Wishful thinking

by Shelby Cade

In his article, Religion as a Black Market for Irrationality, Sam Harris lays out his case against religious belief. [1]  It must be noted that two other articles tie in to this one, which I hope to address in coming blogs.  These articles are offered by the author of the text book, About Philosophy, by Robert Paul Wolff, who describes himself as an atheist.  What exactly is Harris arguing for in the article?

It is the belief of Harris that religions believe as they do without rational grounds to do so.  Harris states, “This constraint upon our thinking has always been a problem for religion.  Being stocked stem to stern with incredible ideas, the world’s religions have had to find some way to circumvent reason.” [2]  According to Harris, the circumventing of reason comes by way of faith.  Faith in Harris’ mind is always a blind faith, but is this how faith is defined in the Bible?  Are individuals within the Christian religion expected to blindly follow whatever their tradition dictates?

What is faith?  Does faith mean that individuals are deluded as wishful thinkers?  Faith properly understood can be viewed as belief based upon reality.  What Harris seems to confuse is the difference between proper faith and belief.  Belief does not necessary have a justifier, whereas true faith in anything must have a justifying  anchor.  In this case, faith is not blind, but can be justified as right belief.  When Harris insinuates that faith in religion is blind, he is constructing a straw man argument, while at the same time asking his audience to blindly accept his statements.

In order for faith to be real and true, evidence must exist to support it.  Faith in the Christian God comes through numerous avenues to support the religion’s beliefs.  The apostle John makes a statement of faith by saying, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim (1 John 1:1).”  John makes a faith statement based on evidence.
In his article, Harris gives a six point plan on how one can be deluded to belief in God…

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RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:  Reasonable Faith (3rd Edition): Christian Truth and Apologetics / The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism / Contending with Christianity’s Critics: Answering New Atheists and Other Objectors / More apologetics resources >>>