Peter Boghossian looks at the word "faith".

Peter Boghossian looks at the word faith. 

These faith-based conclusions reflect knowledge claims. The individual professes to know something about the external world. These commonly heard expressions use the word "faith". 

1. "My faith is beneficial for me."

 2. "I have faith in god."

3. "Life has no meaning without faith."

4. "You have faith in science."

5. "If everyone abandoned their faith, society would devolve morally."

6, "My faith is true for me."

7. "Why should people stop having faith if it helps them get through the day? "

8. "Teach your children to have faith."

9. "Freedom of faith." 

10. "International Faith Convention."

11. "She is having a crisis of faith."

When you hear the word “faith,” just translate this in your head as, “pretending to know things you don’t know.”

1. “Pretending to know things I don’t know is beneficial for me.”

2. “I pretend to know things I don’t know about God.”

3. “Life has no meaning if I stop pretending to know things I don’t know.”

4. “You pretend to know things you don’t know about science.”

5. “If everyone stopped pretending to know things they don’t know, society would devolve morally.”

6. “Pretending to know things I don’t know is true for me.”

7. “Why should people stop pretending to know things they don’t know if it helps them get through the day?”

8. “Teach your children to pretend to know things they don’t know.

9. “Freedom of pretending to know things you don’t know.”

10. “International Pretending to Know Things You Don’t Know Convention”

11. “She’s having a crisis of pretending to know things she doesn’t know.” Alternatively, “She is struck by the fact that she’s been pretending to know things she doesn’t know.”

~ Boghossian, Peter (2013-10-26). A Manual for Creating Atheists (p. 10). Pitchstone Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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Tags: Boghossian, atheists, creating, crisis, freedom, manual, meaning, morals, pretending, teach

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Comment by Ted Foureagles on August 8, 2014 at 5:29pm

Laura:

That's a socially constructed or consensual reality as well.  Another example: I don't lock my doors, take the keys out of my car or anything like that.  I'm not magically protected from thieves, but I don't want to live in a society where measures against them are necessary, and so I act as if I don't.  So far, so good.  Perhaps it could be said that I have faith that my space won't be violated, but I don't use that term.  I have a certain level of confidence that it won't, and am willing to accept whatever risk involved in order to enjoy my version of reality, which may well be fantasy.

So I've come to a consensus with myself on the risks I perceive around me, and take action as if that consensus reflects reality.  I don't think that's entirely unlike what a religious person does, and I doubt that they consider it "pretending".  Sometimes when I talk with my religious friends about the basis or validly of their faith, they may say that they have confidence that their beliefs are true.  That's almost the same language that I use, and I can appreciate their stance even if I don't agree with it.

}}}}

Comment by Luara on August 7, 2014 at 5:52pm

Belief also irritates me greatly when used in contexts other than religion.  ...  You have to believe in santa or you won't get any presents.  Dreams can come true if you believe.

PB observes in the Manual for Creating Atheists that faith is considered a virtue, but it isn't.  

This mentality, that it's Good to believe, affects nonreligious people as well.  Since religious people are valued and praised for believing, nonreligious people go around finding things to "believe in", as well. 

Once I got into a conversation with a neighbor who'd been afflicted with anti-vaxx propaganda from her naturopath, etc.  She said her feelings were against vaccinating her children, and she Believed she had to go with her feelings. 

I was puzzled by the air of virtue with which she said she Believed this.  Why would somebody think Believing is a virtue? 

But I guess I understand, now.  Religion has turned most of the nonreligious into Believers. 

Comment by Idaho Spud on August 7, 2014 at 2:56pm

I may be using the words incorrectly, but when I came out of religion, I stopped having faith in anything as well as believing anything.  The word I use now is accepting.  I accept as true what science has shown to be true with a huge amount of evidence.  I conditionally accept as true what science has some evidence for, with a willingness to change my mind with new evidence to the contrary.

When I step out of bed in the morning, I don't have faith or belief that the floor will catch me.  I just know that the odds are so much against it not catching me, that I don't worry about it.

Faith and belief are mostly religious words in my mind, and I have a negative response to them.

