- Faith is not the scientific method.
- Faith is trust in something or someone or confidence in something or someone.
- Faith is something less than knowledge regarding what is not seen but hoped for.
In my opinion, the religious use the word faith with the preceding and silent word “blind”. It’s effortless. When in doubt, have more faith! When a crisis arises, have more faith! When new learning contradicts doctrine, have more faith!
Blind, blind, blind!
Well, until cognitive dissonance rears its ugly head!
We have three concepts at play here. The first is confirmation bias. This “protects” our core self, our core beliefs. As we perceive and then interpret events around us, confirmation bias draws our attention to that which confirms our core beliefs and “hides”, if you will, that which contradicts the same. For an example, this is a reason the religious believe a god hears and answers prayers. You’ve seen this on television newscasts I’m sure! Some horrific accident happens and a loved one is not injured severely and quickly recovers, in answer to prayer.
But we then notice there was the loved one of someone else involved and they died. No miracle for them, no answer to prayer or, at the very least, not the answer sought for. Fickle god or serendipity?
Confirmation bias is my contention.
Oh, God needed them! Um, how do you know? God sent you a letter? An e-mail? Anything physical? No? It was just a feeling? You just know it? How?!?!?
The other side of the coin is that we neglect to track all the unanswered prayers! They do not confirm our bias! We “forget” the many times we did not get an expected answer. Think about it. Honestly. How many have we forgotten?
I mentioned a second concept, cognitive dissonance, above. This is the very uncomfortable feeling one gets when confronted by contrary evidence to a core belief. We then do a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g and e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g we can to ameliorate that discomfort! We rationalize, minimalize, or just plain ignore the cause of our discomfort.
We can become blind to the fact discomfiting us.
The third concept I wish to put forward for consideration is tribalism. Why do we believe what we believe? Parents, extended family, local teachers all play a part in our tribalism. Babies are born with no knowledge of any god, religion, politics or any other tribally based teaching. They get this because of where they are born geographically and to whom they were born (or raised, as in the case of adopted infants) locally.
I was born to parents in North America, in the United States of America, in the State of Utah who were practitioners of the faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and who descended from parentage who were also practitioners of the same faith.
That’s why I was a Baptist!
Seriously, no. That’s why I was also a practitioner of the Latter-day Saint faith. Parents to children. Tribal knowledge passed down, generation to generation. My chances of actually being a Baptist or adherent of any other faith would be very, very slim until I reached adulthood and chose for myself.
So, please consider for yourself why you believe what you believe. Was it tribal knowledge? No? Really? You say you’ve had “confirmation” from “spiritual experiences” that have let you “know” your faith is factual?
Are you certain your interpretations are not due to tribal knowledge indicating the how of your interpretations? You know, if you see this or hear that or think this or feel that, the experience is from God or is “spiritual”?
Until you can provide objective evidence to confirm your claim, it’s not factual. It’s not what you think (or feel) it is.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
You do realize that with the sheer number of faiths/religions/belief systems that we, as humans, no longer (if ever!) rely on objectivity. Some few do, but not as a whole. We’re tribal.
Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists…
Americans, Russians, Chinese, Europeans, Indians, Africans, Scandinavians, Oceanics…
Utahns, Coloradans, Texans, Alaskans, Georgians…
When, in fact, we are all…
Once we can appreciate our tribalistic differences along with the same in others, we can better appreciate our own humanity and appreciate it more than what differentiates us tribally, culturally. Maybe even start using objectivity to better navigate life together as a single species. Maybe make this world a better place, reduce division, be better stewards.
Not be blind.
(I know, I waxed very philosophically at the end! I just got caught up in the whole concept. I’m human. )