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THE PHILOSOPHY OF FAITH
 
INTRODUCTION

It is because religion and many other dark ideologies warp reason, reason is thinking carefully and clearly and avoiding contradictions, and thereby make a virtue out of woolly thinking that this page has been written. It offers you the chance to feel confident in your thinking and to learn how to think and how to protect yourself against the disciples of reason who are anything but.
 
THE NATURE OF BELIEF

Belief is taking something to be likely to be true. You could be wrong but you believe what the evidence tells you.
 
Evidence is an indication that something is probably true. Everybody interprets evidence differently. When you believe something, it is because you think the evidence says it is probably true.
 
Belief is caused by your reason. Real belief is open to correction and even to being discarded should the evidence suggest or demand it.
 
You think to see if you accept that what you perceive should be taken as evidence or correct for unless you do that you cannot see if it really is evidence. You have to think before you can accept anything as evidence.
 
Even irrational people reason in some form, they just do it badly but they try to base themselves on reason all the same. You need to doubt things before you can believe them. If you refuse to doubt it is a sign you don’t really believe for if you did you wouldn’t be afraid to ask questions and have doubts.
 
If you say you believe something without evidence, you really just mean that you feel that it is true. But feeling is not believing for you can feel that what you know is not true is true. If you believe something because you want to and not because of the evidence you have for it that is no better for the evidence has nothing to do with causing the belief.
 
There is no belief without evidence because you cannot take something to be probably true without evidence or enough of it. For example, if you know that everybody in a pub gossips and slanders and you believe a bad report about somebody that you have heard there this is blind belief for it depends on inadequate evidence for you know and believe that the testimony is unreliable. It is because you know what the customers are like that you have to be tricking yourself into thinking that you do believe what they are saying. This kind of belief is called blind belief because it is blind to the reality.
 
Faith is trust and belief combined.  Blind faith is believing something no matter how good the evidence that it is wrong is.  You reason away the evidence or ignore it.  Simple faith is hearing a story - even a mad one - and believing it just because you hear of it.

 

Blind faith is trying to force yourself to believe in something. You cannot just decide to make yourself believe in something for it will be doomed to failure (page 14, What Do Existentialists Believe?).
 
It is not belief to take something as true without evidence or sufficient evidence – that is assuming. Assuming is just a pretend belief.
 
Some may object that if blind faith is not faith then we believe in nothing but won’t admit it because blind faith is the root of all our beliefs.
 
They say we believe we are not dreaming.
 
They say we believe in reason though it could be an illusion.
 
They say we believe them without evidence.
 
But what we sense tells us what is real so there is evidence and evidence is the indicator of what is likely to your mind and not necessarily likely in itself or the objective sense. Do not fail to notice that the evidence that we are all depending on blind faith is very far-fetched. It is easier to do without blind belief and just have sensible beliefs. It is absurd to say I blindly believe I am not dreaming now for even when I am dreaming I reasonably believe that I am not unless I have a lucid dream in which I realise I am dreaming. What my senses sense even in a dream is real in the sense that I sense something that is real to me.
 
And we believe in reason for it is its own undeniable testimony and not because reason says reason is true.
 
Reasonable belief can be wrong so if I believe something reasonably and it is wrong then it does not follow that I was into blind or irrational faith. Few people are taught these truths and few experience them so the sceptics are in the majority. You can’t have beliefs without them.
 
If I sense blue I sense blue and even if what I sense is an illusion I have still sensed blue so there is a sense that everything I sense is real and that is why if what I sense behaves like a person then it probably is a person even if the person is just an illusion. I don’t know if the outside world is real but from the fact that I always experience truth it is probably real.
 
How can I say I always experience truth? I can experience that there is no car on the road I am walking on and be wrong and end up in a hit-and-run incident. What I sense is always the truth in content but I am just missing something I always sense truth but when I go wrong it is because I have sensed some of the truth. When I believe something that is obviously untrue and should be even to me it is because my perception of truth has changed and I see truth differently from what it really is. It is still truth to me.
 