Belief also irritates me greatly when used in contexts other than religion.  There used to be a lot of movies that I enjoyed watching every year, but now I don't like them because they indicate you have to believe.  You have to believe in santa or you won't get any presents.  Dreams can come true if you believe.  Be careful what you wish for, for wishes can come true.  B.S.

Comment by Luara on August 7, 2014 at 1:55pm

The believer is pretending and gets to a point of believing their own delusions. As a believer some of us were aware that certain ones were pretending or claiming something that didn't happen and was not true.

A socially constructed reality, you mean? 

That makes sense.  People are very susceptible to how others around them see the world.

Comment by Michael Penn on August 7, 2014 at 1:40pm

Maybe as an ex believer you can shed light on this. Yes I can. I've said it already. The believer is pretending and gets to a point of believing their own delusions. As a believer some of us were aware that certain ones were pretending or claiming something that didn't happen and was not true. If you get into the inner circle of believers you find this sort of thing. Possibly the one you were secretly talking about realized they didn't fit in and that was why they made the claims they did. They wanted to be like you. We thought they were funny or weird. Once you get out of religion you realize that all of you were pretending. As a believer you could see this odd one pretending but you were not aware that everyone is pretending until you got out of religion yourself.

It's kind of like one believer says "Casper the Friendly Ghost is setting beside me now."

Later another one claims Casper is by him now and Casper is eating an apple.

You have to consider that in my holy roller church days there was even people who claimed they died in the service that night, then were brought back by prayers of other members. What the hell kind of nutjobs are these?

Comment by Future on August 7, 2014 at 1:22pm
I have faith that every morning when I get out of bed in my dark room, the floor will be there to save me from falling to a horrible death. Some kinds of faith are so entirely reasonable that we don't even think about them. Then there's religion ...
Comment by Grinning Cat on August 7, 2014 at 12:45pm

a suggested revision:  "Faith is feeling you know something you don't [or can't] know".

I agree that it's usually not a conscious pretense. The essence here seems to be misplaced confidence, different from beliefs with plenty of justification such as that the sun will rise in the morning, or that gravity will continue to work.

Comment by Luara on August 7, 2014 at 12:28pm

The believer is indeed pretending

Maybe as an ex-believer you can shed light on this.  What do you mean by pretending to know?   As a believer you weren't aware of pretending, were you?  After you deconverted, you realized you had been pretending? 

Comment by Asa Watcher on August 7, 2014 at 11:33am

Faith vs LACK of faith is the essential difference between theists and atheists.

The difference has nothing to do with “belief”.

We all (theists and atheists alike) “believe” the sun will appear over the eastern horizon in the morning and disappear below the western horizon in the evening. . . (Except for those who have faith that the rooster crowing causes the sun to appear).

Atheists and theists probably agree on 99% of what is “believed”.

It’s that 1% based on faith where the difference is so profound.  

So my suggestion to my fellow atheists is, when engaged in conversation, to be aware of the difference between “faith” and “belief”.  For example, when someone says “I don’t believe in god”, correct them by saying something like:  “Actually what you mean is that you don’t have faith in the existence of a supreme being”.  Likewise, when someone says: “I believe in god” they should be made to understand that what they really mean is “I have FAITH in the existence of a supreme being”.

In this manner, we can guide the conversation to the essence of the difference between atheists and theists which is their adoption of FAITH.  In that manner, the conversation can examine  “essence” rather than ephemera about whether or not there is a god (which is simply an object of faith).

Comment by Michael Penn on August 5, 2014 at 6:46pm

Joan, I agree with you, Boghossian, and Luara so far. The problem here is that our information age has sped everything up. When I was a young man "faith" simply meant that you believed in god. Every time you wanted some miraculous thing done in or out of church you just had "faith" that god would do it. That was the end of the story.

Today due to the static nature of the bible and scripture, science is all around us and the theist is pressed for change as well. He has none and becomes frantic. He invents new definitions for "faith" and uses it in totally new sentence structure to explain his "faith." This becomes a big deal because the theist has no place else to go. He feels trapped and has already went into apologetics to set up his god and the miracles of his wish book as if they exist in another world outside of space and time as we know it. Next he has his god popping in and out of our space and his (god's) at will and leaving no evidence.

How is this possible? It isn't. The believer is indeed pretending, but sometimes they get to the point of believing their own delusions.

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