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Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Faith Fallacy

What’s so good about Faith?


Faith: The thing held most dearly and proudly by the ‘faithful’; the means by which the ‘faithful’ know things without evidence; the means by which no evidence is needed to believe in a god, the nature of gods, and that the things attributed to gods were indeed performed by them.

Faith: The knowledge of things not seen.

For a Christian, faith is the means by which they know with complete confidence that there is a god and a heaven and the ONLY way to get to Heaven is by acceptance of God’s son, Jesus and by following his teaching as revealed in the Bible which faith tells them was unquestionably either dictated by or at least inspired by the god in Heaven.

Faith is also the means by which Christians know with absolute confidence that all the other religions are wrong.

For a Moslem, faith is the means by which they know with complete confidence that there is a god and a heaven and the ONLY way to get to Heaven is by acceptance that Mohammed was the last prophet of that god and wrote a book with clear and concise instructions which must be followed without question.

Faith is also the means by which Muslims know with absolute confidence that all the other religions are wrong.

For a Jew, faith is the means by which they know with complete confidence that there is a god and a heaven and the ONLY way to get to Heaven is by following the laws and rules as revealed by God to Moses, Elijah and other prophets and which include strict dietary rules, dress codes and observance of special days when life is lived differently to normal days.

Faith is also the means by which Jews know with absolute confidence that all the other religions are wrong.

For a Sikh... but you're probably getting bored by now and have recognised a pattern here.

But hold on! If faith is telling different people completely contradictory things and leading them to mutually exclusive conclusions, how can it be the sure and certain way to know the truth?

Clearly it can't, so what good is faith as a measure of physical reality, or even of mystical ‘transcendent reality’?

Let’s do a little mind experiment.

Imagine you’re the unfortunate victim of mistaken identity and find yourself in a court of law, charged with some offence or other of which you are completely innocent. Your defence team has brought in expert witnesses who have presented undeniable scientific evidence showing that, not only could you not have committed the crime, but you weren’t even in the same town at the time the offence was committed.

Well, that’s just about clinched it, hasn't it? Innocence proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. Case dismissed! Phew! I expect you’re wondering why you were ever prosecuted in the first place. And you WOULD be so acquitted in a society in which guilt or innocence is decided by a rational examination of evidence and logically deduced conclusions from that examination.

Imagine now you live in a society which holds that faith is a superior form of knowledge; that faith is a sure and certain way to determine the truth. So sure and certain in fact that evidence is regarded as inferior and not to be trusted, especially when it contradicts faith; a society which is, in fact, founded on good Christian, Islamic and/or Jewish principles; principles which were used to justify the society having that form in the first place. A society founded on the faith of the faithful.

The prosecution have put up a witness who has sworn on a holy book that he has faith that you are guilty. He freely admits he has no evidence but explains that his faith is strong; he has no doubt at all that you are guilty because this has been revealed to him by faith. Since faith is superior to evidence as a measure of reality, the jury should ignore the defence evidence and go with faith. In fact, he argues, it would show a lack of faith amounting to heresy to believe mere scientific evidence in the face of strong faith. So weak is mere evidence compared to faith that he did not look for it nor at the defence evidence. He had no need. His faith is strong.  The jury should understand, as good followers of the faith, that all the so-called defence 'evidence' shows is just how misleading science is and why it should not be trusted... and anyone who doesn't see that is showing suspiciously heretical arrogance and is betraying the oath they swore when they entered the jury box...

Who would you want the jury to believe?

Suddenly faith is not so reliable after all. Faith can lead to completely wrong conclusions. Faith can convict the innocent and free the guilty. Faith can lead to wrong being mistaken for right.

Faith can lead the faithful to convict those with the 'wrong' faith of being unfaithful...

That’s why the same process of faith leads Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and all the other religions, and every different sect to conclude that they, and they alone, are right and all the others are wrong.

