Even atheists walk by faith and not by sight

Great quote from Blessed Pope John Paul II:

There are in the lives of human beings many more truths that are simply believed than truths that are acquired by way of personal verification. Who, for instance, could assess critically the countless scientific findings upon which modern life is based? Who could personally examine the flow of information that comes day after day from all parts of the world and that is generally accepted as true? Who in the end could forge anew that paths of experience and thought that have yielded the treasures of human wisdom and religion? This means that the human being—the one who seeks truth—is also one who lives by belief.

h/t The Catholic Breadbox

4 thoughts on “Even atheists walk by faith and not by sight

  1. It is true that we do not know all things for certain, and that we depend on the expertise of other greater men and women than us to decide the truth of one thesis or another.

    Thus, we put our trust in them and their information.

    However, science does not proclaim that it is absolute in all areas of knowledge. Unlike religion, it has the tools and means by which it can test certain hypotheses.

    This is possible in science only because men of science do not make absolute claims.

    They say things like: I think my hypothesis is true because of this… so let’s test it and find out if its true. They do not say things like: God is real and you can talk to him!, or you should all believe me because I’ve had a vision about the truth of my hypothesis.

    Religion and religious authorities, on the other hand, cannot run experiments to demonstrate the existence of God, despite the fact that religion makes an absolute claim about the existence of God.

    Our resoning faculties cannot adjudicate a process that means to test absolute certainty.

    Also, atheists, the knowledgeable and smart one’s at least, do not say they know what they know for certain. For if they do, they are not atheists as they break the definition of atheism:

    Atheism is skepticism about an absolute claim on God, i.e. that God exists. And, simultaneously claim that God almost certainly does not exist based on present evidence. Atheism is not faith and it is not belief. It is a rejection of both.

    So quite often atheists are misrepresented on this point. For how can it be said that atheism is a belief or that it is based on faith when it is clearly a rejection of both?

    Good quote though! I personally think that the late John Paul was a significantly wiser and more just man than the current Pope, Joseph Ratzinger.

  2. Thanks for dropping by.

    I’m a man of science too. I am familiar with the scientific method. I work in a research shop. When I listen to many scientists, I find that many affirm certain findings as truths. Ironically, the “truths” that are professed with the most certainty tend to be the most controversial ones, like man-made climate change or the theory of evolution.

    Christians state that nobody should be afraid of the truth, whether it be divinely inspired or proven by the scientific method. Some scientific findings have been verified so many times over a period of decades or centuries that it would strain credibility to not assert them as truths. I’m thinking, for example, of standard gravity acceleration ( 9.8 m/s2 at sea level) or the properties of certain materials.

    Do you believe that Aristotle existed? Are you aware that we have no more evidence of his existence than of the Divinity of Christ? There is no archaeological trace of him. No photographs. We only have some old manuscripts (copies that are dated centuries after the originals were written) and other witness testimony about him (again very old). Aristotle’s existence cannot be proven by the scientific method, but few would doubt he existed. This goes to show, as the Pope pointed out, that we trust the unverifiable testimony of other people when it is credible. Heck, forget Aristotle. I can’t even prove that my great great grandfather ever existed. There’s no trace of him. But I trust the word of those who went before me because its credible. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    • Steve, man-made climate and evolution are not controversial in scientific circles. There are many uneducated “skeptics” of both theories, but the fact remains that carbon dioxide’s physical properties are well understood (and have been for quite some time) and we have a vast landscape of knowledge in evolution, an amount of information several orders of magnitude larger than creationists have been able to manufacture.

      When we are given a history of Aristotle, the stories don’t have him doing magic tricks. Thus, it’s more believable that he existed than Jesus. For example, if you bought cookies, and you opened the box and found only crumbs, if you ask your wife (roommate, sibling, whoever…) about it, which story would you believe more:
      – “Santa broke into our house and ate them”?
      – “I ate them”?

      As for Jesus turning water into wine, that’s not special, my mom can do that.

      As for “I can’t even prove that my great great grandfather ever existed.” – well he must have, because if he didn’t exist, you wouldn’t exist.

  3. Hi Tegan,

    I’m afraid that many of your statements confirm that many atheists unwittingly place blind faith in assumptions and hypotheses that have not been verified or are not verifiable.

    There is a growing body of evidence showing that man-made climate change is a weak theory unsubstantiated by the evidence. Yes, the properties of carbon are understood, but its effects in a system as complex as the environment, characterized by incalculable feedback mechanisms and forcings is not well understood at all, which is why climate models have failed miserably to predict recent climate trends. The hype about climate change is not founded in science and is rooted in ideology and unconfirmed hypotheses.

    Evolution is also just a theory. There’s some interesting intuition to it, but causality has never been demonstrated and many steps along the evolutionary process are not documented or substantiated. It is also inconsistent with some of the fossil evidence. Even Darwin conceded this from the outset. But this hasn’t stopped scientists and the media as proclaiming it as absolute truth.

    As pointed out by Gabriel above, honest scientists recognize the limitations their method and consequently of their findings. But what we see on climate and evolution is not the consistent with the scientific method, because the claims and conclusions far outstrip what the evidence has actually substantiated, which is relatively little. So much is based on unproven assumptions, politics, money and ideology.

    Regarding the claims about Jesus and Aristotle, history, like other sciences, is based on the available evidence and not upon whatever seems more believable to a reader two millenia later. The evidence for Jesus is very compelling. I suggest you read “The Case for Christ”, by award-winning journalist Lee Strobel.

    As for the great great grandfather issue, your statement reposes on some unverified assumptions. How can we know that he’s the same man shown on my family tree? What if my great great grandmother instead had an affair with a travelling sailor which led to the conception of one of my great grandparents? After all, that’s what many atheists claim to explain away Jesus’ virginal conception. Or what if my great grandparents just appeared out of nowhere, without any parents? That’s exactly what some atheists claim about the origins of the universe, i.e. that it just spontaneously appeared without a known cause.

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