Religion is often a tricky subject. When it comes to the subject of God and whether or not he exists, there is no clear answer. The issue is that there is no plausible way to prove that God exists. However, there is also no plausible way to prove that he does not exist. This is an example of what is known as epistemic justification. Essentially, it is believing or not believing in God. (P. 95) The belief in God is all a matter of having faith. Some people have the need of proof while others do not. Religion is often something that we grow up with and it is rooted and is a part of our everyday life. The typical norms of the belief in God are often personal and pragmatic. In other words, people have chosen to believe in God due to the possibility of having some sort of religious experience and the fact that believing in God will have many advantages. This is one of those subjects where you simply will never find the correct answer to. Everyone has and is entitled to their own opinion when it comes to the subject of religion. Throughout this unit there were some people who have some interesting points of view on this subject. Some of these people include the theories of William Craig, William James, and Blaise Pascal.
In one of the course videos there was a man by the name of William Craig. He had his own opinions and he often finds himself wondering if we can actually trust our religious experiences. In his theory he questioned, not only the existence of God, but if our entire world isn’t real. Perhaps all our memories, feelings, and our environment are in a controlled setting and were recently placed by some sort of mad scientist. Everything we think we know and our world around us have the possibility of being fake. He also shared the opinion that some people choose to believe in God simply because they have basically not been given a reason to believe otherwise. Instead, they choose to go along with their own personal experiences. Essentially, people typically believe in God through pragmatic justification. Pragmatic justification is the belief that if you believe in God, it will have practical advantages. (P. 95-96) Some of these advantages can include: eternal life in heaven, positive things occurring in your life, as well as having a better attitude toward things. In other words, Craig is unwilling to believe in God of there is no concrete proof it would be irrational without sufficient evidence. There are many people who share this type of opinion, but there are some that believe the opposite.
William James, who is an American philosopher and psychologist, had his own theory when it came to this subject. Unlike Craig, James did believe that having faith and believing is rational. In his theory, he believes that we have four option. These four options include the genuine option, live option, forced option, and the momentous option. The genuine option is when there is an absence of evidence, we could always turn to faith. The live option is when someone that have some sort of alternative that could possibly come true. The forced option is where you are given two choices, and both essentially have the same outcome and that if you were not to decide it would be the same as not choosing in the first place. The momentous option is the one that he felt mattered the most. The reasoning for this is because that decision cannot be taken back, and it could have the potential to offer you a once in a lifetime opportunity. James believed that we must trust our passional nature and let it decide our feelings and our desires. This is not something that our intellect can decide. (P. 96)
Blaise Pascal was another man who had an interesting take on the subject of God. His theory earned itself the name of Pascal’s Wager. In his wager, he thought that if we did believe in God and that he is real, we will win. However, if we do not believe in God and he does not exist, then were no worse off to begin with. He essentially thought that believing in God was our best bet. He had the theory that there would be nothing to gain and there would be nothing to lose and that it would take an irrational person to turn down this kind of deal. He was under the impression, that if God was real, that he would be so far beyond our comprehension that we would not know who his is or even if he really does exist. We would only know of him using pragmatic justification. (P. 103)
Each of these people had some interesting opinions. However, none of them come any closer to solving the answer to the question about whether or not God exists. Everyone has their own reasons why they do or they do not believe in God. People often justify their belief in God through some sort of personal religious experience or through the use of pragmatic justification. William Craig believed that it would be irrational to believe in God without proper evidence and that our world around us could potentially be fake. William James believed the opposite. He believed that believing in God is a perfectly rational thing to do and that we should let our passional nature decide on how we feel and what we desire. Blaise Pascal took a different standpoint. He believed that it could go both ways. If he is real and we do believe, it is a win. If he is not real and we do not believe, there was no harm done. Essentially, each of these are looking at the same issues and are looking at it from different angles. One, choses not to believe. Another one, thinks it is ok to believe. The third one is indifferent; he could go either way. It all boils down to having faith. I suppose I would side more with Pascal’s Wager. Because I have never had a religious experience, nor do I have any physical proof that God exists, I will have to just go ahead and have faith in God. If he does exist, I win.
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