Faith is a trap set to catch the unwary. It was invented by religious leaders because they had no evidence.  Had they had real evidence, you can be sure they would be forever trumpeting that fact and citing it at every opportunity. Children the world over would be herded in droves to see this wonderful evidence. "There's your reason to believe", the priests would shout. "You don't need 'faith'! We have the evidence!"

Faith is not a virtue; faith is unquestioning obedience to dogma, and that is a sin. (Tweet this)

To believe through faith alone is to make the assumption that something MUST be true just because you believe it. The arrogance of that belief would be breathtaking if the notion of faith had not poisoned our culture to the extent that this arrogance is considered an admirable quality; that being ‘faithful’ is assumed to equate to being good.

Faith is the trick by which the unscrupulous control the credulous and gullible, and make people ashamed and guilty for having doubt and asking questions.

Faith is the means by which Jewish, Islamic, Christian and other religion’s clerics and theologians have sought to exercise control and hold back human cultural, ethical and scientific development to a level it attained in the Bronze Age, at the nomadic pastoralist stage, when the myths and superstitions were first written down.

Faith is the means by which charlatans seek to prevent us asking the questions and accepting the answers which would break their grip on society.

Faith is the mind-numbing toxin of the religion parasite, in all it's different varieties. (Tweet this)

Do not have faith in faith for that way leads to insanity. (Tweet this)

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36 comments:

  1. A brutally honest synopsis on "faith". Excellent work.

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  2. Rosa, do you not have faith in what you believe? Let’s look at the definition of the word faith from the Merriam Webster online dictionary.

    Faith
    1a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
    2a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
    3: something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs
    — on faith
    : without question

    Let’s go to your other article, the one about why it’s so special to be space dust and see what you have placed your faith into.

    Rosa, you seem to have an especially strong conviction and firm belief in this “singularity” which you stated the universe is derived. You seem to have complete trust in this “singularity” which you say the universe derived. You Rosa, have faith in the “singularity” as the beginning of the universe per how you wrote about it in your article.

    You Rosa said in that article that a “singularity” is from where the universe is derived. My question to you Rosa is; from where did this “singularity” come which “you” say the universe derived? You do know that another word for “singularity” is “miracle” don’t you? Rosa, your sub-prime singularity, ad infinitum, renders absurd your prime cause hypothesis.

    By far more faith required for someone to believe your rubbish about a “singularity” Rosa than for me to believe in Christ Jesus.

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    Replies
    1. You're missing the point Victor. I expect nothing less from you, for what you call truth is a lie, and what your lie tells you is a lie is actually the truth. You have been behaviorally conditioned and are unable to break out of the delusion. I'm not here to prove you wrong. I'm not here to change your mind. I'm just here to point at you and laugh.

      Since you still embrace faith & blind belief, you can't imagine how others can function without it, just as someone addicted to drugs can't (or doesn't want to) imagine living sober. Accepting evidence from science is not "having faith" in science. Science actually confirms what it observes. Whereas religion glosses over a lack of evidence with faith and then coerces people using fear, guilt, hate, and other negative emotions to reinforce its inability to measure its legitimacy with cold hard reality.

      Atheism doesn't use negative emotions to coerce anyone into doing anything. It doesn't have to. No matter how much you believe in a god, your god still doesn't exist. No matter how much you doubt atheism, it's still correct. There are no gods. Gods are mythical creatures mankind made up to anthropomorphise the unknown.

      An atheist does not need faith. We doubt your faith is sufficient to prove anything, and we are correct. We don't BELIEVE we are correct. We are objectively correct. Your faith can't prove anything. It is a delusion to believe faith proves anything objective in reality.

      You can't see the truth because you are blinded by a hollow empty facsimile to truth. Your "truth" has usurped your subjective perception of reality and driven you further away from actual objective reality, with a dogmatic worldview that can't confirm its claims. Now, an atheist is not an objective view of reality. All human beings are limited by their subjective perception. However, an atheist is carrying slightly less baggage than a believer, which makes our worldview a little less smudged by bullshit.

      If you can't prove something, you have no reason to believe in it. You don't know.

      If you can prove something, you have no reason to believe in it. You know.

