Terminology Tuesday: Will to believe
William James’s term for a religious choice that is justified not by evidence but by the pragmatic or life-enhancing character of the option. James held that the will to believe can only be rightly exercised when a person is choosing between two possibilities in a situation where the option is “living,” “forced” and “momentous.” A living option is one where both possibilities are psychologically credible (there is enough evidence to make belief possible). A forced option is one where, practically, one must have some kind of belief, because logically there are only two options and each has implications for how one must live. A momentous option is one where the life consequences of the choice are significant. See also belief; pragmatism.
Evans, C. S. (2002). Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (p. 123). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.