3/12/2012 | Share this article:By WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~
This is written primarily for Christians and fence-sitters, to raise an issue they really should think about. So, what is this “leap of faith,” and why do I say it’s for losers?
Francis Collins, an M.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health, and a devout Christian, once explained the leap of faith in a speech. He said,
“Nobody gets argued all the way into becoming a believer on the sheer basis of logic and reason. That requires a leap of faith.”What he means is that the “Truth” of Christianity cannot be demonstrated. If it could, it wouldn’t require a leap of faith. To believe in gravity, for example, does not require a leap of faith because it can be demonstrated.
Being a Christian is usually taken to mean that one believes in the stories of the life of Jesus Christ as portrayed in the Gospels. Those stories, from 2,000 years ago, cannot be demonstrated to be true. And they really don’t make sense, as they require the suspension of the laws of nature, something none of us has ever witnessed in our daily lives. Thus, believing them requires a leap of faith.
It’s not because it makes sense that you believe that Jesus walked around curing blindness, disease, even death, with just a word or a touch. It’s not because it makes sense that you believe Jesus made food for the multitude appear out of thin air. And it’s not because it makes sense that you believe Jesus was dead for several days and then just stood up and walked away. You are perfectly aware, from your life’s experiences and knowledge of how the world works, that none of these things actually make sense. Believing in any of these things requires a leap of faith.
Since no religion which involves a god can be proven by demonstration, all of them should be considered suspect, as all require a leap of faith. There have been thousands of religions, and because they contradict one another, only one, at most, can be the “true” religion. Here are just a few, both ancient and current, which you may never have heard of: Mithraism, Asatru, Caodaism, Druze, Eckancar. People past or present have taken a leap of faith into each of these religions, as well as thousands of others. Thus, we must consider the odds against any particular religion being “true” as thousands to one.
This is why I say that the leap of faith is for losers. The leap is really just a guess; a guess that the religion in question is the “true” one. So, the believer gambles that he is confronted with the “right,” or “true” religion, and then simply takes the leap of faith in deciding to believe in it. But, as there have been thousands of false religions, and only one (at most) “true” one, then nearly everyone who ever leapt was a loser; nearly all lost the gamble.
Let’s take a closer look at the statistics. We know that religions have been around nearly as long as humans, so we can estimate that virtually all humans have been in one religion or another. Using the world historical population estimates from http://www.prb.org/Articles/2002/HowManyPeopleHaveEverLivedonEarth.aspx, we can estimate that roughly 108 billion humans have been born on this earth. Approximately one-half of those were born before Jesus, so none were Christians. Then, we can estimate from historical population and religion surveys, that, at most, one-third of all those born since then were (or are) Christians. Adding these “before Christ” and “after Christ” figures, we find that about one-sixth of all people ever born were Christians (about 15%). So, the remainder, or roughly 5 out of every 6 people who ever lived, AT LEAST (if Christianity is “true”), made a leap of faith into a false religion (we have ignored a small number of non-believers, as they were probably very rare before the last 200 years or so). If Christianity is not the one “true” religion, and a smaller one is, then even more than 5 out of 6 leapt into a false religion. And, if no religion is true, then they ALL leapt into a false religion.
Further, nearly 50 billion people were born and died before Christ was born. If Christianity is the “one true religion,” then every one of those 50 billion (except for the few atheists and agnostics) was in a false religion, WHILE BEING CONVINCED THAT THEIR LEAP OF FAITH WAS A SUCCESS. You see, history proves that it is very, very easy to leap into a false religion. In fact, it’s practically effortless. Throughout history, at least 90 billion or so have done it.
Most of those who make that leap of faith do so because they feel something inside themselves that convinces them they are in touch with a god. For many, this feeling is even taken as proof. For example, the noted apologist William Lane Craig has written, “No Amount of Evidence Could Ever Convince Me I’m Wrong!” (Because, he says, of the “testimony of the Holy Ghost” within him.)
