Faith Shows the Emperor has No Clothes

The emperor parades around in public wearing his new (invisible) clothesSuppose a religion worshipped a god that didn’t exist.  How could it endure?  Wouldn’t it be immediately exposed as a fraud?

Not if it turned thinking on its head and argued that not reason but faith* is actually the proper way to look at the world, or at least the religious part of it.  Fellow believers would encourage this faith-trumps-reason worldview.  Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain and just have faith!

Defending an invisible God and celebrating faith is exactly what Christians would do if their religion were manmade.  Faith is always the last resort.  If there were convincing evidence, Christians would be celebrating that, not faith.

Augustine said, “Do not understand so you may believe; instead believe so you may understand.”  But why?  You don’t do that in any other area of life.  You don’t pick a belief system first and then select facts to support it; it’s the other way around.  You follow the facts where they lead.

Faith is permission to believe without good reason.  Believing something because it is reasonable and rational requires no faith at all.  If you don’t have enough evidence to cross an intellectual gulf to the belief on the other side, and if only faith will get you there, then don’t cross that gulf.

It’s a bizarre world where faith not only trumps reason but is celebrated since we use reason all the time to get through life.  Only by using reason and following the evidence—that is, rejecting beliefs built on faith—did we build the technology-filled world we live in today.

In fact, faith is the worst decision-making and analytical tool possible.  You don’t use faith to cross a busy street, or learn French, or treat malaria.  It provides no method for distinguishing between true and false propositions.  Faith doesn’t provide a reliable answer but simply encourages an end to questioning.  It’s even worse than guessing, because with a guess, you’re at least open to revisiting a decision in the face of new evidence.  Not so with faith.

No one relies on faith unless their god weren’t just invisible but was actually nonexistent.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

*By faith, I mean belief without sufficient evidence.  Christians might respond that their definition of faith is identical to that for trust: belief in accord with sufficient evidence.  In my experience, however, Christians use each of these definitions for faith, switching them as necessary.  If they only stuck to the idea that faith and trust were identical, that might clear up a lot of problems.

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17 thoughts on “Faith Shows the Emperor has No Clothes

  1. For argument sake I will go with Bob’s definition of faith. ( which is not even close to the Christian position, as usuall another false caracture. Bob may want to look up Dr. Greg Bahnsen for the correct definition of Christian faith..The Late Dr. Bahnsen was a brilliant mind, and a professor of Philosophy and Theology). Using Bob’s definition of faith. Belief without suffiicient evidence.

    Bob believes the following by way more blind faith than any Christian:
    1) The universe came from Nothing..Nothing exploded and became something..
    2) Matter came from non-matter.
    3) Order came from non-order
    4) Life came from non-life,
    5) intellegence and reason came from Non-Intellegence.

    • Science does argue that life came from nonlife (abiogenesis). And order can come from nonorder (examples: sugar crystals precipitating out of solution or frost on a window).

      The cosmology stuff is nonsense, however. The Big Bang does not say that something came from nothing.

    • Bob Calvan believes the following by way more blind faith than any Atheist:
      1) God made the Universe came from nothing.
      2) Matter came from a non-material God.
      3) God made order came from non-order.
      4) Physical life came from a non-physical form of life,
      5) Intellegence and reason came from God, and God’s intelligence and reason came from nowhere.

      How does “God” actually answer any of these questions? Where did God come from? How can God make matter from non-matter? Where did God’s life, order, intelligence, and reason come from?

      The answer of “God” is an excuse not to need or give any explanation at all.

  2. Science does not argue that life can from non-life. That is a hypothesis with no evidence.

    I think the order that BobC is referring to is ask why does the universe observe physical laws, for example that entangled particles that are far apart instantaneously take the same state when observed.

    It seems to me that the atheist world view came about when science reached a point that a mechanistic view of the universe seemed plausible. But for that world view to work, you have to ignore a whole bunch of mysteries, such as the nature of reality, consciousness, and the origin or the universe. There really is not that big a difference between faith in no god versus faith in God.

