The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority in everything it teaches.
That sort of thing is typical of certain religious organizations, and it demonstrates the difference between Faith-Based and Evidence-Based Thinking.
We don’t have a statement of faith around here. We don’t need one. Why? Let’s consider what faith is. In Hebrews 11:1 (King James version, of course) we’re told: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” That’s the unique thing about faith — it doesn’t require any evidence. Nor does it require logical proof. Well, things that the faithful believe logically follow from their system’s premises — so their beliefs are logically “valid,” but to say that they’re true is circular reasoning, not proof.
We don’t do that. We do, however, have premises (or axioms). One is logic, because if anyone doesn’t accept logic, then he does accept it, because there’s no reason other than logic to reject contradictions. But that doesn’t mean logic is self-proving via circular reasoning. Rather, the laws of logic are an essential axiom for doing any useful thinking.
There are a few other essential premises for fact-based thinking. One is the existence of reality external to ourselves. If you doubt it, then walk outside in a hurricane, protected only by your faith. Reality doesn’t care what you think. Another essential premise is that our senses give us information about the external world. We can be confident of this because if we couldn’t rely on our senses, we’d be dead.
To be sure, appearances can sometimes be misleading. A desert mirage is a good example. So is the illusion that the heavens revolve around the Earth. But there are ways — using sensory evidence — to dismiss such erroneous appearances. One can proceed toward the mirage and verify that there isn’t any water there. Such experiences teach us about the behavior of light as it travels through the atmosphere or through water. As for geocentricism, we can use unambiguous astronomical observations to determine the actual state of the solar system.
Of course, religions also have axioms (or premises), such as the existence of their gods. The rest of their beliefs logically follow. But their premise isn’t essential for anything other than sustaining the teachings of their sect. Other sects have totally different foundational premises. That’s why all sects are in conflict — their premises are unrelated to reality. They’re arbitrary, not essential. If someone claims — without verifiable evidence — something exists or that something happened, he may be correct; but he needs to provide at least some evidence before his claim can be taken seriously. His faith is insufficient — except for him and for those who think as he does.
We’ve seen creationists who actually say that their faith is essential for logic — see Jason Lisle: The Logic of Faith. But that’s clearly absurd, because Aristotle, who was the first to systematically codify the laws of logic, was unaware of their faith.
There are loads of other axioms out there — in geometry, mathematics, and in other fields. The topic is far too large to deal with here. But the ultimate test of an axiom’s “truth” is that it leads to information that is verifiable without reference to the axiom. Merely providing answers that make believers feel good is, in our humble opinion, insufficient.
Your Curmudgeon is obviously struggling to construct a “Statement of Non-Faith.” The foregoing is the best we can do at the moment. We look forward to your suggestions.
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