Monday, May 21, 2012

The ignorance of faith

"It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge."
"I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few." Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

After having read Mein Kampf for the first time in its entirety a few years ago I had come to the conclusion that Hitler had a very good understanding of religion. In the above two quotes it is even more evident that my theory is correct. He was known for manipulating the masses and he used many methods to do so. Religion was one tool of propaganda that he used to incite his people towards hatred of the Jews.

The first quote makes a very strong and powerful statement regarding religious belief that is based on faith. The bible defines faith in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1 as: 'Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.' (New International Version 1984) I used this version for this post because it states what I want to say so clearly. It states that part of faith is having certainty of what you cannot see. It is for this very reason that atheists have such a hard time reaching theists, because faith does not require evidence. Faith is entirely of a subjective nature and it is based on your convincing yourself that what you believe is true.

This reminds me of the fundamentalists saying: "God said it, I believe it, that settles it!" You can't expect to reason with someone who is locked in this mentality. In fact, they think that they are being the reasonable ones and that we the atheists are deluded and insane. How could you not believe in God they say. Everyone "knows" there is a God, if there was no God then how do you think that you got here? How do you account for all of this beauty and obvious design in the world and the universe? Many of them are genuinely shocked that there are people out there that don't believe as they do.

I have always referred to faith as voluntary ignorance for the simple fact that most theists don't care to analyze their beliefs in the light of reason. In fact, I am convinced that their idea of reason is entirely different from our idea of reason. Christians have a knack for redefining words and common terms to fit into their worldview. William Lane Craig is a master at it and he actually believes that he has what he likes to call reasonable faith. The very phrase is an affront to reason and an insult to logic and philosophy. Reasonable faith is nothing more than an oxymoron since faith and reason like science and faith are and will forever be incompatible.

If you have to bend and twist reason to conform to your faith, then you have stopped using reason altogether. If you have to go through a lot of mental gymnastics to make your position of faith sound reasonable, then you are not using reason. In fact, you are a victim of confirmatory bias and compartmentalization.

Compartmentalization explains why someone can have faith in God and still be a good and competent scientist, lawyer, etc. Because these people have the ability to separate their faith from their professions. Confirmatory bias is what I like to call the glasses of faith, because they only let you see what you want to see. Anything contradictory to your faith is dismissed outright without even giving it a second thought.

In conclusion, don't ever engage a theists with the intent of converting them because 9 times out of 10 you will have wasted a huge amount of time and effort, and in the end wind up disappointed and frustrated at their lack of comprehension. Only a theist who for whatever reason begins to doubt their faith and honestly seeks to validate or discard it, will eventually set themselves free from the bondage of religion and the ignorance that results from it.


  1. I recent read an apropos quote by Mark Twain
    It is easier to fool someone than it is to convince them they have been fooled.

    It certainly is very tough to shake off religion, but the people who questioned me did affect me. I had that gnawing doubt that I could be wrong. One interaction with a religious person will not bring them out of the delusion, but repeated interaction I think it has an effect. At least that is my experience.

    Didn't you experience that?

    Interacting with a religious person for me must be fire and forget, leaving them with whatever. I cannot fix them, anymore than anyone else could have fixed me. Being straight and not argumentative has the largest impact.

  2. Actually ex-minister1 my experience was a little different. I was pretty much impervious to reason and logic faith was sufficient enough to sustain me. It was some personal issues I was dealing with that eventually had me questioning my faith. It started with various doctrinal issues I was not in agreement with and then that transitioned to my personal religious experiences. A book I read hit home when I was going through those internal struggles. That was the beginning of the end of faith for me. Eventually it took me six years to finally completely shake religion from my life.

  3. What was the book? Sorry to be nosey, but what kind of personal issues?
    It took me about 8 years to get over the guilt of leaving the ministry and about another 10 to believe there was no god. Baby steps. First came yahweh-jesus is not god.

    1. When I first decided to read the bible in its entirety I was very angry at the O.T. God's cruelty towards man under the Law. I found his idea of punishment cruel and nothing but senseless murder. No matter how hard I tried I could not justify killing someone because of their sexual preference, or because they disrespected their parents. I was terrified at first because I realized at the time that inadvertently I was judging God by the standards of men.

      The major issue I had was related to the practice and use of the so called gifts of the Spirit in my church. A typical service seemed crazy and disorganized. There would be people praising God at the top of their lungs and passing out all over the place. Practically everyone in the congregation spoke in tongues all at once contrary to what the bible taught in Corinthians about these matters.

      The book that put it into perspective for me and helped me to resolve some of those conflicts I had with the gifts and my faith was entitled 'Charismatic Chaos' by John F. MacArtur Jr. I was browsing for something new to read in a Christian book store and just seeing this title blew me away. After reading the back cover I purchased the book. I was so impressed that I wrote the author and asked for his recommendations regarding joining a new church congregation by the time he replied I already had stopped attending church services. Although that was a Christian book, reading that book was the beginning of the end for me.

  4. "In conclusion, don't ever engage a theists with the intent of converting them because 9 times out of 10 you will have wasted a huge amount of time and effort, and in the end wind up disappointed and frustrated at their lack of comprehension."

    Or in short:
    "To argue with a man who has renounced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead." -- Thomas Paine

    1. I love that quote! Thanks for sharing that with us Hump.