Faith-Based Realities

It seems that more and more people are living in a “faith-based” reality, where the harder you believe something the more true it is (or at least seems to you). But just because one believes (or feels) very strongly about something does not increase its objective truth (or applicability to other people). Otherwise, we are dealing with what media genius Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness.”

What passes for political discourse in America’s increasingly uneducated society reminds me of a recent debate between Sam Harris and Deepak Chopra — entitled “Does God Have a Future” (worth a Google) – wherein Sam responds with the memorable line “Repeating something over and over and saying it louder doesn’t make it more true.”

His partner, scientific atheist Jim Shermer, later asks: “Why does belief matter? Shouldn’t it matter more how you comport yourself in life and how you treat other people?” In a society still under the thrall of bronze-age scriptures, this is a highly relevant question. If there is a God, I doubt very much that he cares what ignorant humans happen to believe, or that Jesus is going to sort us at some last judgment on that basis.

Furthermore, the idea that we can be saved by faith alone is a socially scary one — people have been made to do all sorts of insanely violent things based on faith, in the name of religion (like killing people in “holy wars” or burning each other’s “holy books”).

If we need faith (and I’m not saying we don’t), why not cultivate faith in our ability to learn and adapt, rather than in rigid belief systems? This would be faith in oneself, or self-confidence — a very good thing.

One thought on “Faith-Based Realities

  1. amen! What we need is faith in one another, so that people of very different ‘faith systems’ will be guided by the overriding belief that we have one another’s best interests at heart, and that we act in ways that elevate rather than diminish others as we personally strive also to more fully flourish. People of religious faith can be singled out throughout human history for the great good, and great harm, they have done. Same goes for people with zealous faith in certain types of economic or political systems (some of whom also have religious faith, others of whom have none at all). To have faith in oneself of the best sort, I believe, one must dispense with extreme dogmatism (an all too pervasive trait these days) and be open to a compelling array of objections and alternatives to one’s own perspectives. This in turn requires some measure of autonomy, empathy, and social conscience.

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