This blog post was actually originally a response to pjjed over in Twitter who sent me the link Why Richard Dawkins is wrong about faith. When I posted my response, I noticed it was “awaiting moderation” so just in case it doesn’t get to see the light of day over there, I wanted to give it a little sunshine over here, where i can moderate my own words.
This illustrates something I find all too common in discussing with Believers their own beliefs, and it offers insight into the mental gymnastics they have had to pull off inside their own minds in order to reach the conclusions they have. When you dissect the behavior, it’s actually rather mischievous; almost devious. They have to fool themselves into believing, and then they have to fool those around them.
Broadly speaking, faith is trust in something without proof. I’m not just making that definition up out of my imagination. I arrive at that combination of words via multiple online and offline sources. if you go to a any generally accepted dictionary or encyclopedia, my description of the word as its used in modern parlance will stand up.
However, in order to “prove” Richard Dawkins is “wrong” the writer of “Why Richard Dawkins Is Wrong Abouit Faith” literally has to change the definition of faith to suit his purposes. There is no nice way to put this. Objectively speaking, this is a lie. However, in order to prove Dawkins wrong, this author will pretend reality is not what it is, so long as it serves the purpose of the goal, to prove Dawkins wrong. If a person will lie to himself, lying to the rest of the world becomes child’s play after awhile.
Because human beings are capable of lying to themselves in this manner, and we can’t know when we do this to ourselves sometimes, we NEED an objective, verifiable, repeatable method of confirming the assumptions we make about ourselves and the universe we live in. This is called The Scientific Method. It’s not a replacement for religion. It’s a tool that can be used to confirm or deny any unfounded assumption Man makes, including religious beliefs. It can also do a great deal many other things but it’s just an objective tool, that has no personal interest in whether or not any particular religion is right, any more than a hammer and nails has any opinion how you put a table together.
With the Scientific Method, we make an hypothesis, and then observe reality to determine whether or not that hypothesis is correct. Science does not dismiss results that disprove the hypothesis or place more bias on evidence that supports the hypothesis. It just objectively confirms or denies the assumption.
Faith makes an assumption without objective, verifiable, repeatable data, and then seeks only that which confirms the assumption if it happens to exist in reality, dismissing anything that doesn’t corroborate the assumption. This is simply lying to oneself, and living in a fantasy world.
Faith is not a way to knowledge. Faith is a method of denying knowledge, and replacing it with gobbledygook. Below is my response to thepapist.org.
You say in your title that Richard Dawkins is wrong about faith, then you ramble on for several paragraphs, and eventually redefine faith to suit your purposes. “Faith, far from being irrational or based on feelings, is a deliberate and conscious assent to something as true based on another person’s authority.”
By the way, this is something I call “moving the goal posts” and apologetics are notorious for doing this. You can’t argue Dawkins on the actual definition of faith, so you change the definition and then argue from a position you think you can defend.
Evidence from a second hand source is not faith. That’s second hand knowledge, which is potentially biased and certainly unreliable if it can’t be confirmed through multiple sources, or replicated under objective and unbiased conditions. Second hand knowledge is not faith, but one must use faith if they are going to accept this knowledge without confirming it objectively.
Joe tells me his god is real. If I just accept that and start following Joe’s god without any confirmation, there are many variables here and even more outcomes. Joe could be lying to me for selfish purposes and motives. Joe might believe in the god himself but what he experienced was a hallucination. Perhaps there actually is a supernatural entity involved but it told Joe it was a god when its really something else. And so on.
That Joe is telling the truth is only one possible ‘truth’ and you can’t know he’s telling the truth without objective, verifiable and repeatable confirmation.
Faith closes the door on asking questions that would lead to actual knowledge. You pretend all those other possibilities can’t possibly be true, with no justification for this presumption. Faith allows ppl to believe in lies as if they are true.
And maybe this time you happen to be right and of all the unsubstantiated beliefs out there that have been proven wrong, you just happen to be right. If that were the case, you should not fear using the scientific method to corroborate and verify your assumption. Investigation of said belief through scientific observation and discovery would only confirm your presumptions based on faith. Then, you wouldn’t need faith. Then, you would know.
So far, that’s never been what science finds when it seeks to confirm unfounded belief systems, and even if it did, that would be coincidental, because you never had objective verifiable reason to believe what you do, in the first place. You just had a hunch, or an emotional investment in being right in the face of no evidence or conflicting evidence.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day. That doesn’t mean it’s working.