Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Marketplace of the GodsHow Economics Explains Religion$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Larry Witham

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195394757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195394757.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 April 2020

The Gods of Risk

The Gods of Risk

(p.53) Chapter 4 The Gods of Risk
Marketplace of the Gods

Witham Larry

Oxford University Press

Religion is a form of risk management in human lives and in religious groups. Pascal’s Wager famously illustrates the calculation of loss and benefit in religious belief. But there are other economic models for how religion deals with uncertainty, and this chapter looks at three. First is insurance against risk, with its byproduct of “moral hazard. Second is the need to verify the reliability of religious “goods,” which economists call “credence goods.” Religions, like businesses, seek to assure consumers of reliability. Finally, consumers search for reliable information, which in religion means explanations about the gods, the afterlife, and ultimate religious consequences, such as hell. Typically, monotheistic faiths are deemed “high risk” religions because of their belief in ultimate consequences. But all religions have this feature to some extent, speaking to the human incentive to avoid risk.

Keywords:   advertising, afterlife, credence goods, hell, insurance, monotheism, moral hazard, Pascal’s Wager, risk

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .