Religious faith

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Religious faith is a belief in the truth of religious doctrinal assertions despite the lack of any supporting evidence and often in the face of severe contradictions (internally or externally).

Although it is overwhelmingly the usage intended when the word "faith" is used by itself, this is not the only meaning of that word.


It seems likely that a (non-religious) faith in the veracity of another person (e.g. one's parents or a trusted authority figure) is one method by which religious faith spreads:

  • Person A makes several non-falsifiable statements originating with religion X, including the following:
    • religion X's belief-set should be trusted
    • it is good to spread religion X's belief-set
    • one or more carefully-chosen "affirming" statements deriving from religion X that are likely make person B feel good
  • Person B, who trusts person A for non-religious reasons, believes those statements because of that trust, the lack of contradictory evidence, and the "affirming" statements
  • Person B acts on those beliefs, repeating to others the statements made by person A.
  • Some of those people trust person B for personal reasons, and accept the statements as true, repeating the cycle.

Once the habit of belief is established, it is easier for the "teacher" in each of these relationships to convince their "students" to accept further statements that are increasingly counter to reality or to each other.


Many people see religious faith as a force for good in society, but these same people tend to ignore or excuse any evidence to the contrary -- demonstrating a sort of "faith in religious faith" themselves.

Many who claim to be atheistic have defended the idea of religious faith as being sufficiently valuable that religious beliefs should not be subjected to rational criticism, despite the lack of evidence to support this position; this phenomenon has been given the name faitheism.

Quotes about

Faith (noun) A magical wizard sauce that, when drunk, allows you to say, do, and believe the dumbest shit imaginable and still feel right.

Matthew Inman, BAHFest West 2014