Faith and Assumptions

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In the last post, I argued that faith-based beliefs are irrational.  To deepen this perspective, we will look at things from another angle.   Let’s compare the definitions of ’faith’ and ‘to assume’.

Faith: Belief without evidence or proof

To assume: to take as true without evidence or proof

‘Faith’ is a noun, while ‘to assume’ is a verb.  But, otherwise, these two definitions are nearly identical. There is a slight difference between believing in something, and taking it as true. Faith is more committed to an idea than an assumption needs to be.  But, faith plays the same role in the mind as assumptions do.  They enable reasoning.

Faith itself is not reasoning.  Faith is belief.  Belief is a starting point in reasoning.  Before we can question our beliefs, we must first believe.  Religious faith accepts its assumptions uncritically.  Faith is acquired and faith is passed on.  Faith is community-defined belief.  The group has a say in what the members profess.  Faith is not knowledge.  It comes without evidence or proof.  Faith does not know.  Faith merely accepts as true.

Faith can be wrong.  When there is evidence to support an idea, we can place more confidence in the idea.  Faith says, “I am true,” but without evidence.  Rationality is more skeptical.  A rational thinker realizes that faith could be wrong.  The rational person does not accept incredible claims without credible evidence.  It is rational to question faith.  It is rational to ask, “Is it true?”

Faith can be taken too far.

Delusion: A strongly held mistaken belief that cannot be swayed by evidence to the contrary

When we question faith, especially in the face of overwhelming evidence that its claims are wrong, we are behaving rationally.  When the faithful cannot change their thinking, even when their thinking can be shown to be wrong, they are delusional.  There is no problem in having faith in an idea before there is evidence to support it.  But ignoring evidence to the contrary is wrong.  Ignoring evidence to the contrary is not honest.  How strong is your faith?  Is it delusional strong?  A delusional person believes they are right when they are wrong.  And when we show where they are wrong, they still claim to be correct.

Rationality is a choice.  We have to choose to be rational, in order to become rational.  Faith happens to everyone.  We are all born into some form of faith.  We do not choose our initial beliefs.  Delusion is also not a choice. Delusion believes what it wants to believe, evidence be damned.  The delusional mind cannot help itself.

Rationality is not an easy choice.  Especially when faith can be so comforting.  It is comforting to believe that your beliefs are valid and true.  It is discomforting to realize they may not be. 

Rationality seeks to believe that which is true.  And to not believe that which is false.  Faith does not aspire to be true or correct.  Faith only claims that it is so.

7 comments on “Faith and Assumptions

  1. REDBEARDJON says:

    Jesus is the object of faith in Christianity. It’s not without evidence or proof. The existence of Jesus is the proof. And to say that religious assumptions are accepted uncritically is not true. There’s a great body of work, made by believers, that examines the claims of Christianity in a critical way. Peace.

    • Thaddeus Dombrowski says:

      How can the existence of Jesus be the proof? Where is Jesus? Show that he exists. Until you can do that you have no proof.

      • REDBEARDJON says:

        I don’t think there is much doubt that a man named Jesus walked the earth. If you will accept it, the Gospels are four different accounts of his life written by different authors. You probably won’t. There are also non-biblical sources that make reference to Jesus. I suppose the problem you would have is his claim of being the Son of God.

    • Thaddeus Dombrowski says:

      The Gospels were all written between roughly 70 to 100 years after the birth of Christ. Christ died when he was 33. It is fair to say that they were all imaginative to some degree, and not entirely accurate. It takes an act of faith to believe that they are entirely true and accurate and factual.

      Even if Christ did walk the earth, that would not prove that he rose from the dead. That too takes an act of faith.

      • REDBEARDJON says:

        I would say it is fair to assume that. However, the four accounts parallel each other well enough to put a limit on imaginativeness. Each account provides a check and balance on another.

        Faith is a part of it. Belief in an all powerful God that can raise the dead. And you can say what evidence is there of a God? I could point to creation. And you know how long that could go on and on.

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