Danielle is an atheist and José is a theist, but he feels bad about believing in something for which he does not have evidence. Given all of the warfare and destruction in the name of God, is it morally wrong to hold this belief without sufficient evidence? José outlines an argument by William James, which attempts to justify belief in God as a special and specific kind of belief that one can hold by pure will. Is it enough to convince Danielle?
– Text of William James, The Will to Believe
– Quick notes on “The Will to Believe.” Trust me, skim this first!
The Ontological Argument
This argument, most famously stated by St. Anselm in the 11th century, defines God as the greatest thing that can be conceived. Anselm reasons that, because existing is “greater” than not existing, God must, by definition, exist.
The Cosmological Argument
This argument, most famously put forward by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, states that there must be some cause of the existence of the universe. God, is this first cause.
The Teleological Argument
This argument, famously stated by William Paley in the 18th century, states that the universe is so complex, and works so harmoniously, that is must have had an intelligent designer: God.
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