Pascal's Argument Of Belief Acquisition

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Pascal’s Argument of Belief Acquisition I. Introduction We all have beliefs about everything. We believe that gravity exists just off evidence alone. We also could have beliefs that are just for self-interest, no evidence could be provided. Sometimes, we are forced to believe something solely because of our self interest, and others solely because there is overwhelming evidence to support it. “Pascal…was interested in the question of whether it could be rational to believe in God even if you think it is enormously improbable that God exists.” I will attempt to argue along with Pascal using prudential reasoning to validate his statement. I will explain what prudential reasoning is and what evidential reasoning is (II), and whether beliefs…show more content…
An example would be if someone came up to you and said, “Hey, want a donut? All you have to say is, ‘I believe cows can jump over the moon’”. Although you know cows can’t jump over the moon, you want that donut, so you say you believe cows can jump over the moon. This reasoning of believing cows can jump over the moon so you can have a donut is prudential reasoning. You reason that if you say you believe in something, it will benefit you. This is the core of what prudential reasoning it. This example is a fairly safe and playful example. You could have said no and nothing would happen, other than a missed opportunity of acquiring free food. A much more relevant example in today’s society would be if a person walked up to you, pointed a gun at you and said if you don’t believe that cows can fly, you die. It would be in your best interest (prudent) to say, whole heartedly, that you believe that cows fly. Do you really have that belief? No, because there is no evidence for it, and you are only saying you do so you don’t lose your life. This is a strong example of prudential reasoning and how loose it can be when believing in something using only yourself interest as…show more content…
Even if we don’t believe, we might say that we believe solely for the benefits it might provide us. There are just two problems: “We can’t decide to believe a proposition; belief isn’t an action we control in this way.” We can’t just believe in something immediately. To believe in something means to be wholeheartedly invested in it. Pascal agrees with this statement and his solution was to be with people with that strong conviction. By being around those people, your belief will grow more and more a part of you. The second problem being that Pascal makes assumptions of what God is. He states that God will send those who believe in him to heaven, and to hell if not. The problem with this is that it adheres to a certain religious tradition. What if we believe that God is something else? Then Pascal’s argument falls flat because then we don’t know if the payoff will be worth it or not since we do not know what the payoff will be, due to our lack of understanding who God
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