Emotional pleas

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One of the major underlying and often overlooked reasons for belief is that it makes people feel good. Regardless of any number of apologetics arguments a theist may use, when pressed in an argument their real reasons for belief will usually come down to a matter of personal experience and or revelation. One of the main personal experiences given by theists is that a belief in a god makes them feel good. Often this last-stand argument is delivered in an indignant manner, the implication being that as long as it makes them happy, what right do you have to question it? A typical example of an emotional appeal is:

"If the resurrection of Jesus never happened, Christianity is wrong and we won't have eternal life so our life is meaningless."

Emotional pleas may also be used to argue against God's existence.

Format Argument[edit]

Due to the blatant logical flaws of this argument, it almost doesn't seem worth writing as a syllogism, but for uniformity's sake.

p1. Feeling good is better than feeling bad.
p2. Belief in god makes me feel good.
c1. Ipso facto god is real.

Counter arguments[edit]

Non sequitur[edit]

The main logical problem with this argument is a non-sequitur fallacy. There is no way to get from it makes me feel good to it must be true.

The specific form of non sequitur is called an appeal to emotion. It is interesting to note, though, that the this appeal is slightly reversed from the typical usage, as the theist is using their own emotions to justify their own beliefs, rather than trying to twist the emotions of the non-believer to change their beliefs.

Moral implications[edit]

Perhaps even greater than the logical fallacy is the moral implications of this argument.

"It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it."

— Edwin Way Teale, Circle of the Seasons, c.1953

An example of this would be that heroin makes people feel good. That doesn't mean it is good, though. There are many direct side effects and third-party implications with the use of heroin. Similarly just because belief in a god makes you feel good, doesn't mean that it is good. The real question is, do the benefits of the good feeling out way the side effects?

Direct side effects of this belief could include:

  • Unjustified time and monetary commitments.
  • A cognitive dissonant lean towards credulously accepting other things that also aren't real.
  • Accepting some tenants and dogma of the religion which makes you feel good, such as demonisation of homosexuals, could have the direct inverse action of making other people feel bad.

Some indirect third-party or group implications of the this belief could include


See also[edit]

External links[edit]


v · d Arguments for the existence of god
Anthropic arguments   Anthropic principle · Natural-law argument
Arguments for belief   Pascal's Wager · Argument from faith · Just hit your knees
Christological arguments   Argument from scriptural miracles · Would someone die for a lie? · Liar, Lunatic or Lord
Cosmological arguments   Argument from aesthetic experience · Argument from contingency · Cosmological argument · Fine-tuning argument · Kalam · Leibniz cosmological argument · Principle of sufficient reason · Unmoved mover · Why is there something rather than nothing?
Majority arguments   Argument from admired religious scientists
Moral arguments   Argument from justice · Divine command theory
Ontological argument   Argument from degree · Argument from desire · Origin of the idea of God
Dogmatic arguments   Argument from divine sense · Argument from uniqueness
Teleological arguments   Argument from design · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Laminin argument · Argument from natural disasters
Testimonial arguments   Argument from observed miracles · Personal experience · Argument from consciousness · Emotional pleas · Efficacy of prayer
Transcendental arguments   God created numbers · Argument from the meaning of life
Scriptural arguments   Scriptural inerrancy · Scriptural scientific foreknowledge · Scriptural codes