I Find Your Faith Disturbing

Jeremy Smith came across a sticker that took a phrase from Star Wars in what was intended to be an atheistic direction:

In Star Wars: A New Hope, Darth Vader says “I find your lack of faith disturbing” to a skeptic of the Force.

Jeremy Smith finds a more positive interpretation of the phrase: religious faith should disturb us, make us uncomfortable, including (perhaps especially) the person whose faith it is.

But even taken in its originally-intended sense as an expression of atheism, the slogan is disturbing. Everyone finds the faith of others disturbing. But few allow themselves to see their own faith – whether it be confidence in ancient writings, or confidence in one’s own critical thinking skills to keep one from falling for scams and bogus claims – as it appears to others.

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  • Jack Collins

    I suppose it depends on how one defines “faith.” I don’t see “confidence in one’s own critical thinking skills” as faith, because it is subject to verification. I trust my critical thinking skills because they have consistently given my accurate predictive knowledge of future events within certain domains. (They have been far less consistent in providing predictive knowledge of things like human emotion, as any ex-girlfriend of mine can attest.)

    I find faith, in general, a little worrisome (though not outright disturbing), because it implies (to me) belief without recourse to evidence. This seems like an epistemological slippery slope. I know plenty of people who seem to be able to compartmentalize the things they believe because of evidence from the things they believe “just ’cause” (to use the term from the “Book of Mormon” musical), but there seem to be many more who can’t.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/ James F. McGrath

      When people have excessive confidence in their ability to avoid being duped, persuading them that they have been is incredibly difficult. There is plenty of evidence of this ability to compartmentalize, and it cuts across the religious/atheist divide, as Bill Maher’s views on vaccination provide an example of.

      • Jack Collins

        Indeed, and I would never contend that atheism necessarily coincides with rigorous critical thinking. Choice-supportive bias in particular is a rather problematic obstacle to positive change. Personally, a large part of my confidence in my critical thinking skills derives not from how often I am right, but on how often I’ve changed my mind when presented with better evidence. I’m confident in the process.

        My issue is less with religion or theism than it is with non-naturalistic epistemology. I just don’t get where one’s criteria for truth come from when judging supernatural propositions. I had a dear friend once lament that recent misfortunes were the result of Mercury’s being in retrograde. Putting aside the merits of astrology, and the fact that the retrogression is an illusion anyway, I asked her “Why does Mercury in retrograde have to be bad? How do you know it isn’t good? How can you test that kind of claim?” (Fortunately, this friend is very patient with me…)

        But this extends to matters of ideology as well. It becomes far too easy to do horrible things if you have faith that your cause is just, and that doesn’t require anything supernatural. I would feel a lot more comfortable in a world where people were a little more open to their own fallibility. But I could be wrong.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/ James F. McGrath

          Indeed, and it is for precisely that reason that I mentioned overconfidence in our our own thinking as something perilous in much the same way that beliefs about the supernatural can be!

          • Jack Collins

            Ah, I didn’t read that as OVERconfidence. Too much confidence is indeed too much.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/ James F. McGrath


  • newenglandsun

    Well…after Vader said it, he strangled the guy….With the Force.