Published on January 17, 2008
Religious Belief: Religious Belief S&V Chapter 5: Part 2 Deciding What To Believe: Deciding What To Believe Appeal to faith Appeal to mystical experience Rational decision-making Pascal’s Wager Concepts: Concepts Counterexample: do you know one when you see one? Knowledge Truth value Belief Justification Sources of knowledge: what is & what isn't, why they are and why they aren't Causal, prudential and evidential reasons for belief Rational decision-making William James argument for belief without evidence: pro and con Pascal's Wager Faith and Knowledge: Faith and Knowledge Is religious belief rational? Advertisement: Advertisement The Society of Christian Philosophers believes it is! Visit our website at: http://www.siu.edu/~scp/ ! Rationality and Belief: Rationality and Belief Are there sources of knowledge other than sense perception, reason, etc? Are there compelling evidential reasons for belief in God? Is it ever rational to believe something without compelling evidential reasons? Other sources of knowledge?: Other sources of knowledge? Appeal to Intuition Appeal to faith Appeal to mystical experience Appeal to intuition: Appeal to intuition How do you know another’s feelings? Clever Hans Intuition is sensitivity to sensory cues. Appeal to Faith: Appeal to Faith “Faith” is ambiguous and S&V fudge Trust Belief without evidential reason Religious belief--with or without evidence Faith2 precludes knowledge: Faith2 precludes knowledge “Taking it on faith” means believing without evidential reason Knowing is believing with justification, i.e. with evidential reasons Appealing to faith as a sources of knowledge means appealing to ones lack of evidential reasons as an evidential reasons for belief, i.e. “My reason for believing is my not having any reason.” Faith3 & “taking it on faith”: Faith3 & “taking it on faith” Showing that it makes no sense to cite faith as evidence for a belief doesn’t show either that there can be no evidence for religious belief or In general, we can never have prudential reasons for belief. Argumentsfor the existence of God: Arguments for the existence of God Ontological Cosmological Teleological There are arguments: whether they’re compelling is another thing! Argumentsagainst the existence of God: Arguments against the existence of God Problem of evil Verificationist challenge There are arguments--whether compelling is another thing! The Moral: The Moral Faith3 is not something you have to take on faith Believing in God isn’t just stupid: there are reasons Not believing in God isn’t just stupid: there are reasons Your instructor’s view: no one (in this life) knows! Appeal to Mystical Experience: Appeal to Mystical Experience What is mystical experience? An Example: Isaiah 6:1-8: An Example: Isaiah 6:1-8 1In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.2Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.3And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.4And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.5Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.6Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:7And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.8Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. Another Example: from The Life of St. Teresa: Another Example: from The Life of St. Teresa “I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying.” (represented in Bernini’s statue St. Teresa in Ecstasy) But…are such experiences sources of knowledge?: But…are such experiences sources of knowledge? Disagreement Influence of culture and prior beliefs Rudolph Otto The Idea of the Holy Inconclusive Causal origin of beliefs: Causal origin of beliefs The Miracle of Marsh Chapel Houston Smith, “Do Drugs Have Religious Import?” Inconclusive All experience involves neural states William James remark on experiences when one is feverish. Rational Decision-Making: Rational Decision-Making Is it ever rational to hold a belief for which one does not have compelling evidential reasons? Belief without evidence: Belief without evidence Clifford’s dictum: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence.” William James Will to Believe Is it ever rational to believe (any proposition, not necessarily theological) without evidence? William James’ argument for “precursive faith”: William James’ argument for “precursive faith” I want people to like me I know that believing that people will like me will make it more probable that people like me. It’s rational to do what it takes to make getting what you want more probable. Therefore, it’s rational to believe that people will like me even in the absence of evidence. Is James argument ok?: Is James argument ok? We agree that it’s rational to psych oneself up. S&V’s response: But I do have evidence that people will like me because I know that believing that people will like me makes it more probable that they will. WRONG. I have evidence that (1) IF I succeed in believing people will like me then they’ll like me--not that (2) people will like me. What evidence do I have and when?: What evidence do I have and when? Before psyching myself up: facts about human psychology are evidence that (1) IF I succeed in believing people will like me then they’ll like me. After psyching myself up: these facts + my new belief that people will like me are evidence that (2) people will like me. Rational Decision Making: Rational Decision Making Prudential decisions: self-interested decisions The goal: to maximize my own utility. I consider the costs (- utility) and benefits (+ utility) of each option We assign these options numbers--just guessing--for convenience. Shall I have that 5th drink?: Shall I have that 5th drink? Increased social confidence + 3 Pleasure of getting more drunk + 8 Hangover - 7 Making an ass of myself -10 Conclusion: probably not worth it Compare Two Options: Compare Two Options Major in theater and become a movie star + 1,100,000 Major in business and become an accountant + 10,000 So how come y’all aren’t majoring in theater??? Probability matters!: Probability matters! We guess at the amount of utility and probability of and outcome. Seems reasonable to multiply since probabilities are between one and zero. 1 is a sure thing so total utility of outcome figures. “Probability is the guide to life.”------Bishop Butler: “Probability is the guide to life.” ------Bishop Butler Hard cases: best outcome is least probable Example: invest in risky tech stocks or safe T-bills? We make trade-offs. What is the right trade-off? Your financial advisor says: it depends--on tastes, circumstances, etc. Some risk factors: Some risk factors The way the world turns out to be given our choices The way other people respond to our choices So we consider the interaction of these on a payoff matrix He loves me, he loves me not: He loves me, he loves me not He loves me He loves me not Ask out Don’t ask out Is belief in God rational?: Is belief in God rational? God exists God doesn’t exist Believe Don’t believe Columns: ways the world could be--you have no control over this and don’t know which way it is. Rows: your choice--you can choose to believe or not to believe Pascal’s Wager: Pascal’s Wager God exists God doesn’t exist Believe Don’t believe Pascal’s Wager: Pascal’s Wager God exists God doesn’t exist Believe Don’t believe Pascal’s Wager: Pascal’s Wager God exists God doesn’t exist Believe Don’t believe Pascal’s Wager: Pascal’s Wager God exists God doesn’t exist Believe Don’t believe Summary of the Wager: Summary of the Wager God exists God doesn’t exist Believe Don’t believe Believe: Possibility of infinite gain - no possibility of loss Don’t believe: no possibility of gain - possibility of loss The Moral (open to dispute!): The Moral (open to dispute!) It’s sometimes rational to hold a belief in the absence of compelling evidential reasons There are arguments for and against religious belief: we can reason about these matters Religious belief isn’t just stupid Atheism isn’t just stupid Intellectual humility is the beginning of all wisdom!