Faith deserves no seat at the table

Ambrose Bierce defined religions as “Conclusions for which the facts of nature supply no major premises.” John Milloy’s threadbare argument on Friday, which one does in fact hear every day, can be defined the same.

Milloy states, “Faith allows us to believe in something greater than ourselves.” In actuality, faith allows one to believe in anything one wants, with no evidence required, and justifies horrific actions in its name.

Milloy demonstrates how this idea skews logic and history by making claims such as “faith communities advocating against slavery”, and “involvement in social justice issues including … indigenous rights”. Milloy states, “It also forces us to acknowledge our responsibility for our fellow human beings, wherever they live.” Apparently that message has not reached the pope regarding the victims of sexual abuse in the church, although the perpetrators do seem to benefit.

While Milloy may “personally believe in evolution”, which is reasonable as it is one of the most substantiated and demonstrable scientific theories humanity has formulated, he goes on to cast aspersions on the scientific method by inferring that developing theories based on empirically verifiable observations and experiment is “hubris in believing that science can explain, or even control, every aspect of creation”. Does that mean making stuff up out of thin air does not qualify as hubris? And what of misrepresenting the scientific method?

Milloy claims to support Ontario’s new sex-ed curriculum, but doesn’t go so far as to admit that the vast bulk of society’s dysfunctional attitudes towards sexuality are remnants of a time when the church held more sway over society. What logical barriers exist to same-sex marriage or transgender rights that are not firmly rooted (and carefully tended) by the religious?

Milloy states, “People are searching for answers to big questions and growing increasingly skeptical of experts and pundits, so maybe it’s time we paid more attention to the voice of the faithful.” and expects us to agree that we perhaps need fewer experts on the public stage? That we should listen to people who would believe anything without evidence? We have front row seats to witness what happens when this idea gains traction.

Science and evidence based decision making have cured diseases, sent humans to the moon and beyond, and allowed predominantly better standards of living (except perhaps in theocratic states) just over the last couple of hundred years (before which one risked any number of horrible tortures for questioning imposed doctrines). This progress all made despite religion and the religious trying desperately to maintain their grip. What similar claims can be made by faith? When you answer that question, please show your work and supply the corroborating evidence.

In the course of humanity’s progress, religion begat philosophy as alchemy begat physics and chemistry and astrology begat astronomy. Should alchemists and astrologers also inform politics? Faith long ago lost its seat at the big table (and should under no circumstances be allowed at the kids’ table) but should join alchemy and astrology as interesting historical footnotes.

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