Sunday, 23 February 2014

Why Faith?

You've got to have faith. Faith is important. You can't expect God to make you believe, you have to believe on faith. It's drilled into children by theistic parents and reinforced from the pulpit. Faith - it's the one thing you need to get into heaven.

Well...allow me to disagree. 

First of all I want to clear up what I mean by faith. For starters, I don't mean trust. Faith is, essentially, pretending to know something you don't. It's believing something is true despite lack of evidence or despite contradictory evidence. Trust is different. Trust is formed over time and is based on verifiable experience and data. For example when I drive my car I don't have faith that the brakes will work - I trust they will work. I trust this because I've had them work previously, I know they were manufactured to standards, and that they're maintained by qualified professionals. 

Faith is fine if you don't care about what's true. If you want to believe something whether or not it's true, whether or not you've got good reason to believe it, then faith is for you. But if you want to believe things (or accept them as true if you'd rather put it that way) for good reasons, then faith will not help you achieve that. 

The easiest way to demonstrate that faith is flawed is to point out that through faith alone, people can have contradictory beliefs and none of them can be validated. I think this point is crucial - you cannot validate beliefs based on faith.

Take Christians who believe - on faith - that 'Bible God' exists and he sent his son Jesus/himself to earth to save human kind. They also believe that Jesus was/is the messiah. 

Contrast this with the Muslims who also believe in an Abrahamic God themselves. Muslims think Jesus was a prophet of God but not the saviour. They also think that Muhammad was a prophet but the Christians think no such thing. The Christians think God had a son, the Muslims and Jews don't. The Muslims think the Qu'ran is the literal word of God as revealed to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. The Jews and Christians believe no such thing. 

These three big players in religion - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - pretty much, kind of, believe in the same god, yet they differ on so many crucial points. Of course this is completely ignoring the various sects and branches of Christianity there are. I've heard estimates up to 30,000 different kinds. 

So the question which must be asked is this - if faith is a pathway to truth, if faith is valuable, how can it lead to so many different conclusions? There are so many assumptions, guesses, and, really, just making stuff up that I can't see how anyone values faith as a method for determining truth. The phrase 'I know because I have faith' is an oxymoron. 

If you put two people with opposing faiths together and asked them to come to a consensus, how would they do it? They wouldn't measure their faith and go with the highest, that's for sure. (How does one measure faith anyway? And what units would you use? As I've suggested before - Gullibles?). No, they wouldn't stay with faith, they would both start stating reasons for why they believe what they do. A Christian might point to story of Christ's empty tomb, a Muslim might point to the alleged scientific truths in the Qu'ran. 

What we see here is, essentially, people abandoning their faith. When faith is questioned, when faith is put under analysis, they don't turn to 'more faith', they turn to reason and evidence - even if the reason if fallacious and the evidence is flawed. 

Faith is not a pathway to truth, faith is often abandoned as soon as it's questioned and often abandoned for good when the pursuit of truth through reason and logic is embraced. 

Faith is dangerous, we all know the horrific and tragic consequences of people operating on faith alone and not reason, I don't need to detail them here. 

Faith is ignorance, it leads not to truth, but to bigoted, discriminatory, homophobic, sexist, and oppressive views.

I've called this blog entry 'Why Faith?' but I've not really answered it. Because when it comes to why people would choose faith over reason - I really have no idea. 

[i]  I say 'an' Abrahamic God and not 'the' because....well the God in the bible and the God in which the Muslims believe, called Allah[ii] are really two different Gods. I like to say that they have a common ancestor.
[ii] Allah is Arabic for 'the God' though it's common to see Allah being functionally used as the name of the god in question.


  1. I think the most important revelation from your post is that faith is an absolute rejection of reason in the face of evidence. Ken Ham epitomized faith during his debate with Bill Nye when he was asked what would change his mind about his beliefs and he said, "Nothing." Faith is the antecedent to progress.

  2. I like the Peter Baghossian (? Spelling) statement; " faith is a knowledge claim. It's claiming to know something that you don't know." I don't particularly mind if others keep their erroneous claims to themselves, but I mind very much when they attempt to inflict their views on everyone around them.