Faith and Epistemology

When I was Mormon, I believed that knowledge comes from God alone. I believed that while our senses can give us sensory input, and our brain allowed us to reason, only the Spirit of God was a reliable epistemology. To gain insight from the Spirit, one needed faith. Faith was the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Faith manifest in me, as a peaceful feeling, or an overwhelming emotion.

Then I discovered that Mormonism was false. Trying to figure out how I could have be 100% convinced, yet be wrong, was difficult for me to comprehend. I learned that the problem was my approach to knowledge. My problem was faith.

Faith can lead to ANY belief. While “faith” can have more than one definition (such as hope), I am focused on faith as a method to gain knowledge about reality. Faith leads to millions of different religions and superstitions; and thousands of different gods. Some of the problems with using faith as an epistemology is that faith is not reliable, not falsifiable, and extremely susceptible to confirmation bias.

(1) Not reliable–how can faith lead to thousands of mutually exclusive beliefs be considered a reliable epistemology? I argue faith, including faith in a book like the Bible, is guaranteed to lead to inconsistency, which is why we have so many different interpretations of the Bible.

(2) Not falsifiable–when has any religion or faith based believe EVER been shown to be wrong? I argue it hasn’t. People simply stop believing in it. In fact, most religious ideas are explicitly not falsifiable, such as the idea of a deity that exits outside of space and time, or the belief that Tarot Cards have some supernatural insight.

(3) Confirmation bias–since faith is a personal and subjective process, how is faith not inherently biased? Confirmation bias is remembering the hits and forgetting the misses. If someone believed in astrology (or prayer) and remembered all the times that an astrological prediction (or prayer) came true, but forgot when they didn’t, one can easily convince oneself that it works, since our brains are predictably irrational.

(4) Why would a god rely on such a flawed process to make himself known?

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