The Great Chain

The Great Chain

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Faith - Last Refuge of the Irrational

The Myth of Original Sin does far more evil than merely inverting our inherent desire for knowledge and understanding and turning our greatest and most beautiful attribute into a means of debasement.  Perhaps even more vile, the Myth of Original Sin seeks to replace our greatest attribute, our rationality and understanding with Faith.

While there is an extensive epistemological discussion on what constitutes Faith elsewhere on this page, the brief summary is this.  Faith is a belief in an unknown or unrealized proposition in spite of evidence that the belief is incorrect.  Faith is clearly NOT a belief in an unknown or unrealized proposition that is SUPPORTED by the evidence, because if that belief was supported by the evidence, it ipso facto does NOT REQUIRE Faith.

Faith is impervious to reason.  Unmoved by evidence.  Undeterred by logical inconsistency of fallacy.  Faith is, by its very nature, an irrational belief, a belief contrary to the available evidence.  The very antithesis of rational understanding.

The Myth of Original Sin takes our inherent desire to know and understand the world through our senses and with our minds and declares that we are evil, debased, fallen because of our curiosity and our desire to know.  Our most basic human desire and our most powerful means of knowing about ourselves and the World is therefore BAD.  At the same time, our redemption from our fallen state, our salvation from our mortal sin is to have Faith in an unseen, unknown, empirically obscured entity known as God.  To have Faith, is therefore GOOD.

Since God is unseen, unknown and empirically obscured, how do we know what to have Faith in?
Have Faith in what his Agents tell us about Him.

How do they know what his Will is?
Have Faith because they have received Revelations from Him (or ARE Him).

How do we know that they're telling the truth?
Have Faith.

How do we know that they're accurately reporting what His will is?
Have Faith.

How do we explain the fact that a lot of what you say is inconsistent?

How do we explain the fact that a lot of what you say is inconsistent with our observations of the world?

How do we explain...
Look, you just don't get it, Faith does not require explanations - explanations are unnecessary.  In fact, if you could explain it, if you had evidence for it, it wouldn't require Faith and it would therefore be BAD.

The Myth of Original Sin and Exultation of Faith are an insidious masterstroke for the human Agents of God.  In one fell swoop, they completely insulate themselves from any and all criticism, any and all rational inquiry, any and all accountability for discrepancies and inconsistencies in their 'Revelations.'  Any irrationality can be quickly dismissed for to seek knowledge and understanding is BAD, a part of our fallen and debased nature.  And to have Faith in SPITE of contrary evidence is GOOD.  Therefore any troublesome question can be quickly dismissed with a simple admonition that the questioner lacks the proper amount of Faith.

This is, of course, complete lunacy.

What is truly ironic is that while Faith is a perfectly valid salve for any and all inconsistencies, errors, inaccuracies and unexplainable or irreconcilable problems within a given belief structure, Faith in OTHER belief structures is wholly invalid.  Christians, Jews, Muslims all extol the virtues of Faith.  When asked why they do not believe in the belief systems advocated by others, however, what do they cite?  Evidence of inconsistencies, errors, inaccuracies, unexplainable or irreconcilable problems within that belief structure and deviations from their own belief structure.  In other words, THEY CITE EVIDENCE!  They appeal to REASON!  They reject OTHER FAITHS based on evidence and reason, yet fail to apply the same standard to their own.

As an outsider, all of their criticisms appear valid and their reasons for rejecting one another's faiths all appear wholly rational.  The problem here is NOT rationality, NOT reason, NOT understanding or our desire to know.  The common problem is Faith.  The common problem is irrationality.  Which leads, of course, to the old saying 'When you understand why I have rejected all other Faiths, you will understand why I have rejected yours.'

I found via Redheaded Skeptic credit to Freethunk.


  1. Well said Jeffrey. We need more of you, and by that I mean more of this. Cogent, well thought out rebuttals to religious dogma's various fallacies and inadequacies.

    I've watched your comments on John's website, Debunking Christianity. Good stuff, and you're a welcome addition to those of us trying to reach the adherents of Christianity with a bit of reasoning and pointed rebuttals of the drivel they dribble on us when they show up.

    As a word of encouragement, it was partially from people like you, who wrote well thought out rebuttals to the religious jargon and catch phrases that most religious people are subjected to, that I was able to break free from the bondage of the mental shackles that religious people's minds are wrapped in. It's hard to reach through the dogma but don't think short term when you rebut religiously inclined people's inanities.

    It's the seed planted today that sprouts and grows into something grander tomorrow

  2. By the way, you should look to post these on Youtube basically reading the essays out. It's a bit of a challenge to edit video but you seem like a smart cookie, and have succeeded in putting together a nice website, so maybe it's a done deal? ;-P

    Get on it bro.

