I don’t really have a clue how much longer will I have the. . . ‘privilege’ of going to church with my parents. While I can’t complain too much, the moment I move out I’m going to enjoy sleeping in on Sundays. I’ve basically operated with the notion of a sort of 6 day week my whole life, with Sunday being a special time of the week reserved for church and family stuff.
So while I still go, I thought it’d be interesting to sort of use this as a writing opportunity to sort of shed my perspective on the sermons. I go to a Christian Alliance Church near home, and the sermons there have always been interesting to hear for the most part. My pastor speaks with a sort of gentle authority that I’m sure is entrancing to listen to for most like myself. He can tell a joke or two but for the most part, it’s short but deep. I used to be eager to take in every word and apply it to my life before I became an atheist, but now every sermon comes as a sort of personal challenge to seek the veracity in his words and challenge my own nonbelief. It’s not that challenging, though. For the most part his sermons are presented specifically to believer, so there’s not much for the nonbeliever like me to really nibble on. The last time I had something worth really thinking about was over a month or two ago. In that particular sermon, he started talking about faith. For those he said who challenge the need for faith, he said matter of factly “We have faith in things all the time, what do you mean you don’t need faith? I have faith the sun rises every day, faith that my phone operates well enough to do the job -god knows I’ve know clue how this contraption works- we all need faith!”
So let’s talk about faith for a moment.
This is of course paraphrasing, though the phone and sun examples are accurate. I couldn’t possibly remember it word for word, but I digress. It made me think of my own objections to faith and why I felt that faith the way it’s described in the bible wasn’t necessary. For one, it sounded to me that the “faith” that the pastor talked about that day seemed a lot like trust, NOT the biblical version. The sun rose yesterday and the day before, spanning throughout your whole life. It’s not that hard to expect that, from experience, it would do so again. Same with the car and the phone. If the phone didn’t work yesterday, I wouldn’t be so trusting of that phone in my pocket. The faith that the pastor talked about was entirely based on prior evidence to warrant the faith. (Or trust, take your pick) The christian faith, though, has nothing to do with evidence. While people probably have their own sorts of evidences supporting their christian faith, it’s not at all necessary for belief.
Faith, as biblically defined, means this: “1 Now faith is the 1aassurance of things 2bhoped for, the3conviction of cthings not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
William Lane Craig adheres to the Webster definition: “an unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.”
I can’t accept that notion as anything more than belief without justification. If this is what faith means, what use does it have? Even Craig goes so far as to say in his website that even though this is what faith means, Christians still have evidence. And I’ve heard most, if not all, of the arguments, from refined to emotional. Let alone the fact that it’s never been sufficient, this is in direct conflict with the biblical calling for Christians to have faith. I think it impossible to sincerely believe in something without evidence. Let’s be honest, we’re insecure beings. We just don’t take what’s handed to us. I’m willing to bet that everyone who comes to the Christian faith already had prior belief in a god. As evidence motivated creatures, I find it hard to think that anyone actually had a complete lack of evidence before just going forward and believing in god. Sure, their evidences may be false arguments or years of being raised in a religious family. But no matter the quality of evidence, it’s evidence nonetheless.Though, the faith Christians talk about has a catch. If at any point the evidence fails, it doesn’t matter because there was never a need for it! The sting of this is that when the evidence falters in a believer, their belief will still be warranted unlike before they believed, and now they will continue to blindly believe sans justification. Is this any way to operate in real life? Do I just keep believing in things in face or in absence of evidence, or embrace the fact that I have no justification for my beliefs?
Unjustified beliefs are dangerous in many ways, and holding them as highly as the religious does runs risk of many things, like self delusion. There’s no questioning that we are our worst enemies when it comes to finding the truth. Confirmation bias, compartmentalization, and emotions fog our perception of reality all the time. People claim to see ghosts, spirits and a list of nonsense as a result. Why would religion risk going into this category if they cared about being a truth based belief system? I have a theory about why but that’s a post for another day. Until then, let’s conclude with this:
I have absolutely no problem with faith as long as there is evidence for it. Hell, we can hope for things without evidence in the same vein with no problem. But the moment we try and find truth by disregarding evidence, we might as well have handed our eyes over to that which we blindly believe in.
We aren’ t about using them anymore, that’s for sure.
So this is my intro to a weekly sort of ramble I’ll be writing about my thoughts on sermons I have to listen to. I might make a small post about today’s sermon but it’s really nothing huge. They’re talking about the book of Joshua.
-A slightly bored self proclaimed Bard in the back of the room listening to the sermon