Belief Based Only on Faith
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|The traditional religions typically claim that overwhelming, incontrovertible evidence supports their claims. Yet, the evidence actually shows their claims to have no factual support. Indeed, the poor, contradictory quality of their "evidence" inevitably results in appeals to blind faith, i.e., belief that must be accepted without evidence. Such belief in authoritative pronouncements that contradict our actual, direct experience is not only encouraged, it is enshrined in the traditional religions; it is taken as an indication of piety.|
Faith is powerful enough to immunize people against all appeals to pity, to forgiveness, to decent human feelings. It even immunizes them against fear, if they honestly believe that a martyr's death will send them straight to heaven.
. . .
Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence. —Richard Dawkins
|For an example, consider John 20:|
(24) But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. (25) The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD.
But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
(26) And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. (27) Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.
(28) And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.
(29) Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Faith-based belief is prescribed by all the major religions. Despite their claims to have irrefutable evidence, the evidence can only be seen by those who already believe!
52. You cannot make the dead hear, nor can you make the deaf hear the call when they turn away.
53. Nor can you guide the blind out of their error. You can make hear only those who believe in Our signs, and so have submitted. (The Quran, ar-Rum 30)
Thus, it becomes an act of holiness to believe without direct evidence, to trust the testimony of others above your own reason and experience. Yet, long ago,
David Hume formulated a powerful critique of such an approach to knowledge and pointed out the profound absurdity that such thinking creates.
So, why do people still accept this non-sense? First, it is enormously comforting to have faith in a God prescribed by some "authority" and not to have to think for yourself. Second, the answers that the authorities give are easy on the mind (once one has accepted the argument that it makes sense to accept their authority). But finally, the most important reason for why we allow authorities to tell us what is real rather than trust our own minds is that our minds ultimately collapse when we try to make sense of the world. (This "collapse" will be described in a moment.) Once we realize that we cannot make sense of the world, it actually appears to be rational to believe what others tell us; it seems rational to believe what the majority of people around us believe, especially when
- joining them in belief solves major problems
- and is immensely comforting
- and refusing to believe what those around us believe can be enormously problematic.
“Tell people an invisible man in the sky created all things, they believe you.
Tell them what you've painted is wet, they have to touch it to believe.” —George Carlin
Understanding the Limits of an Evolved Psyche
We are arguing, in contrast, for an empirically derived view of the world in which we must trust our own perceptions. So then, what are we to do when our own minds—operating on the information presented to us by our experiences and on our theories derived from reasoning about our experiences—lead us to nonsensical (unimaginable, unvisualizable) conclusions? Why shouldn't we then just embrace the local cosmology?
Some examples of conceptualizations that are beyond our understanding that can be simplified by local fairy tales: The universe can't be finite with boundaries nor infinite; or space curves back on itself, whatever that means. At some point, time began; but before then, there was no time and therefore nothing could happen to make time begin. And our minds were designed by natural selection to abhor the thought of our death and the death of those close to us — to value our own selves and the lives of our loved ones over all else — yet, we are confronted by ubiquitous death; no one gets out of here alive.
We live out our lives in the face of the ultimate denigration of our selves; our personal existence and survival is of central importance in the universe as each of us knows it, and yet we will eventually die (and then start to rot!), possibly at any moment. What is of utmost importance to us seems then to turn to meaningless dust. There are many such thoughts that truly boggle the mind and can be laid to rest if replaced by a simplistic, childish, cosmology tale with an heroic All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Loving (those who are obedient), Punishing (the disobedient), Magical God at its center.
Rather than embrace such an authority prescribed fantasy in the face of the mind boggling (and painful) realities we face, we would respond by saying that our minds were not designed by millions of years of natural selection to be able to address such questions. Our minds were designed to know practical things, like how to avoid dangers, when to duck to avoid a thrown rock, or to run from a carnivore. Our psyches were designed to be attuned to information that tells us things like whom we can trust; how large a space we can jump across; in short, to understand the best ways to navigate through the world that we must deal with on a daily basis. We had no need to have valid answers to the conundrums of existence. Rather, we were designed by natural selection to live and reproduce using algorithms that cause us to seek happiness and pleasure, to avoid pain and sorrow, and to abhor our deaths.
