This may be my last post. For yet again, I am going to take a step of faith in my life. I just snapped this photo of wild mushrooms a friend picked for me this weekend. I will cook and eat them tonight after my workout at the gym. If things take a spin for the worse, I want to go out feeling strong.
My friend is a physician, an avid fly fisherman and has picked wild mushrooms for decades — or so he tells me. I have worked with him now for about 6 months. He has met my wife and kids. He tells me has eaten lots of mushrooms and over the last few months and he has given me mini-discourses on both picking and cultivating mushrooms. Seems trustworthy to me !
So sure, I have lots of reasons to trust him. But it is still just trust — it is only faith. For he might well be exaggerating (or lying) about his mushrooms experience and he could have easily faked some of the knowledge because I, myself, have not read up on mushrooms in order to check him. And heck, he could have made a mistake. Further, just because he is a good surgeon doesn’t mean he’s good at mushrooming. Besides, I have not really seen him make moral decisions — I don’t know how careful he is at protecting others. But, nonetheless, I am going to trust him — I am going to make a leap of faith.
Of course my faith will be based on some level of evidence, albeit far from perfect evidence. But really calling it “evidence” is sort of odd — as if the word “evidence” is clearly defined. For even anecdotal evidence counts for something when it is all you have. The concept of levels of evidence helps us weighing evidence. But, as in medicine, for some types of information, low-levels of evidence is the best you can get.
A common pitfall for atheists is “reason-stupor” — some atheists are so enamored with their own reasoning ability to naively feel they don’t act on faith and that faith is the antithesis of reason. They feel that they only believe things based on evidence and they deny that they hold any knowledge based on faith. OK, after a beer or two, they may confess some level of trust in sources, but they naively believe that the sources base their knowledge on evidence. Tonight I want to clearly demonstrate that even secular evidence-weak leaps of faith can succeed. I risk my life to the furthering of dialogue between atheists and theists ! Oh, how noble !
Though I have good insurance, my wife is still a little worried because she just watched a movie called “Into the Wild” where a man goes to Alaska to live by himself off the land and dies eating wild plants. So, please pray for my naturalistic soul! And btw, in case I don’t make it, the physician’s name is M……………
Notes: These are suppose to be “Chanterelle” mushrooms, which are suppose to be in season. But of course they belong to the a Chanterelle look-alike is the Jack o’Lantern mushroom which is poisonous.
Addendum: I may not object to “faith” per se, but I do object to misused faith. Let me illustrate:
Let’s say a believer has faith that Jesus/Mohammed/Krishna/Siddhartha or some other distant religious figure performed miracles. Well, if it was true, it is known because someone witnessed the miracle and passed that on to someone else and so on. Additionally, you may have possible confirmatory observations. But now the questioning begins: You have to question how accurate those observations are. This is anecdotal evidence — which can be useful. But it is hindered not only by distance in time but by likelihood. Since we don’t really see miracles today, it is hard to imagine in a reasonable way they happened back then. So indeed, though the belief is based on trusting (faith) stories of others, those stories are not sensible, thus problematic. So it is not “faith” I have problems with, but it is having faith in the highly improbable and/or unreasonable information and then treating it sacredly that I have problems. Treating something sacred means throwing the cloak of sanctity over it so others feel taboo in questioning.