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Faith in Faith

People listen to their religion not because its message could be true or seems to be but because lots of other people seem to believe it. It does not matter at all how many really believe it.  This solidarity is what makes them feel supported and not alone.  It is not faith that it doing it but apparent faith.  Faith in faith is one of the world's most persistent illusions.

 

Most people believe in faith.  This amounts to belief in faith as a placebo and disrespects those who argue that the content of faith matters.  Sometimes the content is all that matters.  A faith placebo that leaves you dead is not worth it.  Those who object to faith are demonised and it is those who have faith in faith or who wish others to have it are at the heart of the trouble.

 

A lot of texts define faith as loyalty which is why it is considered disloyal to start believing things that God has not revealed. The idea that faith is loyalty is put forward in Matthew 8:5-10 where the centurion is described as having faith just because he was so loyal to Jesus.  If so then faith in faith is anti-Christian. If so then the popular understanding of faith is not the Christian understanding.  It would be interesting if Christian faith is not about what you believe or what you think but about commitment. 

 

The Bible uses the Greek word pistis, forensic proof, for faith. The word pistis seems to destroy faith as in placebo or mere loyalty.  By forensic proof it seems to be referring to the feeling that God is inspiring you and guiding you what to believe.  It would be extremism to elevate that to the level of being real forensic proof.  And if the faith is a placebo, the placebo will be so hard to protect from the truth that it will be virtually only making things worse. The only fruit will be arrogance and self-deception.  Even the most ardent advocate of faith for the sake of faith does not want that!  The faith in faith people soon complain if they suffer at the hands of irrational faith-heads.

 

Brutus in 2012 declared that religion is not caused by faith. He stated that faith just happens in many religions.

But it is obvious that you cannot have some religions such as Christianity appearing without faith. Buddhism paves the way for faith but is not based on faith.

 

And it is not really a religion anyway.


If faith is bad, then religion is bad if it needs and thrives on faith. Religion is still bad if it makes the conditions for faith to appear.

Faith in faith is a big problem even among some atheists.

The idea is that faith even if nonsense or misplaced is still useful.

But how useful is it?

There is no way to measure that.

People have different levels of faith. Some don't have any.

So its usefulness is based on anecdotal reports. It is ultimately just speculation.

But what if faith is useful?

Why is it useful?

It comforts the faithful.

It stops many of them from committing crimes.

But all that is controversial.

And you don’t need faith for them.

Atheism can comfort people too. If there is no God to help you and you do your best to get help you will be able to accept that whatever suffering comes is unavoidable. Both believer and atheist has to learn acceptance. There is no point in hating and rejecting what cannot be changed.

Atheism can stop people committing crimes too because if you have only one life you will not be doing yourself any favours by putting evil and anger out there. If an atheist advocates crime, that is bad. But the atheist has one disadvantage over the believer. The believer can say that God wants the crime for a mysterious purpose. That makes his claim untestable. At least the atheist’s claims can be tested which leaves them open to being dismissed rationally.

Faith in faith then. Is it worth it?

Faith in faith undermines the fact that truth is useful. It is better to face the truth and accept it than to hide behind delusions and lies. The truth is more useful than faith.

The faith in faith supporters need to ask themselves if they want a world where everybody has an untrue faith that is useful.

Faith in faith can and often does lead to bias and prejudice against atheists.

Faith in faith can be patronising - “I am atheist and can do without the faith crutch unlike those fools.”

Faith in faith has to suspect the strong and most intelligent believers among us of being religious frauds and hypocrites.

Faith in faith leads to a weak response when men of faith put lies out there and fool their sheep. Some of the sheep make great sacrifices to follow the shepherd and lives can be wrecked. Faith in faith leads to people enabling religious lies or risking it.

Faith in faith is the reason politicians are too accommodating to religious demands. E.g. for faith schools that discriminate against children of other faiths. Parents who let their children die because they want to depend on prayers and not a doctor get away with it.