      Either way, there is no reason to believe. ..y'know?

      Delete
    2. Rosa doesn't need to have faith for her beliefs, Victor, because she has evidence. That's kind of the entire point.
      There is evidence for the Big Bang Theory. There is no evidence for God. Simple as that.

      Delete
    3. It's strange how religious apologists pretend not to grasp that simple point isn't it.

      Delete
  3. I'm sorry you didn't pluck up the courage to read the whole blog. Had you done so you have found the answer to your question. Perhaps that's why you stopped reading...

    I take it you'd be quite happy with being falsely convicted by a jury who believed 'faith' above scientific evidence. That really is a sad indictment of religious indoctrination and one of many good reasons we need to oppose it.

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  4. Read about the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Fatima in Portugal in 1917.
    On October 13, 1917, the Virgin Mary mother of Jesus appeared AGAIN to the three children and said, "I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honour. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes." By then there were thousands of witnesses.

    Mary also said, "Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended."

    At that, the MIRACLE of the Sun was witnessed by 70,000 people as it danced in the sky, changed colors, and was hurled towards earth as if to destroy it.
    Now even atheists who had attended on October 13, 1917 in the hope of discrediting the apparitions converted to Catholicism.
    O Seculo an anti Catholic newspaper in Portugal had its Editor in Chief, Avelino de Almeida attend the apparition.
    Giving an account of the miraculous event at Fatima on Oct. 13, his article in O Seculo of October 15 was entitled:
    “How the sun danced in broad daylight at Fatima. The apparitions of the Virgin. – The sign of Heaven. – Thousands declare it a miracle. – War and peace".
    The anti Catholic newspaper described the event of Fatima and the Miracle of the Sun as “The sign of Heaven.”
    Read my Source: http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/our_lady_of_fatima.php

    ReplyDelete
  5. What has an obvious case of mass-hysteria got to do with reality? The nonsense of Fatima can be dismissed with a few moments thought. How did the entire rest of the world miss the fact that the sun stopped and why did clocks not need to be adjusted to allow for it? If you prefer to believe a few thousand simple village people all saw something which the entire rest of the population of earth, and all the atronomers missed entirely, then you are a good example of the delusional nature of 'faith'. The rational explanation obviously lies in the social sciences. Other instances of mass hysteria are know and well documented.

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. John Barry. I have removed your post as it was irelevent to the discussion. Please confine yourself to discussing the issues and please provide a citation for any substantive claims in future. Merely preaching your evidence-free opinion is not a serious contribution to a debate. If you wish to preach and not engage in meaningful dialogue please do so in one of the many venues provided for that purpose by various superstitous groups.

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  8. John Barry. You're last message was removed by Google's spam filter. As it was not relevent to the discussion and contained abuse I have removed it completely. Any further abusive messages will result in your exclusion.

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  9. Great post as always RR, you're an inspiration sir. The more I read and watch, the more incredible I find the nature of organised religion and the minds of those who follow it. The sheer number of flaws and fallacies at work amuses and shocks me in equal measure. We just need to keep getting the message out there at every available opportunity that it just doesn't make sense and is genuinely laughable if you actually take a moment to scrutinise it. Keep up the amazing work!

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  10. Hi, thanks for the opportunity and permission to comment here.

    My particular thoughts centre around the 'mind experiment' you propose, and how it maybe demonstrates things about vocal atheism as well as strong theism.

    Put it this way: My first reaction on reading it was "wow, Lawyer Fail".

    Using the setup you propose: "Imagine now you live in a society which holds that faith is a superior form of knowledge;" and "So sure and certain in fact that evidence is regarded as inferior and not to be trusted"

    If the defence lawyer has looked at that, and yet has gone ahead with a defence based on scientific evidence, then they have committed the same error that I see a lot of vocal advocates of many causes - atheists, believers, capitalists, environmentalists, whatever - making.

    The lawyer has failed to engage with his audience, the jury - or, in a broader sense, the society the jury has come from - in terms it can understand and relate to.

