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Friday, May 7, 2010

On Faith

It is key to note that faith is used many different ways like to have faith in someone. I am going to concentrate on the religious definitions of faith and its uses. Of course my definitions are going to be a bit controversial, partly because I find faith the enemy of philosophy.

Faith as currency: Used as a bargaining chip with God, believers often see their faith as something one can gain and use. Their faith is earned or proven and as a result of having it, miracles may occur and a reward may be given. Many believe heaven as a reward, so a certain degree of faith is the cost of entrance into heaven. Some believe in the prosperity Gospel, which argues that God rewards faith with earthly prosperity.

"Man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; on religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment or hope of reward after death." - Albert Einstein

Like Einstein, I find faith as currency as a morally bankrupted system. Intellectually, the basis for the benefits of faith are all superstitious.

The Faith Card: It is often used as an excuse to be ignorant, to disregard evidence that contradicts the religion, and alter discourse in favor of the religion. When something like evolution comes up, a believer can use the faith card as an excuse to be ignorant of the actual claims and evidence of evolution. The believer may use the card to speak from religion as if that gave them authority to speak about something they have no credible evidence against. By changing the theory of evolution into an affront to God, the theist is making the debate into a false dichotomy of being for or against God.

"What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof."- Christopher Hitchens

"I am patient with stupidity, but not with those who are proud of it." - Edith Sitwell

Simply Faithful: One goal of religion is to simplify a person's lifestyle into being more and more about the religion. Everything else is removed. I have had conversation with religious people where they claim that I have had thought too much or I over analyze religious claims. In my opinion, it does not take all that much critical thinking to see something is definitely amiss with the beautiful, harmonious picture religion paints itself as. Sadly, this means religion, in order to survive, has tried making people simple or gullible.

"So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence." - Bertrand Russell

Faith as philosophical suicide: The love of wisdom or philosophy is the method humans authentically create meaning in there lives when there is no objective meaning. If there is objective meaning imposed on man by a deity, there would be deciding what is moral, what is desired, and what I am. Albert Camus describes the leap of faith as philosophical suicide.

I value philosophy because with it one actively becomes a moral agent. Knowledge, moral truth, and meaning are not just ends in themselves but are used to achieve human purposes like helping the sick and impoverished. Fulfilling man's unlimited desires is difficult can philosophy is the endless task of trying to give justice to the human condition.

"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration--courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and, above all, love of the truth." - H.L. Mencken

"What have been [Christianity's] fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." - James Madison

So in summation, faith is my enemy in my philosophical pursuit. The religion meme has changed how I think because I can still be emotionally persuaded by the music of the church and the radiant desire of my theist friends. It is like a scar in my brain; however, I have always been a person who actively looks for nonsense and has the irreverence to expose it to other believers. I only hope faith will be replaced by the age old wisdom of critical thinking.

Here is a link for those who want to learn more about Godless intellectual values:
http://atheism.about.com/od/godlessamericaamericans/p/ValuesIntellect.htm?nl=1

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