January 22, 2010

Is Faith a Virtue?


Is faith a virtue, or just foolishness?

I've recently seen a couple examples of TV characters touting faith as a moral virtue. In their definition, faith means believing in something with absolutely no evidence. But I will argue that faith not only doesn't have to be blind, but can not be.

For instance, you have faith your car is not going to explode on the way to work this morning (trust in the manufacturers and its million person track record). You have faith that the elevator you're going to take to your floor is not going to free-fall and plummet you to your death (trust in the engineers and safety inspectors). You have faith that your spouse is not going to cheat on you today (trust in the person).

These things aren't foolish things to believe in. There are loads of evidence to back up this faith.

Now, is it foolish for me to believe in an omniscient spaghetti monster that's controlling the universe? Well, is there any evidence at all to back it up? Not that I'm aware of. This faith is blind. Subjective, personal and unconvincing. It almost seems silly to count on this.

What about belief in a loving God? Well, is there any evidence at all to back it up? Hundreds of eyewitnesses claimed the resurrection of Jesus. Historical evidence and records that back up his supernatural life. Now, you may not have experienced first-person evidence to the life of Jesus. But, that doesn't mean believing requires blind faith. There is evidence. Same reason I believe in the Civil War without taking part in it.

Therefore, comparing faith in an omniscient spaghetti monster and faith in Jesus is simply not appropriate. There's simply no reason to have confidence in the former.

I'm going to be taking next week off. Comment with things you trust in that you know to be slightly foolish. And enjoy the break. See you next Monday.

8 comments:

Ozconnor said...

Wait ... you know about the omniscient spaghetti monster too!!!

Ryan said...

Very good post.

chris said...

Just a side comment...

The church of the flying spaghetti monster isn't often used (or at least it was "created" to) to trivialize faith in Jesus by comparing him to pasta, but rather used to make a point about teaching religion in schools (and specifically the teaching of intelligent design). A lot of FSM folks would likely acknowledge the existence of a loving God and Jesus based on the evidence you cited, but also find the existence of a loving God to be insufficient evidence to support claims that God created humans a day after he made dinosaurs and that evolution never occurred.

I suppose some creationists would make a similar evidence-based argument in this case. So the question then becomes whether or not a faith must be evidence-based in order to be recognized or not recognized by the state? Is there a litmus test for how much evidence must exist for a faith-based (and I'm willing to throw a faith in science into the mix here) position to make its way into a textbook, for example?

Matt said...

Of course no one believes in a spaghetti monster. It's a macaroni monster.

Eric Olsen said...

ah, didn't know the origins of "spaghetti monster", Chris.

ryan, help us out here. I'm not aware of much compelling evidence for a young earth (6,000 years old, assumed through a particular biblical interpretation). But, couldn't scientific theory claim an intelligent designer on strictly observational grounds?

Ryan said...

Eric, there is NO compelling scientific evidence (or Biblical, for that matter) for a 6,000-year-old earth. As for an intelligent designer, most within the scientific community would say that answering that question is scientifically intractable. The ID folks would say that an intelligent designer can be claimed based on scientific grounds, but the arguments they use to invoke design generally don't much (if any) water.

LizLBM said...

I thought faith was belief WITHOUT evidence. I thought that was the whole point.

Eric Olsen said...

Liz, whenever you read the English word "faith" in the New Testament, the original greek word is a form of the word "pistos", which really means trust.

So, i think that the popular interpretation of the verse, "faith is the assurance of what you cannot see" is actually misconstrued.

We think that means "believing in things that are physically invisible", rather than things that simply have not come to pass yet.

So, that verse becomes someone's full rationalization and approval for believing in any supreme being or tooth fairy.

Rather than confidence in a promise from one who has proven themselves trustworthy.

since this is a week late, maybe this response will start the week back on monday...