Faith in faith sometimes is about a vague faith but often is about a more specific faith such as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Vague faith helps some people but it does not follow that you need to have a specific faith. Specific faith has its risks. It is not right when a nebulous faith should do.

Faith in faith overlooks the fact that if faith is a crutch it is not one all the time for the person. Overall belief in God could be worse for the person. In fairness, Christ said that Christianity is not about making your life better but about sacrifice and the cross and the agony of extreme love for God.

Faith in faith encourages those who mistake their faith for God. How you see God and think about God can be an idol. People mistake ideas and perceptions for God far more readily than they would adore a statue as God like the pagans did.

Faith in faith overlooks the fact that if people are damaged and hurt by their faith they do not often talk about it. They cannot and they won’t. They feel that they are blaming their parents and others who put the faith in them.

Faith in faith glorifies the placebo. But the placebo is based on deception and it will backfire if depended on too much or if it is developed too well. There is a no-cebo effect as well where telling somebody what they might expect from their illness makes them feel worse. The placebo is to be used sparingly and only in very serious matters. The placebo takes away a person's right to know themselves. They think the medicine or faith is curing them when in fact it is their response to them. They cure themselves. A placebo treatment given to a person should be debunked at the right time. Then the person will believe in their own power to heal themselves. Seeing that will be more beneficial to them than any placebo. Many people treated with placebos will realise it anyway but it is better to show them in such a way that they feel empowered.

Faith can be a comfort only in the sense that it relieves the fear of everlasting damnation. That is relief not comfort. Nobody would fail to see such faith as cruel. It will only forge cruel believers.

You cannot assume that it is wrong to challenge somebody's faith because it is their crutch. They have to tell you that. Often the real or main or essential reason people don’t want their faith challenged is because they want to be part of the us versus them mentality. Protestants for example will not like their faith questioned for it threatens their prejudices against other religions such as Catholics. They feel that to be open to any faith is to denigrate their ancestors and parents who opposed that faith. To respect faith in faith is really to make people feel good about being bigots.

Faith is the reason religion does harm. Faith is bad in itself and risky and religion nurtures and reinforces it. There is plenty of evidence of people with shallow religious faith putting themselves and their children at risk. They do it for faith. The antics at some Catholic pilgrimage sites is a good example. The observation that not all religious people are violent means nothing when faith is the problem. It is luck you can thank that their faith has not ruined them. It is not their faith or their religion you can thank.

 

Richard Swinburne says weak faith is fine as long as you put it into practice.  But the religious command: “Don’t murder” is a secular more and also a religious one. So he is saying that you don’t have to take it seriously as a religious one.  But that will only lead to your respect for life diminishing on the secular level as well. If you need to be religious and secular to respect life fully then to drop one is to reduce your respect.  Refraining from killing is hardly a great thing if your faith in being so pro-life is that fragile and light. What good is, "Thou shalt not kill", if you are allowed to have little or no faith in it for you will need faith in it to give a damn about it?  If religion lets you have weak faith in good commands then religion is inherently dodgy and evil will follow.  Faith needs to be strong and therefore very reasonable but no faith follows a decent standard of logic or evidence.

 

Religion may make do with or demand weak belief in the people but it still needs enough people to run it who have an intensely strong faith or who act as if they do.  Religion needs enough fundamentalism and fundamentalists in order to thrive and be strong.

 

Being more logical and thoughtful may not save you from being biased but saves you from others who put the bias in you. The consolation you have is that if you are careful with your reasoning bias becomes less sweeping and less of a threat and will not afflict you for too long. Most people of faith have a form of faith that even their leaders would find irrational and superstitious and lazy. It makes sense to hold that this hiding God concept is largely to blame for this idolatrous nonsense. They end up with a God to suit themselves.

Faith in faith is just one of the things people encourage without thinking. It is a principle that looks good but that goodness is only skin deep. Atheists who enable the problems need to grow up.