Does Faith Justify a Belief?

Will faith overcome reality?
You often hear theists defend their belief in a deity using faith. Some will claim that they have faith in their specific deity, and that is enough justification for them, and anyone else who may question their position. Some will claim that faith doesn’t need to be justified, much in the way that feelings don’t have to be justified. While others will claim that everyone has faith in something, so their faith in God is no different.
I would disagree with all of those reasons for believing faith can justify believing in something.
It’s like a feeling
While it’s true that you’re allowed to feel however you wish to feel, you do have to justify those feelings in many cases.
For example, if my wife is angry with me I’ll want to know why.  I’m not going to be satisfied with a, ‘I have faith I should be angry with you’ or an ‘I’m just angry because I feel like being angry’, kind of answer. I will want distinct reasons for her anger towards me, so that I can see if she’s justified in her anger. In some cases, I’ll want to question her anger or defend myself against her anger. In other cases, I’ll see that she’s justified in being angry with me, and I’ll apologize.
Sometimes, she may find that her anger is irrational (bad day at work, dog pissed her off, frustrated at money issues etc.) and once she’s able to vent to me, she will probably see that her anger towards me is unjustified, unreasoned and irrational.
Faith is enough
From an individual standpoint, faith may very well be enough reason to believe something.
However, once you bring that belief into the public forum, it’s not unreasonable to expect that you will be questioned about that belief.
A stance made purely on faith is as valid as any other stance based on faith. This is true whether that faith based belief is a religious or philosophical belief.
For example, I could say that I have faith in Zeus. Another could say they have faith in humanism, and another might say they have faith in Jesus. We now have three faith based claims that might be incompatible, but none of them have to rationally justify their belief because it’s based on faith.
 How do we judge what is true and what isn’t?
You can’t. Not if the belief is based solely on faith. Using the faith based system, anyone can make a positive claim (gnomes, dragons, wizards, and purple people) that something exists, and never have to prove their claim is true. We have no way to evaluate those claims, and each of them is equally valid.
And what if those faith based beliefs hold immoral teachings, such as same-sex couples are evil or apostasy is worthy of the death sentence?
Their belief is as justified as any other religious or faith based belief, simply because we have no way to evaluate whether or not that belief is true.
This basically means that faith is not a reasonable defense for any faith that purports to have any connection whatsoever to reality. Since we have no way to evaluate whether one faith is truer than another, one religion cannot claim that their religion is true while another is untrue.
Everyone has faith in something
Religious people and un-religious people make most of their decisions based on rationality and reason.
For example, I don’t bash my leg against the table because I’ve done it a number of times and found that it hurts. If I were to suddenly wish to test that theory, I could bash my leg against the table and see (or feel) that my original theory still holds true.
Almost everything we do is based on observation and evidence.
Some religious people claim that atheism is a form of faith because they have faith that God doesn’t exist.
For most atheists, this isn’t true. I don’t say that a deity of some sort couldn’t possibly exist. I merely see no evidence that one exists. I also see a bunch of theists who make wild claims without any evidence to back them up. They just want me to accept their claims based on faith, which I’ve already shown is a faulty, irrational basis for belief.
If evidence for a God were to appear, then I would change my stance on the matter. Of course, theists would still have to prove that their particular deity is the correct one, since there are thousands of faith based Gods.
It takes the same amount of faith for me not to believe a theist’s claim as it takes for them not to believe in the myriad of other Gods out there. 
 So does faith justify a belief?
No it doesn’t. It offers no method for evaluation. It isn’t rational or reasonable. Every faith based claim is as likely to be true as any other, and with no way to evaluate each claim, both are equally credible. Faith is unreliable, and faith allows you to ignore reality without justification.
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4 Comments

  1. HA! Nice article.

    “For example, if my wife is angry with me I’ll want to know why. I’m not going to be satisfied with a, ‘I have faith I should be angry with you’ or an ‘I’m just angry because I feel like being angry’, kind of answer.”

    My ex-wife would come home and start arguments. After months of wrangling about it she finally told me she would be in a good mood until she came home and saw me and would be instantly pissed off. Do I really need to say this is why she is now my “ex-wife”.

    She also went whole hog into the Evangelical movement and threw out all the movies and books she once enjoyed because they were eeeevvvviiillll!

    So this article really made me laugh out loud!

    – evilgenius

  2. Great post. I wish people would realize that we are not been ridiculous when we ask for proof. We require proof in so many aspects of life, why can I not ask for proof for something that affects my life when brought into public life.

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