It is true that in mathematics the basic mathematical operations are self-evident but the others are not for they are more complicated calculations. But although I cannot prove them I know that they are probably right for they seem to be and I arrive at them by using the self-evident basic calculations. I see no reason why nature would fool me in that matter.
 
Most people do not realise that they have to see that reason and experience are or are probably right and are always right in the subjective sense though not necessarily in the objective in order to believe. Millions of clergy don’t either. Many people don’t even think about it. Truths are only self-evident when you let yourself see them as such.
 
Some say that blind faith is necessary to start you off on the way of knowledge and then as you use it, it sometimes verifies itself. For example, you blindly believe that cats are warm and when you touch them you find out that they really are. But you could just guess and find the guess verified. Blind faith is unreasonable for it goes too far.
 
REAL AND UNREAL BELIEF

Belief is thinking that something is likely to be true. It is not knowing that it is true. And it is not merely feeling that it is true.
 
There is no belief without evidence because you cannot take something to be probably true without evidence or enough of it. The kind of belief that depends on no evidence is called blind belief because it is blind to the reality. It is allowing what you want to believe blind you to what you should believe.
 
We all see evidence for things that we don't believe. Just because you have evidence for your belief doesn't mean that it is a belief. It is true that a belief needs evidence to exist but it is not true that everything based on evidence is necessarily a belief. It could still be an assumption. Many people mistake their assumptions for beliefs. Some even mistake their beliefs for assumptions. Assumptions are not worthy of respect. People assume beliefs are worthy of respect. But surely until somebody gives us evidence for a belief they claim to have we are entitled to assume the belief is an assumption or probably one? Surely they can't expect respect for their belief? Evidence is such a problem in religion that it is clear that all, if not nearly all, religious beliefs should be assumed to be assumptions.
 
It is not belief to take something as true without evidence or sufficient evidence – that is assuming. Assuming is just a pretend belief. You can believe in something on little evidence when you are sure the evidence is good and that there is no contradiction anywhere. Then you need to find the evidence against it unsatisfactory. The satisfactoriness or unsatisfactoriness of the evidence depends on how serious the consequences of the belief will be or should be or are meant to be. For example, you need an awful lot of evidence to believe in a religion that orders you to die for it like Catholicism does.
 
Insufficient evidence will be when there is more evidence against the idea, when the evidence you use is incoherent, and when it is irrelevant (you don’t prove the existence of bread from the existence of wheat) and when there is not enough evidence to justify the sacrifice the belief requires. Examples of religion using insufficient evidence include its request for us to do everything for the love of a God for whom there is little evidence and tons of evidence against. It's request for us to refrain from homosexuality or heresy because Jesus Christ says so is another instance. I could go on forever. Another example of insufficient evidence is taking the evidence of an unreliable source as true.
 
You have to be sure that there is no other interpretation of the evidence before you can accept it. If you just assume that design in the universe proves God and don’t try to see if there is another explanation then it is not the evidence that causes your belief in God but your laziness and the result is fake faith. If you think the evidence backs God you still have to keep checking it. If you don’t you are manipulating your perception of the evidence and that is not belief.
 
Anybody who has got blind faith has got to be aware of it or should be. If they are not aware they are still to blame.
 
Try believing that you will go to Hell forever tomorrow if you go out the door now. You will find that you are aware that this is not likely most of the time. The more you try to believe it the more you are reminded that you do not believe it. At some level you know it is blind and faked faith and nobody should feel sorry for people with blind faith. The person who has blind faith is just a hypocrite and a liar. The person who practices self-deception intends to deceive themselves so they must know deep down what they are at.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH BLIND FAITH?

Faith is not knowing that something is true but holding that it probably is true. Faith is not complete certainty.
 
