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What is faith? The definitions I see are: "confidence or trust in a person or thing" and "belief that is not based on proof". What is the opposite of this? Skepticism.
Secular humanists believe that reason is the opposite of faith. But which of the beliefs of secular humanists are actually based on proof? None. Proof only exists in the limited worlds of formal logic and mathematics. Nothing in the real world can be proven. Reason only tells you what seems reasonable, nothing more. What about confidence/trust? Secular humanists claim that only faith is based on this, but not reason. But what exactly is the secular humanist's basis for trusting reason? The answer is simply that secular humanists have faith in reason. And this faith is just as strong as a religious person's faith in God.
Whose faith is more justified, the religious person or the secular humanist? In my opinion, the religious person's faith is far more justified because of the simply fact that his belief system is older and has stood the test of time, while the secular humanist has absolutely nothing to support his belief system.
What about science? Since it uses reason, is it based on faith? Not at all. The scientist is a true skeptic who doesn't have faith in reason but requires that ideas generated by reason be subject to experimental testing. It is testing that validates scientific ideas, not reason.
In my continuing research into religion, I went to a Conservative Jewish synagogue today to see what it is like. It isn't conservative at all, it is a mix of the worst of Rabbinic Judaism and modern culture. Today's Torah reading included the story of the Tower of Babel. The rabbi is a woman and she tried to explain why God didn't like this tower. All of her explanations were absurd. The reason is clear from the explanation of the builders themselves "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves;". God wasn't mad about the tower itself but rather about the motive, namely making a name for themselves. In other words, vanity. The tower was to be a monument to the vanity of its builders. Of course women have a hard time understanding why vanity is such a bad thing, so it is no surprise that the woman rabbi didn't get it. But arrogance and vanity are the basis of much evil in the world.
I discussed three viewpoints here, the religious, the secular humanist, and the scientist. Both religion and science are expressions of humility. Religion is humility before God and science is humility before reality. But secular humanism is pure arrogance and vanity. To believe that they can find the correct answers strictly based on their own reason without any outside validation is pure insolence. And this is the dominant morality of our times.
Following the Old Testament, not evil modern culture
Great points, fschmidt. I have been fascinated by the Tower of Babel story for several years now. Some see it as a parable about the dangers of urban life-- when a lot of people congregate closely and start working on bigger and more ambitious construction projects, they start worshipping themselves and their own "name", instead of focussing on God, and the result is disaster. It's a variation on the theme of worshipping false gods.
The prime example in our time would be 9/11. Think of the incredible technical sophistication, time, effort, and expense, and social coordination that went into building those towers-- yet we couldn't prevent a gang of guys with box cutters from destroying them. We worshipped the false gods of political correctness, so had to let people in the country and on the planes even when they were obviously hell-bent on destruction.
I think that skyscrapers and other large buildings become instruments of tyranny as well. The enthusiasm and energy needed to build them cannot be sustained once they are complete, and then the buildings take on a life of their own, demanding high expenditures on maintenance and sheltering a privileged group in comfort at the expense of the larger population. They are similar to mass-scale political movements such as communism and fascism, which initially improve peoples' lives, but soon become demanding and dictatorial and tyrannical.
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