beliefs without evidence because of their desire to believe something for which they have no evidence. . A social organism of any sort whatever, large or small, is what it is because each member proceeds to his own duty with a trust that the other members will simultaneously do theirs. . If there were an infinity of chances, and only one for God in this wager, still you ought to stake your all on God; for though you surely risk a finite loss by this procedure, any finite loss is reasonable, even a certain one. His unconventionality would probably have some grounds to show for its conclusions; but for us, not insight, but the prestige of the opinions, is what makes the spark shoot from them and light up our sleeping magazines of faith. . (In general, at least, it may be said that good things are better when, all else being equal, they last longer, but bad things are worse when, all else being equal, they last longer.) Undoubtedly, someone will wish to defend James by giving his remarks. His faith acts on the powers above him as a claim, and creates its own verification. He who truly believes that which prompts him to an action has looked upon the action to lust after it, he has committed it already in his heart. . 19 Obviously, they are, given the actions that often result from such prejudiced beliefs, such as those of the Inquisition, which even James mentioned earlier 17, though he obviously failed to appreciate the significance of his own example.
To see the need for evidence in matters of religion, one need only consider that the various religions all contradict each other, and, therefore, they cannot all be true. . Whether you do or not depends, in countless instances, on whether I meet you half-way, am willing to assume that you must like me, and show you trust and expectation. . This last question is unfortunately a very actual and practical one even to us at this day and in this country. . September 2001, about the Text of the printed book, the text of William Kingdon Cliffords The Ethics of Belief is based upon the first edition.
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Curiously, James apparently believed that a belief based on a random guess, but that turns out to be true, is an example of real knowledge, despite the fact that such a belief really demonstrates ignorance or extreme foolishness. . Namely this: the character of Mohammed is excellent evidence that he was honest and spoke the truth so far as he knew it; but it is no evidence at all that he knew what the truth was. . Apart from abstract propositions of comparison (such as two and two are the same as four propositions which tell us nothing by themselves about concrete reality, we find no proposition ever regarded by any one as evidently certain that has not either been called. It is admitted that he did sincerely believe in the soundness of his ship; but the sincerity of his conviction can in no wise help him, because he had no right to believe on such evidence as was before him. . And, of course, consumers are also harmed by bad choices; both because they have a lesser quality product, and because they are thereby supporting manufacturers of bad products, which in turn makes future shopping more difficult. . Indiana Jones, The Godfather, The Matrix, Star Wars, and many others. Does it not seem preposterous on the very face of it to talk of our opinions being modifiable at will? . Such a belief is based upon evidence, not on faith (or nothing). No eminence of character and genius can give a man authority enough to justify us in believing him when he makes statements implying exact or universal knowledge. We cannot escape the issue by remaining sceptical and waiting for more light, because, although we do avoid error in that way if religion be untrue, we lose the good, if it be true, just as certainly as if we positively chose to disbelieve. . The majority of mankind are perfectly satisfied if one can, with some show of probability, be answered in the negative. . If death ends all, we cannot meet death better.