A Pragmatic God

  • Category: Philosophy
  • Words: 868
  • Grade: 75
The question of the existence of god is not complicated, either you believe or you don"˜t believe, but never the less it is a question that for most can not be easily answered . The answer to This question is many time based upon a matter of belief rather than supporting evidence, the lack of evidence pertaining to the existence of god is disregarded in the quest for the truth by some. An honest, reasonable and thoughtful person must contend that god does not exist based simply upon the lack of evidence of his existence. Granted the lack of evidence for the existence of god doesn't prove the nonexistence of god; but how can the thought of existence be originated with out prior evidence?
        In a courtroom, evidence is needed to prove a case. And I feel that this case isn't any different than one that would be found in court. According to W.K. "it is wrong always and everywhere, and for every one, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." (The Question of God pg. 303) This is perhaps the basis of all known knowledge. What is knowledge without proof? This statement is what James attempted to refute with his argument "The Will to Believe."        
        A person is forced to make a choice. A person who avoids the question is really making the same decision as the atheist in terms of, according to those on the side of god, the loss of the possibility of final reward. This person however stands to lose even more than the atheist; this person will not have the chance of being right, god or no god, because they never decided what to believe. Because of this they are worse off than the person who made the wrong choice.
        The actual decision of theism or atheism is a "genuine option: it is living because of both options" - god or no god - these "are genuine alternatives; it is momentous because it is clearly a decision that will affect" lifestyle; "and is forced because it is unavoidable," because it is from a "practical viewpoint indecision is tantamount to a decision" (The Question of God 308) that god does not exist.
        James trusts in an "˜overbelief', a belief that does not need any hard evidence, only faith. Since I am evaluating what a thoughtful and reasonable individual should choose, I will use a scientist as an example, generally a person who is respected for their reasoning skills. When it comes to research or an experiment, a scientist would not take someone else's data as fact without testing it numerous times. After testing the data, if there are results that are not always positive, they are not accepted as the truth because there is still the possibility the results are incorrect. It is of utmost importance to have all of the evidence proven before declaring something to be true. Until this is done, the results gathered would simply be titled as a theory. Since James' "˜overbelief' is without sufficient evidence, god is only a theory and should not be taken as fact.
        There isn't any real harm caused by the belief in god except for the possibility of believing in a fallacy, however, this fallacy generally leads to people make morally sound decisions all be it they may have been made for the wrong reasons. There is the possibility that by choosing to believe in god one may gain eternal life, but if a person does so and god does not exist then they may have deprived themselves of a truly enjoyable life. The inverse of what atheists face if they are incorrect in their reasoning.
        A person cannot logically base an existence off of a simple notion of a higher power with out any forlourning evidence. Religious beliefs are held in the full knowledge that the evidence for them is more than insufficient, although because of the insufficient evidence for the existence of god, the likewise cannot be proven. And therefore the question remains a genuine option held entirely upon one's own notions.
        When a person makes their decision whether to believe in god or not, they must also understand that consequences accompany their decision, such as a confined lifestyle, or for the atheist a limited lifetime. These consequences, or the fear of these consequences, are what drives most people to their beliefs. They suffer from the great fear of the unknown and because of this they make sure to cover all of their tracks, this is the basis of Pascal's argument "The Wager."
        In order to have belief in something there should be irrevocable evidence pointing to its existence, unfortunately experience of its existence cannot be solely used as evidence due to the nature of interpretations and their variances among different people. Whether a person believes in a higher power or not is, according to James, a decision we are forced to make. As of now there isn't any evidence pointing directly to the existence of god and therefore outside of societal influences a thoughtful and reasonable person can not conclude that god does exist.


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