Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens, 1835-1910), Following the Equator, 1897
The way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1758
Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), Prejudices, Third Series, 1922
Faith is the equation of feeling with knowledge.
Nathaniel Branden (1930-), “Mental Health Versus Mysticism”, in Ayn Rand, The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism, 1964
We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954
FAITH, n. Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913), The Devil’s Dictionary (originally The Cynic’s Word Book), 1906
A faith which cannot survive collision with the truth is not worth many regrets.
Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008), The Exploration of Space, 1951
Skepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.
Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), “On the Advisableness of Improving Natural Knowledge”, 1866
Why the rant?
Most of the religious people I have personally known, and most of the faithful followers and fanatics that make the news, express their faith in destructive ways. Granted, most of the religious people I know are among the worst kind of Christians – evangelical fundamentalist Protestants. Yep, these are old-time, God-fearing, Bible-thumping, literal-reading, cherry-picking, church-going, hellfire-warning, dogma-spouting, Satan-fighting, sex-obsessing, binary-moralizing, gay-curing, evolution-scoffing, censorship-craving, atheist-hating, Heaven-bound, Jesus-saved, faith-blinded believers in The One True Trinity, The One True Religion, and The One and Only True Denomination within Christianity, which they just happen to be lucky enough to follow. Very lucky, since everyone else is going straight to Hell, which includes not just atheists, but also all those horribly misguided Christian denominations such as Catholics, Christian Orthodox (apparently not orthodox enough), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Quakers, Seventh-Day Adventists, Moonies, Mormons, Unitarians, Christian Scientists, Rastafari, and even Lutherans and Anglicans. And of course completely deluded heathens like Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Taoists, Confucians, Shintoists, Vodouists, Bahá’ís, Scientologists, and Freemasons don’t stand a chance in Hell.
Sorry, I seem to have started my rant prematurely…
Yes, I know that more bad news than good news is reported in the media, but nonetheless this has always been, and continues to be, my reality. A reality where people are so deluded as to believe that children’s fantasy books will actually turn kids into Satan-worshipping witches and warlocks. A reality where parents won’t let their children learn about other religions or atheism because that might introduce doubt or raise questions that might affect their religious brainwashing (apparently faith can be so exceedingly fragile that it crumbles under knowledge and thought). A reality where people are so selfish and unthinking as to believe their particular version of religion should form the basis of a theocracy, because that’s what the nation’s founding fathers actually wanted, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. A reality where believing nonsense is more important than being a good person and helping others – a surreal world where the unreal has become more important than the real. A reality where ideology trumps reason, logic, compassion, and duty to your community, country, and humanity. Sadly, bad faith also appears to be the dominant reality of the once-great American society, poisoning their political system very nearly to the point of destroying their society.
All of this makes me sad. Then it makes me angry. So don’t get me started.
What is faith?
Faith is belief without reason, and often belief against reason. Faith is frozen thought, fossilized imagination, uncompromising self-delusion, emotion-driven ideology, and stubborn, willful ignorance. Faith is a willing suspension of disbelief, doubt, reason, logic, and rationality. Faith is unwarranted trust, unfounded hope, uncritical acceptance, unchecked gullibility, and unjustified certainty, all applied to groundless beliefs and god-awful ideologies.
Faith is unverifiable, unfalsifiable, and unjustifiable. Faith is inflexible, insidious, and intolerant. Faith is illusory, illogical, and illiberal. Faith is ill-founded, ill-informed, and ill-humored. Faith is ignorance incarnate. Faith believes the unbelievable and accepts the unacceptable. Faith is incredibly credulous. Faith is a logical fallacy adopted as a life philosophy.
Faith is demeaning
Faith does not provide life with meaning; it sucks all real, true, authentic meaning out of life. Genuine meaning in life comes from embracing reality, not denying it. Faith is counterfeit meaning. Faith is an empty philosophy of life, a discontinuity in logic, an intentional non sequitur, a proudly trumpeted gullibility, and an obstinate rejection of what it means to be truly human. Faith is an institutionalized human weakness. Keep the faith and lose your humanity.
Faith is demeaning of life. Faith replaces real hope with false hope based on fabricated promises of immortality and postmortem justice. Faith is an insult to human aspirations, hopes, and dreams. Faith is an assault on human dignity and worth. Faith is a disorientation of your mind, a disintegration of your personality, and a disengagement from your humanity. Faith is depraved because it does not value people – yet it is faith that is worthless, not people. Faith debases people.