    And I have no idea where you got the idea that faith brings and end to questioning. That comes out of Islam and a few other isolated religions. Judaism and Christianity are the opposite of that.

    • Abiogenesis is a hypothesis with zero evidence? I don’t think so. I’ll grant that it’s not hardly as well supported as germ theory or evolution, for example. But I suspect that it’s the scientific consensus.

      Science doesn’t ignore mysteries; that’s the point. Science tackles them, which is why we know so much more about reality and nature now. We learned all this from science, not religion. Consciousness, what came before the Big Bang, and so on are simply the latest tough challenges for science. Yes, there are questions to be answered. There always will be. But science makes progress against these questions. Religion … not so much.

      As for faith bringing an end to questioning (or not), I’m not sure what your question is. “God did it” is a conversation stopper. It’s the end of the line. That never spurred a scientist to dig further and find out what really caused it.

      • Name one piece of evidence to support abiogenesis. Not little bits and pieces to support its plausibility, but actual evidence that it happened.

        And what is your evidence to support that Judaism or Christianity hindered science? A few isolated case of political conflicts 500 years ago doesn’t count. The role of God in the minds of people like Newton and Einstein is clear.

        There is a very interesting series of interviews of scientists on deep questions.

      • As far as I know, there is no geological evidence of abiogenesis. Nevertheless, it’s the scientific consensus.

        I wasn’t saying that Christianity hindered science (although, now that you mention it, the example of stem cell research does spring to mind). My point was that science has given us new information about reality and continues to do so. Religion gives us nothing.

        Newton was clearly a Christian. Einstein was clearly not even a deist.

  3. You can call Einstein whatever you want, but he pushed science forward based on thought experiments he came up with to try to establish the absurdity of quantum randomness in the face out how he viewed his impersonal God would behave.

    That resulted in real science, not the consensus with no evidence that you place your faith in.

    The restrictions on taxpayer funding of fetal stem research come from a pro-life position, which is not religion. There are pro-choice Christians as well as pro-life atheists. I became one of those long ago when I saw that there is not any legitimate rationale to deny the protection of life to the unborn, apart from rare cases of danger to the mother.

    To say that religion gave us nothing is in breathtaking contrast to the historical record.

    • If your point was that “God” was just an imaginary constract in Einstein’s mind, invented to help with a thought experiment, I can accept that.

      If I’m right that abiogenesis is the scientific consensus (I think so; not sure), then I’m happy to accept whatever evidence science has put together to support that hypothesis.

      Are you saying that there’s no connection between the pro-life position and Christianity? Imagine a US without Christianity. Would there have been the outcry against stem cell research? I doubt it.

      I realize that religion has had an impact (don’t get me started!). What I said was that religion gave us nothing in the area of understanding about nature and reality.

      • I cannot imagine a US without Christianity. One would assume it would a culture like the Vikings. I have no idea what such a place would think about taxpayer funding of fetal stem cell research. They would probably be fine with it as long as they could pillage it. In any case, fetal stem cell therapy to my knowledge has been a failure whenever it was tried.

      • Jon: So only Christianity is keeping the US from becoming a raping and pillaging country? What about all the other non-Christian countries (India, Japan, China, central and SE Asia, etc.)? They seem morally decent to me.

        IMO, funding for fetal stem cell research had been curtailed largely for Christian reasons.

        As for its effectiveness, I’d prefer we leave that evaluation to the experts. If they say that there’s promise there (keep in mind that they might find a treatment that improves your life or mine directly) then let’s fund that research as wisely as possible.

  4. “We know that reason is the Devil’s harlot, and can do nothing but slander and harm all that God says and does…” Martin Luther

  5. “What about all the other non-Christian countries (India, Japan, China, central and SE Asia, etc.)?”

    From wiki:

    “A 2005 study estimated that over 90 million females were “missing” from the expected population in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan alone, and suggested that sex-selective abortion plays a role in this deficit”

    Is that the kind of world you are advocating?

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