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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Fallacy of Faith

It has come to my attention that the atheist caricature account on twitter known as "RosaRubicondior" posted a blog post entitled "The Fallacy of Faith."  

After reading the blog post I felt the need to critique the straw man argument proposed there against Faith.  

The blog post runs on the premise that Faith is a fallacy.  The author then begins to erroneously label what Faith means to particular religions of the world.

My comments are in black and the original blog content is in blue:

////Faith: The thing held most dearly and proudly by the ‘faithful’; the means by which the ‘faithful’ know things without evidence; the means by which no evidence is needed to believe in a god, the nature of gods, and that the things attributed to gods were indeed performed by them.///

Sacerdotus replies:

Faith is not "knowing things without evidence."  This is a misinterpretation of Faith.  Evidence is indeed needed in order for one to have Faith.  In the Old Testament, God used miracles and acts of justice in order to show the Jews and others that He was indeed God.  

Jesus in the New Testament speaks with authority and backs up that authority by performing miracles.  Furthermore, the Apostles did miracles in Jesus' name which attracted the masses to join Christianity.  These miracles served as the evidence needed to build up Faith in a people who lacked it.  This idea that people just believe without any evidence or knowledge is unfounded and shows Rosa's ignorance. 

////Faith: The knowledge of things not seen.
For a Christian, faith is the means by which they know with complete confidence that there is a god and a heaven and the ONLY way to get to Heaven is by acceptance of God’s son, Jesus and by following his teaching as revealed in the Bible which faith tells them was unquestionably either dictated by or at least inspired by the god in Heaven.////

Sacerdotus replies:

This understanding of faith is only applicable to those who subscribe to the Sola Fide theology.  This theology which comes from reformer Martin Luther has been shown to be a misinterpretation of Scripture.  The idea cannot stand on its own.  

Rosa commits a big error by grouping all Christians under the theology of Sola Fide.  It seems that Rosa is not aware that Christianity is NOT Protestantism.  The One and Only True Christian Church of Christ is the Catholic Church headed by Pope Benedict XVI.  Other denominations are man made institutions that distort the original teachings of the Catholic Church.  Some are losing Christian identity today due to the watering down of doctrine.    

///Faith is also the means by which Christians know with absolute confidence that all the other religions are wrong.//

Sacerdotus replies:

This is another misinterpretation of what Christians believe.  The Catholic Church teaches that other religions have truth to them.  

843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332 -Catechism of the Catholic Church

856 The missionary task implies a respectful dialogue with those who do not yet accept the Gospel.359 Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better "those elements of truth and grace which are found among peoples, and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God."360 They proclaim the Good News to those who do not know it, in order to consolidate, complete, and raise up the truth and the goodness that God has distributed among men and nations, and to purify them from error and evil "for the glory of God, the confusion of the demon, and the happiness of man."361 -Catechism of the Catholic Church

Perhaps Rosa is referring to fundamentalists who feel they are the sole possessors of the Truth.  These same individuals attack the Catholic Church and other Protestant denominations.  Again, Rosa makes a big error in reasoning by grouping all Christians under the umbrella of fundamentalism.  This shows Rosa to be extremely uneducated.

///For a Moslem, faith is the means by which they know with complete confidence that there is a god and a heaven and the ONLY way to get to Heaven is by acceptance that Mohammed was the last prophet of that god and wrote a book with clear and concise instructions which must be followed without question.
Faith is also the means by which Moslems know with absolute confidence that all the other religions are wrong.
For a Jew, faith is the means by which they know with complete confidence that there is a god and a heaven and the ONLY way to get to Heaven is by following the laws and rules as revealed by God to Moses, Elijah and other prophets and which include strict dietary rules, dress codes and observance of special days when life is lived differently to normal days.

Faith is also the means by which Jews know with absolute confidence that all the other religions are wrong.
For a Sikh... but you’re probably getting bored by now and have recognised a pattern here. ///

Sacerdotus replies:

I cannot speak for Muslims, Jews or Sikhs, but do have many friends who are members of Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.  To my knowledge, their idea of faith is the same to that of the Catholic Church.  This is why the Catholic Church can hold inter-religious dialog and prayer services with them and others.

What Rosa writes here is a bare assertion fallacy.  Rosa views religion based on whatever experience Rosa had with a particular member of each specific religion.  This kind of reasoning is flawed.

///But hold on! If faith is telling different people completely contradictory things and leading them to mutually exclusive conclusions, how can it be the sure and certain way to know the truth?
Clearly it can’t, so what good is faith as a measure of physical reality, or even of mystical ‘transcendent reality’?///

Sacerdotus replies:

Rosa is confusing the different applications given to the word 'faith.'   The word can be used to describe a virtue and can describe a particular collection of beliefs.  Rosa's reasoning is flawed here in claiming that if faith tells people contradictory things, then faith is not true.  The problem here is not faith, nor the different religious faiths, but the false application of the word Rosa gives.  All believers have faith.  There is nothing contradictory about this.  However, there are differences in religious faiths, or beliefs.

////Let’s do a little mind experiment.
Imagine you’re the unfortunate victim of mistaken identity and find yourself in a court of law, charged with some offence or other of which you are completely innocent. Your defence team has brought in expert witnesses who have presented undeniable scientific evidence showing that, not only could you not have committed the crime, but you weren’t even in the same town at the time the offence was committed.

Well, that’s just about clinched it, hasn’t it? Innocence proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. Case dismissed! Phew! I expect you’re wondering why you were ever prosecuted in the first place. And you WOULD be so acquitted in a society in which guilt or innocence is decided by a rational examination of evidence and logically deduced conclusions from that examination.