    What he should have done - especially since his witnesses presumably swore on the same holy book as the prosecution witness - was have them argue in terms of their equally strong faith of the defendant's non-guilt, that this had been revealed to them by their faith in whatever power provided their so-called 'scientific' evidence.

    In other words, he should have played society's game, keeping in mind his _immediate_ goal: the acquittal of the defendant.

    No one can overturn a majority belief system by pure opposition. It has to be subverted, engaged with, the issues explained in terms it can understand. If anything demonstrates this, it's the current 'clash of civilisations' between 'the West' and Islamic fundamentalism.

    Look at the exchanges between yourself and Victor E. Pearson: In direct opposition, you've bounced off of each other and made exactly zero progress.

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  11. Firstly, no one needs my permission to post here, but obscene, obnoxious or preaching messages WILL be removed.

    Now to your substantive message. You seem to have overlooked the entire point of the blog which was to contrast opinion based on scientific evidence with opinion based only on faith.

    In the scenario given, which would you prefer the jury to convict or acquit on?

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  12. Yeah, I was deliberately talking about issues at a slight tangent to the point of the blog, inspired, as it were, by the failures of the defence lawyer.

    As to which I would prefer the jury to act on, it would depend on whether I shared the beliefs of the society in question.

    If I did, then it would follow that I would be okay with actions taken in accordance with those beliefs. Putting it plainly, if I believed in the primacy of a faith-based approach, then I'd be good with that.

    On the other hand, if I were an outsider looking at things from an origin that gave a stronger weight to rational scientific evidence, then that is also what I'd want.

    Frankly, I'm not going to commit either way. I can put myself in both sets of shoes. Do I have a personal preference? Sure, but that doesn't mean I'm right.

    Given that I went off on the tangent, I'd be interested in your thoughts on the strategy and tactics of converting both individual theists and wider society to an atheist perspective.

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  13. So you really can't tell any difference between evidence-based opinion and opinion based on nothing at all, even when the evidence is irrefutable, and the faith-based opinion flies in the face of it?

    I find that incredible.

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  14. My apologies if I was unclear.

    I certainly do see a difference, and as I said, I have a preference that I'm not going to be drawn on.

    It's just that I'm sufficiently flexible - weak willed, perhaps - that I can imagine both belief systems in operation.

    Each has a different set of consequences that follow from their own _internal_ logic, and in all likelihood, the two systems wouldn't co-exist comfortably, but there's no reason they couldn't exist separately.

    Call it too much of my youth spent exploring fantasy and science fiction, examining so many different possible societies.

    All that aside, are you willing to share your thoughts on tactics and strategy? That's where my interest really lies.

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  15. When you say you have a preference, what methodology do you employ to determine that preference? Evidence-based, or faith-based?

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  16. Heh, nice try.

    Unfortunately, when I said I wasn't going to commit either way, I was serious, and I believe that telling you _how_ I derived the preference would be tantamount to revealing that preference.

    Even if that weren't the case, if I'm not going to reveal the preference, what does it matter how I arrived at it?

    Anyway, I thank you for your time, and look forward to your future posts, especially if you should address tactics and strategy.

    I hope you will permit me to to comment on other entries on your blog. I will attempt to keep such comments closer to on topic than I have here.

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  17. If you use faith to determine your preference for faith, do you really not see the problem with that?

    I don't understand your shyness, unless you already DO see the problem.

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  18. If I use faith to determine my preference for faith, there's only a problem if I somehow don't believe that faith is an acceptable method for determining a preference. That way lies a contradiction.

    A similar contradiction arises if I were to use a faith-based methodology to derive a preference for an evidence-based methodology.

    My 'shyness', as you call it, comes from an awareness that my personal preference is meaningless, and a desire not to have it become the focus of the discussion.

    Given that it seems to have done so anyway, I'd be interested in knowing what you believe you can infer about my preference based on the comments I've made, and the way I've presented them.

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  19. There is also a problem if you DO believe faith is an acceptable method for determining a preference. Can you really not see that? If you can, then you have accepted that faith is broblematic either way.

