Tag Archives: faith

Peter Boghossian’s Thought Challenge

Faith is not the same as hope, trust, or confidence. Faith is a kind of knowledge claim predicated on a particular brand of epistemology: faith-based epistemology. Peter Boghossian has offered a challenge for anyone who thinks faith is synonymous with hope:

In my May 6, 2012 public lecture for the Humanists of Greater Portland, I further underscored the difference between faith and hope by issuing the following thought challenge:

Give me a sentence where one must use the word ‘faith,’ and cannot replace that with ‘hope’, yet at the same time isn’t an example of pretending to know something one doesn’t know.

To date, nobody has answered the thought challenge. I don’t think it can be answered because faith and hope are not synonyms.

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Quote of the Day – Atheism as a Religion

“If believers think atheism is a religion, then they need to provide a definition of religion that applies both to supernaturalism and its denial. Any definition of religion that includes atheism will either deny the inherent supernaturalism of religion or end up describing religion as a social grouping of some kind.”

~John Loftus, The Outsider Test of Faith

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Jerry Coyne on the imcompatibility of faith and science

And this leads to the biggest problem with religious “truth”: There’s no way of knowing whether it’s true. I’ve never met a Christian, for instance, who has been able to tell me what observations about the universe would make him abandon his beliefs in God and Jesus. (I would have thought that the Holocaust could do it, but apparently not.) There is no horror, no amount of evil in the world, that a true believer can’t rationalize as consistent with a loving God. It’s the ultimate way of fooling yourself. But how can you be sure you’re right if you can’t tell whether you’re wrong?

Why does this matter? Because pretending that faith and science are equally valid ways of finding truth not only weakens our concept of truth, it also gives religion an undeserved authority that does the world no good. For it is faith’s certainty that it has a grasp on truth, combined with its inability to actually find it, that produces things such as the oppression of women and gays, opposition to stem cell research and euthanasia, attacks on science, denial of contraception for birth control and AIDS prevention, sexual repression, and of course all those wars, suicide bombings and religious persecutions.

Read the rest here.

ht: Pharyngula

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The Fallacies of Faith

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A Thorough Destruction of Faith-based Science

Sam Harris has a beyond excellent article out now entitled The strange case of Francis Collins” in which he takes the time to thoroughly dismantle some of the absurdity espoused by Francis Collins, the newly appointed head of the NIH. Collins is famous for arguing in his book The Language of God that 21st century science and Christianity can be harmonious bedfellows. The article is too long to comment on in more detail, but there are many choice passages throughout and reading it delivers a satisfying sensation akin to shooting fish in a barrel. It is a must read for those partial to the principles of freethought. Enjoy!

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Atheism and Faith, part II

In my last post I sketched out an existential perspective in which an atheist could take spiritual comfort in, without losing his anti-supernaturalistic principles. This vision of man, as embodied and existentially engaged in the environment, is one which has resonated with many modern and contemporary philosophers, philosophers who struck out to enrich the human vocabulary in such a way as to re-orient the human mind towards his or her own experience. It is the anti-optimistic and anti-pessimistic spirit to these writings which paints the human experience in richer colors, infusing their language with a curious and highly relevant mix of metaphorical expressions of that which matters to us: our own finitude, anxiety, and the absence or presence of God.

As an atheist and has a naturalist, I do not feel the “sensus divinitas” of Calvin and the reform epistemologists. To feel otherwise, would be to beg the question against naturalism and the naturalistic interpretation of divine phenomenology. I say this because such a subjective argumentation for the presence of God in man’s heart is the only escape from the rationalistic perspective, a perspective which rules out the proposition “God exists” as meaningless. What is left is a shell of experience, filled with meaning for those surrounded by Christian imagery and symbolization, but empty for those of us who reject the divinity surrounding such religiosity. For us, it is impossible to have faith in the propositions of God’s existence, for our rationality compels us to reject metaphysical speculation in the same way that we reject Zeus, Ra, and the Invisible Pink Unicorn. We see Christian belief in terms of psychology and irrationality, despite the attempts of Christian theologians to present their system of beliefs in terms of “rational epistemic rights” and other philosophical cop-outs. For atheists, it isn’t the rational coherence of a system which compels us to believe in it, it is the truth which drives our search for knowledge and understanding.

Some would say this is a faith in science and a faith in the finite, yet hungry, man as man. But this is not my faith. My faith cannot be described in terms of a single propositional object, such as “science.” No, this will not do at all, for my faith is an ultimate concern with my own being, my life as lived through a physical body in a physical environment. I am nothing but the motion of matter and yet I am more than this, because I have an experience, an experience which is rich phenomenologically. Through this experience I have understoodd the essential importance of existence, as a human, as a philosopher, an atheist, a friend, and a lover. I live my life with a dynamic faith which places my ultimate concern in the hands of the present moment, a moment which jumps through time and space, compelling me forward towards my death.

Such a perspective might sound morbid for the Christian who has visions of heaven, but my bliss will be in the silence of non-being, satisfied with a life well lived. This faith of mine is rooted in physicality, in the reality of my own being, situated and embodied. It doesn’t require knowledge, it only requires existence, which is the essence of man.

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