There is an absurd amount of respect in our society for patent absurdities under the label of “faith.” Our society affords an uncomfortably high level of protection to those who, with all their heart and soul, consider themselves functionally certain that a direct logical contradiction in terms is, or ever could be true. The trend of faith as a default position is both overwhelming and disconcerting.
The truth is that skepticism, to an uncomfortably, annoyingly high degree, must be the default position in order for a person’s mind to remain within the realm of logic, reason and, in short, reality. The faithful person simply assumes that which requires proof, and boldly states that the act of assuming itself is indeed the proof. “Faith is my evidence, what’s yours?”
I’m reminded of a comic I once saw. It depicted the logic of the faithful most skillfully. “I have a baseball,” one stick figure claims. “Oh yeah?” replies another, looking incredulous, “Prove it!” The first stickfigure’s head grows gigantic and his expression insane, frothing at the mouth, “YOU CAN’T PROVE THAT I DON’T!”
While this example is quirky and humorous, it scores the point directly, with no frills or sugar-coating nonsense (which I despise). The Faithful makes a claim. When asked to prove that claim, he replies that the questioner must not be in the right frame of mind to question such an obvious truth, and that he, instead, must disprove it. This is contrary to how process of making truth claims actually works.
If a claim is made, you search or ask for proof. If such evidence cannot be found or presented, you adopt the default position of disbelief until such a time when adequate evidence can be presented. At that point, your default position can, and should, be reevaluated. This follows the same line of logic as the popular saying in the American justice system, “Innocent Until Proven Guilty.” In this case, “False Until Proven True.”
If a person were to make a plainly absurd claim (“I have invisible, inaudible leprechauns hiding in my garage”), they would, of course, be met with incredulity, but also asked to present proof. When they said “I can’t prove it, you just have to believe,” or “Can you prove that I don’t?” they immediately pay a price both socially and professionally. They may even be placed into a mental institution if they persist in their obvious delusion.
This is a hypothetical scenario that most everyone would agree upon. Why, then, do we apply a different logic when someone says that invisible, inaudible leprechauns are their religious, spiritual, faith-based belief? Shouldn’t blatantly absurd shades of faith claims be met with the same hostility and ridicule, lest they poison our minds’ and our society’s ability to judge truth claims?
There is so much about Christianity in particular that I hold to be directly contrary to that which I consider true and good. The doctrine of vicarious redemption at the core of the Crucifixion mythos discourages personal responsibility because of the idea that one may be forgiven and “saved” simply by choosing to believe (as if it was possible to choose one’s own beliefs while remaining intellectually honest) and accept that someone, claiming divine warrant, committed assisted suicide on behalf of everyone who had ever and would ever live.
This unpleasant proposition is intensified still further by the tale that a being exists the goal of whom is to destroy us, or perhaps get us to destroy ourselves, depending on who you ask. It is, therefor, only partially our fault that we are tempted to break the rules and laws set forth in front of and around us.
We are then told that it is entirely our fault should we choose to disbelieve. When logic fails and appeals to emotion fall short, threats come marching in to save the day. It’s eternal hellfire that awaits us. Just wait, we’ll see. Then it’ll be too late.
This is why I ridicule religion, faith and faith-based beliefs. This is why I meet them with hostility. Because they encourage, indeed rely upon, the very fallacies which I hold to be harmful to the mind and to society. I must ridicule religious and faithful belief. To do otherwise would be to ignore and, indeed, act against my principles.
Not only is ridicule a right, it is a necessity for a functioning society.