Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Practical Argument for God's Existence

Suppose you're resigned to an agnostic position: it is impossible to tip the scale in favor of theism or atheism by reason alone.  Can theism still be the preferred position?  Consider the following argument.

1. If there is no God, everyone has the same fate of eternal death. (Premise)

2. The fate of eternal death is depressing. (Premise)

3. Hence, if there is no God, then everyone has a compelling reason to be depressed. (From 1 and 2)

4. All things being equal, it is more rational to believe in something that leads to happiness than in something that leads to depression. (Premise)

5. Therefore, all things being equal, it is more rational to believe in God than not. (From 3 and 4)


  1. I'd take issue with premiss 4. I may be the odd one out, but I don't think that believing something to be true because it makes me happy is especially rational.

  2. I sympathize with your reservation. I would only stress that (4) begins with, "all things being equal. . ."

  3. I would, however, be more amenable to what I understand to be Kant's move - that is, instead of using the whole "believe because it makes me happy" thing, using the desire for justice as a motivation to believe in God.

  4. Good point, Syllabus. That's actually kind of what I had in mind. I simply substituted a desire for justice with a desire for happiness.

  5. Isn't belief in the possibility of hell even more depressing? Even if not for ourselves, knowing that others could go to hell makes the reverse of this argument more compelling. The "wishful thinking" afterlife in my book is karmic reincarnation, but not all things are equal so I still don't believe it.