My dad, a scientist, once told me, “I don’t need faith, I’ve got knowledge!” I think it was a response to my asking him to have a little faith in me. It was, however, his scientist-mindset all around. He had great respect for the scientific method, for things known, and for things not yet known, at least in the natural world.
Scientists seek knowledge, or as close as they can get to something they can claim as ‘knowing.’ At the same time, true scientists know they never know enough to say more than, “It looks like this is true with the information we have and the tests we can make.” Real science is always ready to accept its own ignorance, and to question what is ‘known.’ Many things have been challenged and tested enough that they are accepted as facts, though scientists still use the word ‘theory’ when labeling them.
It is a different use of the word than the layman’s concept of ‘theory’ as meaning ‘unproven.’ Hence a lot of the confusion over the Theory of Evolution. So far, no one has been able to present real evidence that evolution is not a fundamental dynamic of life’s functioning. Arguments, sure, and alternate hypotheses–which is the correct scientific term for unproven theories–but nothing that stands up to Reality’s tests.
In fact, my dad didn’t have as much knowledge, or even sufficient knowledge of me, either, as he asserted. Sure, he knew about things I didn’t know, had experiences of life I had not had, but he had not had my experiences, and truth be told, I knew even then a few things he didn’t. In any case, that day he was being clever, not smart, not kind; his intent was not truth, but shutting me down.
People who deride faith are often doing the same thing.
But the truth is, as much as we can actually know very little, and not absolutely in this complex universe, with our limited human minds, none of us live without faith in something. It may not be in a Supreme Being or an eternal soul, or in weather forecasting; it may be faith in absurdities already disproven by science, like Piltdown Man, or the Flat Earth that in fact turn out to be false. It may be faith in things proven by science, or in information from a trusted source.
I have faith in the essential goodness of human nature, though every day, every minute, someone in this world is doing their level best to prove me wrong.
I have faith that there is something greater than myself–greater than human beings–all, with supreme awareness, though how I define ‘God’ is not at all what most people mean by ‘God.’ My faith in God’s existence is not faith in any religion or dogma but in my own experience and reasoning.
I have faith that many things not now provable or even detectable by science will, someday, be detected and tested and proven and explained by science.
“Because God Wants It That Way” is not a statement of faith, it’s a cop-out that settles a matter without any kind of evidence, reasoning, or logic. It’s a conversation-stopper. It is psychic earplugs.
Every time we say, “I believe…” we make a statement of faith. Since practically everything we claim to know is actually belief, that makes us all people of faith.