Sunday, 5 October 2014

Evidence for belief

I'm sure you have come across the insistence that religious people don't have evidence for their beliefs; that their beliefs are faith-based.

I don't think that is generally correct, or at least it's useful to consider that it might not be.  Speaking from personal experience and from what others have said, it seems to me that quite a lot of believers think that they are rather good evidence for what they believe.  Here are some examples:

1. The Bible.  The Bible is a book that has been carefully handed down through the millennia, and considered an highly important (to say the least) source of facts about reality and moral guidelines.  That this book remains highly regarded by many is evidence for something, and for believers it can be evidence of it being a source of truth, at least in parts.

2. The universe is here.  When I was a believer the existence of creation seemed to be good evidence for some creative force, which I considered to be "God", although in a mostly deistic sense.

3. Our moral feelings.  Where does our desire for goodness come from?  Clearly, from the goodness of some creator.  The existence of these feelings must mean something, and that something could well be "God".

4. Reports of miracles.  There are plenty of these reports.  How do we explain them?  It makes sense to invoke a deity.

Now, I hope I don't need to make it clear that I don't agree with any of the above examples.  But, what I disagree with is the reliability of this evidence as indicators of religious truths.   But, I can't deny that these are evidence - just not for the beliefs of believers.

As for faith, I had none and I didn't know anyone who considered their beliefs as faith.  Our beliefs were based on what we saw of the universe around us and what it felt like to be a human.  We didn't struggle to believe, there wasn't a daily battle with the dark forces of reason.

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