The End Of Faith, On Faith

I haven’t read Sam Harris’ End of Faith, yet (it’s still coming in the mail) but here’s a great excerpt from the book courtesy Watt Mahoun:

…religious faith is the belief in historical and metaphysical propositions without sufficient evidence. When the evidence for a religious proposition is thin or nonexistent, or there is compelling evidence against it, people invoke faith. Otherwise, they simply cite the reasons for their beliefs (e.g., “the New Testament confirms Old Testament prophecy,” “I saw the face of Jesus in a window,” “We prayed, and our daughter’s cancer went into remission”). Such reasons are generally inadequate, but they are better than no reasons at all. People of faith generally recognize the primacy of reasons and resort to reasoning whenever they can. Faith is simply the license they give themselves to keep believing when reasons fail. When rational inquiry supports the creed, it is championed; when it poses a threat, it is derided; sometimes in the same sentence. Faith is the mortar that fills the cracks in the evidence and the gaps in the logic, and thus it is faith that keeps the whole terrible edifice of religious certainty still looming dangerously over our world.

— The End of Faith, by Sam Harris (Afterword, pp 232-233)

My main gripe with faith is simply, why would God give us the tools to be critical thinkers, give us intellect to be able to sort through evidence and find the most probable truths, and then lay out a mess of evidence against any religion (Mormonism very much included) and then command us to have faith in the religion in question. Occam’s Razor seems to be the safest way to come to a conclusion and in using this method religion just isn’t cutting it for me.

Recently I wrote the following about faith:

I am currently going through this process of “figuring things out” [spiritually] for myself. It’s a tough process. There is a lot of evidence against the Church that in the very least merits consideration. That’s all: a piece of evidence doesn’t have to be a “smoking gun”, but some of these things really do merit consideration (Book of Abraham as a good example) and if these evidences start to make a big pile on your desk and that pile ends up tipping over, we are forced to make a choice […] however, one might feel that it’s simply against their integrity to accept the LDS’ claims at face value given all the evidence at hand. I many times think to myself, “why would God lay out (or allow to be laid out) all of this incriminatory evidence” and then ask us to just turn off our critical thinking skills and “just have faith”. That’s not logical to me and even if the LDS Church is true, I at least feel very sure that God will know these people’s [disaffected Mormons] hearts, their situation, and the heaps of evidence that has been presented to them- that realistically merits consideration.

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~ by bonoboi on November 10, 2006.

9 Responses to “The End Of Faith, On Faith”

  1. I’m amazed at how many blogs I’m stumbling upon lately like this. I’ve been going through this for the last year, not just for mormonism but christianity entirely and the concept of god in general. Best wishes in your journey. It’s an intense process, that’s for sure.

  2. It’s funny that I was just checking out your blog when I got the e-mail of your comment! Thanks for visiting!

  3. Mark, I’m looking forward to reading your response/reaction to Harris. I’m still rereading and digesting…it’s been a difficult read for me due to its implications. I think that if a book is measured by how it pushes one’s life about, then this is an important book.

  4. Sounds very interesting. I also ordered Letter to a Christian Nation- I should be getting it any day.

  5. My main gripe with faith is simply, why would God give us the tools to be critical thinkers, give us intellect to be able to sort through evidence and find the most probable truths, and then lay out a mess of evidence against any religion (Mormonism very much included) and then command us to have faith in the religion in question.

    I don’t mean to be critical, but I’ve wondered how BYU students can be so intelligent, inquisitive, and deep-thinking Monday through Saturday, and then feel totally comfortable turning their brains off on Sunday.

  6. I don’t mean to be critical, but I’ve wondered how BYU students can be so intelligent, inquisitive, and deep-thinking Monday through Saturday, and then feel totally comfortable turning their brains off on Sunday.

    In my opinion, this is one of the most interesting subjects to study: understanding how educated people can believe religious, paranormal or supernatural claims while also having knowledge of the advances in the fields of science, sociology and psychology. Many times we are confronted with information that proves contrary to our core beliefs and we have to mentally choose which cognition or idea we will accept. Generally the idea that will sustain our core beliefs will be the victor, and generally larger amounts of information to the contrary of our beliefs will be required to “tip the scales”, so to speak. This is called Cognitive Dissonance (“cognitive” being ideas and “dissonance” being the seperation or distance between the two). Generally when we are confronted with Cognitive Dissonance we may be show signs of fear, anger, and non-rational thinking (these are attributes I have clearly seen when talking to my father about controversial subjects in Church history). I have compiled some good information on the subject of Cognitive Dissonance if you click here, and yes, it is very interesting indeed what you stated in your comment. Thanks for stopping by, Steve!

  7. I’ve thought about this a lot, too. And I don’t want this to sound too cynical or emotion-charged, but I think Mormons are pretty good at the whole Dounlethink thing.

  8. I just read your post on doublethink. Those are some great quotes from the book 1984. Thanks for sharing!

  9. […] Those were my issues nearly a year ago. To seal the deal of my apostasy for me today- or the “final nail in the coffin” for me was probably and quite simply learning how to think critically for myself. Let me explain: anytime an issue was brought up with my father or anyone concerned with my doubts, their factory-produced replies came packed with logical fallacies. Every single argument for belief either ended in an unacceptable fallacy or that magic word to suspend rational thought and inquiry…faith. […]

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