Hard Facts
Hard Facts

Faith is not required

Some claim that even atheists need faith for events or facts not witnessed directly. This is simply untrue and displays a deep misunderstanding of how non-believers (and believers for the most part) function.

I have no faith at all and have found no use for it.

After all, I don't know of my own knowledge that New York exists. Yet this does not mean I must have faith that it does.

I have a huge accumulation of information about New York from multiple sources. While it could have all been faked it would take an unreasonable effort to do so.

I once walked through Hyde Park on a whim and overheard a tourist mention New York to a friend. It's possible that there's always a member of the conspiracy in Hyde Park ready to give me false information in case I pass through, but I think we can assign that a low probability. So the sum of all those sources amounts to near certainty.

For scientific discoveries I can not check them directly. Some of the time I can check them for internal consistency and I can rely on other scientists to question and disprove or confirm them. Scientists are not perfect, but the process works.

My confidence in other facts or events might be lower and of course it's always important to remember that they are estimates so I might be wrong. When I encounter someone who claims I am wrong I try to find out more about it in case I am.

I'm also perfectly willing to say that I don't know. If I truly don't know the answer I have no urge to make something up and then believe it.

No one has anything better. People of 'faith' just think that they do.

In fact believers rely on the same sources I do for most things. They don't use faith to make ordinary decisions in their everyday lives. You assign a high confidence in the fuel indicator in your car and a lower figure for the weather forecast and you take an umbrella anyway. You can tell if someone uses faith to know if it will rain as they will be the one arriving dripping wet.

Sometimes I'll hear "but what about faith in people?" but that's much the same. I have a friend that I could trust with a 10million winning lottery ticket. This isn't based on anything magical, but on previous experience and knowledge of how this friend behaves and thinks. You don't just look at someone in the street and think "I have faith in them" or if you do then you're likely to end up owning a lot of bridges and shares in Nigerian bank accounts.