Faith is pretentious, smug, supercilious, complacent, haughty, pompous, imperious, snobbish, and ultimately vacuous. Faith erases doubt with absolute arrogance and conceited confidence. Faith bombastically blusters on and on, century after century, generation after generation, to its captive audiences. Faith has no sense of humor. Faith is laughable, but it’s no laughing matter. Faith sucks the fun out of life.
Faith is unreasonable
Faith triumphs over the intellect. Faith abhors rational thought. Faith is the enemy of reason and all its fruits, such as science and knowledge. Faith contradicts reason and repels rationality. Faith fills the vacuum created when reason and logic are abandoned. Reasonable faith is an oxymoron. Faith empties the mind of precious reason in order to fill it with supernatural excrement. And people have the gall to say that faith “transcends reason”. Faith murders reason in cold blood without a second thought, or even a first thought, and then calmly steps over the body and continues blithely on without even a small twinge of guilt or regret. Faith overpromises and underachieves. Faith is a loss, not a gain. Faith fails. Everything transcends faith.
Faith and reason can only coexist by way of an arbitrary compartmentalization of the human mind, a truly incredible achievement when this condition causes no discomfort whatsoever in the believer. It is really quite depressing that any humans would have this destructive and dangerous ability. Yet another God-given talent! Stop believing what you patently do not believe. This ability is not a talent, it’s a crime. Faith is not a gift, it’s a prison. Faith is not a blessing, it’s a curse.
Faith is thoughtless
Intelligence impedes faith. The deeper the faith, the shallower the thinking. Presence of faith means absence of mind. Blind faith blinds the mind, shielding it against all rational argument. Faith sidesteps thought. Faith is all that remains after a catastrophic failure of rational thinking. A loss of faith is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom begins with doubt. Wisdom ends with faith.
No person comes to faith by rationally, methodically, and logically weighing objective facts and probabilities for and against God’s existence. Attempting such calculations is pointless effort, pure delusion, and the height of folly.
Faith makes extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence, or more often no evidence at all. Faith is belief without proof, logic, reason, evidence, and common sense. After all, who needs all that stuff anyway? It just gets in the way of pure faith. Even worse, faith is belief in the face of clear and compelling arguments to the contrary.
Faith is schizophrenic because it attempts to use intellect and reason to argue against intellect and reason. Faith is ironic because it holds belief in God above all, but denies the presumably God-given gifts of intellect, reason, logic, and freedom of thought.
Faith trusts feelings over intellect – the heart over the head. Faith is arbitrary conviction without rationalization. Faith is a flimsy excuse for irrationality. Faith is confident naivety. Faith is a destructive mix of suppressed curiosity and excess credulity. Faith spits in the face of reasonable, thoughtful, sane people.
Faith is giving up. Faith wins when you relinquish your self-respect and surrender yourself completely to the irrational and supernatural.
Faith is unbelievable
Faith is arbitrary. Faith makes no sense and it is not expected to make sense because it is indeed nonsense. Faith is belief for the sake of belief, and only belief. Faith is a perpetual belief machine, an endless cycle, a vicious circle: belief generates faith, and faith sustains belief.
Faith is parasitic belief. Faith is both hard to swallow and hard to take. Faith believes lies and doubts truths.
Faith is unreal
Faith is the opposite of knowledge – faith is unjustified belief due to a false understanding of fabricated information about nonexistent things. Truth, uncertainty, reality – these are the opposites of faith, along with doubt, skepticism, humility, and courage.
Faith is imaginary, insubstantial, and illusory. Faith is built on illusion. Faith is foundationless. Faith blindly accepts the invisible and believes in the nonexistent. Faith trumps facts. Faith negates reality. Faith is a denial of reality and a casual dismissal of facts. Faith trusts the unreal and mistrusts the real. Faith rejects reality and substitutes it with fantasy. Faith trades the natural for the supernatural. Faith is fantastic only in the sense of it being remote from reality. Faith is fabulous only in the sense of it having no basis in reality. In those senses, faith is fantastic fabulosity –strange and unreal. Faith is fantasy gone bad.
Faith is more concerned with imaginary afterlives than our real lives. Why be concerned about the sad state of our environment, our planet, and humanity when our lives are just a waiting room for eternal bliss? Faith is not action, and often supplants constructive action. Faith makes beliefs more important than actions.
Just having faith is not enough – it’s never enough. You gotta have sense, not faith. Having a sensible, sane, and realistic attitude is more important than having faith. Faith leads to no new knowledge, information, truths, facts, evidence, theories, proofs, practical solutions, wisdom, or insights into reality. Faith is bereft of practical content or explanatory usefulness. Faith is all chaff and no grain. Faith is packaging without content. Faith is a product with no substance. Faith is vaporware. Faith is hollow. Faith separates truth from lies and believes the lies. Faith explains nothing. Faith makes waste.
