Editor’s Note: We don’t know if Uma Thurman actually doesn’t subscribe to religion, but according to this article, she appears to question certain claims made by religion. In terms of millions not believing in God, in the recent book Secular Surge: A New Fault Line in American Politics, the authors find that one in four Americans are secularists and that religiously unaffiliated and secular Americans are growing in both parties, especially among the young. The book’s authors are David E. Campbell, Professor of American Democracy at the University of Notre Dame; Geoffrey C. Layman, chair of the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Political Science; and John C. Green, Professor of Political Science at the University of Akron.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Torah Bontrager or The Amish Heritage Foundation (AHF). AHF is a 501(c)(3) secular nonprofit/NGO and supports the First Amendment’s establishment clause requiring separation of church and state.
Author Bio: FIVEBORO FREETHINKER is a born and raised New Yorker. She was brought up in both Catholicism and Judaism by two semi-practicing parents and endured religious training that never stuck. She is a lifelong atheist and actively engaged in fighting the religious right in America through legislation and law enforcement.
THE PROBLEM WITH FAITH
The word faith has become a byword for the personal opinions of the religious in modern America. Used to describe the emotional attachment to their beliefs and attempt to legitimize said emotional attachment into a truth claim, the word faith is meant to confer immunity from criticism on religious opinions held by believers.
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And since believers these days are making a great show about facts and verifiable information (some of them, as the age of information progresses and they realize they have none), while still lacking said facts and verifiable information, let us begin our discussion with a verifiable piece of information: the definition of faith. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a reliable and testable source, faith is defined as follows:
1. firm belief in something for which there is no proof
2. belief and trust in and loyalty to God; belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
3. something that is believed especially with strong conviction, especially a system of religious beliefs
These definitions are relevant and important to the cause of believers, though not in the way they think or want them to be. To the believer, the excuse of faith is the perfect get-out clause: “It’s my faith; how dare you question my personally held beliefs? By attacking my faith, you’re attacking me personally and therefore . . .
. . . I’ll lash out at you and think badly of you. Because, you’ve attacked me!”
The problem with this is that, absent of fact, as the definition clearly states, faith renders any premise held upon it as an opinion. Once again, faith is by definition belief without proof. And without verifiable proof (not the “proof” believers so vociferously present and cannot understand why it isn’t valid), there’s no ability to test, or falsify any claim held on faith, thereby rendering any premise held on faith invalid. If we can’t test it to be true, particularly the claims of the religious that their god interferes materially and tangibly on our world, then we have no ability to assign truth to these claims and shouldn’t logically accept them as truth. They must by definition remain opinion, regardless of what believers try to claim otherwise. They in fact actually don’t have the ability to do so, and that’s when the personal attacks begin against their challengers since they feel they’ve been personally attacked.
It should be noted that believers are unable to understand the truly sinister nature of this mindset. It’s first of all not the fault of the nonbeliever that the believer has subsumed their religious opinions into their personality and have therefore decided that any attack against their beliefs is also personal. They’ve lost sight of the fact that their religious opinions are only ideas, and ideasdon’t have rights. People have rights, and their faith has compelled them to deny those same rights to others on the basis of what’s merely an opinion. Moreover, their faith doesn’t validate any of these ideas as truth; it merely identifies the religious opinion as a deeply held emotional attachment that’s true because the believer wants it to be true, not because it can be shown to be true. This is easily shown by examining any religious proposal, from the simplest to the most complex.
Faith and Evidence: Why Believers Have None
To continue the examination of the problem with faith, let us examine some of these religious claims. We’ll begin with an easy one: the Noah story. This is part of a larger examination of any scripture of any religion (all of which remain unvalidated), but we’ll start with one that’s familiar to a large portion of the West and therefore many of the readers of this blog and website.
Most of us are familiar with the story of a catastrophic worldwide flood inflicted on the earth by the god of the Old Testament, and the one guy who was told ahead of time to build a boat (to certain specifications outlined in the story) and to save two of every creature on earth. On its face, the story isn’t believable as fact. But let us give it the benefit of the doubt and thus exercise the scientific method and examine the claims therein.
