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Goodbye Jesus

Faith is irrational


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Faith is irrational. What does this mean? First we must understand what the word "faith" means, and then understand what it means for something to be "rational".


What is faith? If I put an egg in the microwave, having never done it before, I might believe that it will remain on the plate. This belief is based on induction from previous observations involving other objects in the microwave, or perhaps eggs cooked by other means. If I see it explode instead, I no longer believe it will remain on the plate. None of this involves faith. Both conclusions were based on reason from the perspective of my existing knowledge at the time. Both beliefs were rational.


Now suppose I am not allowed to see the result of the egg experiment, nor to ever witness anyone who has. Knowing there is no longer a way to falsify the supposition that eggs remain on the plate in the microwave, I might be inclined to believe that they do based on my prior knowledge of other cooking methods, but such belief is no longer rational since there is no conceivable way of verifying it. It has become faith. Even ifg I believe that the egg will explode, it is still faith since there is no way to falsify that belief.


Simply put, faith is belief without proper justification and without the possibility of falsification. Where proper justification exists, it is no longer faith, but simply rational belief (though possibly wrong).


So then, since faith is not arrived at through the process of reason, and is based on unfalsifiable suppositions, it is irrational.

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Very cool.


I think you should hold on to this point, and throw it liberally at apologists in the Debate forum whenever they fall back on "faith". As if unverified belief makes a justifiable argument.



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I would go further, and say that as the word "faith" is often used in language and in practice, it is not just irrational, but anti-rational. Too often belief is held by means of faith not just in the absences of evidence, but in the very teeth of contrary evidence.


That this idea of believing certain things "no matter what" is a virtue, and that lack of such faith is a fault is one of the biggest tricks of religion. They focus so much attention on whether you believe or not, whether you have faith or not, and why you do or do not believe that people are misdirected, distracted, and don't even thinkto ask themselves, "wait a minute, this whole thing called faith, believing stuff without evidence, and despite contrary evidence, why is that a good idea? Why is that not automatically considered a bad idea?"


Of course it's a bad idea. The notion that believing things without question and without evidence is a virtue, and promoting such notions is as vile and despicable as the notion that illiteracy is a virtue, or as vile as encouraging illiteracy would be.


I've said this before, and I continue to say it because I think it's something that needs to be harped on. Too many people seem to think faith is harmless at worst. It's not harmless.

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