Religious faith IS “belief without evidence”

In my previous post, I criticized faith, as I always do, and some believer predictably accused me of misrepresenting what Christian/religious faith really is. Usually the argument is an attempt to equivocate or project their own faults onto the opposition, as if science requires faith too, and that scientists are therefore “just as bad” as religious believers. Of course the applications of science and faith are completely opposite in every respect.

Religious apologists are like litigators, who must keep defending their clients and pretending they’re innocent, even when they know they’re guilty, because they’re beholden to a belief system with required beliefs and prohibited beliefs. Scientists on the other hand are free thinkers, because they’re investigators. They’re often forced to reconsider their own initial perceptions, and are therefore free to follow the facts wherever they may lead.

I myself identify as an ‘apistevist’, (one who rejects faith); because faith is an assertion of unreasonable conviction, which is assumed without reason, and defended against all reason. In my essat, I specified that by ‘reason’, I meant ‘evidence’, the only reason to believe anything.  Since defenders of the faith often refuse to admit that faith is a belief that is not based on evidence, then I’ll have to prove that I’ve got that right.

“That is unreasonable, and it’s unscientific.
That is the definition of blind faith;
I believe something even though
there is no evidence to support it.”
-creationist, Kirk Cameron
of Living Waters Ministries

Faith is literally a matter of make-believe, convincing yourself of whatever you want to believe. That’s why the faithful have a practice to ‘reaffirm’ their faith.  Faith is neither virtuous nor moral; it’s a matter of self-deception and manipulation of the masses.  It is already dishonest to assert as fact that which is not evidently true, but that’s what all religions do.  Worse, they also post a statement of faith wherein they admit, (as if this were something to be proud of) that they will automatically and thoughtlessly reject any and all evidence that seems to challenge their preconceived notions, which must be defended a-priori.  Because of this, faith is fundamentally fallacious and inherently dishonest, but I haven’t described the worst of it yet. Faith takes away reason and accountability. It means never having to accept responsibility for your own mistakes, because it means never having to admit when you’re wrong. Instead you label your lies as truth with a capitol T, and hope that a show of confidence is convincing. That’s why they invented apologetics, to make excuses to rationalize, justify, or otherwise explain away all the evidence against their required assumptions.  Consequently, faith is not an allegiance to truth; in fact, faith is the most dishonest and unreasonable position it is possible to have; it is the most counter-productive too. Faith has always only ever served to impede, retard, or reverse progress in whatever socio-political medical, educational, economic or environmental application it has ever touched.

According to a consensus of every authoritative or definitive source available anywhere -including dictionaries, scriptures, hymns, sermons of theologians, past and present, everything, -faith (in the context of religion) can be accurately defined as a stoic, unwavering conviction; a positive belief –which is not dependent on evidence, and will not change because of evidence. Believers usually want to argue this point trying to conceal the fact, pretending that ‘faith’ is synonymous with ‘trust’, but in the religious context, there are qualifiers, such that faith = a  complete trust that is not based on evidence.  To prove that here, I’ll cite several dictionaries just to establish consensus:

Faith:

[originally]”Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing, that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.”
[currently] “belief that is not based on proof
-Dictionary.com

[originally]
1. “complete trust or confidence.
2. Strong belief in a religion.
3. a system of religious belief.”
[currently]
Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
-AskOxford

“Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting solely and implicitly on his authority and veracity; reliance on testimony.”
-Accurate and Reliable Dictionary

“a firm belief in something for which there is no proof“.
-Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

“Belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.”
-Encarta

“For quite a lot of people, faith or the lack thereof, is an important part of their identities. E.G. a person will identify him or herself as a Muslim or a skeptic. Many religious rationalists, as well as non-religious people, criticize implicit faith as being irrational. In this view, belief should be restricted to what is directly supportable by logic or evidence.”
-Wikipedia

Dictionaries give common usage regardless whether it is appropriate or accurate. I wouldn’t trust a common dictionary for scientific terms, because then I can often demonstrate where dictionaries are sometimes wrong. None of them properly define the word, ‘animal’ for example. I wouldn’t limit myself to dictionaries for this purpose either, because everyone wants to contest me. Another reason is that there are two different contexts in the dictionary, and one of them exists only in the dictionary, and in common vernacular, the idea of having faith “in” something. This context does not relate to religion, and does not derive from any of the writings of religion.