That is, our psyches were designed for the successful navigation of an evolved organism through the "midworld" of our lives, not the "macroworld" of 100 billion galaxies each with 100 billion stars or the "microworld" of subatomic particles that follow the utterly absurd rules of quantum physics or exist in the eleven dimensional space (whatever that may be) of string theory. Thus, the breakdown of our minds' ability to comprehend the macro or micro contexts in which the midworld of our experience exists (which we can know) is what we should expect from a psyche designed to solve midworld problems and to understand midworld events. And, of course, that is the way it is.
Comforting Fairy Tales versus Reverential Awe
Yoism accepts the awesome, incomprehensible wonder of Yo, the Divine Mystery ("God," for those who want to borrow a word from the traditional religions and then use it to refer to something else). In some truly incomprehensible fashion, the Unknowable appears to manifest Yoself as an intelligible midworld embedded "in between" the profoundly mysterious macro- and microworlds that we can only attempt to grasp with metaphorical models made up of midworld elements. Alternatively, we could swallow whole a local fantasy story because some "authority" steps forward to fill the breech in our minds' capacities with a comforting tale. There is simply no justification to latch on to the tales of self-proclaimed authorities who happen to live in your particular locale; in another place or time, another set of self-proclaimed authorities will fill in the gaps in our minds' comprehension with an alternative set of equally non-sensical claims, i.e., claims that are not derived from directly sensible experience.
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Childhood's End: An Explanation of Traditional Religion for Children
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Yet replacing one's direct experience and judgment by latching on to nonsensical fantasies is what typically occurs and is lauded by the religious mind. John 20 is just one example. From the Guru Mahara Ji religious cult, we hear the constant exhortation to the doubting seeker, "You are too into your mind!" And, of course, this theme can be found throughout the mainstream religions:
There is on earth among all dangers no more dangerous thing than a richly endowed and adroit reason, especially if she enters into spiritual matters which concern the soul and God . . . [R]eason must be . . . blinded, and destroyed. Faith must trample underfoot all reason, sense, and understanding, and whatever it sees it must put out of sight . . . Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his reason. (Martin Luther)
this will be replaced by the SWF.
Yes, they know. The only way to swallow the unsupported beliefs they offer is to turn off your mind in order to listen to their authority. And this is true in politics, too. The communists claim that your thinking has been distorted by capitalism and only by believing the (empirically empty) claims of communist doctrine can you see the truth. They proved they had the truth by killing millions who disagreed. And, of course, the corporate capitalists tell us we are blinded by mushy idealism and that their "free market" is leading to abundance for all. Their vision must be true; after all, they do have a vantaged position high above us on their horded stockpiles of wealth that they amass through encouraging an empty, frenzied orgy of consumption in the first world. Meanwhile, our environment is being taxed to the breaking point and billions are reduced to endless poverty gleaned from slave wages in the factories of global corporations, "global slavelization."
The point is: Just because our minds cannot provide answers to very troubling questions is no reason to swallow nonsensical, simplistic answers—that contradict our own experience—presented by self-proclaimed authorities, authorities whose self-interests are enhanced when you replace your own experience derived knowledge with their systems of belief.
Carlos Mencia's Religious Rumble:
Jesus vs. Moses vs. Mohammed vs. Shiva vs. Buddha
If you think this video is juvenile, we would ask you if it is more
insipid than the behavior of the religious followers that it mocks.
Instead, we invite you to stand with the priestly empiricists of Yo. Together WE will forge the Open Source Truth that is most consistent with OUR experience. No one controls or owns Our Truth. At this point, Our Truth accepts the ultimate mysteries and our wonder in the face of Almighty Existence that boggles our midworld psyches. This leads us to (comforting!) Awe at (and, for many of us, to Reverence for) That-which-Manifests-as-All-That-Is, not to some made up stories that give us the illusion of being able to comprehend Yo, The Divine Mystery, with minds designed for other purposes.