable to other worldviews. Oddly, this argument comes to such a conclusion without ever proving that God actually exists!

The argument uses expected value of return on investment. We assume that the claims each worldview makes are all true. Given the truth of those claims we will try to determine what the reward is and how difficult gaining that reward is. We will then multiply to determine expected value and the worldview with the greatest expected value will be justified as the economically rational choice. This argument is my reworking of the old Pascal’s Wager.

If atheism is true a person may enjoy their life but has no guarantees beyond death. Atheism is easily attained. Therefore the expected return on investment would be a lifetime of happiness.

The agnostic does not know whether or not there is an afterlife nor whether it would be pleasant or unpleasant if it did exist. Therefore the fact that the agnostic allows for an afterlife does not actually improve their expected return on investment. It is also a lifetime of happiness under the best case.

Several kinds of theism including but not limited to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and others promise eternal reward if you meet certain criteria. Even if the criteria of those religions were so difficult that there was only a billionth of a percent of a chance that the reward could actually be attained, any of them would still be preferable to atheism or agnosticism because an infinite reward divided by any finite number to correct for attainment difficulty will still yield an infinite reward as the expected return on investment.

Any rational investor would take that.

Yet not all these kinds of theism are equally easily attained. Christianity has a doctrine called salvation by faith alone. This means all you have to do is believe and you instantly and securely attain an eternal life of happiness according to most denominations. This is by far the easiest method of attaining a maximum reward. We maximize our return on investment by choosing Christianity!

Even if we allow hypothetical new religions to form in the future we will always be able to look back and count a finite number of religions. This would still allow us to prefer theism to atheism or agnosticism. This argument is not a stand-alone but rather a compliment to your arsenal. I completely advise actual arguments for God’s existence and Christianity’s historical validity alongside it.

John Vandivier’s formal training is in economics and political science but he also dabbles in philosophy and apologetics. His blog discusses all of the above at

This article was featured as a guest blog article on JTHMishMash:


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