I’ve Had It Once And For All With Faith

FaithI’ve been part of a debate on faith recently.  Yeah, I know, it’s a waste of time, but I figured I’d try to pin down some of the fundamentalists on exactly what faith is and exactly why it was worthwhile with regard to their religious beliefs.  There was only one person involved that I figured I had any shot at all having a somewhat meaningful discussion with so I cornered him and asked him to explain why he thought faith was worthwhile and why it differed, for instance, from having faith in Lord Voldemort, since both Voldemort and God only existed in books, so far as the objective evidence goes.

He defined faith for me as:

You seem to think that faith arises from nothing and is a concept of our imagination. Faith is provoked from evidence we find in the Word, history, personal testimonies, and our own experiences with God. Faith is not placed in random, irrelevant, unsupported ideas. Faith is based on the exact opposite, that being purposeful, relevant, supported ideas and truths that we have seen and experienced. I can’t have faith that Lord Voldemort is real, because I have no evidence from history, personal testimonies, historical writings, or my own experiences with Lord Voldemort that would provoke that faith.

Yet that paragraph essentially says nothing.  Let’s disassemble it, shall we?  “Faith is provoked from evidence we find in the Word…”  What Word?  Oh sure, I know what he means, but why should that particular book be the one that they take seriously?  Why not the Qu’ran?  Why not the Vedas?  Why not the dictionary?  They can offer no rational reason why we should take one more seriously than another, or why we should take any of them seriously.  Let’s move on.  History?  That would be a great place to get actual evidence from if they actually were serious, but they’re not.  To a theist, “history” is just another word for their holy book.  We all know that there is no objective evidence that supports the supernatural events in any  holy book.  Therefore, what “history” are they talking about?  Clearly not the same evidence that any rational person would mean.  Personal testimony?  They clearly reject the personal testimony of believers in any other religion, right?  They don’t give people who believe in Allah or Vishnu or Odin the same weight as people who believe in God, for instance.  In fact, there’s tons of “personal testimony” for people who think they’ve been abducted by aliens.  Why don’t Christians across the board believe in alien visitations?  And finally, their own experiences with God?  They can’t even demonstrate God is real, how can they have experiences with him?  I’m not discounting that these people have experiences of some sort, clearly something is happening to these people.  Even our alien abductee friends are having some sort of experience.  My problem is that they are attributing it to a source without being able to actually demonstrate the experience actually came from that source.  If I had a winning lottery ticket, simply because I attributed that ticket to the loving and benevolent hand of a magical unicorn doesn’t mean it’s actually so.  Assigning an experience to an emotionally comforting cause without any objective evidence to support the claim is irrational.

Some people may ask themselves why I am very careful, when talking about evidence of any kind, to always specify “objective evidence” and not “empirical evidence”.  The two share a lot in common much of the time, although many theists simply reject empirical evidence altogether because their imaginary  friends conveniently have nothing to do with the real world.  However, I specify objective evidence because, even if the evidence isn’t necessarily physical, it can still be objective.  I often have to explain what I mean by that however so I’ll do that here.  Objective evidence is that which is openly available to anyone to examine without having to have a belief or faith in it first.  It patently excludes subjective personal experiences which are not open for independent verification or examination.  This means that the majority of claims made in the above statement will be rejected, simply because they are wholly subjective and, as I pointed out, unjustified.  I can examine the Bible and cross-reference it with external historical documents and those areas where the Bible can be corroborated independently, I’ll accept.  Those ares where it cannot, I will reject.  Interesting how it’s all the supernatural nonsense that cannot be independently validated.  I will look at personal testimony, but give it only as much weight as it can be verified by objective evidence.  If it is zero, then that’s how much I’ll take it into account.  The fact is, I’m not  trying to validate your emotionally-laden claims to make you feel good, I’m trying to determine whether what you claim is true actually is.

The problem with so many of these claims is they go entirely unchecked and unchallenged.  Theists will claim that their beliefs are factually correct because they have faith in them, yet will look at other belief systems, held by people with equally strong faith and declare them wrong because they disagree with their own faith.  A six-year-old ought to be able to see the absurdity of that position but apparently, these people cannot.

Of course, as soon as you go through all of this rigamarole, what happens?  The theist declares victory and stops talking to you.  That’s exactly what happened, although I’ve since picked things up with another theist and am going through the exact same discussion and having the same results.  How long they’ll last before they vanish into the wild blue yonder is anyone’s guess.

Faith is an idiotic concept.  Too bad it’s the centerpiece of religious delusion.

3 thoughts on “I’ve Had It Once And For All With Faith”

  1. It is really frustrating, because this kind of people – people of faith – are seemingly unaware that their claims are subjective ( and by extension, unreliable in peer review) and based in circular logic. I tried, time and time again, to let them see their claims trough the eyes of logic and common sense but to no avail. It´s really something to see the wall of delusion and denial these people built to protect themselves from a rational overview of the things they believe. And I choose to identify them as delusional, because i feel sorry for them. Otherwise, in my view, these people are being profoundly dishonest and childish. They just plug their fingers in their ears and proceed to play the "LALALALALAICANTHEARYOU" game. It´s sad, really.

    It´s beyond me why people seems perfectly OK with believing things without any objective evidence. I don´t like to sound insulting, but that – to me- is the sign of a weak mind. I use to be an agnostic and tolerating of peoples religions. If nothing else, out of respect for the human experience as a whole. But no more. Like you, I´m fed up with the inherent call to ignorance, intolerance and – in the face of the objective reality about the human experience – gross stupidity of religious teachings. I can´t abide nothing that laughs in the face of evidence and logic and feels proud of such a dubious feat.

    These last years, i been thinking that people choose this option because they seem to be incapable to live their everyday lives with unanswered questions hanging in their minds. They seem to be incapable also of take two steps without some form of authority telling them that is ok , everything will be fine. I found that kind of insecurity obscene and disgusting. We all have doubts of some kind and to different degrees, but I don't need a dubious authorities – the same ones without any evidence whatsoever for any of their claims – to tell me nothing about my doubts or to judge me because of them. I have my own inner strength and my inquisitive mind to seek my own answers. And if there is no answers – for the time being or in the long run- so be it. Embracing magical thinking because we don't have real answers (yet) to some fundamental questions about the Universe and the origins of Humankind is a total failure of the very thing that makes us unique in this world, the precious inquisitiveness of our brains. Some people have the tragic disease of not being willing to ask "Why", the basic question that has bring us where we are right now.

    1. I don't think it's that they're unaware, I think they just don't care. In the age of the Internet, it's virtually impossible for any theist who gave a damn about their beliefs not to have been smacked in the face with evidence that their beliefs are wrong. They're not unaware, they're wholly delusional.

  2. I agree with you and agree that these people definitely have no grounds to privelege their particular narrowly focused version of the deity. (I'm not going to even say "Christian" because they generally reject most Christian sects other than their own) .

    Even people who try to defend "faith" on secular grounds seem to fall into vagueness that misrepresents how the faith of believers acts in the real world. "I have faith", they say, yet they reject doctrine and church and tradition and so I ask what is left but "faith in faith"?

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