Faith is not a virtue, but it can be


Having faith that god was with them didn’t make the Nazis virtuous people.

The victims and perpetrators of terrorism both have faith.

Having faith that they are doing god’s will doesn’t make Islamic suicide bombers virtuous people.

The Catholic Church equating faith with morality makes perfect sense from a political and marketing perspective, but it’s empty rhetoric, it’s a lie. Having faith doesn’t make someone virtuous just as not having faith doesn’t make someone immoral. It all depends on how you define faith and what you have faith in.

Just as it’s in the best interest of religious organizations to equate submission to their god with being righteous, it’s also in their best interest to equate atheism with being wicked. But when one sees past the smoke of self-preserving propaganda, they find that a rejection of religion often comes from a powerful moral stance of an individual mind. Many have turned away from religion because they have read the Bible and the Koran and have rejected the bigotry and hatred of that god. It’s not because their moral compass is weak, it’s because the moral core of their being makes the rejection of religion not a choice, but a necessity.

Just as the religious are marketing faith as virtue, many atheists are marketing faith as vice. They have attacked faith as lazy compliance to wishful thinking without evidence or action. In many cases this may be true; however, faith in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many use the term to simply imply a noble wish. Abraham Lincoln once stated that we should have faith that right makes might. There is no evidence supporting this, but if enough people took this philosophy to heart it would set the world on a better course.

Many times it is said of fallen heroes that they had faith in god. The protectors of our loved ones deserve better than such an empty and meaningless statement. When any human dies to protect the innocent, it should be said of them that they had faith in humanity. It should be said of them that they had faith in good over evil. It should be said of them that they had faith that the value of life and liberty is worth fighting and sacrificing for.

Let us have faith that secularism will win over oppressive Islamic theocracies. Let us have faith that women’s rights will live and Sharia Law will die. Let us have faith that people dying of hunger will get food, people dying of sickness will get health, and people dying from war will have peace. Let us have faith that human progress and the standard of living for all people will rise. Let us have faith that the vast majority of people on this earth are kind and generous. Are these secular examples of faith based on evidence? These ideas are not mathematical or scientific; they exist in the realm of philosophy. It’s important to fight the good fight but also to have a noble wish that things will improve for much of human suffering that is beyond our control. Faith in itself is not a virtue, but it can be if it’s used wisely and in the interest of love and caring for ourselves, our family and all good people.

“Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought. Let us have faith that right makes might and in that faith let us; to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” – Abraham Lincoln

-James Kirk Wall

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