    I think you are trying to work around the broblem you know exists with faith and that, despite that, you would like to rely on faith anyway.

    This is a normal response to cognitive dissonance. You know it's irrational yet you proceed as though it were, and try to release the tension with an elaborate construct you persuade yourself makes sense.

    Classical delusional thinking, I'm afraid.

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  20. ::Ping!:: The refusal to engage warning has gone off with the ad hominem attack.

    A faith-based methodology ("believe faith is an acceptable method for determining a preference") is only a problem in-and-of-itself when it is axiomatic that it is a problem.

    I can happily envisage a society where a faith-based methodology is perfectly acceptable.

    I can also envisage one where a strict rationalist methodology is the only acceptable option.

    Each can be completely internally self-consistent. Doesn't mean either of them has anything to do with reality.

    If you cannot envisage your opponent's world view and understand what they believe, why they believe it and what that means in terms of interacting with them, I don't see how you're going to win any hearts or minds to your own cause.

    Writing them off as suffering from "Classical delusional thinking, I'm afraid." is the same error I alluded to in my very first comment.

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  21. Well I must admit I expected you to make an excuse to break off the discussion when you were confronted with the irationality of your reasoning. I'm a little surprised though that you couldn't think of a better excuse.

    It is not ad hominem to point out to you why your argument is fallacious, nor the psychological process by which you are attempting to justify to yourself something you've shown you know to be fallacious.

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  22. ::shrug:: Okay. I'll withdraw the accusation of ad hominem attack.

    In return, could I ask you to help me sort out where the - my - problem lies? From first principles, if you will.

    I think that it is somewhere in the basic premises we're using, rather than the argument itself.

    To start the ball rolling, I'll offer one of mine, the one I suspect might be the problematic one: "Rational, Scientific investigation is a legitimate path to knowledge, but is not necessarily the only one"

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  23. Rational scientific investigation is the only legitimate path to understanding reality. How you go about 'understanding' something unreal is for you to decide. I've never found any reason to try to do it.

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  24. Thanks for that clarification.

    It nicely defines the differences in our respective outlooks. Irreconcilable, obviously, but that's neither here nor there.

    The reason I try and do it is because I live and work with people who put stock in those other pathways, and, because I can't afford to blow them off, I've found it easier to operate if I can at least attempt to understand things from _their_ perspective.

    How do you, in meatspace, rather than here, deal with people who espouse 'alternate pathways to knowledge'? You twitter profile says you work for the NHS, so I guess you've come across the whole 'alternative medicine' crowd: Homoeopaths, Acupuncturists, etc?

    Thanks, too, for the permissive Copyright Licensing you've offered at the top of the page. I intend to take a copy of this for my own records, but I'd be perfectly happy for you to checksum, or digitally sign the copy, so that I could provide evidence that I've not altered it in any way.

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  25. I've come cross homeopathy but not in my professional capacity. The way real medicine asseses efficacy is through randomised double blind trials.

    There is no such thing as 'alternative medicine'. Medicine is either effective or not. The only 'alternative' about 'alternative' medicines, is alternative to effective.

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  26. Regarding Medicine, don't disagree, really, except to point out there was 'real' medicine before there were randomised double blind trials.

    The trials only formalise the issue and make it rigorous with respect to things like controls samples and other variables. Improving the quality of the evidence.

    And on that note, I'm happy to call this discussion over. We know where the point of dispute is, and that we're not going to be able to resolve it.

    Do you want me to provide you with a copy of the text I want to keep for you to sign, hash, whatever?

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  27. I don't need to do that. You can take a copy, provided you include a link to the original so people can see it's not been altered and the context of any selected passages can be seen.

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  28. So well written! I loved it and reposted to my Facebook, with full credit of course.

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  29. Thank you Stacy.

    What's your FB username?

    ReplyDelete
  30. Great post! I found your analogy of the court case to be really well constructed. You are very much to the point!

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  31. Great post! Your analogy of the courtroom was very well done. Keep up the great work.

    ReplyDelete

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