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.

Written by

Richard Porter is apologetics ministry leader at Calvary Church of West Hartford in Connecticut and a Chapter Director with Ratio Christi. Richard has studied apologetics for over a decade. Prior to his conversion, apologetics was a huge part of what God used to reel him in to the faith. From the popular works of Lee Strobel to the more academic defenses of Christianity by William Lane Craig, apologetics has always caught his eye. He has a passion for equipping Christians to defend the faith and hopes to one day be in full-time ministry. He also has aspirations to pursue an academic career of his own if the Lord permits. In his spare time Richard enjoys exploring New Testament studies and analytic philosophy. In addition to his intellectual pursuits, Richard also enjoys kettlebell and martial arts training – particularly Brazilian and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. He also has two sons that are being trained as young apologists and martial artists.

Type at least 1 character to search
Catch the AP315 Team Online:

The mission of Apologetics 315 is to provide educational resources for the defense of the Christian faith, with the goal of strengthening the faith of believers and engaging the questions and challenges of other worldviews.

Defenders Media provides media solutions to an alliance of evangelistic ministries that defend the Christian worldview. We do this by elevating the quality of our members’ branding to match the excellence of the content being delivered.