Faith - The Immoral Evil That Clings To Humanity's Backside

Got into a conversation tonight with a theist friend. And, I might add, he is good friend who knows I'm an atheist. We've been there for each other, without question, in a number of situations.

Anyway, the conversation turned to the concept of faith. And, as a theist, he was promoting the idea that faith is somehow a virtue. Needless to say, I took exception. He posited an example involving our respective sons.

Your son is accused of a theft. Naturally, you love and trust your son, and cannot accept the fact that he may have committed this act. There is no evidence, other than the "victim's" statement and that of your son. The victim says your son stole from him. Your son denies it. My friend's argument is that, as your son, you are going to believe him based upon his word. That is faith. Faith in the basic goodness of your son and his basic morality and honesty.

My response was, "No, I'm not going to accept either one's word. I used to be a young person and knew some of the rotten crap I did. And, I might add, never got caught. I  suspect upon a full and honest reflection of yourself, you would have to admit to the same." I proceeded to tell him of a story of "faith" under the same facts that actually occurred in my family, when I was young.

My older brother was accused of a theft. My father, without any evidence on which to base a rational decision, other than the accusation, had "faith" that he did it. Notwithstanding my brother's adamant denial, he proceed to beat him till my brother had a broken nose, black eyes, and blood pouring from his head. Turns out, about a week later, evidence finally came forward that my brother was completely innocent. The neighbor kid did it.

So much for faith.

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I think you present your position in a most reasonable and sensible way, Pat. Besides, faith is belief without well founded evidence. My guess is that knowing your son well, and on concrete personal, physical, historical and psychological grounds, you might judge that your son is unlikely to have committed the theft. On the other hand, you also keep in reserve the point you made, that you might be wrong, and he might be guilty.

It is when "blind" faith is applied on religious grounds, that theists may behave very poorly. As Steven Weinberg is quoted as saying: "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." {http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Steven_Weinberg}. I think Weinberg meant really evil things like genocide or terrorism; but the point still holds - faith is not a virtue.

I see faith as a very weak attribute.

G.G.

You put it exactly the way I would have Brandi.  I totally agree~ Melinda

Sorry about the above diatribe folks, but it occurred last night at a "happy hour" where I go to unwind after what is usually an insane week of seeing my clients in a jail cell or State prison. What occasionally occurs is, to me anyway, the every other week game show of Convert the Atheist. "And now ladies and gentlemen, our returning guest, back from his recent engagement of eating babies, burning down nursing homes, and kidnapping young girls to sell into white slaver is our favorite contestant, godddddddlesssssss Pat."  

When my friend started hitting me with the "faith is a virtue" routine. I did kind of turn on him - not viciously, but with a certain intensity. What I left out in my post, but did tell him, and of which I am convinced is that "faith is for morons."

Pat, presuming you don't have this one already, here's one for your quiver:

And while I think about it:

My first effort at such a pic-quote combination ... not too bad, I think.

The mathematician William Kingdon Clifford published in 1877 an essay titled The Ethics of Belief in which he argued that to believe without evidence is unethical. In it he wrote:

"If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call in question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it -- the life of that man is one long sin against mankind."

When one has arrived at a certain stage of enlightenment about how the world works, one is obliged to seek evidence of truth as best you can and not put your opinion down to mere faith.

If faith is a virtue, then all those ancient followers of Zeus and all the other gods must have been virtuous. Is it virtuous to believe without evidence in gods, demons, fairies, gnomes, leprechauns, and all such bunk ? Faith is not a virtue, it's a vice.

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