Faith and accidental true belief

What is faith, except belief in something that you have no evidence for? Some might say that it is hope for things to be true, but that seems dishonest. When people resort to faith, they are falling back into a corner of belief despite the fact that your skeptical questions have not been sufficiently answered. They don’t have an actual reason, based on facts of any kind, to believe what they do, but they believe it anyway.

In re-reading Plato’s Theaetatus just recently, I was thinking about the idea of faith in light of justification. Are people of faith justified in believing what they do? More specifically, is an article of faith something that can be intellectually respectable?


A proposition given without any rational basis, whether from logical argument or empirical evidence, is not a belief that has merit.  And despite what apologists say, the arguments for god, especially the specific gods of religions like Christianity, don’t have merit.  Why would anyone take such a proposition seriously, except for the fact that they were exposed to accept it under youth or emotional upheaval, as well as the subsequent emotional association with the idea. It may actually be held as an idea and accepted as a fact, but without a reason to accept it, it’s just credulity.

And further, it would not be justifiable even if it happened to be true. Why not? Because the criteria to consider a belief justified is whether there is justification (yes, it’s that obvious) for the belief.

To be correct about a belief by accident, that is to say to accept it without rational justification, and have it be true anyway is merely a stroke of luck.  To take pride in being right by accident is no better than thinking that the lottery numbers you chose were right before the drawing.  And faith, being a belief without rational justification, due to the fact that the belief lacks evidence, is therefore at best accidental true belief.  At worst, it is a false belief held for no reason.

This is just one of the reasons why Pascal’s wager (the idea that we should believe just in case it is true) is so absurd.

If you cannot supply good reasons to believe something, then you cannot be surprised when other people do not accept your belief as intellectually respectable. Further, you may not have any justification for believing it yourself, in which case your credulity may be a reason to wonder about whether you are a person worthy of respect as a rational person

Rational is as rational does, or something.

Some quick thoughts on liberal Christianity and polyamory

Here are some thoughts I just sent to someone I’m corresponding with via email.  The conversation originated from an argument on a polyamory email list about religion and polyamory.  I will not quote any of what anyone else said, as this email group is intended to be private, but I feel comfortable sharing my own thoughts, especially since they are relevant to this blog.

My interlocutor had asked my to clarify a position of mine concerning internal logical consistency and justification when it comes to churches and the acceptance of polyamory.

The issue I was discussing, concerning consistency, has to do with a religious group being consistent to the ideas in the sources of their beliefs.  For Christians, that is the Bible.  The reason is that without that source, they cannot have any basis for knowing (not to mention justifying) the story of Jesus.  If the Bible is not authoritative, then they cannot have any basis for believing that Jesus said anything, resurrected, or even existed in the first place.  There is little to no historical justification for the historical Jesus’ existence outside of scripture, whether canonical or not.

A church that does not accept some of the Bible must admit, in order to be logically respectable, that they must then justify why they accept some of what the scripture says but not all.  And if they say they are just reading it differently, then they need to justify how the institution that is responsible for the very existence of those books to be included in the Bible interpreted them wrongly for so long.  When a group shapes a message and their descendants say that their ancestors got it wrong, my skeptical dander goes up.

A modern church, accepting polyamory, has to justify how they do so while still accepting the Bible which, along with the tradition in which it grew, rejects such ideas and practices.

I’m not expecting a religion to justify itself to my point of view, I’m expecting it to justify itself to it’s own sources, tradition, etc.

I understand that churches promote messages that will bring people in.  It’s called pandering.  The way I see it, liberal churches orient their messages such that they can attract parishioners, so that it can keep pastors employed.  Church growing is a business, in many ways.

The other aspect of this, as I said before, is that the liberal churches have people that really believe they are being truly Christian.  They don’t like the fundamentalist conservative doctrines, but they still are emotionally attached to their relationship with God and like some of the Biblical messages.  So they ignore the rest, explain them away, or claim they are no longer relevant.  AKA cherry-picking

I, personally, respect the consistency of fundamentalists over liberal theology any day of the week (and twice on Sunday–HA!).  While I disagree with both, I at least respect the fundamentalists’ consistency.  In other words, I am more annoyed by liberal and moderate religious people than the conservatives.

I’m glad that churches are willing to accept such things as polyamory and homosexuality, despite what christian tradition and scripture says.  I just think it’s fair to point out that such churches do so despite these things, not because of them.