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Mon Dec 25, 2017, 04:20 PM

How Can I Possibly Believe That Faith Is Better Than Doubt?

Source: New York Times Opinion Page, by Peter Wehner

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This question is compounded during periods like this one, when faith seems to distort reality rather than clarify it, when it’s easily manipulated for low rather than high purpose and when some of those who claim to be people of faith act in ways that bring dishonor to it and themselves.

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But faith itself, while not the converse of reason, is still distinct from it. If it seems like that’s asking too much — if you think leaps of faith are for children rather than adults — consider this: Materialists, rationalists and atheists ultimately place their trust in certain propositions that require faith. To say that truth is only intelligible through reason is itself a statement of faith. Denying the existence of God is as much a leap of faith as asserting it. As the pastor Tim Keller told me, “Most of the things we most deeply believe in — for example, human rights and human equality — are not empirically provable.”

“The supreme function of reason is to show man that some things are beyond reason,” is how Blaise Pascal put it. Something would not require faith if the proof of it was absolute. According to Philip Yancey, the author of “The Jesus I Never Knew,” “Faith requires the possibility of rejection, or it is not faith.”

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There’s one other difference between faith and reason. The latter can analyze things like quantum physics and modern cosmology. But what faith can do is to put our lives in an unfolding narrative in ways reason cannot. It gives us a role in a gripping drama, of which the Christmas story is one defining scene. It’s a drama that includes sin and betrayal, redemption and grace; and ultimately it gives purpose to our lives despite the brokenness and pain we experience. This may mean nothing to you, but to people of faith, it can mean everything. If God is real, perhaps it should.

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Read it all at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/25/opinion/faith-christmas-religion.html

32 replies, 2382 views

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Arrow 32 replies Author Time Post
Reply How Can I Possibly Believe That Faith Is Better Than Doubt? (Original post)
yallerdawg Dec 2017 OP
Voltaire2 Dec 2017 #1
SwissTony Dec 2017 #20
Angry Dragon Dec 2017 #2
msongs Dec 2017 #3
Skittles Dec 2017 #5
Cartoonist Dec 2017 #4
Cuthbert Allgood Dec 2017 #6
TreasonousBastard Dec 2017 #7
Voltaire2 Dec 2017 #8
TreasonousBastard Dec 2017 #9
Voltaire2 Dec 2017 #10
TreasonousBastard Dec 2017 #11
Voltaire2 Dec 2017 #13
guillaumeb Dec 2017 #29
marylandblue Dec 2017 #18
marylandblue Dec 2017 #14
edhopper Dec 2017 #15
TreasonousBastard Dec 2017 #16
marylandblue Dec 2017 #17
TreasonousBastard Dec 2017 #19
marylandblue Dec 2017 #21
muriel_volestrangler Dec 2017 #31
TreasonousBastard Dec 2017 #32
MineralMan Dec 2017 #12
MineralMan Dec 2017 #22
yallerdawg Dec 2017 #23
MineralMan Dec 2017 #24
yallerdawg Dec 2017 #25
MineralMan Dec 2017 #26
guillaumeb Dec 2017 #27
yallerdawg Dec 2017 #28
marylandblue Dec 2017 #30

Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 04:55 PM

1. The theist canard of atheist equivalency.


Denying the existence of God is as much a leap of faith as asserting it.

Is boring. Unoriginal. Tedious. Dull. But theists find it comforting.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 09:01 AM

20. What if you change the proposition?

Denying the existence of unicorns is as much as a leap of faith as asserting it.

I've found this helpful.

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Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 04:58 PM

2. Keep your faith to yourself, if that is not possible then let your faith do good

Do not force others to believe as you do
Do not hate people that are different than you
Do not think you are better than others
if you are unable to do this then your faith is fake and nothing more than a pile of garbage

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Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 05:05 PM

3. doubt is not the opposite of faith. reality is the opposite of faith. faith is

make sh** up and hope its true. it is entirely possible to pay no attention to superstition

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Response to msongs (Reply #3)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 06:17 PM

5. yup

living in the real world is another option.....I have found that people unable to do that have a lot of "faith"

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Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 05:50 PM

4. Faith and Gullibility

OK, you want to believe in a god that is the ultimate being and the creator of everything, I'll let you.

You want to tell me that the Bible has God's blessing either as literal truth or moralistic tales, with the free will to interpret them to your best advantage? It is to laugh.

You want to claim 300,000 years gives you the right to enforce your religion on my freedom and liberty? Then I take up arms.

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Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 06:42 PM

6. "To say that truth is only intelligible through reason is itself a statement of faith."

Well, I guess you could make shit up and it might, by chance, be right but that doesn't mean that reason isn't the best option to figure shit out. Because it is.

