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Belief in God

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William James believes that, Belief in God does not and should not depend on dispassionate reason. Instead it must depend on the practical difference it makes in our lives. According to James we are justified in believing on insufficient evidence when options are genuine. If we don’t rick being wrong, we may lose the chance of ever being right. James had made the argument that is better to believe in God even if there is no God, and therefore no afterlife if there is no life after death and no God then you have lost nothing by believing, however believing you have gain moral and social attributes. “A new zest which adds itself like a gift to life, and takes the form either of lyrical enchantment or of appeal to earnestness and heroism.

Blaise Pascal’s believes if we do a cost-benefit analysis of the matter, we find that it is eminently reasonable to get ourselves to believe that God does exists regardless of whether we have good evidence for that belief. According to Pascal’s of “God exists” the reason is neutral. It can neither prove nor disprove it. However we must make a choice on this matter, for not to choose for God is in effect to choose against him and lose the benefits that belief would bring. Pascal’s says God does exist, if God exists, then there is an infinite gain with minimal finite loss. If God does not exist, then there is only an overall finite loss in term of sacrifice of earthly goods.

W.K Clifford says it is “Wrong always, everywhere, and for everyone, to believe anything on insufficient evidence, forming beliefs on insufficient evidence makes us credulous cognitive powers. James essay on “the will to Believe”


Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology, ed. Louis P. Pojman (Belmont, CA.: Wadsworth, 2003), 363]. Jordan, Jeff, “Pragmatic Arguments and Belief in God”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2011/entries/pragmatic-belief-god/>.

W. K. Clifford. “The Ethics of Belief.” The Theory of Knowledge. 3rd. ed. Ed. Louis P. Pojman. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2003. 515-518.

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