Defenders of the faith want to pretend that faith is a synonym of trust –as if the focus could be shown to be worthy of that trust. Or they deliberately use the wrong context, pretending that we must have ‘faith’ that an airplane will land safely before we get on it. That is quite a bit different than the religious context. They won’t admit what faith really is until they try to project their own faults onto non-believers in their frequent attempts at equivocation. Then they’ll either say that I believe on faith in lieu of evidence –just like they do, (ignoring all the evidence I present), or they’ll say that they have evidence just like I do, even though they can never show it.

If faith is defined as an unsupported conviction, then they have it and I don’t. If faith is defined as a secure confidence in the truth, value, or reliability of a given position, then I have it and they don’t –according to the behaviors I typically see when debating such people; like when they ignore all my questions and won’t acknowledge my answers either. We are definitely talking about a religious context here, not my estimation of evident probabilities and acceptable risks when boarding an airplane.

If I were arguing scientific terms, I would have to cite peer reviewed studies. Since faith is a religious term, I’ll have to turn to religious authorities, beginning with the most familiar scriptures in western society.

John 20:29 “how blessed are they who have not seen but yet believe.”
Romans 14:22 “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction-”
2 Corinthians 4:18 “We look not at things seen, but at things not seen.”
2 Corinthians 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Romans 1:20 “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood from the things that are made.”

Here we have things hoped for, but not seen, looking at things that are not seen, not seeing what is seen, and finally, the most common logical fallacy; the circular argument routing back to an assumed conclusion.  Note that we are expected to see what is not there. Not only that, but we are blessed if we make ourselves see what cannot be seen. Doubt is criticized. “Blessed are those who have NOT seen and yet believed.”  This is not a reasonable request. These are not reasoned responses. Faith is the very opposite of reason, and where faith is encouraged, reason is discouraged. We are expected to believe without reason; in fact we are blessed if we readily believe the most outrageous illogical, inconsistent, and contradictory claims from even the most credulous and questionable people without any evidence at all, according to the sermons of theologians past and present.

“Faith is the acceptance of the truth of a statement in spite of insufficient evidence.
…Faith is a cop-out. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith,
then you are conceding that it can’t be taken on its own merits.”
-Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

 “What makes matters worse is that one-half of ourselves, our own reason, stands against us. …To turn one’s eyes away from Jesus means to turn them to the Law. …When the conscience is disturbed, do not seek advice from reason or from the Law, but rest your conscience in the grace of God and in His Word, and proceed as if you had never heard of the Law. …The person who can rightly divide Law and Gospel has reason to thank God. He is a true theologian. I must confess that in times of temptation I do not always know how to do it. To divide Law and Gospel means to place the Gospel in heaven, and to keep the Law on earth; to call the righteousness of the Gospel heavenly, and the righteousness of the Law earthly; to put as much difference between the righteousness of the Gospel and that of the Law, as there is difference between day and night. If it is a question of faith or conscience, ignore the Law entirely. …We have two propositions: To live unto the Law, is to die unto God. To die unto the Law, is to live unto God. These two propositions go against reason. …When we pay attention to reason, God seems to propose impossible matters in the Christian Creed. To reason it seems absurd that Christ should offer His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper; that Baptism should be the washing of regeneration; that the dead shall rise; that Christ the Son of God was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, etc. Reason shouts that all this is preposterous. Are you surprised that reason thinks little of faith? Reason thinks it ludicrous that faith should be the foremost service any person can render unto God. …Let your faith supplant reason. Abraham mastered reason by faith in the Word of God. Not as though reason ever yields meekly. It put up a fight against the faith of Abraham. Reason protested that it was absurd to think that Sarah who was ninety years old and barren by nature, should give birth to a son. But faith won the victory and routed reason, that ugly beast and enemy of God. Everyone who by faith slays reason, the world’s biggest monster, renders God a real service, a better service than the religions of all races and all the drudgery of meritorious monks can render. Do not consult that Quackdoctor, Reason. Believe in Christ.”