Religion urges people to believe in what there is no evidence for. It won’t admit it but it does. Many religions mean something like Gnosis by faith. That is, instead of saying something like God probably exists you have to say that God absolutely certainly exists or that you know he exists though you do not. The Gnostics said they knew things magically or miraculously which was how they got round the problem of how you can know that you don’t know. This turns faith into a lie you tell yourself and others that you are sure of what you can’t be sure of. This is bad with faith and worse with blind faith. Anybody who does such a thing is doing harm.
 
They say that blind beliefs are right or should be believed. But if they ought to have beliefs that have no foundation then everybody else should do the same and have different ones if they want. Such faith is sheer arrogance and bigotry. For one blind-believer to say to another, “I command you in the name of God and on the authority of my God to believe what I believe,” is to be a snob.
 
If I may blindly believe in a doctrine that creates suffering that would not be without it then I have to encourage others to invent and believe whatever evil doctrines they wish because I am doing it myself. If I do not then I am a bigot.
 
Blind faith is evil in itself so it is ridiculous to say that one can have a good blind faith in a good God or whatever.
 
The love blind faith endorses is fake love and not the real thing.
 
It is ungodly for it puts guesses before reality and even God.
 
It is a lie for it puts guesses before truth. And yet by claiming to be correct it is taking a stance against lying. That is hypocritical.
 
It is murderous like when it commands women to prefer death to using artificial contraception or when it commands people to die to speak its message. The Roman Catholic Church officially teaches that you should die rather than deny her or seriously defy her. If you have a choice between spitting on the bread it says is the body of Christ and getting tortured to death she tells you that you have to pick the latter. The Bible supports the preference of death to apostasy or letting God down. It commands martyrdom.
 
If you believe something then you have to act in accordance with it or at least believe that you ought to. It will affect the way you live your life. To make a person think that something not sinful is sinful is unjust. When you propagate blind faith you are propagating harm. There is no such thing as a harmless blind belief. Error harms truth and without truth we would not be so it insults love and peace which are the daughters of truth.
 
Blind faith is purely a matter of the will and not of reason. If it is good it follows that the person who will not harbour it is bad and sinful.
 
Those who advocate blind faith in religion teach that it is a sin to have a doubt in relation anything that blind faith teaches. To teach that it is a sin, is to slander the doubter. If nobody doubted what they were told then the world would never progress. A man who doubts what a strange woman tells him is not on the level of a man who doubts what the trustworthy wife he has tells him. To doubt the stranger's word is a duty or a right.
 
The Christian religion says that faith in it is a gift from God. God enables you to believe. But if you have free will then he does not need to. And if you cannot believe unless he does something to you then he has prevented you from believing before that. He has forced you not to believe. He has forced you to be wrong and accordingly cannot be trusted.
 
Now how would God make a person who is free believe? If he shoves the will then he is forcing you to be able to choose whether or not you will believe. But that means that you were not free to choose to believe before that.
 
The notion of faith as a gift from God implies that we need God to give us faith. Christianity says faith needs to be a gift to be any good. Without God giving it, it means nothing.
 
So we don't have the free will to believe properly. God has to do the work for us and put the belief in us like it was a vitamin injection to the soul. Christianity says that faith makes us more free. We must have had partial free will before. Or perhaps we could have believed but evilly didn’t want to.
 
God should be limiting the free will of men like Hitler instead of trying to stop people from having the truth and its benefits. If belief was resisted then that idea can only fuel inter-religious strife. For example, the Catholics will hate the Protestants if they think the Protestants knowingly oppose Catholic truth for then it would follow that the Catholics are being shot in Northern Ireland because of a system of religion that is not even sincere and loves trouble. And vice versa. If belief was resisted though we thought we wanted it then clearly God must have in some way forced it on us without us noticing. The idea of force is the Protestant doctrine that God pulls human strings to make people get saved by choosing to be with God forever thanks to the death of Christ paying for their sins and making them clean.
 
