Is Belief in God Wishful Thinking?
Atheists have often viewed belief in God as wishful thinking, a projection of an idea because man fears death. But is this a fair claim? The answer is no, and here are some reasons why. First, not everyone accepts God’s existence out of fear of death. There are many who acknowledge his existence on the grounds of reasonable arguments such as the five ways of St. Thomas Aquinas. Second, even if someone does believe in God out of fear of death, it says nothing whether or not the proposition, “God exists,” is true. Third, the same line of reasoning can be applied to atheists. Just as fear of death, and the desire for eternal life could lead one to believe in God, so too a desire to not follow traditional moral standards could lead one to not believe in a God who will punish us for our misdeeds. Would such a desire make atheism merely wishful thinking, thus justifying theism? Of course not! Similarly an atheist cannot justify his or her position by saying belief in God is wishful thinking. Finally, the objection is absurd given the fact that traditional monotheistic religions embrace the doctrine of eternal damnation. How can the theory of wishful thinking explain something so unpleasant? Something even believers are subject to experience if they stop believing? You would think if belief in God were merely wishful thinking, then eternal damnation wouldn’t be a part of the religion. But it often is. So, is it fair to attack theism on the grounds that belief in God is wishful thinking? Absolutely not. Therefore, it can’t be used to justify atheism. If you want to learn more about this topic and others like it, visit our website at catholic.com. For Catholic Answers I’m Karlo Broussard. Thanks for watching.