Pascal’s Wager proposes that we ought to adopt Christian values and beliefs just in case Hell exists, because it is too large a risk not to. It basically asserts that even if no other reason can be found to believe, one should do it out of self-interest since facing eternal damnation in the afterlife is horrifying. This argument is fallacious for numerous reasons.
Firstly, the basis for disbelief (i.e. atheism) is in the likelihood of possibility. The Christian notion (along with others) of God is extremely unlikely, which might be why faith is so crucial to believers. For someone to choose assimilation to such a belief system on the basis of such an absurdly unlikely possibility is illogical. Proponents of Pascal’s Wager might argue that a lack of belief has no advantage, so why not take the chance, however unlikely. Unfortunately, engaging in such a belief system usually means spending a great deal of time attending a Church of sorts and adopting practices/ideologies that might lead to problematic outcomes, such as the ostracization of homosexuals.
Secondly, Pascal’s Wager does not account for belief systems that contradict each other. Some of the practices Christians are taught to engage in might be considered sin or “haram” in Islam, and vice versa. If one were to decide to take Pascal’s Wager, they are then left to decide between many equally unlikely concepts of “God”. Usually popularity is a somewhat worthwhile heuristic for evaluating the viability of a belief system, yet to choose the most popular of a multitude of systems that are equally lacking in feasibility is absurd.
Finally, if I were to come up with a fictional entity that demands certain practices of you, I highly doubt you would conform to those practices on the basis that the entity I’ve proposed might be “real”. I could come up with limitless belief systems that require you to act in contradictory ways with infinite rewards and punishments. What makes the claims of any one of these belief systems stronger than another? Popularity? A book? If the wager that Pascal offered up truly were heads or tails like he suggests, then his claim might be worth further examination. Unfortunately, if analogized to coin flips, the likelihood is better described by a coin landing on its side millions of flips in a row.