What better way to start the Year of Faith than with this headline:
This was atop an article penned Seth Borenstein, who noticed that Antarctic ice was accumulating at an alarming rate, hitting “a record 7.51 million square miles in September.” “How could this be?” Borenstein surely asked himself. “The theory of catastrophic global climate warming tipping point change would appear to preclude such manifestations.”
Borenstein believes in this theory so much that his earnestness goes well beyond plain acceptance: he desires it be true. Therefore, when confronted by icy observations contrary to his belief, he sought out an explanation to counter it. He was successful and uncovered certain named “experts” who assured him that “A warming world can have complex and sometimes surprising consequences”. Like increasing Antarctic ice.
The man has the touching faith of a child, the kind which seems cruel to challenge. Let us hope the poor fellow did not see yesterday’s report, “Once-in-century October snow across [South Australia].”
And then there is our Dear Leader and his relations, foreign. Word is out that the embassy in Benghazi was purposely left thinly armed lest Americans appear imperial and boastful. If we had to lose a Marine here, an ambassador there in our efforts to display a humble and welcoming attitude, well, these would be mere “bumps in the road.” The road leading to world peace, of course. We may thus call this the Beauty Queen foreign policy.
Benghazi was part of his larger strategy of anxiously admitting that America is just as exceptional as everybody else, and his hoping that “dialog” and the subtle negotiating technique of giving in to every demand, à la Iran, will appease our enemies. The theory in which Mr Obama takes comfort is that if you are nice, people will treat you nicely. He is currently hoping that it works with China, which is sailing its newly created navy into disputed waters (which America has sworn—with crossed fingers?—to protect).
In France, the words mère and père will be banned “from all official documents.” No, I know you don’t believe me, but this really is a proposed law. The English, refusing to be trumped by their traditional rivals, have proposed, as Kenneth Minogue tells us, “that the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ should be removed from the 1973 Marriage Act and replaced by ‘parties to the marriage.'”
The theory is that by removing these biased, value-laden words, you remove the ability of people to be biased and to hold the outmoded values expressed by those words. The old terms caused some people to feel badly about themselves, and there is no worse crime than that. State control of language is a doubleplusgood strategy to make us all think well of ourselves.
Regular readers will recognize this definition from the Skeptic’s Dictionary:
Faith is a non-rational belief in some proposition. A non-rational belief is one that is contrary to the sum of the evidence for that belief. A belief is contrary to the sum of the evidence if there is overwhelming evidence against the belief, e.g., that the earth is flat, hollow, or is the center of the universe. A belief is also contrary to the sum of the evidence if the evidence seems equal both for and against the belief, yet one commits to one of the two or more equally supported propositions.
Messrs Borenstein and Obama, and the earnest expurgators in France and England, and indeed ideologues of all stripes, possess this kind of faith, which is a state undifferentiated from desire. When belief leads and trumps observation, the object of faith is false. That which is false cannot be found, hence the unending search and call for “more”—more money, more time, more research, more bodies.
But there is another kind of faith. St Paul tells us that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This is true faith, a rational belief in that which cannot be observed. All of us have this faith, and must have it. All thought necessarily begins with truths which cannot be proved.
The main Object of faith is, of course, well known and it is here where true faith has acquired a bad reputation, while the other kind continues from success to success. But faith in God would only be absurd if its Object was provably false. And it is not. The best, in all of history, the atheist has done is to say God might not exist, which is logically equivalent to God might exist. Thus belief in God cannot be properly labeled irrational. But the belief that “belief in God is irrational” is itself irrational, and is so based on evidence. What a nice thought to take into this year.