This, and so much more, was also posted over at my blog, Cubik's Rube
Let's own up to a dark and terrible truth.
We atheists all know that we have just as much faith in unproven superstitions as the religious people we so gleefully despise. I mean, secretly, we're all well aware that our beloved "science" is just another way of seeing the world, dependent on at least as much blind belief as, say, fundamentalist Christianity, and that evolution is a religion just like any other, with Darwin as our god. Right? That's why we worship him and never question anything he ever said or did, right?
We like to bill ourselves as the skeptical, rational, faithless
ones, just because our convictions are always tentatively held based on the current state of the competing theories and subject to change in light of new observations. But come on, we're among friends here. We don't need to keep this ludicrous pretence up all the time.
But I was wondering: Since our position is really one of at least as much blind faith as your average god-botherer, what would a position genuinely
devoid of any faith actually look like?
Most religious believers will proudly claim faith as a virtue, after all, and wear their disregard for measurable truth and empirical reality as a badge of honour. But any traditional scientific mindset is just as faith-based - or so we're often told by these same religious types (and who would know better?). Does this mean that everyone alive has to have some sort of faith in something? Must every opinion ever held by a human brain be on this same level of unprovability? Does belief in anything
, or the holding of any
conviction, on any subject, necessitate an equally religious approach?
Or is it actually possible to be truly faith-free, and look on life without ever making that leap, leaving aside for now the issue of whether this would actually be a good thing?
This is a question for any faithful who make this argument, rather than actual skeptics, obviously. Despite my little rhetorical device up there, which you may have noticed my attempting to use for comic effect a few paragraphs ago, faith is
entirely antithetical to what we call our scientific, skeptical worldview. But the true believers do stop by here from time to time, so maybe someone will care to explain this. If scientific understanding is based on faith just as much as your religion, what would an outlook that really doesn't have any faith at all look like? Are there people out there who approach the world in this way? Would it be possible for them to ever know anything, or form any kind of views on the truth?
Many people would say that this is called "science" - but is science something different, and intrinsically faith-based in the way it's set up? Or could science potentially be this faithless worldview I'm talking about, if all those silly scientists would stop espousing positions that so obviously require you to just "believe" in them, like evolution, for which nobody has ever published reams and reams of evidence
Or, if we tried to take a faith-free approach to everything, would we find ourselves stuck in some sort of limbo, where nothing can ever be known, understood, or even talked about coherently? Are we really left with no choice but to apply a faithy outlook constantly, one way or another, if we ever want anything to mean anything? This seems weird to me, but if you can explain how it's reconciled with whatever your concept of faith is, I'd love to hear it. (It also brings up the usual questions of how you can judge your own kind of faith to be superior to any other, but that's a long-awaited rant that I'll get back to working on another time.)