27 Dec '07 20:56>
So, suppose I have good pragmatic reasons to believe that God exists (perhaps because it will benefit me, or harm me if I don't). These reasons are not of the sort that exert a rational constraint on belief formation. Belief formation typically (in everyday cases) proceeds via the consideration of evidential reasons, not pragmatic ones. If I was assured that I could win a shedload of money if I could get myself to believe that there was a killer in my closet, I would not be able to do it. We simply don't have that sort of control over what we come to believe. But I could certainly come to believe that there was a killer in my closet if I opened the closet door and a killer jumped out. The difference between these two sorts of reasons is that only the second sort of reason (the epistemic reason) bears on the actual truth of the proposition that there is a killer in the closet. The upshot is this: Pragmatic arguments for the existence of God are absolutely immaterial in the context of debates like those that rage through these threads. The only reasons that theists should present, if they are sincerely out to save others, are reasons that directly bear on the truth of propositions like "God exists", "Jesus rose from the dead", etc. What say you?