12/19/2010 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Mitch ~
I have been an atheist for about ten years due to my study of religion, history, and philosophy. So there is no need to tell a story that so closely mirrors the multitude of others on this site. One thing that has always bothered me about any religion is the complete and utter desire to put faith at the center of one's life.
image by kanelstrand via Flickr
image by kanelstrand via Flickr
What is faith?
My understanding is that faith is a belief in something without evidence even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Basically, you have to maintain a presupposition of(insert idea here) no matter what the evidence says.
Outside of religion do we use faith in our daily lives at all? I have heard people say "I have faith in you" as one example, but are we not simply confusing the term faith with belief. Are you not speaking with someone to whom you know or have known? If you know this person at all then you have a basis for evidence. You have some idea what this person is like; therefore, you can draw a conclusion based upon their known actions. Is that really faith?
Even if you walked up to a stranger on the street and asked them for a favor, in which you could not know the outcome, is that faith?.... NO I don't think so.
Why is that?
Because you are dealing with sentient beings that are observable and have been studied. There is a wealth of knowledge about how we act and react amongst one another.
I call that evidence!
Why is faith such a bad concept and how can it hurt any one? If one has a faith based belief and never acts on it then I guess you would have a point except, we live our lives based on what we believe. Having a faith based belief is tantamount to wishful thinking, is it not?
What is the basis for a faith based belief except for wishful thinking? Faith sets up a system by excluding the most beneficial attributes of our brain...the ability to use reason and logic in order to analyze our actions and determine fantasy from fiction. If I woke up every morning and had faith that today was going to be a wonderful day, how is that a bad thing?
Because reality doesn't give a damn what you or I believe! You are presupposing that some unseen force just might interact within reality in order to make you a little happier, instead of being proactive in the process.
How is that any different from from a "slacktavist" who changes a profile picture in order to "fight" some worthy cause. He or she is essentially having faith in some other power to cause change without ever doing anything worthwhile to create that change.
Faith puts you in a position of acquiescence to whichever proclaimed "man of God" strokes your ego the most. Now you are in a position to accept any other pieces of self righteous wisdom they promulgate from the pulpit, whether it be hatred of anyone not like yourself or denial of scientific evidence. You have put yourself at the whims of fallible people to which there is no way of knowing whether it is valid or not.
I mean it's all about faith, isn't it?
If it is not demonstrable within reality then it's left up to faith. Does faith have any place within our society? Shouldn't our society and beliefs be based upon evidence and demonstrable and testable results? I think so.
One of the most widely used platitudes for faith is "I would rather walk with Jesus in the dark, than walk by myself in the light." (I am paraphrasing.)
That says to me that evidence is irrelevant and it's much better to be ignorant and dogmatic than to be knowledgeable and tolerant.
This statement really sums up what faith is to me and I chose to have no part of it.