Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Physics 1, Faith 0

Evangelist preacher Franck Kabele had a revelation that if he had enough faith, he could repeat the miracle of Jesus walking on water.

He took his congregation out to the Komo estuary in Libreville, the capital of Gabon in west Africa, and set off to walk out to sea.

Eyewitnesses report that the water soon covered his head, and he drowned.

One of the hardest things to know is what to have faith in. There are so many would-be prophets, religious leaders, saints, holy men and spiritualists, all claiming to get their power from any number of gods (some, or all, of whom may be the same god). Who should you put your faith in? Whoever you put your faith in, whatever interpretation of god you choose, there are millions, maybe even billions, of people who are just as certain in their faith as you are but have picked something else to put their faith in. If they can be wrong, can't you? And if their tenacious hold on their faith is misguided and not a virtue at all, how do you know yours is not the same? Because you have faith in your faith? Just like they do.

Many religions, perhaps even the majority, put faith right up at the top of the virtues.
Faith, believing an opinion no matter what the facts say, is the highest manifestation of righteousness in almost all religions, and very high in all the others. Indeed, not only is faith despite lack of evidence celebrated by religion, but faith in spite of the evidence is often considered even better. "I believe because it is impossible" boasted Tertullian. Faith in the impossible is one of the hallmarks of religion. And yet, outside of mere stories and tales (which the religious believe implicitly, despite the lack of evidence, or even in spite of evidence, logic and common sense), the track record of faith is pretty lousy.

Whether it was Native American Ghostdancers who had faith that God would make them impervious to bullets, an evangelist who thought he could walk on water, or millions of people who hope to protect themselves by hanging a small figurine of a man being tortured to death from their car's rear-view mirror, physics always trumps faith: they weren't bulletproof, he couldn't walk on water, and seatbelts and airbags protect the car's occupants equally well regardless of what hangs from the mirror.

1 comment:

sphenisciformal said...

Now, if there were a few thousand million more people who thought as you do, the world would be a so much better place...