[quote author=“snapshot1”][quote author=“andonstop”][quote author=“snapshot1”]But again, you’re calling it a statement of faith. It’s not faith. It’s a statement of subjective fact. If I say something is good, I’m not making a statement about God—like you do when you say something is either good or bad—, I’m making a statement about my preference. I’m not declaring something as being inherently good or bad. It’s not a statement of faith whatsoever. It’s a fact that you can accept if you trust my own judgment’s judgment (my ability to assess myself correctly).
My earnest friend, it is no more reasonable for you to deny you have faith than for traditional religionists to deny the evolutionary nature of life.
Faith exists whether anyone is willing to accept it or not, just as surely as the earth was round even before anyone thought to question that it was flat. Faith comes out of the necessity created by the condition of living in a world in which all things are not knowable. Whether one calls it “subjective interpretation”, “subjective fact” or “faith” does not change what it is.
Atheists are often accused of having faith in something. The only faith an atheist would ever need would be faith that this our existence isn’t an illusion, that our experience right now is more real than anything we could possibly imagine, so that we live long enough to reason ourselves out of such irrationality. We don’t need anything more than reason to conclude that believing this reality is an illusion and not to be trusted is disadvantageous. Number one, we don’t know this reality is an illusion. That hasn’t been concluded. Number two, I don’t know what non-existence feels like, but I do know that happiness feels better than depression, and being optimistic and feeling good about our ability to assess our own existence is enough to keep anyone out of that hole in the ground: faith. With this reasoning, the last of our faith flies out the window.
We realize that, illusion or not, we have been placed in a puzzle that is rational and apparently solvable. Nobody, it seems, is going to figure it all out before they die. Every generation contributes to solving the puzzle. The people who don’t contribute are the people who think understanding this reality is unimportant; that science is a waste of time or disadvantageous and convoluted; that are scientists aren’t smart enough to conclude anything, anytime.
Scientists know enough about stuff to make cool things happen and in doing so express their ability ability to fairly assess reality. But it doesn’t matter to the faithful that science is a methodology that self-corrects toward consistency with the reality in which they exist. They don’t want to believe or trust anyone but their own faith and people who, by no fault of their own, happen to agree with them.
As Sam Harris said,
If the history of science tells us anything, it tells us that we shouldn’t rush to draw metaphysical conclusions from our failures of intuition. We now know a fair amount about how bad our intuitions can be—with respect to causality, probability, logical dependence, and a wide range of other parameters that determine our commonsense (and erroneous) view of the world..
He’s saying that coming up with conclusions about anything outside of our existence is futile since, first of all, you don’t have information streaming in from any other reliable or rational existence but the one you’re standing in (notice how God always says something a little differently to everyone else), and secondly, we can reliably predict our intuitions to be wrong when we neglect the rational aspects of nature. We do it all the time. We can’t possibly assume that intuiting anything strongly enough to be believable would be wise (or moral, says Sam-and me) when positing the creator of all existence. As I said before, it’s divisive, and it breaks down group moral; it’s an isolationist’s perspective. If you want to disassociate yourself from Reality and the rest of us, that’s going to require a lot of faith, and I know religious people are full of it (faith).
At its lowest level, faith is simply reactionary to the necessity of environmental conditions. Perceived reasons for this low level of faith can be fear, self-centeredness, and/or dogged unwillingness to think too far outside the box of comfortable, knowable materialism.
At its highest levels, faith includes the majesty and balance of love, trust, loyalty, courage, grace, kindness, compassion, tolerance, and wisdom—all those values which are outside the realm of science; all those traits which are outside the bounds of measurability; all those intangibles which winning coaches understand.
To value more highly the knowable laws of science than the creator of those laws is comparable to valuing the work of a master artisan over the artisan. Art is only the evidence of its creator, it is foolish to assume that art created itself.
I think something faith should also teach modesty in what we are able to intuit. Science has brought nothing but modesty to its practice. Scientists tend not to assume things they can’t explain unless it’s advantageous in helping to prove themselves right or wrong.
This is why I can’t stand it when the faithful tell me I, too, have faith. They don’t understand that not everyone thinks like they do. They think that everyone else has as tough a time coping with reality as they do, and atheists, too, need to come up with similar psychological defense mechanism (faith), even if they don’t use it to believe in God.
Also, you think that those “higher” levels of human experience require faith? I beg to differ. We don’t need to believe anything on insufficient evidence to experience a wide spectrum of human emotion. Though, one could certainly experience a wide range of emotions without ever rationally experiencing the natural causes of those emotions by using faith. But I think if you’re saying that everyone needs faith in order to experience these emotions, I can only say that’s a very arrogant stance to take.
Atheists don’t need or want faith. And just because we might have it does not mean we don’t want to get rid of it. We try to rid ourselves of it while religious people cling to it and try to build upon it. The consequences are the atheists are more in tuned with this reality, and the faithful or more in tune with whatever reality their faith is conjuring up in their heads.
If atheists have any faith at all, it’s that we believe we shouldn’t be relying on anything other than Reality to cope with fact that we exist. We all cope with this fact in different ways. (If you don’t even believe that you exist, there’s no point in arguing). Atheists turn to each other, who attempt to use the rationality of the given environment to discover their predicament. The faithful, on the other hand, like to gather and groups and hope beyond hope that this isn’t all there is. It just can’t be. It doesn’t make any sense. Why are we here? What is life?! GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!
“The argumentative defense of any proposition is inversely proportional to the truth contained.” In other fields, some might consider yours a phobic reaction.
I can only reaffirm what I’ve said earlier: Faith is like sex. It exists in all of us. It has always been with us. It will always be with us. To some it is a casual social thing; to some it is a means to an end; to others it is a completing part of a deeply committed relationship. Some choose not to participate. As one matures, one’s approach to sex generally matures as well, becoming more spiritual and less an unthinking animal reaction. The question to me is whether it enriches life to reject faith or sex. I think not.