Pascal’s Wager 

Greg Friedmann

Stripped to its nub, Pascal’s Wager reads simply:
You may as well believe in God, in case He really exists.
Those capital letters—G and H—tip Pascal’s hand.

His heart was in the right place, though:
offering an easy out to budding agnostics
as the Enlightenment began its long predawn.

Clearly, though, the wager is premised
on a vindictive god who punishes disbelievers
with endless fire solely for their disbelief.

Place your bet, Pascal whispers to the uncertain;
Work to convince yourself of God; what have you
to lose but eternal damnation?

But the wager is a loser’s bet: such a god would
see through that dodge in a New York minute.


Greg Friedmann's poetry has appeared in Sky Island Journal, The Northern Virginia Review, The Poetry Society of Virginia, Cagibi, Panoplyzine, Beyond Words, and other journals. He and his wife live alongside a channel of the Potomac River in northern Virginia, inspiring him to write on riparian themes, particularly on nature's power to console and inspire.