Inerrant Rampancy

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Faith vs. Proof

I’m not sure if this is actually a requirement for christianity, but it seems to make sense that it requires adherence to faith, or rather, Faith with a capital eff. That sort of reason defying knowledge that can only be achieved by letting go of proof and empiricism and letting god be real to you in the same way that santa is real to small children and retarded adults.

Christians will be quick to point out that this isn’t at all different from certain aspects of science, or the belief in science itself, which must require faith since science is not proved but is, rather, a system of proving other things. This, however, makes use of what I believe to be an incorrect use of the phrase “to believe in”.

To state “I believe in” something, is normally considered to imply a belief that that something exists, but this is neither necessary nor explicit. The statement does not imply that exclusively and it does not imply it automatically. The phrase “I believe in non-violence” does not necessarily imply that non-violence exists (as it may be an idealogical hope that we will one day stop continually brutalizing each other) and even if it does imply that it does not imply it exclusively, since we take that statement to mean the person making it supports non-violence in some way.

What we should be saying, if we want to imply existence, is “I believe that such-and-such exists”. Should we want to imply more we can follow that up, but in order to imply existence we have to state it in those terms. In the above case of non-violence, we probably wouldn’t do that since it’s fairly easy to believe that non-violence exists without having to state it or prove it. Just think of violence and then think of the absence of it. So what we would say in that case is, “I believe non-violence….something something”. Perhaps we believe it stops wars, or improves society or saves kittens or whatever. The point is you have to state what you believe in this way to avoid ambiguity.

So, is belief in science the same as belief in god? No, not in the way we have reordered those statements. The belief in science and god is now replaced with the belief that science and god exist. Science exists in a very provable way. It has a concrete definition and we can tell when we are utilizing it. We cannot taste it, or touch it, or hear it or anything tangible, since it is a system and not a physical thing, but we can universally use it. There is no quibbling over what science is; it has a method and that method is the same no matter where it is practiced. It is definable and its definition is the same no matter where you are.

God, unlike science, is not a system, but rather a thing, with a constantly changing definition that is not even agreed upon by a majority, let alone universally. If considered as a system, it is not practiced uniformly, and again is not defined consistently.

So how do people justify their belief in god? Through Faith, which is the opposite of science and empiricism and reason in that it is a belief in some sort of statement or another which is not founded on, or supported by, any evidence. Faith compels a belief in god because god is not provable, or testable, or visible, or able to be tasted or smelled. God is outside of reason and empiricism and science and so requires Faith.

Or so it seems.

If it were the case that Faith were all that was required to know god and accept him and blah blah blah, then wouldn’t Faith be all that the believer would ever need? The afterlife, as far as christianity is concerned, involves the believer finally knowing god, being a part of him, assimilated into his being and residing in heaven with all the other believers. Possibly they are all a part of each other as well, though this is not generally seen as correct (I guess a heaven consisting of a giant blob of humanity is kind of unappealing). In any case, there is an eventual proof of god’s existence, through the believer’s meeting with and merging with him. But doesn’t this in some way imply that god has provability? In saying that god partakes of some sort of experience, even one that is decidedly not of this realm, don’t we imply that he must then be empirically testable? The test would go something like this, “If, after I die, I become one with god and are merged with him in the kingdom of heaven and play a harp all day or whatever, then god must exist.” Certainly it is not terribly useful for the christian to adhere to this sort of god-science, since in waiting until after death to test the existence of god he or she would probably forfeit their acceptance into heaven. Still, it is a way to test the existence of god and this makes god’s existence testable.

Miracles further compound this problem by implying that god’s existence is at least partly dependent on strange happenings here on Earth. In saying that miracles prove god’s existence you imply that without miracles god is at least less-proved, if not completely un-proved (not too many christians would base god’s existence entirely on miracles though). In that case you have again opened up god to scientific inquiry and made Faith a non-factor.

The only way Faith comes back into play is if someone were to say, “Not only do I not need evidence of god’s existence to believe in him, I also believe in him in the presence of evidence against his existence.” This is Faith at it’s most potent, countering and overpowering contrary evidence of god’s existence and stating that he exists even if he is proved not to. This, I believe, is the only true Faith that is out there, as even the most strict kind of christianity is prefaced on an eventual proving of god’s existence and thus an opening of his existence to provability.

This makes people who profess Faith to be, in my eyes, the most dangerous kind of people. They do not believe in the necessity of proof, and you would be hard pressed to get them to admit with any sort of conviction that this applies only to their belief in god. In fact, their logic cannot be constrained only to god, since it effects the nature of their belief in the existence of anything! If one is no longer required to prove what one believes, and if one can reasonably believe things that are proved to be false, then we have no reason to believe or not believe anything, and that horrible conclusion that is normally reserved for atheists is achieved: the elimination of anything absolute, moral or otherwise.

Those professing Faith resign themselves (and, through their perceived rightness about it all, the rest of us) to a life of nothingness, for nothing can be proved or disproved. Nothing exists or does not exist, we are stuck in a purgatory of relativism, or at least we would be if either of those things existed; we can’t prove that they do and proof that they do not is no longer binding.

In the end, this kind of thinking, if taken seriously, would unravel us. Again, I say that those with Faith are the most dangerous kind of people, and should be kept under a close watch. Certainly they should be forced to explain their kind of faith, to determine if it is indeed Faith, and, if it is, they should be advised of their nihilistic consequences before they Faith themselves into an oblivion not even god can save them from.

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December 4, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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