The MU SASHA Blog

The official blog of University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics

Why I Live without Faith

faith 2

For the past three weeks, I have attended a Bible study hosted by the Baptist Student Union at the University of Missouri. Two weeks ago, we spent a good portion of the time talking about faith. The following week at the study, I asked a friend if they wanted to meet up later, and someone else said, “So you have faith that they will meet you later.” At these Bible studies I tend to stay pretty quiet because I know the Christians came to have an honest Bible study and not to argue with a non-believer.

Merriam-Webster defines faith as, “Firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” It seems reasonable that many Christians would agree on this definition considering even Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as, “The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

The only reason I believe in anything is because of the evidence that supports it. I did not have faith that my friend would meet me later. What I did have is a working knowledge of past events and experiences with my friend. I had trust, which was earned. Trusting a friend to meet you later at a specific place for a specific reason does not require faith because there is evidence to believe in your friend. If I asked someone on the street who I never met before to meet me later for no reason, and they said they would, that would require faith because there is no evidence to support the idea that I would see them again.

The whole point of critical thinking skills is to learn how to question what we know and seek the best evidence for why we believe the things we do. The whole point of faith is to believe things without requiring any evidence. Therefore, the process of critical thinking is directly in contradiction with the idea of faith. I value critical thinking skills more than faith simply because I value the idea of questioning a belief more than the idea of believing something that is not justified through evidence.

A problem with religion is that it endorses and promotes faith. Does this have to be a bad thing? Of course not. Many of the people that play the lottery have faith they will win. Eventually one person will. For that one person, I have no problem saying that their faith that they would win did them wonders. Like most things, faith can be used for good, but I think it does more harm than good at the end of the day. The amazing thing about many Christians is that they will leave faith for critical thinking on almost all aspects of their day to day lives, but when it comes to the most important question they resort to faith. Sam Harris writes:

Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.

Evidence is the only reason for belief in anything. Regardless of what is being believed is religious or not. I don’t have faith because it directly contradicts the philosophy of using evidence to justify a belief. In the words of Matt Dillahunty, “If you can find something I believe that I don’t have evidence for, I’m going to stop believing in it.”

 

Author Jeremy Locke is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s in biology. He is currently taking a year off from school and plans to attend graduate school in the field of evolutionary biology.

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About jllfh3

Jeremy Locke is a graduate of the University of Missouri where he earned a Bachelor's in biology. He graduated in May 2013 and is currently taking a year off before attending graduate school. His interests include evolutionary biology, increasing the understanding of science, and waiting for the St. Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup. Feel free to contact Jeremy at Jeremy.Locke11@gmail.com with inquiries about science, general questions, or visiting to give a presentation!

5 comments on “Why I Live without Faith

  1. rocketkirchner
    July 5, 2013

    Jeremy , actually the problem with religion is that it does not endorse faith . religion has bogus faith without real belief. you see , everybody has faith in something now dont they ? some have it in some abstract higher power in their AA meeting . some have it in their country ,. wife , self , etc.
    if you think that critical thinking is in direct conflict with faith , then how do explain the greatest thinkers and artists in western civilization being christians ? look at some : Augustine , Aqauinas , Pascal , Bach , Tolstoy , Weil , Bonhoffer , Francis Collins , Isaac Newton ,Jrr Tolkein, etc.. it goes on and and on and on and on . it is a long and impressive list. it seems to me that it is the second rate thinkers that are the Atheists. those at the top of their game in their perspective fields are all believers. they cannot be dimissed so lightly .

    those who ask for evidence really dont want evidence . they just say they do . why ? becuase there is concrete evidence. CHANGED LIVES . those of us who have pursued Christ as the object of faith over the decades have real changed lives. And as my favorite Atheist Mark Twain said ”there is nothing worse than a man who sets a good example ”. and i concur and would like to add –there is nothing more reasonable than a changed life that makes visible the things that are not seen with the naked eye .

    • rocketkirchner
      July 5, 2013

      one more thing — if you are gonna use a photo and qoute from christopher hitchens , and one from sam harris , it is good to know the the ENTIRE body of their work and what they have done up to the minute.

      in Hitche’s last book ”Mortality ” he talks about how much respects the work of his freind scientist Francis Collins who inventied the Genome project , his character, and even his personal faith in Christ. Also , i wrote an article some time back on the changing thought of Sam Harris called ” Sam Harris flirtation with life after death ”. it is on this blog . dont mean to shake your faith in Atheism , but since you brought up critical thinking .. well…. these things would apply . all the best , Rocket

    • jllfh3
      July 5, 2013

      Hi Rocket. Thanks for reading! I wouldn’t say that people have faith in their AA meetings, wife, self. ect. I would say they have hope. I consider faith and hope to be two different things. I view faith to be belief without evidence, and hope to be a reasonable belief that good things can/will happen. I have hope and I think everyone does. I consider it different than faith, but we will most likely disagree because we’re simply using different terminology.

