“Faith is believing what you know ain't so.” – Mark Twain
What is required to believe in the existence of God? If you ask a theist they would quickly and confidently say "faith". So what exactly is faith? Speaking as someone who spent my formative years being brain washed by a religion that pervaded every facet of my life, I viewed faith as something real; something I could literally cling to in a time of need. Now, having spent the last ten years vigorously attempting to undo that brain washing, I realize that faith is the most brilliant con job in human history… and I was an unsuspecting mark.
From an early age I was taught about God and faith. I was also taught to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. The funny thing is I grew out of believing in those childhood myths when I was still a kid but why didn’t I grow out of God? What separated God from all of the other myths I was led to believe in? That’s where faith steps in.
Let’s get a definition on faith before we go any further. The problem with defining faith is that it’s highly subjective and depending on what angle you’re coming from you could get any number of answers. Faith can generally be split into two groups: biblical faith and secular faith. Since we’re talking about faith in God, we’re clearly more interested in biblical faith here. As an atheist, I prefer to simply define faith as a non-rational belief in the supernatural.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and, just like that dragon in my garage, God has intentionally been placed in a realm where the evidence is unobtainable. From the beginning, believers have searched for gods. First, they saw them in nature, the rocks, trees and streams. Then they saw gods at the tops of mountains then in the skies but they all just so happened to disappear as we explored the world and extended our reach. But those pesky gods just kept coming back, reappearing in the heavens, the divine realm. Century’s later cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin looked out into space and saw no god. God, supposedly omnipresent, shifted to beyond time and space, and beyond evidence and reason.
In fact, the only evidence we are afforded is biblical faith. Hebrews 11:1 is probably the most concise definition of faith found in the Bible. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1, KJV).” But how is faith any sort of legitimate evidence? The Greek word for "evidence" is translated as elegchos, which essentially means "conviction."
So let me see if I’ve got this right:
So, for believers, it’s not a matter of wanting to prove God exists, but rather demonstrate to God that they believe he exists, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. Without faith they wouldn't be able to do that. It’s like a secret handshake that you can only know if you first buy the membership. If you're not a member then you’re not privy to the secret handshake. Wow, this sounds an awful lot like a Catch-22, huh?
The incredible thing about faith is that it remains to be a #1 best seller despite the fallacy. If there were a restaurant that sold Faith Burgers (the McFaithful, for instance), the sign out front would read “Billions and Billions Served.” Equally incredible, is that once you decide to stop buying into the concept then the whole notion becomes completely absurd, unlike a Quarter Pounder with cheese. (Exception: you’re a vegan or on a diet, my apologies either way.)
With every con there is a mark and a con man. The con man profits by deceiving the mark, convincing them of something untrue in order to take advantage of their naiveté. Wonder who the con man in this scenario is? Nope, not God. He doesn’t exist, silly. It’s easy, just follow the money trail. Ever wonder how those giant, beautiful cathedrals were constructed or why evangelists drive expensive sports cars and live in mansions? That’s faith in action, my friend. Isn’t it wonderful?