Faith: It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

© David Teachout

 

As a human being I’m interested in broadening the understanding of my experiences and increasing my knowledge by identifying what I’m ignorant of and then looking to fill in the gaps. My humanity also determines the limits to fulfilling those desires. I have particular interests by virtue of being me, not every subject draws me the same way. I have time limitations so I have to choose on a daily basis what to read, what to study and plan accordingly for the future. I have career limits, in that my professional obligations concerning psychology direct me to continued education along paths associated with it and not, say, that of electrical engineering. I also, though this is controversial and not without a great number of caveats, have limitations on my intelligence; there are items I study which I struggle to understand while other people have already passed me by. All of these limits are part of being human, but none of them determine prior to the inquiry itself whether I could understand by virtue of that very humanity, they are only particular limits of my own.

 

9d488c4dd6b949416c85906c5bd7a4c3d3163632d5606a6a068e487c0f3a2d73

As an atheist I am confronted often by the simple declaration from religious adherents of “you have faith too” or in its more arrogantly adolescent form: “it takes more faith to be an atheist.” The confusing nature of this argument becomes immediately obvious when I inquire as to just what is meant, resulting in some example of the form: “you have faith that x will happen” where “x” is filled in by the sun rising tomorrow, the continued love of friends and family, or other such. From the days of my own belief, I can recall the apologetic of referencing wind or air when attempting to describe how the Holy Spirit works. Then, as now, the response to such attempts is to point out that the examples being referenced are not at all comparable.
Continue reading “Faith: It Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means”

Secular Philosophy: Countering Pascal

“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” -Christopher Hitchens – God Is Not Great

One of the last bastions of faith is a proposition known as Pascal’s Wager. Presented by the philosopher Blaise Pascal and it goes like this.

  1. “God is, or He is not”

  2. A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.

  3. According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.

  4. You must wager (it is not optional).

  5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.

  6. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (…) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.

(Taken from Wikipedia)

  Continue reading “Secular Philosophy: Countering Pascal”