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PHILOSOPHY!. *** FEELS TRAPPED: In this relationship. NEEDS SPACE: To breathe. IS STILL COMMITTED: To making this work. ***. Unit Two. Can we know whether God exists? Can we know that God exists/doesn’t exist based on: Reasoning Our senses (sight, hearing, etc.) Induction

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philosophy

PHILOSOPHY!

***

FEELS TRAPPED: In this relationship.

NEEDS SPACE: To breathe.

IS STILL COMMITTED: To making this work.

***

unit two
Unit Two

Can we know whether God exists?

Can we know that God exists/doesn’t exist based on:

  • Reasoning
  • Our senses (sight, hearing, etc.)
  • Induction
  • “Inference to the Best Explanation”
unit two3
Unit Two

Can we know whether God exists?

  • Essentially, we’ve been looking for reasons and evidence about God’s existence.
  • Today, we’re going to look at two (very different) ideas that don’t involve any search for evidence.
pascal s wager
Pascal’s Wager
  • Pascal begins from a position of “metaphysical ignorance”.
  • But Pascal goes on from his assumption of metaphysical ignorance to argue that we still have reason to believe in God.
  • Pascal\'s insight was to see the choice about whether to believe in God as a wager.
  • Since, as Pascal assumes, we are ignorant about the truth in this matter, we should choose the best and safest bet.
the wager
The Wager

Pascal writes:

“You must wager. It is not optional. Which will you choose then?… Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.”

[Pensees, section 233]

acquiring belief in god
Acquiring Belief in God
  • Pascal realizes that his argument will not convince anyone that God exists. (Pascal realizes that this argument won’t make believers out of atheists.)
  • Instead, he’s given reasons to think that it would be a “good bet” to acquire belief in God
  • Pascal offers a number of practical recommendations about how to acquire belief in God.
objection
Objection
  • By putting questions of truth to one side, Pascal manages to avoid many normal ways of objecting to an argument. (Notice, for example, that the Problem of Evil wouldn’t worry him at all.)
  • However, there is a standard line of objection that has been raised against Pascal.
  • Most agree with his reasoning given the way that he lays out the possibilities.
  • But philosophers have questioned this lay-out.
the many gods objection
The “Many Gods” Objection
  • One way of pressing this objection is to point out the fact that there are a number of different religions out there.
  • The choice of religious belief is not simply a choice between theism and atheism.
  • We have to choose which religion to subscribe to.
the many gods objection16
The “Many Gods” Objection
  • But further, if we are truly starting from a position of metaphysical ignorance, why should we assume that any of these religions has got it right?
  • Perhaps God is a rather fickle character who actually punishes belief and rewards atheism.
the many gods objection17
The “Many Gods” Objection
  • If we start from a position of “metaphysical ignorance” we can’t rule out the possibility that God punishes belief and rewards atheism.
  • But this possibility would completely reverse the decision matrix. (On this possibility, disbelief is the best bet.)
  • If Pascal takes account of all the possibilities, there is no “safe bet”.
unit two18
Unit Two

Can we know whether God exists?

  • Essentially, we’ve been looking for reasons and evidence about God’s existence.
  • Today, we’re going to look at two (very different) ideas that don’t involve any search for evidence.
pascal s wager19
Pascal’s Wager
  • Pascal didn’t think one could give a good argument for the truth of religious belief.
  • He assumed that there is no decisive evidence for or against God’s existence.
  • For this reason, Pascal began from a position of “metaphysical ignorance”.
  • But Pascal went on from his assumption of metaphysical ignorance to argue that we still have strong pragmatic reasons to believe in God.
faith the data
Faith – The “Data”
  • First, faith is usually contrasted with something else.
  • Second, faith seems to be a special manner of belief.
  • Third, having faith is often described using distinctive metaphors like "blind faith" and taking the "leap of faith."
different notions of faith
Different Notions of Faith
  • There probably isn\'t a single notion of faith at all.
  • There are probably many different things that people mean by "faith", determined by what they mean to be contrasting it with.
  • So, whether you thought so or not, we\'ve actually already seen a few points in our course where the contrast could be drawn.
faith as not having a philosophical proof
Faith as not having a philosophical proof
  • You might think that one believes on faith just in case one doesn\'t believe on the basis of any of the "proofs" that we talked about.
  • This notion of “faith” seems to capture the traditional contrast between faith and reason.
  • Notice that this manner of believing would be consistent with having other evidence.
faith as not having evidence
Faith as not having evidence.
  • The suggestion is that epistemic reasons, whether as beliefs or grounds, are entirely out of place when it comes theistic belief.
  • Here paying attention to the manner of belief may be important.
  • You commit yourself to belief in God, you don\'t merely "believe."
faith as believing in spite of counterevidence
Faith as believingin spite ofcounterevidence.
  • There may be a notion of faith even more radical than this.
  • Some theists claim that true faith only arises when the person believes in spite of counterevidence.
  • This notion of faith sound closer to the idea of “blind faith”.
  • This notion of faith may serve as a “discussion stopper.”
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