An extract from Chapter 5 on Faith:
Note: For a complete understanding of the ‘sales pitch’ of faith one should read Professor Peter Boghossian. It was the Greek philosopher Socrates who devised a form questioning to stimulate lines of inquiry but for centuries Christianity has distorted the “Socratic Method” to manipulate belief in the Jesus Myth.
Having studied the Socratic Method in depth, Professor Boghassion has armed non-believers with the same techniques used by Christians — and he suggests ways to challenge the faithful on the very foundations of their faith. References later in this piece.
FAITH is the common denominator of all religion. Before going into some specifics of Christianity it is relevant to touch on the inexplicable term, “to have faith”. All religious believers — devotees to every one of the thousands of denominations and sects — have one basic thought in common; that based on an absolute and indisputable lack of any ‘evidence’ they have an unaccountable ‘faith’ that their god actually exists.
Further still, there is the unshakable belief that ‘their god’ is without question the ‘One True God’. They are ‘atheist’ to all other faiths and religious doctrines. It remains fascinating that every believer subscribes to this fundamental rejection of all other gods but they are unable to grasp the simple fact that ‘atheists’ merely reject just one more god than themselves.
FAITH: what does is actually mean? Essentially, faith stands as an all-encompassing justification for belief in a paranormal deity. A common term used by the devout is simply, “all one needs is to have ‘faith’ in God — no evidence is necessary.“ This is one of the greatest misconceptions — and deceptions — in the history of humankind.
The first and quite obvious point is that it exposes all those of ‘faith’ to a charge of hypocrisy. Christians demand detailed ‘evidence‘ of human evolution, of radiometric dating, and the fossil record — which is duly given. But on the vexed question of ‘faith’ in an imaginary supernatural god they state that ‘no evidence’ is required. So perhaps we should look more closely at how this mysterious word faith is applied so deceptively.
Christians should be asked, directly, to clearly define their meaning of faith — what is their own definition of the actual word ‘faith’. It may be the quote from Hebrews 11:1 which states, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” But there are two problems here. The earliest texts define substance to mean ‘confidence, or trust’ — meaning one ‘trusts’ there is a God. By any yardstick it is a very shallow concept.
The second stanza of Hebrew 11:1 poses an even greater dilemma and the word evidence is the real stumbling block. The word faith is now being used as proof that God exists — “faith is the ‘evidence’ of things unseen.“ Suddenly the word faith has been promoted as evidence for God? It’s the religious equivalent of the sleight-of-hand shell game, or the 3-card trick.
In one short verse the meaning of faith switches dramatically — it moves from having confidence in one’s belief to now being the actual proof of the proposition; that God exists. It is a deceptive play on words — linguistic trickery that means absolutely nothing.
In this evidence-based 21st century, humanity needs reliable mechanisms to determine the ‘truth’ of anything, as best we can. This is what the Scientific Method provides — a system that uses logic and reason and filters out fraud and self-deception. The Christian interpretation of any truth fails this test completely. Truth can never be verified simply by the number of people who believe it, how long it has been held to be true, or the level of confidence Christians may have for their beliefs.
For centuries, Christians had absolute faith that the Earth was at the centre of the universe, long after it was proved not to be true. Mere confidence in a Sun-centred universe could not usurp clear scientific evidence, as Copernicus and Galileo ably demonstrated.
What this illustrates, with crystal clarity, is that the confidence level of one’s belief is completely irrelevant. It is merely asserting, “God exists because I have faith.“ But we have already seen that faith is nothing more than having confidence or hope — and that does not equate of evidence in any sensible meaning of the word. To then say, “but my faith is real”, is simply pretending to be rational about one’s belief. Faith, as a descriptor, becomes completely pointless; it is irrelevant.
Having faith in a supernatural god is no different from some pretending to know that the figure ‘4’ is the colour blue. No one can prove that 4 is not blue but there’s absolutely no evidence to validate such a belief — just like God. Faith is pretending to know what you don’t know — and believing it anyway!
There’s an excellent book by Professor Peter Boghossian who has studied the Socratic Method, by which Christians have made an art form of using weasel words and slippery language to con children into believing, “Jesus loves you, just have faith”. Once embedded in a child’s brain it can take decades of critical thought to remove.
The book is deliberately and provocatively titled ‘A Manual for Creating Atheists’ but it’s more about the techniques used by predatory Christians, and how to employ those same techniques to expose the fraudulent claims of faith in various supernatural gods.
In the final analysis, if someone believes in God, they have the sole responsibly to provide the evidence; it is wholly dishonest to attempt shifting this burden of proof. The fatal flaw of most Christians today is that they do actually strive to apply ‘reason and critical thinking’ to many aspects of their lives — they don’t apply blind faith to anything other than the supernatural.
What they fail to address is that their faith-based belief in a deity can — in reality — be used to justify anything. But they resist that temptation. So to be intellectually honest — rather than in ethical denial — Christians need to confront this dichotomy and recognise the hypocrisy of every faith-based belief.
One cannot suspend rational thought on one solitary belief that has no basis in fact. Mark Twain summed it up succinctly, and with a touch of humour, when he said, “faith is believing what you know ain’t so.“ But David Hume was more cutting; “The wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.“
There is an interesting in-depth video by Matt Dillahunty, “Appeals to Faith“,8 that challenges the duplicity of ‘faith’ masquerading as fact. It’s an interesting 24-minute summation of faith.
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