Op Ed: Faith Is Not An Alternative Fact

At some point we all must rely on faith for certain situations. However when religious faith replaces logical analysis as a method to determine common reality it should be noted faith by it’s nature is meaningless and dangerously susceptible to becoming a corrupting influence.

Common faith allows the acceptance of unverifiable explanations as actionable so as to replace evidence based truth. Sometimes we need this in extreme situations, you don’t know if the floor will hold as you escape the burning building but you have to have faith in it to save your life. You must accept the risk.

Faith is based on claims while knowledge is based on evidence. If you have no evidence for a claim then effectively it is meaningless and is no different than a lie. Lies however imply a conscious effort to deceive by contradicting evidence with deceit.

Evidence uses facts in order to support conclusions. It was recognized long ago that the human brain has built in biases attributed to pattern recognition that evolved over billions of years of evolution as a survival response. This pattern recognition is responsible for quick “conclusion” making capabilities when the situation for survival is the greatest need. However once immediate survival is accomplished this ability still functions impacting higher brain activity (i.e. seeing a face in clouds). We rely on facts in order to build evidence into a conclusion.

Facts are information. We are bombarded by information constantly and the only effective means to overcome our built in biases to this information are to determine what evidence we can use to draw a conclusion to what is common reality and what is personal bias.

In religious thought, common reality breaks down at the point someone recognizes the impossibility their cherished personal biases could ever be truth. Faith then must substitute metaphorical reality to reinforce the threatened bias as fact. A common ancestor with apes holds no comparison to being created specifically to host the divine spark of godly power “so evolution is just another religion”. Religion requires a metaphorical universe in order to place god at the center of all things. Even if the claim is “God is real”, it is still just a metaphor for it is a statement of faith not a statement of fact.

Science uses metaphor as well but has to be transparent about why it uses the metaphor to explain complex relationships and observations. Science uses metaphor to demonstrate the explanation but cannot replace the fact with the metaphor. Science may say the universe expands like a bubble but that doesn’t mean the conclusion is a bubble shaped universe.

By contrast, religion must shroud it’s explanations in arcane mystery as to why things happen. It must do this to confuse facts as to warp all explanations back to the authority of its deity. Faith must do this or admit that it is fallible. Religion is the grandest of facades but built on the weakest of foundations.

Admitting to being possibly wrong is something that religion will never to do because the one defining attribute of faith is confidence in “the faith”. This leads to the magnificent fallacy that everything in the universe was created by God except for God itself which is eternal …so that settles that.

No, it doesn’t.

Quoting Christopher Hitchens,

“What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence“.

This assertion of omnipotence without accountability explains why religions only use their sacred texts as a single reference of universal authority. Texts which have intentionally subjective meanings that require interpretation based on its application. Meanings which, unlike science have been carefully crafted over centuries to apply to almost any interpretation and lead back to the divine origin. As example, let’s look at a common creationist argument concerning the length of God’s “day” during creation.

To explain radio carbon dating showing the universe to be much older than 6000 years, creationists will argue that Gods “day” as described in Genesis is just a metaphor for billions of years. To maintain “the faith” they ignore the use of the word “year” throughout the rest of their holy text instead warping this particular instance to fit an outside objective truth to maintain “the faith”. Not only is this conclusion subjective it is also selective and insincere. It is the insincerity that turns this from an ignorant  falsehood into the malicious lie.

But religion doesn’t stop at altering the meaning of its own texts. Religion will reference other forms of information however not as any criticism that “the faith” could be wrong but to support it’s position of infallibility. Only uncompromising faith can maintain the relationship with this objectively unverifiable truth that God is at the center of all things. For “the faith” to work God must be wedged firmly in the gaps.

It is easier to believe a lie than an inconvenient truth.

The acceptance of faith is the acceptance to believe a lie with such conviction that no objective explanation can ever replace it. The basic tenant of faith is the application (i.e “faith without works is dead”) which means adherents must actively apply the lie. Typically this targets those who fail to realize the truth of “the faith”. Religion explains it is lack of “the faith” in the others that causes suffering in the world. That suffering is the denial of God.

Due this tenant, faith must insert itself into matters beyond its self identified “realm of the soul” by claiming shared events are connected to it’s creator as the explanation for everything worth knowing. Even if the information points to causes without a need for invoking a divinity the event will still be attributed to “God’s glory”. The team of medical practitioners who study for years and sacrifice a great deal for the knowledge to heal the sick too often takes a back seat to a patients recovery which is praised publicly as a “miracle” or “blessing”.

No, it’s not.

It’s what happens when people help others instead of praying to help others.

Religious faith has steal it’s glory like that because it uses this cultural wild card that allows the acceptance of it’s own unverified explanation as the only truth that matters. This substitution for a metaphorical reality comes into direct conflict with objective reality which leads to atrocities ironically religion claims to remedy. Atrocities recorded time and again throughout history trying to hide the fact that “the faith” is gullibility personified.

By not taking the existential threat that “the faith” poses seriously, we do an injustice to ourselves and our posterity in allowing such blatant cultural abuse to continue by those determined to lie for the sake of self imposed emotional comfort. Those of us who do use a common frame of reference as an explanation for the working of the universe would do well to stop giving faith based belief systems the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their malevolence.

Faith can be very beneficial when it’s used to provide courage in extreme situations. However when conflated to religious faith, it becomes a cycle of denial that defeats its purpose. It becomes a refuge for the basest of lies sold only to comfort fear, not to overcome it. Religious faith in the final analysis is but a brilliant excuse for con men to lie and for suckers to buy.

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