Imagine now you live in a society which holds that faith is a superior form of knowledge; that faith is a sure and certain way to determine the truth. So sure and certain in fact that evidence is regarded as inferior and not to be trusted, especially when it contradicts faith; a society which is, in fact, founded on good Christian, Islamic and/or Jewish principles; principles which were used to justify the society having that form in the first place. A society founded on the faith of the faithful.

The prosecution have put up a witness who has sworn on a holy book that he has faith that you are guilty. He freely admits he has no evidence but explains that his faith is strong; he has no doubt at all that you are guilty because this has been revealed to him by faith. Since faith is superior to evidence as a measure of reality, the jury should ignore the defence evidence and go with faith. In fact, he argues, it would show a lack of faith amounting to heresy to believe mere scientific evidence in the face of strong faith. So weak is mere evidence compared to faith that he did not look for it nor at the defence evidence. He had no need. His faith is strong.  The jury should understand, as good followers of the faith, that all the so-called defence 'evidence' shows is just how misleading science is and why it should not be trusted... and anyone who doesn't see that is showing suspiciously heretical arrogance and is betraying the oath they swore when they entered the jury box...

Who would you want the jury to believe?///

Sacerdotus replies:

This "mind experiment" is not well thought out.  The presentation of witnesses and "undeniable scientific evidence" does not mean automatic acquittal of a crime.  There have been cases where the aforementioned have been presented and the defense team lost.  A good example is the OJ. Simpson case in the early 1990's.  Disgraced former football player, Oriental Jones was charged with murdering his wife and her friend with a knife.  Evidence and witness testimony was given.  The famous "glove" was even presented which fit OJ's hand, and yet he was acquitted of the charges.  

What determines any case in any courtroom is not the evidence or witnesses per se, but the faith in those witnesses and evidence.  In other words, are they trustworthy?   An attorney's job is to make a case that is believable - even if the one being defended is indeed guilty of a crime.  Hence, this is why lawyers are labeled as "professional liars."  They need to present whatever evidence they have in a way that will be credulous and exonerate their client.    

////Suddenly faith is not so reliable after all. Faith can lead to completely wrong conclusions. Faith can convict the innocent and free the guilty. Faith can lead to wrong being mistaken for right.
Faith can lead the faithful to convict those with the 'wrong' faith of being unfaithful...

That’s why the same process of faith leads Christians, Jews, Moslems, Sikhs, and all the other religions, and every different sect to conclude that they, and they alone, are right and all the others are wrong.

Faith is a trap set to catch the unwary. It was invented by religious leaders because they had no evidence. Had they had real evidence, you can be sure they would be forever trumpetting that fact and citing it at every opportunity. Children the world over would be herded in droves to see this wonderful evidence. "There's your reason to believe", the priests would shout. "You don't need 'faith'! We have the evidence!"///

Sacerdotus replies:

Again, Rosa's own "mind experiment" does not take into account that any evidence presented in a court of law must be credible.  The judge and jury must have faith that the evidence presents truth.  Both sides can use the same evidence against each other, so who is correct?  

Again, the jury must decide based on which one is more believable.  

Rosa's understanding of Faith is what is not reliable.  The definition Rosa presents is a straw man and this is why Rosa can come up with the conclusion that faith is useless and brings about all kinds of religious divisions and claims of superiority.  

Faith was not invented by any religious leader.  It is instilled in us all.  We all have faith.  Infants have faith that the one caring for him/her is benevolent.  Teens have faith that their teachers are teaching them facts.  Rosa and those who subscribe to Scientism have faith that the data presented is accurate.  

////Faith is not a virtue; faith is unquestioning obedience to dogma, and that is a sin. (Tweet this)
To believe through faith alone is to make the assumption that something MUST be true just because you believe it. The arrogance of that belief would be breathtaking if the notion of faith had not poisoned our culture to the extent that this arrogance is considered an admirable quality; that being ‘faithful’ is assumed to equate to being good.

Faith is the trick by which the unscrupulous control the credulous and gullible, and make people ashamed and guilty for having doubt and asking questions.

Faith is the means by which Jewish, Islamic, Christian and other religion’s clerics and theologians have sought to exercise control and hold back human cultural, ethical and scientific development to a level it attained in the Bronze Age, at the nomadic pastoralist stage, when the myths and superstitions were first written down.

Faith is the means by which charlatans seek to prevent us asking the questions and accepting the answers which would break their grip on society.

Faith is the mind-numbing toxin of the religion parasite, in all it's different varieties. (Tweet this)

Do not have faith in faith for that way leads to insanity.////

Sacerdotus replies:

Rosa goes on a rant here against what Rosa thinks is faith.  Had Rosa done more research, this confusion would not have taken place and Rosa would not have written this straw man laced post.  In reality, we all use faith!  Scientifically speaking, we never truly perceive things.  What we perceive are the fields around it.  These fields give off charges that our nervous system interprets as hard, soft, squishy, hot, cold, warm, etc.  Our brains "lie" to us constantly.  The way you are reading this post now or see the outside of a window is not how our eyes sees them exactly.  Our brains reconstruct light stimuli in a way that is recognizable.  

It is very easy to confuse the brain.  Our brains take things on faith.  

Rosa is obviously not well read in science otherwise this assertion that faith is useless would not have been made.  Once again Rosa has demonstrated atheism to be nothing more than sophism presented as reason.   

As the great thinker and former Atheist G.K. Chesterton wrote:  

“Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.”

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