GCSPrank Is Here

For people who spend the day saying and writing things that others accept, while thinking things that are infinitely more interesting.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A Question of Faith

I was raised Catholic so I had a head start on becoming an atheist.

It is a cliché that one’s college years become a Period of Exploration, a form of mental and emotional trek into the wilderness of adulthood. Religion often becomes a large part of that trek, as assumptions are challenged, egos are buffeted and the need for reliable answers becomes an agonic hunger.

To GCSPrank, exploring religions was more an analysis of the thought processes behind religion, primarily the concept of “faith.” A professor once casually tossed off the “faith can move a mountain” reference, which led to this exchange:

“If the mountain doesn’t move, it’s because I lack enough faith?” I asked.
“Precisely,” beamed the professor.
“Well, the me of little faith gets tons of dynamite and an army of bulldozers and moves the mountain.”
The professor smiled beatifically: “Faith gave you the answer.”
“No,” I replied, “Common sense did. Faith would have me wait for the answer to drop on my head.”

My classmates thought it funny, but not Mr. Faith. He called my remark “a silly notion” and I shot back “Like yours is scientific fact, right?” Things got interesting then.

The concept of faith bothered me because I saw it as passivity, as a simple notion of “don’t think, don’t question, just believe.” Faith as the antithesis of Reason, the Denial of Thought for the dubious benefit of Comfort.

But then what was the power of the mind for? To be placed in the harness of vague concepts, like hitching a Clydesdale to a toy cart? Even the dumbest beast is smarter than a wooden toy.

On the other hand, isn’t faith a form of release, an acknowledgement of limitations that are real and that by accepting these limitations, one can truly accept freedom? Why then is faith used as a shield to rickety notions, so that when pressed, you get an almost-inevitable “It’s a matter of faith”? The fault may lie in the user, not the shield, but when the user is deemed an expert—-minister, priest, theologian, fanatic—-hiding ignorance or faulty arguments with a wall that tries to demean rationality is not a path to freedom, but to subservience.

Case in point: the Dark Ages.

From challenging the notion of faith to challenging what people often place their faith in was but a small step. Belief had long yielded to doubt and doubt became, slowly, non-belief. But in the spirit of rationality and search for freedom, my decision is my own. I neither expect nor want others to choose “my way.” As convinced as the religious feel about their choice, I feel about mine. For now. Rationality, unlike faith, demands that I keep searching, probing, questioning and challenging.

Maybe someday I can meld faith and rationality so that what is now a kaleidoscope becomes a clear window within and without. And no, I have no faith in achieving that result.


Blogger rmacapobre said...

the burden of proof lies with whoevers making the claim. like say theists claiming the supernatural exists.

faith moving mountains is a metaphor.

April 05, 2005 8:01 PM  

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