Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ya gotta have faith

Dani Rizzo asked "What offends the offensive Atheists?"
Well now........ How to begin? Bullet points? A simple list? There are so many ways that theology and religion influence us every day. Many of them offensive and some a direct attack. A list format would take months to compile and I would always think that something was missing. No, I shall choose the heart of all the issues and that is what offends the Offensive Atheists. The central problem is a concept, and it is faith.

Religions require faith to function. This leads critical thinkers to ask "What is faith?" It must be different from regular belief or knowledge to hold this place of esteem in society. I would say that I have faith that today is Sunday and that I live in Buffalo. That is not the kind of faith that we are talking about here. Metaphysical Faith must hold true in opposition to facts and evidence. Faith must be belief without evidence. Otherwise it is susceptible to critical thought like any other statement of fact.

My problems arise there. People hold in esteem, the accepting of information in opposition to reality. Or, in opposition to experiential knowledge. This is the worst of all crimes. Choosing bad logic over good and pushing it as a virtue. What kind of crap is that? I argue that Faith is an insidious meme which caused the Spanish Inquisition, the dark ages and halts medical advancement today.

Supernaturalism and supernatural thinking brings us leeches, faith healing and burnings at the stake. Reason, critical thinking and logic have brought us out of witchcraft and to medicine.

My second problem with Faith as "belief without evidence" is that it does not exist. It could not. Evidence comes in many shapes and varieties. The best evidence comes from direct experiential observation. Without that, we need to use the tools of logic, deduction and induction. Last, and worst, we use authority. I have read respected authors and listened to my teachers who I generally accepted the statements of.

This last form of evidence, authority, is the one I need to focus on here. There would be no belief in the supernatural unless that information came from somewhere. Someone told the believer that God or Heaven exist. That is evidence. I have no direct knowledge of Tibet, but I accept that it is a real place. Geographers, politicians and social scientists have told me this directly and indirectly many times. I accept it.

The real difference between Heaven and Tibet is that I could test to see if Tibet existed. I would not be wrong to want to see it for myself. This leads me to the conclusion that Faith is the kind of knowledge that is based solely on an authority and not up for critical analysis. WOW, way to have it both ways.

That is what offends me.


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