But let me tell you a story which exposes the fatal flaw of that argument. Once, I believed with utter conviction that there was a god. I felt his presence so thoroughly that I often prayed or spoke to him, and I just knew that he was watching my every move. This condition lasted for many years. However, while I once felt with utter conviction that there was a god, now I don’t feel it, and I don’t believe in any gods.
Now, obviously, the world didn’t change; only my feelings changed. And it’s just as obvious that this inner certainty that I felt was absolutely useless as evidence on the question of the existence of a god. I also know of many others who once “felt” the reality of a god but no longer do. Thus, I am not just describing a failing of mine, but a facet of the human condition.
In essence, I’ve run the same experiment twice. The first time, my experiment, my conviction, was that god does exist. In the second run of this experiment, the answer I got was that there is no god. It seems pretty clear that this experiment, this appeal to emotion, is useless since it is not consistent. Thus, my convictions on this issue, my feelings, have been both right and wrong over my lifetime, and it’s impossible to say without outside evidence when I was right and when I was wrong.
This “experiment” proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that inner convictions frequently fail, even in perfectly healthy, normal human beings. In short, your feelings, NO MATTER HOW STRONG, are really useless in proving anything about the world outside your own head.
If that isn’t scientific enough for you, then let me tell you another story. This online survey (http://www.religioustolerance.org/god_pra1.htm) provides further proof that our inner convictions are not to be relied upon in judging what is true about gods. This survey attempted to use prayer to ascertain god’s stance on same sex marriage. It was not at all conclusive, since of the 49 people who claimed to receive an answer from god, 26 were told he approved and 23 were told he disapproved. In fact, the only consistent finding of the survey was that not one single person received an answer that conflicted with his or her own personal opinion on the issue. Could it be any clearer that what these people felt in their prayers was exactly whatever they expected to feel – that no god was involved in their feelings?
Now, why is it that the only context for the term “leap of faith” is religion? Why do we never hear that term in discussions of politics, science, or economics? Could it be because we expect arguments in those fields to be buttressed by evidence and logic? Humans rose to the top of the earth’s food chain thanks to their reasoning abilities, so why do religious leaders tell you to forget reason and just take a leap of faith, to believe what you feel, rather than what you know? Isn’t it because they want you to believe, despite the fact that they can’t actually prove anything? Can it really make sense to just stop looking for proof, to just take another’s word for his claims? Didn’t all your best teachers tell you to keep asking questions?
Here’s what one Christian site has to say about avoiding doubt and taking that leap of faith (http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/print.php?storyid 55): “Feelings of uncertainty or doubt, should not prevent us from making the decision to believe in Jesus and to follow him. Sometimes we have to act on our choices before the feelings will follow. The habit of keeping company with Jesus, will result in a secure relationship of love, which fosters faith. Walking in the way of Christ each day, gradually dispels doubt, until it withers away through lack of attention. Faith needs to be fed, and doubt needs to be starved through prayer, study, service, witness, and worship . . .”
So, this guy thinks you shouldn’t trust your own mind; that you should just take his word for things and shut down any doubt. Apparently, he thinks it’s not particularly important whether you are right or wrong, or to search for the truth, so long as you believe.
Now, unlike this guy, I’m not claiming that you should just believe me. I’m merely saying that you should question things, and delay that leap of faith so long as there are things that don’t make sense to you, even if it’s what I say that doesn’t make sense.
Is your own mind really too stupid to be trusted? And if so, then how can you trust your decision to trust someone else? No matter what you do, you are making a decision. You cannot avoid the decision of whether to trust yourself or to trust someone else. Why should you turn over the keys to your own mind? Remember, there is only one person in the whole world who can ALWAYS, ALWAYS be depended on to have your best interests at heart . . . YOURSELF!
In this article I have shown, statistically, experimentally, and logically, why the leap of faith is for losers. Now isn’t it time that you examined those doubts you’ve been sweeping under the rug all these years, and learned how to become a winner?