Faith impedes progress at every opportunity. Faith holds society back. Faith stands still as the world changes. Faith is such a pointless, futile, wasteful, ignoble goal in life! A life of faith is a life wasted. What’s faithworthy is worthless.
Faith glorifies ignorance and exalts credulity. Faith is the height of self-delusion and the pinnacle of wishful thinking. Faith is just a euphemism for gullibility. Faith comforts for all the wrong reasons and confirms all the wrong things. Faith makes you feel good by making others feel bad. Tests of faith validate personal delusions. Acts of faith originate from pre-existing personal prejudices interpreted as divine instructions. Faith is just believing what you already accept as truth. A leap of faith is a leap of foolishness. An act of faith is an act of self-deception. Faith is a conscious decision to live a lie. Faith is the ultimate red herring.
Faith declares that there’s more to life than meets the eye, but what doesn’t meet the eye is just superstition, illusion, and supernatural fantasy. Faith is much less than meets the eye – faith is belief in the invisible, the imaginary, and the nonexistent. Faith is fictional, fanciful, and far-fetched. Faith is made-up, dreamed-up, and mixed-up. Faith is the ultimate cock-and-bull story. Faith results from a desperate need for a divine parent with pat answers. Faith is pretend for adults, analogous to the invisible friend of childhood. It’s time to grow up. Please!
Faith is for fools. Faith is always born yesterday. The faithful are always ready and willing to trust in deception and be fooled by hypocrites. Faith encourages and facilitates mental hallucinations. Faith sees divine intervention around every corner and in every gap, where instead there is just chance, coincidence, and natural processes.
Faith is the wrong answer to everything: When in doubt, you need more faith. When the going gets tough, you need more faith. If at first you don’t succeed, you need more faith. Sick? More faith. Misfortune? More faith. Uncertain? Faith, faith, faith, and more faith!
The highs of religious faith and experience can be simulated with mind-altering drugs, electrical stimulation of the brain, meditative states, and sexual orgasm. Faith is fake. Faith is a sham. Faith is a web made of strands of lies, self-deception, and wish-fulfilling fantasies. Faith doubts reality.
Faith is an easy way to dismiss those pesky nonbelievers and their annoyingly persuasive arguments. Faith is the last defense of believers in antiquated gods, religions, creeds, doctrines, and dogmas that are based on ancient fables, ridiculous legends, and derivative myths. Faith is the true believer’s shield from logic and reason.
Faith is the evasion of responsibility for your own intellectual integrity. Faith is enthusiastic intellectual dishonesty. Faith is fetishistic ignorance. Faith is the surest way to avoid curiosity, philosophical questions, and analytic thinking. These are all anathema to the faithful, but life’s most worthwhile pleasures to the rational. Faith is an effective method of fooling yourself. Faith is the fool in your heart.
Faith is fragile, which is why faith fears reason. How does faith attempt to protect itself? Fear protects faith. Questioning is a sin. Freethought is rejecting God. Satan is tempting us. Doubt angers God. Doubt destabilizes faith. Reason is the devil’s whore. Fear God. Fear Satan. Fear death. Fear damnation in hell, where apostates face the worst eternal tortures of all. Fear religious authorities. Fear your parents. Don’t rebel. Fear your community and culture. The engine of faith is fear. Fear fosters faith – fear of the unknown, fear of uncomfortable truths, fear of uncertainty, fear of reality, and a fear that just being human is not good enough. Faith is soaked with fear.
Faith abuses fear, as it blissfully ignores natural fear in favor of supernatural fear. Faith replaces the adaptive fear of death with the maladaptive fear of God. Fear of death is a useful and productive motivator, whereas fear of God is a hypocritical and often destructive motivator. Fear conceives all gods and faith nourishes them.
Faith sees what it wants to see and hears what it wants to hear. Faith is living in the constant fear that you might see or hear something you don’t want to know.
Faith does not liberate – faith entraps and imprisons, it deludes and limits, it constrains and oppresses. Faith comes at too high at cost – the loss of intellectual freedom. Faith is the antithesis of freedom. Faith precludes choice, and choice is freedom. Faith is enslavement to an imaginary ideology peddled by an imagined God. Faith is a quick and dirty method of mind control. Faith makes you a prisoner of your beliefs.
