Guest Column: Reason vs. Faith

No compromise
by Ron Burcham

Light BulbThis one came my way via an email exchange Mr. Burcham had been part of. And I thought his concise and absolute statement was one of the more heroic expressions of loyalty to the human world of reason and science I had read. Right arm! How many times are we accosted by the purveyors of supernatural Jesus to buy into their Byzantine fantasies or face dire, eternal consequences? Remember Jesse Ventura’s comment in a 1999 Playboy interview: “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people…”[1] (That’s a big reason I put Jesse on my short list of national leaders who can unite the country under the Constitution and solve real problems in the real world.) — bw, editor

Letter from a friend trying thru long Scriptural argument to convince Ron of the need to follow Jesus, and then asking Ron to reply: “When I think of the fate that awaits those that reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ it breaks my heart. I pray that you will give this serious spiritual consideration.”

Ron’s response:

I didn’t reply because of the futility of discussing Christianity with a true believer. There is no supernatural sky being. No Hebrew prophet could have returned from the dead 2000 years ago and be alive today sitting on an ethereal throne somewhere in the sky because resurrection from death is scientifically impossible. It couldn’t happen, then or now. The Resurrection is a myth and believing won’t make it so. The prophet, if he ever was, is dead now and forever.

Eternal life is a fiction. There is no life after death. That was a con job the ancient priests used to recruit new members to their temples to exact tribute for their own pockets. Today they are called televangelists. There is no way to prove life after death and the nothingness of death is impossible to conceive by imagining it. Promising life after death makes it easy to sell this empty promise to anyone who fears dying.It is impossible to prove something isn’t.

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There are no demons. There are no ghosts. Death is very final. When you’re dead, you’re dead. Nothing leaves your body, no soul leaves, nothing leaves. The neurons stop firing and life is over — PERIOD — nothing of consciousness remains, decomposition begins immediately. That’s why dead bodies are buried. There is no fictitious abode in the sky or fiery middle earth for the dead because they are dead and do not exist anymore.

Immanuel Kant tried to prove the existence of a sky being. He found out that it couldn’t be done using reason so he wrote The Critique of Pure Reason and erroneously justified substituting faith for reason as a tool of cognition. In The Critique of Pure Reason he rationalized, falsely, that faith is superior to reason as a tool for thinking. Justifying faith allowed him to go on believing what he wanted to believe, without any proof whatsoever. It satisfied the Catholic dogma he was raised in.

The fear of being labeled a heretic was very powerful even in Kant’s day, as he very rightly feared the Pope’s wrath which the Pope liberally brandished when scientists contradicted the Church’s fictions about reality. Galileo’s fate at the hands of the Catholic Church must have weighed on his mind, too. The Church had a history of torturing and killing supposed heretics, i.e. the Cathars, Jews and Muslims by the thousands. Even today there are Christian evangelists who preach that homosexuals dying of AIDS is true justice in the biblical sense.

Faith is believing without knowledge. It is not a valid tool for rational, scientific thinking, ergo, faith allows that religion and its comfort zone can be accepted without any critical thought. Creationism is an example of unscientific thought being paraded as truth.

Years ago I used to have conversations with believers about the impossibility of the supernatural and the primacy of the universe — reality. I found that there is no reasoning with an unprovable idea that is accepted as a fact by a believer. There is no reasoning with mysticism so I stopped discussing Christianity with believers years ago.[2]

[1] In his 1999 best-selling memoir I Ain’t Got Time to Bleed, Ventura responded to the controversy sparked by these remarks by elaborating on his views concerning religion:

“I’d like to clarify [my comments published in Playboy] about religious people being weak-minded. I didn’t mean all religious people. I don’t have any problem with the vast majority of religious folks. I count myself among them, more or less. But I believe because it makes sense to me, not because I think it can be proven. There are lots of people out there who think they know the truth about God and religion, but does anybody really know for sure? That’s why the Founding Fathers built freedom of religious belief into the structure of this nation, so that everybody could make up their minds for themselves. But I do have a problem with the people who think they have some right to try to impose their beliefs on others. I hate what the fundamentalist fanatics are doing to our country. It seems as though, if everybody doesn’t accept their version of reality, that somehow invalidates it for them. Everybody must believe the same things they do. That’s what I find weak and destructive.”

[2] Author’s note to Coffee Coaster editor: I do not usually reply to any religious implications in emails that I receive from believers. It isn’t that important to me, but, I get tired of receiving exhortations from all over asking me to ask some imagined sky being to bless America. As I understand the Christian notion of a sky being, it is all seeing, loves everyone, even Adolph Hitler, and controls all events. To me that means that this invisible, all knowing, thing arranged for 3000 Americans to die on 911 and the thousands who have been killed and maimed in Afghanistan and Iraq since. That isn’t love to me, and asking it to bless America is hypocrisy. This supposed “being” not only condones pain and suffering but also arranges it.

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