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.
- p1. Feeling good is better than feeling bad.
- p2. Belief in god makes me feel good.
- c1. Ipso facto god is real.
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.
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
- Degradation of science education. Particularly in the field of biology.
- Unjustified resistance to certain medical advances such as stem cell research.
- Non sequitur
- Appeal to emotion
- Emotional pleas against God's existence
- Jesus died for your sins
- Appeal to emotion – Logical fallacies listed on nizkor.org
- Wikipedia:Appeal to emotion - Article emotion on wikipedia