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Faith (Adults Only)
Faith (Adults Only)
Written by Skeeve, for Atheists Today, Sep 4, 2008.

Far too often, when discussing religion with believers, the conversation reaches a stalemate with the theist calling "faith". Regardless of the evidence, or lack thereof, the believer will fall back upon this as a last defense. The word faith is used quite often without religious overtones. I have faith the sun will come up in the morning, we have faith that our government will take care of us, your faith in your fellow man gives you hope for a better tomorrow. These are beliefs based on past observations and experiences.

The type of faith used by religion is basically stated thus:

"Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence."

Believing there is a god or gods is something learned from an early age. This belief is often based on ancient myths and texts, written by superstitious people without knowledge of the world outside their immediate sphere of existence. When a child is immersed in these extraordinary tales of morality and superhuman feats, and is told by their parents that they are true, they have no choice but to believe them.

Couple this with a belief in entities like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, children are led to see the world in a duality where reality and magic mix. Of course, with age, these particular beliefs fade as they learn that instead of magical beings, these constructs are most typically their parents. The lie is exposed, but since it was done in "fun", overlooked and forgotten. Or is it?

It is this authors belief that these fantasy characters reinforce the god concept, and because there is no similar uncovering of the lie, this particular idea is perpetuated long after the child matures. Of course, with any sustained scrutiny, an educated person can see the inconsistencies and contradictions in most religious texts. This can cause some to reshape their beliefs to fit better with their own convictions and morals. It can also cause some to question their beliefs and possibly lead them to find them false and stop believing them. These are people that can accept that faith may not be enough. But there is another type, that even when faced with overwhelming evidence, will steadfastly fall back on faith.

Faith that everything they were told when a child is true. Faith that it must be true. Their entire life revolves around their beliefs, and without it, they are afraid. This is the consequence of teaching the lie to children. When you mold and force ideas on young minds, these sometimes become so intertwined with other real and concrete concepts, they are almost indistinguishable.
Using fear as a means of reinforcing the god concept only makes this worse. In a perfect world, religion wouldn't be taught to anyone until they were mature enough to make their own decisions regarding the veracity of it's claims. It's hard to exercise free will when you've been brainwashed into believing a concept that has no supporting evidence.

Of course, this article is all opinion, and does not represent anyone but the author. But, I have faith that it will be read and we can find some agreement in the ideas put forth.

catman on 09/05/2008 15:07

I agree with most of this article. However, isn't it possible that finding out that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are not real could cause a child to wonder whether or not the existence of a god is also open to question?

Skeeve on 09/05/2008 23:41

You would think. But in two of the three examples, they come but once a year. Religion is a daily assault and it's real!

Hypatia on 09/06/2008 01:35

I like the article.

Yes, I think we're expected to outgrow our belief in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy before we're grown, but expected to continue believing in god, if we were taught to.

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