The doctrine that we need faith as a gift from God simply proves there is no God for it implies that human free will cannot be blamed for the evils in the world. The blame must be squarely placed at the feet of God.
 
The devotees of irrational and blind faith should be told about how sick it is for they have a right to know and it may be ourselves that may have to suffer over their bigotry or at least at the hands of those they pollute with their bad example.
 
BELIEF AND FREE AGENCY

Religion says it is a sin for a believer to disbelieve or doubt what it teaches.
 
It contends that we freely choose what to believe.
 
Your belief is caused by your reason. Therefore you cannot choose to believe something unless you already believe it. You cannot help what you think, because if you could then you would be able to believe what you thought is unlikely. You can choose to think if you have free will but you do not choose what you think. It just comes whether you want to think it or not.
 
The idea that you can choose implies that faith is not rational but is a gift from God. Yet religion wants to say that it is based on reason and then it wants to say it is not.
 
McGrath observed that understanding is not an act for it makes no sense to say something like, “I was understanding algebra when the dinner burned”. He also observed that psychologically, you cannot decide to understand anything. You just look at the issues and a conclusion and insight happen automatically. The understanding and insight are not acts for you have to decide to act to act. But you don't decide to understand or gain insight - you just do.
 
I do not agree with his view that understanding is not an act when it still exists even when you are thinking of something different or are asleep (page 68-69). The understanding is in the memory banks and not in the consciousness. It is not present when you are not conscious of it and the understanding is called up again to your consciousness when necessary. But it is not re-understood. It is the same understanding all over again. Faith or belief is caused by understanding. Understanding forces it to happen. Faith is understanding. When I believe X and Y and understand how they are related then I get a new belief, Z, that ineluctably is forced on me by X and Y. This belief is understanding the relation.
 
CONCLUSION

Belief, agreeing with what seems likely, is based on reason as you see reason. Reason is the method by which you sift the evidence. Real belief does not stop investigating for it is not afraid of the truth. The only genuine and rational belief there is, is belief that does its best to see the evidence and what it says and is always open to correction. Most of what passes for faith and belief around, is not that at all.

BOOKS CONSULTED

 
A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1985
A Common Faith, John Dewey, Yale University Press, Connecticut, 1968
A Primer of Necessary Belief, Dawson Jackson ,Victor Gollancz Ltd, London, 1957
Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, M H Gill and Son Ltd, Dublin, 1954
Faith and Ambiguity, Stewart R Sutherland, SCM Press, London, 1984
God and Philosophy, Antony Flew, Hutchinson, London, 1966
In Defence of the Faith, Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene Oregon, 1996  
On Being a Christian, Hans Kung, Collins/Fount Paperbacks, Glasgow, 1978
Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Simon Blackburn, Oxford University Press, 1996
Reason and Belief, Bland Blanschard, London, George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1974
Reason and Religion, Anthony Kenny, Basil Blackwell Ltd, Oxford, 1987
The Balance of Truth, EI Watkin, Hollis & Carter, London, 1943
The Case Against Christ, John Young, Falcon Books, London, 1971
The Faith of a Subaltern, Alec de Candole, Cambridge University Press, 1919
The Fundamental Questions of Philosophy, A.C. Ewing, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1985
The Future of Belief Debate, Ed Gregory Baum, Herder and Herder, New York, 1967
The Student’s Catholic Doctrine, Rev Charles Hart BA, Burns & Oates, London, 1961
Unblind Faith, Michael J Langford, SCM, London, 1982
What Do Existentialists Believe? Richard Appignanesi, Granta Books, London, 2006
What is Christianity? Very Rev W Moran DD, Catholic Truth Society of Ireland, Dublin, 1940
What is Faith? Anthony Kenny, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1992

THE WEB

THE PROBLEMS WITH BELIEFS www.nobeliefs.com/beliefs.htm