Unlike my previous books which were based on posts in this blog, this one consists of ten original extended essays on aspects of faith, why faith is fallacious, delusional and dangerous and designed to mislead and control both the individual and society as a whole.
The ten essays lead the reader naturally from an understanding of why faith is a useless tool for understanding the world, through the benefits of growth-enhancing doubt and uncertainty, to an understanding of how faith conditions, constrains and controls the mind of the faithful. Finally it explains how losing faith liberates the individual and creates a more inclusive, kinder, more caring society, free from the mutual hostility and distrust of the present faith-based, faith-ghettoised society which is causing so many of the world's problems.
The ten essays are:
- The Fallacy of Faith.
- The Fallacy of the Holy Books.
- The Fallacy of Apologetics.
- Failures of Logic.
- Absence of Evidence.
- Knowledge, Science and Uncertainty.
- Freedom From Delusion.
- Freedom of Intellectual Honesty.
- Freedom From Fear.
- Freedom to Choose.
Explaining why 'faith' alone cannot lead to the truth with any degree of confidence. It is nothing more than a dishonest but satisfying pretense of knowledge in the face of ignorance; of pretending to know something you don't know. Faith is not a shortcut to understanding but a shortcut to delusion.
Why faith cannot be derived from holy books in the absence of any evidence that these books were divinely inspired and in the face of abundant evidence that they could not have been.
In the absence of definitive evidence, religious apologetics is never more than intellectually dishonest circular reasoning, God of the gaps fallacies and arguments from personal ignorance and incredulity. Traditional apologetic arguments are systematically dismantled, refuted and shown to be fallacious. Apologetics cannot lead honestly to 'faith' and depend on pre-existing belief to succeed, hence they provide only spurious confirmation of pre-existing bias.
Explains why belief in gods is based on illogical reasoning and depends on holding two or more mutually incompatible beliefs simultaneously, some of which are absurd and evaporate under the slightest rational examination.
Explains why, despite being dismissed as irrelevant by the faithful, the absence of evidence should be the fatal flaw in all religious arguments. Absence of evidence is certainly evidence of absence for interventionist gods for which there be abundant evidence.
Explains why the doubt and uncertainty which comes from losing faith, or at least putting it to one side and behaving atheist, is the only way to discover new truths and to modify and improve existing ones. This is illustrated by a brief history of the development of four major scientific theories and by examining a few scientific principles that depend on doubt and uncertainty and the humility to accept that our beliefs should be subservient to evidence.
By examining the way in which beliefs about the physical world can be conditioned and constrained by 'faith' this essay explains the mental freedom which comes from losing faith and opting to be led by the evidence. There is no longer a need to try to fit reality around pre-existing misconceptions in order to cope with cognitive dissonance or through fear of angering an imaginary deity. Instead the individual is liberated to form their own opinions, to make their own moral judgments and take personal responsibility for their attitudes and actions.
A liberated mind, free from religious delusion and free from the need to conform to the dogmas and group norms of a given 'faith' no longer needs to be dishonest to itself and others. This is illustrated by examining the psychology of coping with cognitive dissonance and motivational psychology relating to the need to affiliate over and above the need for self-esteem.
Underlying religious belief is fear of what an imaginary god is capable of inflicting on anyone who shows the slightest doubt or dissent, and who fails to continually reassure the god of love and obedience. This background of fear can lead to sever mental health problems. In many ways, religious 'faith' resembles an acute anxiety disorder and should probably more properly be called a morbid, paranoid phobia. In many way also, the relationship between a believer and their god resmbles that between an abuse spouse and an abuser or between captor and captive.
Free from faith people are free to chose their own beliefs based on an honest assessment of the evidence and can be free to change their minds when the evidence changes. They are free to form their own morals and ethics based on whatever sources they respect. Freedom to choose means freedom from control of others and freedom from the need to conform to group norms. It is no longer necessary to regard women as inferior to men or as having predefined roles because religious dogma or holy books demand it. It is no longer to condemn, ostracise or discriminate against people on the grounds of race, religion, ability, gender or sexual orientation because it is a requirement of faith. And it is no longer necessary to hate and condemn those with the 'wrong' opinions.