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Dr. Jeffrey Jordan Presents "Is Belief in God Rational"

November 14, 2003

Dr. Jeffrey Jordan, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Delaware, presented "Is Belief in God Rational" during convocation on Thursday, November 13.

 

Following an introduction by Dr. Paul Tidman, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies, Jordan offered a couple of philosophy jokes and then proceeded with the morning's topic.

Jordan used ideas from Blaise Pascal, the 17th century French mathematician to support his lecture. He talked about the uncertainty that people have about believing in God. There are an abundance of arguments and evidence that support and oppose his existence. This is where "Pascal's Wager" comes in. The wager works as sort of a tiebreaker between the balanced arguments of support and opposition by giving people a reason to believe that God does exist.

Pascal's Wager is based on decision theory, which describes how to best act in situations where all of the knowledge is not available. The decisions that we make come down to our personal preferences, desires and beliefs. People cannot avoid making the decision to believe if God exists. "You must gamble with your life," Jordan said. "According to Pascal's Wager, you must live as if God exists or as if God does not exist. You can not postpone the decision until you are sure."

Jordan noted that Pascal's Wager is based on the principle of the gaming table. If people believe that God exists and they are correct, they have won something valuable. If they believe and he doesn't, they have lost something.

Jordan received his Ph.D. from Purdue University. He is currently working on a manuscript about Pascal's Wager that he hopes to have finished in the spring.

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