–Rev Martin Luther, founder of Protestant Christianity
excerpts from his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, 1535

Faith requires that we literally make-believe, that we presume, presuppose, and pretend; that we ignore what we really do see, and imagine something is there when it apparently isn’t. The philosophy professor, Dr Peter Boghossian describes faith as “pretending to know what you don’t know”, and he has a good argument to back that up.  Faith means that we lie to ourselves and fool ourselves. Worse than that, faith requires that we believe the unbelievable. As you can see, this is reflected in hymns of Michael Card:

“to hear with my heart,
to see with my soul,
to be guided by a hand
I cannot see,
that’s what faith must be.”

“So we follow God’s own Fool,
for only the foolish can tell.
Believe the unbelievable,
and come be a fool as well.”

This isn’t just willful ignorance; this is dementia, a deliberately induced delusion. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the definition of delusion is a persistent false belief that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary, to falsely claim something even when there is evidence otherwise. What makes these beliefs delusional is that they don’t change when the person is presented with conflicting information; the beliefs remain fixed even when the facts contradict them.

“Faith is believing things when common sense tells you not to,”
-George Seaton

“Faith means not wanting to know what is true.”
-Friedrich Nietzche

“Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”
-Mark Twain

“The only way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”
-Benjamin Franklin

“The whole thing about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical evidence.”
-Bruce Bartlett

“Faith is defined as believing something without evidence, which is, by definition, irrational.”
-Brian Sapient

“Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge about things without parallel.”
-Ambrose Bierce

“They are forever repeating: ‘Don not examine. Only believe and faith will make thee blessed. Wisdom is a bad thing in life, foolishness is to be preferred.”
-Celsus

“Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results. Myths and faiths are not and do not.”
-Richard Dawkins

“Faith is the antithesis of proof.”
-Supreme Court Justice Edward J. Greenfield

“By definition, if you have faith, you are choosing to believe in the absence of evidence.”
-Johann Hari

“Skepticism is the highest duty and blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”
-Thomas Huxley

“The most permicious of absurdities is that weak, blind, stupid faith is better than the constant practice of every human virtue.”
-Walter Savage Landor

“A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought.”
-Henry Louis Menckin

“Faith is an absolutely marvelous tool. With faith there is no question too big for even the smallest mind.”
-Rev. Donald Morgan

“To rest one’s case on faith means to concede that reason is on the side of one’s enemies -that one has no rational arguments to offer.”
-Ayn Rand

“Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.”
-Kurt Vonnegut

“The mind is perfect which through true faith, in supreme ignorance supremely knows the supremely unknowable.”
-St. Maximus the Confessor

There was a creationist propaganda documentary called, ‘Questioning Darwin’. It exclusively interviewed believers, and was intended to promote creationism, but every non-believer and every believer who considers themselves reasonable or moderate –should watch that documentary, because it is a psychological and philosophical freak show.  One of the people interviewed said that any scientific fact which contradicts the Bible must be false, because the Bible can’t be wrong. Besides, what do educated expert specialists really know compared to ignorant superstitious primitives? Another person in that same show admitted that if the Bible said that 2+2=5, he wouldn’t question it; he would find some way to believe it. And of course he’s not the only one like that.  William Jennings Bryan, prosecuting attorney in the Scopes “monkey” trial said that if the Bible said that Jonah swallowed the whale, he would believe it. So we’re clearly not talking about accepting what evidence indicates but rather believing whatever we want to believe, regardless whether it’s true or not.

So it doesn’t matter whether you prove that it’s wrong, nor how easily or obviously or eloquently you do that; once people have been thoroughly indoctrinated, their logical centers selectively shut down, and it’s almost impossible to reason with them ever again where that subject is concerned. Fantasy is adopted as reality, and truth is dismissed as irrelevant.

Faith is often a belief in things which are impossible according to everything we know about anything at all. The belief is sacred, meaning that it is never to be questioned or critically examined, but must be believed no matter what.  You just gotta be-LEEVE! Skeptical inquiry is strictly forbidden, and apologetics exists only to obligately rationalize away any criticisms, so that they may be dismissed without consideration.

In other words, faith assumes its own conclusions, believes impossible nonsense for no good reason, and defends those beliefs against all reason to the contrary.  So it can’t help but be wrong to some degree to start with, and any errors will never even be acknowledged, much less sought out or corrected.  So that situation can never improve.  However wrong it already is is however wrong it will forever be.  So faith offers no way to discover the real truth about anything, but it’s a great way to stay wrong forever and never admit it –even to your self.

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