The Will To Believe (1896) by William James


essays in pragmatismThis essay is not about why having religious beliefs is good; it’s about why having religious beliefs isn’t bad. That, and some cool dating advice.

It’s one of seven essays in the book, Essays in Pragmatism by William James (The Hafner Library of Classics, 1948).

In our day of resurgent atheism it’s rare to come across a philosopher who argues for the legitimacy of religious belief. As one who aspires to be a person of faith I was delighted to read The Will To Believe by American philosopher William James. Too bad it’s 119 years old.

This dandy 21 page lecture—he calls it a sermon—given in 1896 to the Philosophical Clubs at Yale and Brown Universities inspires me. His outline includes ten sections which he didn’t name. For convenience sake I’ve given each section a descriptive title.

Click here for a 6 page summary. The Will To Believe



Unapologetic by Francis Spuffford


A refreshing new look at reasons for faith, namely, the emotional coherence it offers. The Jesus narrative, says Spufford, offers hope, inspiration, and optimism in an often absurd world. Highly recommended.




The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis


The perennial problem faced by monotheists, the problem of pain, is addressed by Lewis in this book from the 1940s. The fact that he later adjusted his understanding of suffering after his wife died (A Grief Observed) does not take away from the thought provoking role this work from a Christian layman.

Problem of pain