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The Non-Existence of God 10: Prudential Arguments

10/13/2011

This chapter looks at practical reasons for believing in God. First part addresses Pascal’s wager. It seems a strong response is that we have no reason to presuppose that God would care solely about belief, and not about how we live our lives.

I suppose a Christian might say that Pascal’s wager still applies, but what if I say that we have reason to suppose that believing in God for reasons as selfish as avoiding suffering might backfire, and send us to hell. That’s a strong enough case to live honestly, right?

Everitt considers James argument, but no one really uses that argument anyways.

Lastly, there’s the argument from solace. God belief gives comfort. Everitt ultimately concludes that this could be a good reason (consequential, not epistemic) to believe. Sure it could be, but it hinges on whether the solace really does come from belief. I think this is a question that psychology is getting better at studying and answering. Oh, and the answer is that no, belief in God does not lead to benefits directly, but community and a sense of purpose do. Atheists can have those too.

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