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Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 07:30 PM

7. And the predictable attacks begin...

The main thrust of the article is where it equates faith with emotion, such as love. There is no rational or logical analysis for why you fall in love, or trust your lover. There is also no rational reason to assume human rights, democracy as a form of government, or that all humans are indeed equal-- for most of our history we didn't, and often preferred to let the weak die, as it was too much work to kill them.

The point is that faith and emotion, like logic and rationality, have their flaws, but are a large part of what makes up human.

It's not so much that we can do algebra, unlike apes and dogs, but we can dream of things unseen, also unlike apes and dogs.

Remember that Spock and the other Vulcans never had any fun. His very human and illogical mother had to straighten him out at times.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 07:55 PM

8. So faith is like psychotic rage?

Or just nice emotions? How about obsessive and unwanted love? Is faith like that?

My dogs have dreams, probably of unseen bunnies.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #8)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 08:07 PM

9. Don't be silly. Humans are imperfect, whether using using logic or emotion...

It was once "logical" to find the most expedient way to eliminate all traces of Jews and Armenians. It was (and still is) also "logical" to eliminate all sources of dissent.

Your dogsw do not dream of travel to the stars, or of unicorns.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #9)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 08:16 PM

10. You made a specific claim about religious faith.


The main thrust of the article is where it equates faith with emotion, such as love

So I want to explore this claim. How about defending it instead of dodging it?

Is faith also like psychotic rage or obsessive and unwanted love?

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #10)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 08:22 PM

11. It could be, but maybe read the article first...

On second thought, you seem to want to argue, so don't bother.

At any rate, your question has been answered and I'll add the simple observation that we are not perfect and things do go wrong at times.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #11)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 09:19 PM

13. So that would be a no to defending the

odd claim that religious faith is like emotions.

It seems that our theistic friends here don’t wish to have the claims they make here discussed and examined. Instead they like to waltz in to pronounce “atheists badz” and then make some poorly thought out pontification, and when that is questioned act astounded that on a discussion board the statements one makes might be discussed.

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Response to Voltaire2 (Reply #13)

Wed Dec 27, 2017, 09:03 PM

29. "Atheists badz"?

Interesting, and probably a reflection of my poor reading ability, but I am unable to find any such expression in the article.

Pleas help me out and cite an example from the article.

Thank you in advance.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #9)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 05:39 AM

18. If we are talking about things that exist without evidence

how do you know my dog doesn't dream of unicorns?

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 10:01 PM

14. The article rests on a blurring of different types of faith

Yes, I have faith that my wife loves me, and that is based in part on an emotional bond rather than reason alone. But I don't need faith to prove she exists, because she clearly does. If I needed to have faith in her existence, because I had no evidence she does exist, then I would be in love with a fantasy woman, not a living being. We would not call this real love. But we are expected to have faith in an unseen unprovable God and somehow this makes such a relationship better than a real one.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #14)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 10:28 PM

15. thank you

I hatevthat religious faith / love comparison.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #14)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 01:42 AM

16. No, it doesn't. It speaks more of a continuum. Since before Aristotle there has been discussion...

about verbal vs. nonverbal, rational vs non-rational knowledge and communication.

Emotions are non-rational "understandings" and run a gamut, of which religious faith is a small part. Faith in other things exists, and often because past observation shows such faith is warranted.

Faith may also be confused with instinct, or be a part of it. I don't believe in the god of Abraham any more than I believe the Sun is Apollo's chariot, but such beliefs are important to parts of our overall psyche.

Don't pick at one or two words to find a point of argument just for the sake of arguing. It is entirely rational to suppose there could be an overall intelligence or force in some other dimension, and our religious beliefs are simply another case of the blind men and the elephant.

The term "god" hasn't even been fully defined yet, so denial of a thing you don't actually know about would seem to be an act of faith also. No matter how much you guys hate that statement.

And, finally, there are some of us on a quest to learn more about this. The Pope was in the way of that for many years, don't let modern atheists take his place.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #16)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 05:24 AM

17. The entire article is about faith, it's even right there in the title

Your own comment I was responding to pulled out faith and love as examples of emotions. So how am I picking at one or two words?

No atheist denies the existence or importants of emotions. But religion creates a special category of emotion called "faith" which is unique in that the mere belief in an unprovable thing means it might exist. If I have faith in unicorns, does that mean they actually exist?

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #17)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 07:41 AM

19. You are saying the only form of faith is religious? I am saying it is all a continuum...

with religious faith being one expression of faith, which is one expression of our emotional makeup.

We are talking at cross purposes here.

Blue unicorns or pink ones?

(While unicorns doubtless don't exist, there are times when an appeal to them might have beneficial effects.)