      I don’t deny that people who have faith can still be great thinkers or scientists. But take Francis Collins for example since you brought him up twice. The reason he is respected in his field though is not because of what he has done in his field with faith, but simply because his scientific accomplishments and being a great scientific administrator with the human genome project. Now obviously he is also a devout Christian so I fully acknowledge that you can have critical thinking skills while at the same time having faith. I do personally believe that at the end of the day there is still a struggle.

      When you say, “those at the top of their game in their perspective fields are all believers.” I’m just going to flat out disagree. Here is a link from The Nation showing 93% of members of the National Academy of Sciences don’t believe. http://www.thenation.com/article/new-atheists#axzz2YDUfzIcL. Since I believe they leave out the original study (or maybe I just didn’t see it) here is a pew poll showing that only 33% of scientists in general are believers. http://www.pewforum.org/Science-and-Bioethics/Scientists-and-Belief.aspx. Although showing you these polls might be pointless, because I’m not sure exactly what you mean when you say, “top of their game in their perspective fields are believers” so I may be going in a different direction than you were with it. If so then sorry.

      • rocketkirchner
        July 6, 2013

        nice to hear back from you Jeremy .
        first off when it comes to exactly what the word faith means , we must look at it in epistimological terms . for example –in the area of knowledge and what is epistemically ( how we know what we know ) there are 3 types of knowing in the history of philosophy in the west:

        1. a priori — from deductive reasoning
        2. a postiori — that which has been proven in the lab
        3. the organ known as faith –a response to a personal ephinany

        all 3 of these are based on human expereince or thought . you will probabaly agree with 1 and 2 but have a problem with me putting 3 in there. but if you think about it all we have is our experience with even 1 and 2. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle shows that 2 is a problem , for the one measuring cant get it perfect becuase of the fact that he or she is measuring . as far as point 1 . is concerned , we must ask our self if reasoning is on siolid epistemic ground since Godel’s incompleteness theorom has caasted doubt upon that . this leaves us with number 3 .–faith . if 1. and 2 . are shakey and cannot be absolutly counted on with absolute objectivity , then faith does not seem so unreliable now does it ?

        fact is is that faith is a reponse to an expereince that very well may be just as reliable as other forms of epistomolgy. in other words 1. 2. and 3 . are imperfect forms of knowledge but knowledge indeed. therefore faith has its own form of knowledge , that is one going to accept the flaws in 1. and 2. the none has to consider the strenths in 3. this is why one can be a francis collins and see no problem with faith in an experience he had with christ as being just as reliable as the imperfect experiences he has in the lab or thru reasoning .

        2. a posotri

  2. rocketkirchner
    July 6, 2013

    as far as the big boys thru human history being at least Theists , there can be no doubt about this . look at Einstein . ..or Kepler , or the fact that Newton wrote more about Christ then he did about science. a fact that one is not privy to in public schools . it is very hard to compare Dawkins or even Hawking to Einstein or Newton . Eintein and Newton tower above the former. How does one even apporach the genuis of Augustine ? or the Great novels of Doesteyevsky, or the Philosophy of Soren Keirkegaard , or the Math brilliance of Blaise Pascal , or the compositional genuis of such believers as Bach, Vivaldi , etc. one has to wonder what is really going on here . When one stacks up in a protion of the list it at least gets the attention of a stout non believer to sit up and take notice . ..and say to them self ”well , they are not all stupid”. that 2nd look is enough of a crack in the door to allow one who really thinks critically to at least consider what could be possible outside their existing paradigm.

    this list is very very long . now there are exceptions . of course Nietzche and Cioran , genuis Athiests who are at the top of the game . to this i will happily concede. i revere their work and insight . Even Hitchens last article he wrote while dying in his bed in a Houston hospital was on the great Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton , to whom Geroge Benard Shaw called ”a colossal genuis ”. Chesterton is indeed that. what i am saying is that those who embrace faith in Christ ( and i mean the real deal , not fundamentalist crap) provide a ” sign of contradiction ” to the way the presnt intellegensia thinks . this dissent i find as healthy .

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This entry was posted on July 2, 2013 by in Author: Jeremy Locke, Skepticism, Uncategorized and tagged , , .
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