What causes a crisis in faith? When doubt and independent thought start shining through the cracks and illuminating the dark recesses and murky hidey-holes of faith. Rejecting faith is liberating. Freedom awaits those who are courageous enough to break the chains of faith.
Since faith is not founded on reason, it is extremely difficult to remove by reason. However, reason is always a critical motivation for a loss of faith. This is why faith constantly attempts to drive away reason, like a terrified exorcist driving away imagined demons. The power of faith compels you! The power of reason repels you!
Faith lost is freedom gained. We are all born atheists. So wake up to reality, be reborn again, and experience your own beautiful loss of faith story.
Faith loathes the worldly, the secular, the human. Faith abhors pleasure and sensuality.
Faith loves to judge and label: sinful, evil, wicked, damned, sacrilegious, irreverent, impious, faithless, godless, indecent, obscene, perverse, immoral, profane, carnal, unholy, unclean, impure, unorthodox. Faith loves to name-call: heretic, infidel, apostate, blasphemer, iconoclast, pagan, unbeliever, heathen. Such tactics tend to backfire as many people wear these names with pride, and other names too: freethinker, skeptic, agnostic, atheist, irreligionist, secularist, rebel, nonconformist, activist, liberal, progressivist, rationalist, philosopher, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, scientist, humanist.
Faith is malignant belief. Faith has no empathy. Instead of putting oneself in another’s shoes, the faithful want to convert, condemn, or silence others. Have faith! Or else…
So why not allow the intransigent faithful to have their precious delusions? Who does it harm, really? Unfortunately, faith in God usually means a lack of faith in your fellow human beings, including those who also have faith, but in the wrong gods. Being faithful to other human beings should be what’s important, not being faithful to an imaginary, petulant, insecure, vengeful, conveniently anthropomorphic but invisible and hidden deity who may or may not hypothetically give a flying fig for anyone.
Faith passes the buck, terminating all discussion. A declaration of faith is the mother of all argument enders. Faith destroys any chance of useful and constructive discourse because faith is completely devoid of any real content. Faith is belief in one perceived truth over another in the absence of objective criteria that would allow a rational determination of which truth is valid. Therefore, no argument about faith can ever be settled. Arguing about which religion is true is a futile, wasteful, and ultimately destructive activity.
Faith is dysfunctional. This is one of the reasons why there must be a clear separation between church and state. Secular government and religious disestablishment promote pluralism, tolerance, and religious freedom – as well as freedom from religion. Whenever I hear the word ‘faith’ I reach for my wallet to make sure it hasn’t been emptied. Whenever I hear the phrase “faith-based initiative”, I wonder if my government has turned into a theocracy yet. Faith is voluntary insanity, and I want no part of it. Leave me be! Leave everyone be!
Faith is reliance on a fabrication that provides false security, more effective than a baby’s pacifier. If only religious faith guaranteed the faithful will be pacifists as well. But alas, no. There are countless warmongers full of faith. Religious faith all too often facilitates and exacerbates intolerance, oppression, violence, and war. Faith makes the world a more dangerous place. Skepticism makes the world safer.
People are all too willing to kill or die for their faith, although the murderers outnumber the martyrs by several orders of magnitude. Defending the faith is very bad for the rest of us. Faith makes you believe you can move mountains, or fly planes into buildings. Often it would be better for everyone if faith remained smaller than a mustard seed, because the road to Hell is paved with faith.
Faith is intolerant
Tolerance requires doubt. Faith is certainty with no foundation, and certainty breeds bigotry and intolerance. The prerequisite of intolerance is rock-solid, unwavering, unquestioning, overconfident faith. Faith almost never agrees to disagree. Faith only agrees with itself. There can be only One Truth to the faithful.
Faith is an admission that your own beliefs are indefensible and fragile, which leads inevitably to aggressive censorship, blasphemy punishments, persecution, inquisitions, crusades, and other horrific attempts to enforce The One True Belief. Faith is a motive to denigrate others without orthodox beliefs. Faith in The One True God or The One True Religion or The One True Morality inevitably leads to intolerance, and intolerance inevitably leads to discrimination, prejudice, bigotry, hatred, and finally violence. Faith unites cults but divides humanity.
Faith is respected unless it’s faith in the wrong god. Faith is praised until it results in intolerance, censorship, and violence. Faith is desirable unless it creates and sustains cults. Faith is lauded until it inspires terrorists. Faith is seen as a virtue until it inevitably becomes a vice.
