"For the most part, the Republican Party is the only outlet where conservatives have a voice, so we have to use it. But it functions like a rusty knife we use only because we can't cut our steaks with a spoon."- Matthew Rathel

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Politics of Faith: Fighting for Belief

Although religion and politics operate in different spheres, there are times when individuals attempt to detract from one’s political influence by attacking his or her religious affiliations, and I would like to briefly address increasingly judgmental attacks by fringe groups who openly scorn religious beliefs of conservatives in hope of discrediting their authority on other matters. While the conservative movement encompasses members from nearly every belief system on the planet including agnostics and atheists, a growing number of pseudo-intellectuals are bombarding the public with negative depictions of those who believe in supreme beings. The common argument that faith or belief in a god is not logical or intellectual pervades many cultural spheres in the United States, proving most pervasive in our universities and in our classrooms. While I will seek to avoid tangling with atheists and agnostics in the following argument, I would like to prove the simple point that the belief in a higher being is as credible as or more credible than disbelief. For those of you who will find this to be common sense, I apologize beforehand.

Picture, if you will, a woman on a street corner with a box at her feet. Imagine that she has picked three random strangers from a crowd and has asked each of them to guess what she has in the box. The box provides no indication of its contents, so Man One simply guesses that there is nothing in the box. Man Two thinks for a moment then replies that he has no way of knowing the box’s contents. Man Three is about to answer “cheese” when a parrot lands on his shoulder and says “Raaw, a rock, raaw.” Rationalizing that it makes little difference, the man guesses that the woman has a rock. Now faulty reason would suggest that Man Two is correct since he vocalized a truthful statement: he really has no way of knowing what is in the box. However, when the woman opens the box, there is a 0% chance that it will contain his answer. All things being equal, Man Three’s guess is equal to or greater than Man One’s since “a rock” and “nothing” are two out of billions of possibilities.

Next, imagine that the woman asks the following question: “We all know that the universe contains matter, but where did it come from?” Man One replies, “it has always been there.” Man Two thinks for a moment and then says, “Based on all scientific data available, no one can answer that question.” Man Three begins to answer when an albatross drops a religious text into his arms. He then pauses for 5 minutes to read the opening passages, and when he has finished he replies, “It was created by a higher being.” Again, faulty logic would suggest that Man Two has supplied the best answer, but if the woman were to attain definitive proof of the universe’s origins, he would have a 0% chance of being correct. All things being equal, Man Three has an equal or greater chance of being correct when compared to Man One.

If I were defter at philosophical premises, I would attempt to prove that Man Three, using circumstantial evidence given to him by the parrot and the albatross, has the highest probability of giving the correct answer. After all, the answer “nothing” provides an example of a complete guess in the first scenario whereas Man Three’s answer is supplemented by the slim chance that the parrot knows what is in the box. Likewise, there can never, by virtue of its own premise, be proof that matter has always existed; but Man Three’s guess that a deity created the universe is backed by the circumstantial evidence of the religious text. In any case, these points are moot, as all I have intended to do is prove that belief is at least equal to disbelief.

Given that men have been studying theological questions for thousands of years, I would be surprised if my argument is the first of its kind, yet I must say that I do have grand illusions of having created “Rathel’s Box.” But whatever religion one adheres to, he or she should not be persuaded that his or her belief system is intellectually or logically indefensible. Many arguments used against Deism contain far more holes than arguments for the existence of a supreme being.

Personally, I like to think that faith is an emotion much the same as love in that it translates poorly into language, but I find that reason arises from faith even though it is unnecessary. Those who criticize Theists tend to characterize faith as the lack of reason when, for many of us, it is the only solid basis of rational thought.

P.S. If anyone sees a hole in my argument, I would love to hear it.

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