James proceeds to discuss Pascal’s wager, where Pascal forces Christianity on us by assuming truth to be as important as your well-being in a game of chance. He imagines there is a game which the results will be known on Judgement day. If you chose god then you will win eternal beatitude, if not then you gain nothing. Pascal is convinced that even if there were infinite chances, and only one for god, we should still chose god, because as Pascal puts it, “Any finite loss is reasonable, even a certain one is reasonable, if there is but the possibility of infinite gain” to not do so is to risk a infinite loss. He thus claims that we should take to holy water in order to purify our souls and thus, win the game. He sees Pascal’s theory as a desperation shot to people what do not believe in God. He then uses his own theory, stating that unless the individual already believed the Christian way, the option offered to us is dead because there is no motive to act on it. For instance, any non-Christian will not feel obligated to take holy water in search for eternal salvation, meaning that the choice is dead for all non-Christians and alive for all Christians.
The other alternative of believe nothing until you see evidence is then discussed, the point where science becomes too extreme. At this point, science’s insistence on sufficient evidence is insane as well as unattainable. For example, Clifford insists that a belief based on insufficient evidence is “wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone…” because the pleasure derived from believing is stolen from our duty to mankind. James responds by asking what constitutes “sufficient evidence?” If the One could spend years collecting evidence for any hypothesis and never attain the elusive “sufficient evidence.” Is it permissible to believe in anything at all in Clifford’s theory? Or in James’ terms: When does a hypothesis become a living one? This is why he calls Clifford’s notion “simply silly” and “vile”. Later on, he reminds us that our feelings either truth or error are in any case only expressions of our passional life, while claiming that Clifford fears becoming a “dupe” and slavishly obeys his fear.