Monday, March 16, 2015

Have (A) Little Faith

I used to write on an online forum, in their health section, providing information to people with medical questions. Occasionally I'd wander into their religion section, and once in a while I'd get into a back-and-forth over various beliefs and assertions, making known my thoughts on the impossibility that if there's a god he/she could be anything like the Christian view of "all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving." I'd mention the obvious contradictions inherent in thinking god answers prayers but has a plan for us all. That miracles are signs of god's influence but bad things that happen aren't. At one point, a conversee said that I'd caused him to question his faith. I felt bad, and quit going there. 

I guess I still feel that way, but, as Christianity is becoming an increasingly negative force in our politics, and as one party seems bent on catering to the most narrow-minded, anti-factual contingent among us, I'm starting to think it'd be great if everyone questioned their faith. Except, perhaps, those who'd go nuts or kill themselves or someone else without it. And, of course, those to whom their faith is a source of personal strength, a useful guidepost along the road of life, and who have no desire to impose it on anyone else. (A shrinking number, if my view of the political scene is correct.)

Anyhow, this article is timely. I agree with it. (Sorry about the spacing. Don't know enough HTML to fix it.)

... less than a third of Americans are willing to express confidence in the reality of human-induced climate change, evolution, the age of the Earth, and the existence of the Big Bang. Among those surveyed, there was a direct correlation between religious conviction and an unwillingness to accept the results of empirical scientific investigation. ... on average, religious faith appears to be an obstacle to understanding the world... 
... Some teachers shy away from confronting religious beliefs because they worry that planting the seeds of doubt will cause some students to question or abandon their own faith or the faith of their parents. But is that really such a bad thing? ... 
... Consider Roy Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, famous for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom wall: in a recent speech, he declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians. Or consider the new freshman class in the House of Representatives: it includes Jody Hice, a man who claims that “blood moons” are fulfilling Biblical prophecies. ... 
... One thing is certain: if our educational system does not honestly and explicitly promote the central tenet of science—that nothing is sacred—then we encourage myth and prejudice to endure. We need to equip our children with tools to avoid the mistakes of the past while constructing a better, and more sustainable, world for themselves and future generations. We won’t do that by dodging inevitable and important questions about facts and faith. ...
I'm not naive enough to think that skepticism toward certain religious beliefs, or open-mindedness regarding science will become widespread anytime soon; or even, for that matter, that those who need to reject reality to keep their heads from flying off will find a way to keep it to themselves. But for the sake of our future -- the future of those who'll long outlive me! -- I hope there's at least a possibility that it could happen before it's too late.

[Image source]


  1. I wish my "faith" community - Unitarian Universalism -- was better at evangelism (we mostly reject the notion), because our 7 Principles and Purposes (look 'em up) are a guide to ethical living without relying on dogma or creed... or even a God. The principle that calls us to the "free and responsible search for truth and meaning" is, for me, the one that calls all to use our heads, follow our hearts, and find within our spirits our own path to a higher power( if you want/need one) and to live and act upon an ethic of basic human decency here, now.

  2. A few weeks ago while driving home I noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of me:

    I have no FAITH in EVOLUTION

    My immediate reaction was a strong desire to ask the driver if s/he had any idea why bacteria continue to render ineffective some of the formerly best antibiotics.

    Then, after more reflection, I wondered if I was misinterpreting the bumper sticker. Perhaps in a sly way the driver was expressing support for the science of evolution. If s/he understood evolution and recognized the overwhelming evidence for it, then there would be no need to have "faith" in accepting it. Even though I know that was not the intended message, part of me really wants to believe that.

    The scientific ignorance is so very depressing. Elected representatives beating the drums of ignorance makes me angry.

    1. You don't need 'faith' in evolution. Just look at the data. Paraphrasing someone: science is true whether you believe it or not.


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