Faith is not Rational

faith_is_not_a_virtueTheists love to hold out faith like it’s a positive virtue, but in reality it isn’t.  Faith is believing something for which you have no good, objective, rational reason to think is actually true.  If you had evidence, if you had rational reasons to believe it, you wouldn’t need faith, would you?  Yet I run into theists all the time who desperately try to justify their faith.  Note I said “their faith” because the last thing these people want to do is make it seem reasonable that other people have faith in things they don’t agree with.

I came across this article from quite a way back, although I rather doubt that this individual has changed their mind since then.  It demonstrates clearly just how irrational faith is and how absurd the theist must dance around to defend their own faith while damning the faith of others.

In the article, the author tries to differentiate between blind faith and “logical, rational faith”.  I’ll present the two examples given, critique them separately and then compare and contrast thereafter.  I think this will be educational.

Blind Faith:
I am Mohammed/Buddha/Krishna/Joseph Smith etc. I am the Prophet of God/I Know the Only way to happiness/I am God himself/I have achieved Nirvana. Live your life the way I tell you to and you will go to heaven. I will not show you any physical or historical evidence. You have to take my sayings on pure blind faith. Will you join my religion or live your life according to my philosophy?
We have to recognize that this is a blatant attempt to sweep all other religions out of the “logical, rational” club.  It ignores that most of these faith claims have as much evidence as Christianity does, which is really pretty piss poor when you think about it.  It says that you cannot have physical or historical evidence for these religious beliefs, yet most of them, with the exception of Mormonism, have religious books going back, at least nearly to the time of, if not much farther than the Bible.  He acknowledges that faith is blind, yet moments later tries to make a case for faith being rational?  I think not.
In fact, I can construct a similar “argument” for Islam, which I’m sure our Christian here would totally reject, but it’s not significantly different than what he does accept.
“I am Mohammed.  I am the prophet of Allah.  I will prove to you that Allah is real by riding off to heaven on the back of a magical winged horse.  My followers saw this and wrote it down accurately, in fact, my followers all memorized my exact words (something Christians can’t claim of the disciples) so you can be certain that what you read in the Qu’ran is absolutely perfect and correct (unlike the Bible which has multiple translations that disagree).  My followers, throughout the centuries, have been willing to die for their faith, often violently, when they could have rejected Allah and not strapped on that bomb vest and lived.”
I think you’ll agree that it’s no better or worse than what follows.
Logical Rational Faith:
I am Jesus. I am God. I will prove to you that I am God by dying and raising my self from the dead. I will prove this fact to my followers first hand. They will go to their terrible gruesome deaths claiming they physically saw me die and then saw me rise again and then they physically touched me and lived with me for 40 days. All of them could have avoided their painful deaths had they admitted they were lying, but none of them did.

And I will allow you who come later to prove my Resurrection and claims, historically and archeologically. I died to pay for your sins and to allow you to live forever in my presence. When you accept me, I will send the Holy Spirit to comfort and keep you. Will you study and then accept my claims based on the evidence I provide you?

It should be utterly and painfully obvious to anyone with half a brain how completely ridiculous these statements are.  The majority of them are patently false and the rest are totally unsupported by evidence.  Let’s start at the beginning.  There is no evidence whatsoever that Jesus rose from the dead outside of claims made in the Bible.  In fact, there’s really no evidence that Jesus ever existed or had followers, the only thing we have are claims made in a book of mythology which lacks any form of objective evidence to back it up.  Further, there is no evidence that the disciples suffered gruesome deaths, we know about most of it through folk tales, many of which are not found in any written form for hundreds of years after the supposed death of the disciple.  We not only don’t have any official, eye-witnessed accounts of what happened, complete with what they supposedly said, we don’t have any court transcripts of their crimes, sentences or punishments.  This is all just blind assertion, certainly not the mark of someone being logical or rational.

There is no historical or archaeological evidence to support the existence of Jesus, much less any of the supernatural details claimed in the Bible.  There is no Roman record of Jesus’ crucifixion, in fact, there are no contemporary records of Jesus’ existence whatsoever, absolutely nobody who demonstrably lived at the time of Jesus, who could have seen him with their own two eyes, ever bothered to write it down.  He asks if I will study and then accept the claims and I have to answer no.  I have studied the claims in great detail, but not as a biased individual who has a stake in one side being right, as someone who takes the evidence and only the evidence and follows it where it leads.  Unfortunately for Christianity, the evidence does not lead to Jesus.  The evidence demonstrates, very damningly, that Jesus, the Jesus in the Bible, likely never existed at all.