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #19)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 09:05 AM

21. I have no problem with stories about unicorns

or faith as an emotional attachment attachment or hope about something real, but the articles you linked to aren't about that. They are about religious faith in something not real.

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #16)

Fri Dec 29, 2017, 07:03 AM

31. Religious faith may be a small part of emotions, but they claim a huge part of society

They influence public holidays, with unscrupulous politicians talking about "War on Christmas" and how they have saved the world from it. They inspire people to spend millions on spreading fear and hatred of 'the other', such as LGBT. They insert themselves into the US constitution, claiming special treatment, and avoiding billions of taxes. They encourage bigots to vote together and support people like Roy Moore, no matter how awful a human being the candidate is. They claim seats in the British House of Lords, and the right to run schools in the UK. They inspire sectarian hatred, murder, and genocide.

Other "non-rational understandings" just don't intrude in the same way. People don't rounds up admirers, or detractors, of Jane Austen for having the "wrong" emotion. They don't declare children "socialists" or "libertarians" based on their parents' thoughts, and have special schools for them. There's no special tax situation for teaching about the universe being a holographic projection.

The term 'god' has been defined endlessly. People point to books and say "I know exactly what a god is, and there's only one god, and that's God, and that book not only defines God, its writing was controlled by God". Over half the world claims this, though, of course, with different books. And the claims of the books are "magic happened, and you can't do magic, so this book shows that the magician is the creator of the universe, and he speaks through me, so do what I say". Which, let's face it, are obviously the words of a conman.

If people's religious faith had as much attention paid to it as Grimm's Fairy Tales (a collection of stories, with different originators, sometimes giving moral lessons, sometimes just telling strange stories involving magic), we wouldn't need a special group for it on DU. Or to insert it into constitutions.

If religion is part of a gamut, it's a swollen, suppurating one, that infects other emotions, and needs treatment.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #31)

Fri Dec 29, 2017, 11:03 AM

32. That is overly harsh, and says religion has no redeeming virtue and is responsible for...

so many of our ills.

I could mention that religion had nothing to do with Alexander, Genghis Khan, Pol Pot, Stalin, or Hitler. I could also mention that the early abolitionists were largely Baptists and Quakers. Last I heard, Bloods, Crips, and MS13 weren't churchgoers.

Whether or not they claim some divine inspiration, religions are all entirely human organizations, and suffer from human faults. Often as not they don't cause war and strife, but are used to justify war and strife.



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Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Mon Dec 25, 2017, 08:43 PM

12. Many atheists, like myself, also have faith.

It's just not faith in unseen supernatural entities and events.

I have faith that I will live into my 80s at least. Why? Because both of my parents are living at age 93. I could be wrong, of course, but at age 72, I'm making plans based on that.

I have faith that Democrats will regain control of federal government. Again, I could be wrong, but trends point in that direction.

I have faith that there will be amazing scientific advances in the next decade.

I do not have faith in deities, nor in any form of personal existence after my death. I can find no reason to have such faith, so I do not waste my time on that

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Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 09:06 AM

22. Better in what way, exactly?

Next question: Faith in what?

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #22)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 09:43 AM

23. We choose to give meaning and purpose to our lives.

Is faith better than doubt?

Is meaninglessness and hopeless negativity, cynicism and skepticism in the face of a nihilistic existence better than "faith?"

There's the choice.

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Response to yallerdawg (Reply #23)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 09:51 AM

24. Doubt is not the antonym for Faith.

People who do not have faith are not nihilists, although many nihilists are people of no faith.

In reality, the antonym for religious faith is more accurately "inquiry."

Or, if you prefer, "facts" as an antonym for "faith" is far superior to "doubt."

The conflation in what you posted is quite obvious.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #24)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 10:15 AM

25. Antonyms of faith:

"Doubt, suspicion, uncertainty, rejection, denial, disbelief, skepticism, distrust, apprehension, mistrust, misgiving incredulity."

Doubt is not an antonym of "facts" or "inquiry."

It's not my conflation.

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Response to yallerdawg (Reply #25)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 10:35 AM

26. Yeah, well, someone made that list.

I have a different list. I'm someone, too.

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Response to yallerdawg (Original post)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 05:23 PM

27. Some will take exception to this:

consider this: Materialists, rationalists and atheists ultimately place their trust in certain propositions that require faith.


I do not because I agree with it. We all hold positions that we cannot prove.

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Response to guillaumeb (Reply #27)

Tue Dec 26, 2017, 05:28 PM

28. A standard of "proof" and "evidence" seems to be...

on very shaky ground in many things that we all hold to be true.

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Response to yallerdawg (Reply #28)

Thu Dec 28, 2017, 06:03 PM

30. Other than the existence of God,

Can you name a fact you hold to be true without any evidence whatsoever? I am not talking about values like human rights etc.

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