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The Wager Renewed: Believing in God is Good for You

The Wager Renewed: Believing in God is Good for You

Justin P. McBrayer

Department of Philosophy, Fort Lewis College, 1000 Rim Drive, Durango, CO 81301, USA

ABSTRACT

Not all of our reasons for belief are epistemic in nature. Some of our reasons for belief are prudential in the sense that believing a certain thing advances our personal goals. When it comes to belief in God, the most famous formulation of a prudential reason for belief is Pascal’s Wager. And although Pascal’s Wager fails, its failure is instructive. Pascal’s Wager fails because it relies on unjustified assumptions about what happens in the afterlife to those who believe in God verses those who do not. A renewed wager can avoid this difficulty by relying solely on well-documented differences between those who believe in God verses those who do not. Social scientists have put together an impressive set of data that shows that theists do better in terms of happiness, health, longevity, inter- personal relationships, and charitable giving. Hence, most people have a strong reason to believe in God regardless of the evidence.

 

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Science, Religion and Culture

June

Vol. 5, Sp. Iss. 1 Pages 1-82

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