So where does this leave us?  While this is probably one of the most blatantly absurd attempts at cherry picking I’ve ever run across, I don’t think it’s that uncommon of a belief.  I’m sure there are lots of theists out there who think the same thing and I don’t think they’re all Christians.  There are Muslims who think this about non-Islamic religions.  There are Buddhists who think this about non-Buddhist religions.  There are Christians who think this about non-Christian religions, but all of these groups are using the exact same illogical, irrational arguments that prove nothing more than how little they know and understand about critical thinking.

Faith is not rational, in fact, I’d argue that by it’s very definition, it cannot be rational.  To be rational, one must take the evidence, the best, most objective, most defensible evidence that exists, regardless of one’s personal, emotional feelings about it, and follow where it leads regardless of the conclusion.  You don’t start from a position that you favor and then seek out only evidence that supports your destination, you glean a destination from the whole of the available credible evidence in existence.  I hate to point it out to you theists, but the evidence doesn’t lead to your religion, or any religion, the evidence clearly and distinctly leads to the simple fact that gods, any gods, are totally unsupported in the real world.

Stop having faith and try dealing with the facts.

16 thoughts on “Faith is not Rational

    1. It's like a debate I was having with a theist on Twitter last night, he kept trying to use the Cosmological Argument and I was pointing out that he was just asserting God was responsible, he wasn't actually demonstrating that God was responsible and he couldn't get it through his thick skull. He couldn't comprehend that God wasn't the automatic answer and every single possibility I raised that could equally well fill that "hole", he dismissed out of hand as an excuse to get rid of God.

      These people are just fucking stupid.

        1. I'm not so generous. People who allow themselves to be brainwashed or conditioned, at least people who are now old enough that they ought to know better, have something wrong with them upstairs and now, medical science is starting to recognize that religion, especially fundamentalist religion, is a mental disorder.

          1. For whatever it might be worth, the individual we've seen in the news for comments about how we will be treating fundamentalism as a mental illness is not remotely representative of anything I've seen in mainstream psychiatry or psychology. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that psychology at least has been moving in the opposite direction for at least the past decade.

            I certainly find fundamentalism frustrating, and I feel that way whether we're talking about fundamentalist Christians or a handful of bloggers who write for a certain network. But I don't see behavioral science moving away from pathologizing religious belief rather than toward it.
            My recent post The Arrogance of Evangelism

          2. The new DSM V identifies extreme religiousity as a mental problem in section V62.89. That's not to say that *ALL* theists are crazy but there are a significant percentage of them that I think we'd both agree don't have a grasp on reality.

          3. Yes, I am quite familiar with DSM-5 and the rationale for the changes made from DSM-IV-TR. I can tell you with complete confidence that diagnosing religious fundamentalists because they are fundamentalists is not the intended use of this code. In fact, a clinician would be far more likely to use this code for someone who was seeking help due to distress because he or she was beginning to question his or her religion. The idea behind this code is to prevent over-diagnosis of persons who might be experiencing "spiritual crises" (e.g., questioning their faith).
            My recent post A Letter From Skeptic Women

          4. My biggest problem with a lot of psychiatry is that it's as much, if not more, political than it is medical. They don't want to declare cherished social institutions as fundamentally insane because they know if they do, they lose their funding and critical acceptability. I think this is the biggest problem, not only for psychiatry but for all of human science. When the crazies have political power, they're magically not crazy anymore. Everyone seems to be far more interested in funding and fame than they are about facts.

            That is a problem.

          5. Not just that when researchers are publishing articles like "Analytic Thinking Promotes Religious Disbelief" by Gervais et al Science (2012) 493. Then I would think that scientists are staring to realize what religion really is, it is something that affects rational thinking. And Surely anything that affects rational thinking has to be considered a mental illness.
            My recent post Cognitive Dissonance

          6. I'd agree with that, however, psychiatry is just as much a social issue as a medical one and that's where I'm apt to think that it's not that worthwhile. Psychologists don't want to upset the majority of religious wingnuts because it might affect their funding so they'd rather give religious fanaticism a pass so they get money, than say "you religious people have something wrong with you" and get attacked.

            Me, I prefer honesty.

  1. I think the most important part to highlight which you did really well was the reference to "their belief". How many times I have had this argument with theists when they try tell me Islam is better than Christianity or vice versa. Its ridiculous as they both are rooted in the same fundamental problem, that is no proof for their god.
    My recent post Cognitive Dissonance

    1. And when you point that out to them, they act like having proof would be a bad thing, it gets in the way of blind, ignorant faith. I don't believe what comes out of the mouths of these morons half the time, it's hard to comprehend that people can be so stupid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPG only)