Faith: Who Needs It?

Who needs faith? This isn’t merely a rhetorical question, it’s a question that deserves an answer. The most basic demand that God makes of us is that we have faith in Him; that we believe He exists. Any other faith about God depends on faith that God exists. If we are to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we must first believe that God exists.

A logical problem:

If we know that God makes this demand of us, then we already know that God exists and we can’t have faith – which is what God demands of us. Is there a demand that we believe in God? Yes. Who is making the demand? God. Because we know that God exists, we can’t also have faith that God exists.

We don’t have faith that the London exists. In fact we can’t have faith that London exists because we know it exists. Faith is incompatible with knowledge.

Another logical problem:

Why does anyone think that God requires us to have faith? Because the Bible says so. How do we know that what the Bible says is from God? Because the Bible says it’s from God. Why should we believe what the Bible says? Because the Bible says it’s from God. That begs the question: Why should we believe what the Bible says?

The problem of Theodicy

If God exists and He requires above all that we believe that He exists, then why would He place us in the situation in which we find ourselves; a situation in which we haven’t a shred of evidence that would lead us to believe that He exists? If God carefully obscures from us all evidence of His existence, then God is responsible for our lack of faith.

Who needs us to have blind faith?

The leaders of Christianity, both modern leaders as well as its ancient founders, demand above all that we have blind faith in God. Blind faith, faith without any evidence, is a fundamental requirement without which Christianity could not thrive. If Christian leaders had any knowledge of God’s existence, they wouldn’t need to “believe” that God existed, nor would they need their followers to “believe” that God exists. God’s existence would be a forgone conclusion.

Put this to the test!

Ask your Priest, Pastor, Elder, Minister this question: “do you know that God exists?” If his or her answer is:

  • Yes – then ask if he or she has faith that God exists, and discuss the incompatibility with knowledge and faith. Post any reasonable answers here.
  • No or I’m Not Sure – then ask why he or she believes that God exists. Post any reasonable answers here.

5 Responses to Faith: Who Needs It?

  1. Andrew Kerwin says:

    There you go using logic again.. I simply have ‘faith’ in the inexistence of god or gods. (with the obvious exception of FSM whose Noodley Appendage transcends logic and reason.)

    To talk to the post for real though, I think that the argument is sound, but is succeptable to multiple interpretations of the word ‘faith’.

    Example: I have faith that I am typing this right now and not dreaming, that does not make it not true or not a forgone conclusion.
    For practical purposes, I AM typing this, it IS true and I have faith that it is true.

    I really like the Bible is true argument, it seems an awful lot has been risked on the truth of a book whose parts were written between 5000 and 400 years ago.

    As much sense as all the rest makes to an atheist, it can all be shrugged off by a believer by saying, “we can’t possibly understand god, she’s too big for our human brains to grasp”. Logically ,we have no argument, because if it’s our logic, and it’s not good enough to see the reality, our logic can’t work. For example, there may be a paradox-unifying reality, that we cannot understand, that negates the ‘make a rock too big to lift’ argument.
    Since, in my mind, it is highly improbable, I am going to stay an atheist, but good luck trying to un-brainwash a true believer.

  2. The Atheist says:

    I think you’re right, Andrew. In the absence of any real defense, ambiguity and equivocation tend to be favorite gambits for defending religious faith. I think my argument stands even so. In my post above, I was specific in the type of faith I was talking about (blind faith – belief without evidence).

    Apologists often seek to justify faith by pointing out that believers and skeptics both have faith. Thus, skeptics can’t disparage religious faith without disparaging their own faith (“faith” in science for example). But when the apologist defends faith, it’s up to her to define what she means by faith. The apologist might define faith as synonymous with ‘knowledge which is based on inductive reasoning a la Plato’. In this case, I admit that I have faith too – however this is not the same as religious faith. Or the apologist might define a blind faith that is not based in reason or evidence. In this case, I admit that this kind of faith is indeed religious faith, but it is not the kind of faith I have. Often enough, the apologist sees where such a conversation is headed and simply refuses to define faith; she claims that it is beyond any definition. In this case, I point out that the apologist can’t support the position that skeptics have faith if she can’t even begin to describe what she means by faith (the position can be supported to the extent that faith can be defined or described). What is it again that skeptics have? Faith? What’s that?

    When responding to an apologist’s attempt to equivocate these two very different kinds of faith, I like to use the term “faith” to indicate that I’m speaking about a knowledge which is based in inductive reasoning. And I like to use the term “Faith” (capital “F”) to indicate that I’m speaking about blind faith. This does a fair job of exposing the equivocation on which the apologists position depends.

    The key is, as you’ve said, believers often shrug off these arguments. It may seem that way because it is a rare person these days who is big enough to admit that he might be wrong. But do believers really shrug off the arguments? Isn’t it a bit like swallowing negative emotions? You can ignore them and pretend you aren’t scared or hurt, but the emotion continues to fester unless you finally acknowledge it and begin to deal with it. If the believer is afraid to consider a point of view she is afraid it might cause her to lose faith, then hasn’t she already admitted (to herself anyway) that her faith is too fragile to stand up to scrutiny? I think this realization, just like hurt or fear, continues to fester unless it is finally dealt with.

    • mickeyd says:

      Hi The Atheist,

      Everyone has a cognitive awareness of the existence of God as an intuitive inference from created reality – and in the case of consciousness and volition, a logical inference also.

      You should distinguish between different nuances in the meaning of the word “know”. Cognitive awareness of God is not the same as coming to know God in a way that involves personal committment to Him.

      • The Atheist says:

        Hi mickyd.

        That might be true if we agreed that “reality” is a “created reality”. There are no gods whose existence I infer from experiencing “reality” (my universe), and I’m not aware of any logical necessity for the existence of gods.

        We can talk more generally about what it means “to know”, but the subject of this post is about the specific types of “knowledge” we refer to as “faith”, and about the specific types of faith: blind faith, and faith based on experience and reason.

  3. Paul S says:

    Faith without evidence. At least you or I may not have it. Subatomic particles for example. (I’ve seem vapor trails from back ground radiation in a smoke chamber.) The 67 moons of Jupiter. (Most anyone with binoculars can see the 4 moons of Jupiter.) We believe our sources (regarded as expert witnesses) for the evidence which we do not have.

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