Sunday, May 11, 2008

Faith, an illogical Belief ?!

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable. … A man full of faith is simply one who has lost (or never had) the capacity for clear and realistic thought. He is not a mere ass; he is actually ill. Worse, he is incurable, for disappointment, being essentially an objective phenomenon, cannot permanently affect his subjective infirmity. His faith takes on the virulence of a chronic infection. What he usually says, in substance, is this: "Let us trust in God, who has always fooled us in the past." "

~H. L. Mencken (1880–1956), U.S. journalist. Prejudices, ch. 14, "The Believer" (Third Series, 1922).


Syra said...

Interesting Post. I guess it's all about how you define Faith, and trust in God.

Those who believe God fooled them, don't Trust God in the first place.
Trust in God and Faith coexist. They enforce and drive each other.

It's typical to lose faith and blame fate\God when a misfortune strikes. It is in such testing times, when one's faith either rescues one or takes the opposite toll.

On preaching Faith(something completely unrealistic for people of those times, and perhaps today too) the messengers of Allah too were initially criticized for losing the capacity for clear and realistic thinking.

khany said...

i don't have faith in the 'faith' that mr. mencken describes. perhaps the author takes pleasure in refuting straw man arguments.

real faith is not a superficial utterance of the tongue or some motion of the limbs. it is a state of the heart that is only achieved after one goes through the due process: contemplation to knowledge, knowledge to affirmation, affirmation to belief or conviction, and from conviction to submission.
- a nice read at a revolution of belief

and it is not simply theists who employ faith. everybody does whether they acknowledge it or not. let me illustrate with a brief example.

we wake up each day with the 'faith' that the house that shelters us will not fail today. it is not faith? it is a scientific fact? the scientific prediction is based on the following deduction: since we have subjected these materials to the test 1000 times and never observed failure therefore there is no reason to believe that it will fail on the 1001st instance. and so it has become fact? can you give me one 'compelling' reason which 'forces' me to believe that materials properties are immutable in time? if something was true in the past, must it be true in the future? says who? since nobody has done any experiments in the future we have no choice but to have 'faith'.

i am not disparaging faith. just pointing out that the author is being less than sincere in his criticism because it seems to me that he does not count himself amongst the illogical believers who suffer an incurable sickness.

theists, believers in god, only take this faith to its 'logical' conclusion. you could either choose to have a faith in infinitely many manifestations of this natural order (as for example do the hindus). or you could seek out the unity that threads all these seemingly disparate observations and believe in one unique god.

this argument is presented a lot more convincingly here