When it comes to faith, I’m with George Michael

Last month, I quit my job.

It was one of the most exhilarating and frightening things I have done in a very long time. Exhilarating because I was excited about future possibilities. Frightening because I didn’t have another job to go to, and, like most of us, I need money to survive. I still don’t have another job, but freelancing is keeping me afloat.

I’ve been thinking about faith recently, mostly because I have had to have a lot of it. There are no guarantees that I won’t be living in my parents’ basement in the next two months, so faith in my ability to write well enough to get another job is top of mind for me right now.

Faith seems to be a pejorative these days; the faithful are written off as ridiculous. I suspect that’s because ridiculous things are done and said in the name of faith (mostly religious things). This is what Richard Dawkins has to say on the matter:

Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.

I am aware of the uncritical thinkers Dawkins alludes to, I don’t believe we need to throw out the concept because of a few spoiled apples. While many understand faith as the evasion of thought and reason, I see it, in many circumstances, as a confident prediction.

Certainly, faith is a belief in something of which you have no proof (so you could be completely wrong and, thus, should be careful — especially when it comes to legislation), but I don’t see why believing in something unproven has to be foolish.

Humans make faith-based decisions everyday. For example, we get married. Marriage is based on what we know of someone in the present; we predict that that our spouses will continue to display certain characteristics on time goes on. There is no proof that everything will work out (and sometimes we bet on the wrong horse), but we do our best with the information we have.

UPDATE:

My good friend has challenged a point that I thought was worth noting. She asked about having faith in things that have already happened, such as Noah’s Ark. In those cases, I would hope the faith holder has looked into the matter and can give his or her best theory based on the available evidence/counter-evidence. Openness to challenge is a must.

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2 thoughts on “When it comes to faith, I’m with George Michael

  1. Dawkins requires the need to think and evaluate evidence. He has forgotten to include understanding as a result of his evaluation. The world is full of “critical thinkers” each with their own shaped box of understanding. Fortunately, God always offends the intellect, not just of Richard, but of all mankind. I say fortunately because a “god” any of us can fully understand would be a lot smaller than the God I worship. To believe in the goodness of God and his character in the face of human suffering requires a thought process beyond the simple “evaluate evidence” model Dawkins seems to favor.
    In fairness to Dawkins, his thought processes are reasonable at first glance and even now, with my perceived need to understand, I too often stumble back to this type of thinking . And therein lies the rub. My not understanding God does not negate him nor is it a “cop out”. It’s faith based on what I believe is God’s word and careful thought. Some might even call it “critical”.

  2. Dawkins doesn’t need me to defend him, but I will say that he certainly has the ability to think. But I think you have a point when you talk about people’s own “boxes of understanding”.

    Dawkins is a great mind, but we differ on a number of things philosophically. When it comes to faith, I think he approaches it with a broad stroke that fits in with the way he sees things.

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