Faith is an Irrational Leap Over the Probabilities

You can quote me on this. Probability is all that matters. Faith is irrational. I want to drive this point into the ground once and for all.

The problem is that practically nothing is certain. So the word "faith" is used to describe any conclusion of ours that leaves room for doubt. Is it possible I'm dreaming right now? I suppose that's an extremely remote possibility. Is it possible a material world does not exist? I suppose that's an extremely remote possibility too. Is it possible a good omnipotent God exists given the world-wide massive and ubiquitous suffering in it? Again, I suppose that's an extremely remote possibility.

So what? Probability is all that matters. Accepting some conclusion because it's merely possible is irrational. We should never ever do that.

I suppose its possible someone can jump off a building and fly, right? After all, he could instantaneously grow wings, or a huge burst of air could keep him afloat, or a supernatural force could propel him around in the air. It's even possible that such a person is dreaming, and in that dream he can fly, or that there isn't a material world and in the world of his mind he can fly. Okay, I understand all of this. All of these scenarios are remotely possible I suppose, but so remote I consider them "virtually impossible," like one in 1 million (and that's being very very generous).

Get the point?

By contrast, consider the opposite scenario. It's probable that if someone jumps off a building he will fall to the ground. How probable is this? Well, since it's possible he won't fall (per our examples above) then we cannot say we are certain he will fall. But it's "virtually certain" he will, like a 99.9999% chance (and I think that's being very very generous).

In between these two extremes there are a lot of different odds for something, stretching from extremely improbable, to very improbable, to improbable, to even odds, to slightly probable, to probable, to very probable, and to extremely probable.

We don't have a word to differentiate between the odds on that continuum stretching from virtually impossible to virtually certain. But does anyone really want to suggest the word "faith" applies to all of these different probabilities, that there is the same amount of faith required to accept any one of them? If so, that is being irrational.

Get the point?

If believers want to say that more faith is required to accept something that is "virtually impossible" and less faith is required to accept something that is "virtually certain," then what can they possibly mean? What is faith at that point? Faith adds nothing to the actual probabilities at all. Having more of it or less of it does not change anything. If it's possible to accept a "virtually impossible" conclusion by having more faith, then that's irrational. And if we have a "virtually certain" conclusion we don't need faith at all.

What about something that is only slightly probable, one might ask. What if we accept something that only has a 60% chance of being true? I still don't see where faith can change the actual probabilities. Faith cannot change a thing, you see. Faith adds nothing. It's irrational.

Who in their right mind would fill in the probability gap with anything more than what the probabilities actually show us?

Not me.

The ONLY sense I can make of the way believers use the word "faith" is that it's an irrational leap over the probabilities. They fill in what the actual probabilities are with faith to stretch an "improbable" conclusion to reach an "extremely probable" one, and that is quite simply irrational.

Faith cannot go "beyond reason" because that means it's going beyond the reasonable probabilities. There is no rational way faith can trump reason, or go beyond it, or even be based on it.

A probability is a probability is a probability. There are nothing but probabilities.