    I wish I was as erudite and well thought out in my comments as you. I don't mean to get into the gutter but it's a frustrating thing debating religiously inclined individuals. I let my emotions get the better of me sometimes...

    I'm just a fallen sinner....... ;-)

  3. Thank you sir! Anything I can do to help. I really believe that if people stop and take a breath and actually look at the things they believe without the catch all of Faith that they will end up better people - even if they eventually conclude that their theology is valid. Perhaps that is 'Faith' on my part, but if I have to have Faith in anything, I'll put my money on humanity anytime.

    It's a constant struggle to stay out of the gutter with the comments sometimes. I just have to use my 'Would I get disbarred if I put this in a Pleading and sent it to a Judge' sense sometimes.

    I've never thought about a video.

  4. This is a great post! Well articulated.

  5. The most obvious "faith" that underpins all the major world religions is faith that their human created "holy" texts are actually describing reality and not partially or completely fabricated.
    If you take the Christian bible for example, it's amazing that anyone who spends the smallest amount of effort (and most don't) researching the origins and subsequent editing and revision of these texts can rationally believe that they reflect anything like a truthful historical record of divine events.
    So they are being convinced by someone and/or something else that these writings are "true".
    I'm intrigued as to whether these people even know what causes them to blindly believe that these most improbable of ancient myths are true.
    Perhaps if they could truly think about the question "Why do I have faith that this book is true?, How much do I actually know about it's creation" a little seed of logic might start to grow. But for most, they will refuse to ask themselves for fear of changing their minds.
    This is the most frustrating and dangerous part of "faith" based religion. You aren't allowed to question "why", just blindly accept their "whats" and "hows".
    Faith = suspension of logical inquiry
    How can this ever be a good thing?

  6. "Faith is a belief in an unknown or unrealized proposition IN SPITE OF EVIDENCE THAT belief is incorrect."

    You should add a disclaimer that this is YOUR PERSONAL definition, seemingly with the motivation for taunting - not the accepted definition of faith.

    Pull up a chair, class is in session:

    Blind Faith - belief without proof.

    Reasoned Faith - belief with some level of support from examination.

    Atheistic Faith - belief in an unknown or unrealized proposition in spite of evidence that belief is incorrect. You know, like irreducible complexity.

  7. Anonymous -
    Reasoned faith is an oxymoron, like friendly terrorist or intelligent imbecile.

    Some level of support from examination? Examination of what? A book that you have to blindly believe is actually truthful in the first place?

    Atheistic faith is hilarious. Another oxymoron. How can someone have a belief in not believing (in a god)? And please, share with us how irreducible complexity proves there is a God, and that he is your God, and that he created what it is you consider irreducibly complex.

    I won't bother repeating the already widely known argumnents for why that theory has already been easily discredited by hundreds of atheists, just google it, if you dare.

  8. Excellent post Jeffrey.

    I do think you need to tweak your "Faith is ..." slightly though.

    All you cover here is faith being a belief in something which evidence suggests is not true. This misses that it's still faith if you believe in something which has no evidence against but also, and importantly, no evidence for.

    I think adding this to the end would more realistically cover what faith really is. E.g. "Faith is a belief in an unknown or unrealized proposition in spite of evidence that the belief is incorrect, or, in the absence of evidence that the belief is correct."


  9. @ Anon,

    Of course it is my definition. I wrote the Article obviously it represents my point of view and opinion.

    Your book actually advocates the blind faith model. Mark 10:15, Luke 18:7.

    I am curious about your claim of "Atheistic Faith - belief in an unknown or unrealized proposition in spite of evidence that belief is incorrect. You know, like irreducible complexity."

    What evidence are you referring to? I can produce mountains of evidence supporting a naturalistic explanation for cosmic and biological evolution - indeed, the majority of the posts on this site are exactly that. Other than vague mutterings about the epistemological need for a First Cause' I have yet to see a theist posit a decent refutation of the fact that science has absolutely demolished theistic creation myths.

    I welcome you to try though.


  10. Faith is the denial of observation, so that belief can be preserved.

  11. So now that we are aware of all the about some answers to meaning of life/ origin of life/ life after death, how this world came into existence...we're all still waiting on that. ?????

  12. @ Anon,

    1. This world came into existence through the process of accretion in the Sun's protoplanetary disc driven by gravity.

    2. Life began with incredibly simple strands of primordial RNA, the first self-replicating molecule. The copies that replicated most efficiently, created the most copies. After that, evolution was off to the races.

    3. The things that give our lives meaning are driven by internal processes, not external ones. I cannot say what gives your life meaning any more than you can say what gives my life meaning. As far as our lives having some greater cosmic meaning? They most likely don't.

    4. It is highly unlikely that there is any life after death. When I die, the electrochemical pathways in my brain that maintains concepts like I and Me and Myself will shut down and the thing that is I and Me and Myself will cease to exist. This is nothing to fear.