In brief, the god of the Old Testament looks down at his creation, human and animal alike, and decides he’s unhappy with the current state of things and it’s time for an Etch-A-Sketch Apocalypse. For some reason, he tells this one man Noah that he’s cool enough to survive the disaster, and his family can come, too. All Noah has to do is hurry up and get the wood and supplies together, build a boat of a certain size and specifications, and find two of every creature on earth and herd and maintain them on this boat for the duration of the 40 days and nights of rain the god of the Old Testament will inflict on them, thereby murdering every human on earth, every animal, and every plant. Believers seem to forget this includes children and pregnant women, so… so much for a pro-life god?
Leaving aside the impossible physics and biology of the story
(How would he feed them?
How would he muck out the poop?
How would he prevent animals from following their instincts?
How would he find every insect, bacteria, microorganism?
How would water-dwelling animals be affected?
How would that amount of extra water affect the earth?
Where did that extra water come from?
What about the heat it would generate and the effects of that?
So many questions!),
the very fact that the earth doesn’t reflect any observable effects of a worldwide flood is proof enough it didn’t happen: such a catastrophic event would’ve caused catastrophic effects, and it very clearly hasn’t.
The fossil record, so maligned by the anti-science religious, doesn’t reflect it. And for the believers who accept evolution (it’s not an opinion), that invalidates the first story of the three Abrahamic religions––Judaism, Christianity, and Islam––and therefore also the concept of original sin, the existence of which has been held on faith and enforced with a healthy dose of fear. In case you’re fortunate enough to not know what this original sin thing is, it’s the Christian doctrine that humans inherit a tainted nature, one that’s prone to sin, through the mere and unfortunate occurrence of having been born (through no fault of their own!).
What need to baptize and therefore indoctrinate your children if no original sin exists? What need for this awful flood if not for the failures of imperfect man, somehow also made in the perfect image of their god? The fall of man, or the excuse for the church to abuse and torture humanity, is also a matter of faith. Adam and Eve have never been shown to exist. Genetics disproves that story, and genetics can be tested and demonstrated. Creatio ex nihilo cannot.
Another essential fact of this scriptural story is that it’s millennia older than the bible. As is much of biblical content, the story of Noah was plagiarized from older scripture and incorporated into the Old Testament. In fact, the original flood story, or at least the earliest version available to humanity as it might have begun as oral tradition, is found in Tablet XI of The Epic of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian scripture that provided much of the basis for the Bible. The flood story was written 6,000 years before the Old Testament and if you read the history of The Epic of Gilgamesh, you’ll see parallels to the bible, i.e., all the ways in which the bible plagiarizes The Epic of Gilgamesh.
From this fact, and it’s a fact that can be demonstrated by reading The Epic of Gilgamesh and learning about its history, we know that the flood is unlikely to be a true story, particularly in the current form in which Abrahamics read and disseminate it. We know (and can demonstrate!) that biodiversity is far too grand to have been encompassed by one small boat tended to by one man and his family, and we know that this is, distastefully, the second time after the creation myth in scripture that the god of the Old Testament has used incest to repopulate the earth. If Noah’s family is the only human population left, they must by default breed with each other, which would’ve left no genetic diversity at all and therefore not allowed the species to continue. Again, genetics can be tested and demonstrated. The flood story cannot. It can, however, be found in other scriptures that Abrahamics would call false and untrue.
How is this possible? Easily! It’s possible through faith: one must only want it to be true, regardless of its origins, and therefore it is. Never mind that the earth doesn’t show any effects of a worldwide flood, that the fossil record doesn’t display it, that other cultures alive and thriving at the time don’t mention it. None of that is relevant to faith: the story is true because they want it to be.
This is, for most believers, the extent of their reasoning on the subject.
They’ll apply the scientific method to every other truth claim in existence, but their faith mustn’t be examined. It’s too deeply tied to their emotional stability, and many believers wouldn’t be able to function normally in the absence of their emotional attachment to their religion. These are the ones who get particularly hysterical when you challenge the ideas to which they’re emotionally attached.
They’ll disregard the scientific method which they use so fervently everywhere else, when it comes to their comfort zone.
End of Part 1
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