Faith relies on agreement and conformity and therefore suppresses free discussion, independent thought, and meaningful questions. Faith is closed-minded and hostile to new ideas, originality, and creativity. Faith is absolute and suffers no dissenting opinions. Faith doesn’t listen. Faith is a closed system. Faith brooks no opposition, permits no criticism, countenances no disagreement, and tolerates no dissension. Faith compels consent, agreement, obedience, and conformance. Faith does not turn the other cheek or love its enemy. Instead, faith overreacts with an overabundance of aggression, hysteria, and retribution.
Faith is immoral
Faith in scripture leads to selective literalism. The faithful and the Bible both condemn homosexuality and free speech. However, the Bible condones what most modern faithful condemn: polygamy, slavery, abortion, genocide, infanticide, stoning, being forced to marry your rapist, and treating women and children as property. And of course, the faithful are not overly concerned with what the Bible clearly condemns: shaving, wealth, divorce, cooking meat in milk (especially a young goat in its mother’s milk), wearing wool and linen together, creating shrines, statues, paintings, photographs, or “any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth”, and hundreds of other irrelevant and roundly ignored biblical commandments. Even the fanatical faithful do not follow the over 700 rules in the Old and New Testaments, and if they tried, they would be thrown in jail or a psychiatric institution for life.
Faith often entrenches and justifies poverty and suffering more than it relieves it. Faith often prioritizes imaginary spiritual needs over real physical needs, based on anticipation of a fabricated afterlife, rather than dealing with the immediate problems of actual life. The illogic of faith taints the logic of helping others.
Faith demands moral absolutes and unanimous opinions with no questions allowed. Unwavering, unquestioning, unshakably certain, absolute blind faith is the Holy Grail of religion. How sad is that? Why would anyone think that “unquestioning faith” is a good thing? Why would anyone think that a lack of curiosity is a virtue and an inquisitive nature is a character flaw? What possible good can it do to replace thinking with belief? Why would anyone consider intelligence and freethought to be a sin?
Faith may be a theological virtue, but in reality faith is a vice. To use the language of religion, faith is a sin. Disbelief and doubt are virtues because they are forms of sincerity and honesty – sincere disbelief and honest doubt. Faith prefers the simple to the complex, the easy to the difficult, and the black and white to shades of gray. Faith distorts morality, disconnects self-responsibility, and disrupts common sense. All faith is bad faith.
Faith is pathological belief. Faith is a sociological plague. Faith is an intoxicating and infectious infliction of ideological incoherency. Faith results in acute truth deficiency caused by an intellect infected with irrationality. Faith is a disease, reason is the cure.
Faith is based on primitive cultures and ancient beliefs, and has long been irrelevant and obsolete. Yet faith hangs on like a staggering, rotting zombie, inflicting every aspect of modern society with its stench of decay and festering infections.
Faith is a leech, sucking out the lifeblood of rationality. Faith is a cultural parasite that provides no benefit in return. Instead, faith provides a false sense of security and tranquility facilitated by ignorance. Faith continually tries to throttle the flow of all information that may in any way threaten its choke-hold on its hosts.
Faith is a passionately desired, divinely approved, church supported, cult administered, repulsively primitive, mentally crippling lobotomy, crudely carried out with the blunt instruments of dogma, doctrine, creed, and ideology. Instead, what this world needs is a faithectomy. Faith is self-inflicted blindness, a gouging of the eyes of reason. All faith is blind, but the loss of a vital source of perception should not be glorified – it should be mourned. Faith is a mental crutch to compensate for disabled reasoning, broken thinking, and amputated logic.
Faith is a poison, freethought is the antidote. Faith contaminates reality. Faith is a mind-altering drug. Faith is a credulity overdose. Faith is the heroin of religion, incredibly tempting to try, dangerous and addictive as hell, and an almost impossible hole to claw your way out of, back to the illumination of reason and rationality. Faith is your brain on drugs. Just don’t do it!
Faith desensitizes its host to reality. Faith inoculates against wisdom and provides immunity to autonomous thought. Faith is immune to facts. Reason and freethought provide natural resistance against faith.
Faith is simplistic and cheap self-help. Yet, faith heals nothing. Faith healers are charlatans because faith is a fraud. Faith is alternative medicine at its worst, snake oil promoted by religious quacks, charlatans, con men, and media-savvy hucksters. Trust medicine, not faith.
Faith is a failure. Faith has no future. Religious faith is the bane of human existence. Have faith in life, not an afterlife.
Have no faith in faith and do not believe in belief. Doubt faith and have faith in doubt. Reject faith. Choose reason. Think for yourself. We’ll all be better off.
Remember: Rants are long. Life is short. Please rant responsibly.
Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith!
Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899), The Gods, 1872