Recently, I published a comment on Twitter that read:
Faith’s a virtue? Wrong. Believing claims based on bad evidence isn’t commendable, it’s an insult to the human intellect. #Atheism
I received a number of re-tweets and favorites, but only one comment. It read:
@jdbrucker : Faith is idealistic, which is commendably virtuous. Quit hating. Empiricism isn’t commendable; it’s limited by human reality.
I wanted to elaborate a bit on what he said. So, faith is idealistic and commendably virtuous? Is Empiricism commendable and is it limited by human reality? First, I want to define faith. This being from the Oxford Dictionary:
1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something:
“This restores one’s faith in politicians”
2. Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
“A system of religious belief: The Christian faith.”
“A strongly held belief or theory: The faith that life will expand until it fills the universe.”
Both would apply to the modern theist. Having complete trust in their religious figure-heads (pastors, priests, rabbis, the pope), reinforced by the doctrine of their identified religious institution. Is this trust founded on confirmatory evidences? No, it’s founded on one’s understanding of a spiritual reality – a reality that isn’t verifiable through scientific means. Convenient, isn’t it?
So it all goes back to how precious empirical truth is to someone. But the tweeter suggests that empiricism isn’t commendable, and fallible because it’s only conceivable by human means. Surely it’d be a different story if there were empirical evidence for the truthfulness of any particular religion. Sadly for them, there isn’t. What’s left is having an unwavering trust in what the religion teaches and preaches. This seems to be the dividing line between theism and atheism; whether there is good reason to have a trust in something of that nature. This is what I’ve attempted to explain in my book. Forming a belief on little demonstrable, universal data isn’t a good thing and as I’ve already said, it’s an insult to the human intellect. Much of the religious doctrines believed today have either been significantly proven false or discredited to a certain point. Even a moderate belief in God carries unverifiable claims that hold little weight in scholarly debate. This is why most atheists “hate” on faith; it would force them to believe something that hasn’t been universally demonstrated to be correct.
Faith is often used as a tool by the theist in debate. They sometimes try to analytically demonstrate why atheists have faith in everyday happenings, somehow attempting to rationalize their own flawed faith. For instance:
- Atheists have faith that the sun will rise everyday.
- Atheists have faith their car will start.
- Atheists have faith in evolution.
- Atheists have faith in their spouses.
I have to say, faith doesn’t apply here.
- Much is known of the orbital sequence that our Earth shares with the Sun and with that knowledge, we can reasonably conclude that the Sun will rise tomorrow as it did this morning.
- I will develop a scenario for the car-faith claim: Presumably, we start our vehicles everyday. It started the last time we drove it and it was in working order. There was an adequate amount of gas in the vehicle. Nothing is presently leaking out from underneath the vehicle. It’d be reasonable to conclude that, because of the confirmatory evidence, the vehicle will start.
- Evolution is understood as the most likely cause of the diverse life on Earth. This conversation is like beating a dead horse. The information is there, the evidence (genetic and paleontological) is there, the science is there – Go take a look.
- No one can anticipate the actions of others. In my case, my wife and I have a mutual agreement: If we choose to cheat, end the relationship before it occurs. I know it’s entirely possible for her to cheat and if she does, I will deal with it accordingly. It’s not faith, I entirely accept the likelihood.
If one wants to be rational, faith is useless. Having faith in a religious claim doesn’t require confirming, universal information to reinforce it. It doesn’t demonstrate validity in any correct way, it simply asks you to suspend your questioning faculties to believe. I’m unwilling to do so, because I value analytic data and the education there of – something that is proven to exist. So, that is why I hate on faith.