Steve Paikin Panel Discussion - Is Faith Inevitable? genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

The following video clips comprise a recent Steve Paikin program on Canadian television during which a panel discusses faith and the many beliefs people hold regarding the benefits of having faith. On the contrary, the panel looks at whether having faith in God or a higher being can make us better people.

Simply stated, many of the panelists point out that faith is a means to deal with uncertainty. In that construct, people are often able to assert some measure of control over their unrevealed destiny. However, it remains debatable if the insertion of faith is a valid endeavor in coping or simply an efficient method of denial to prevent the individual from confronting the fears of death.

As such, belief and faith may well be two different concepts. One of the panelist explains this important distinction when he points out that belief is subject to evidence and argument...while on the other hand noting that faith is often the ability to believe in something despite the evidence.

The counter argument to this perspective suggests that faith need not be a literalist equation and that it can serve a useful purpose if one foregoes the inclination to then turn around and use faith as the template for explaining all that they encounter. In other words, faith can be an effective tool in dealing with the existential nature of the human condition.

The discussion moves onto look at the atrocities committed in the name of faith or in direct rejection of, or opposition to, religion. In discussing the acts of Stalin and other political ideologies that have made religion the enemy, proponents of religion contend that atheism has, as evidenced by the acts of Marxists, been equally dogmatic and used for negative purposes.

Some of the atheists on the panel suggest that Marxism (and the other examples) is simply a clear demonstration of faith...meaning it was an adherence to a system or a set of beliefs that do little more than demonstrate a replication of the dangers of any form of faith. In other words, many of the political structures we've witnessed are often a form of surrogate or substitute theology.

"I've previously written about "Terror Management Theory"":http://www.thoughttheater.com/2006/08/can_faith_religion_be_acts_of.php. The theory suggests that our human existence is primarily an attempt to deal with the fear (terror) that is created by the knowledge of our pending mortality. It seems to me that the bulk of all of our beliefs and actions spring forth from that innate awareness...and what we do with that awareness can lead to an array of decisions designed to cope with death. Faith and religion are simply one of the preferred constructs to achieve that goal.

Unfortunately, science has continued to provide evidence that contradicts the established religious beliefs designed to reduce that terror. At some point, as science explains more of our existence...in ways that undermine the Bible or other faith based doctrine...these two areas of thought are apt to become more adversarial. Finding a new equilibrium between the two is likely our prevailing task. We will either allow science to explain more of our existence in newly revealed ways, realize the benefits of adapting existing religious doctrine to allow for scientific discovery, or continue down the path of a growing division between science and religion.

Whether we can modify the rigid and/or literal interpretations that often form the basis for unyielding faith remains to be seen. Whether any new understanding of faith (religious ideology)...as modified by science....can be sufficient to allay the fears of death will undoubtedly play a major role in determining the degree to which society remains cohesive...and therefore successful.

Should the divide between science and religious ideology merely create more terror for those seeking explanations of their mortality...despite the advances made by science...we may well move towards increasing conflict and advancing animosity between those who elect to rely on faith and those who embrace science in managing their terror of mortality. In the end, the fact that death is inevitable remains our quintessential conundrum.

Is Faith Inevitable - Part One

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Two

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Three

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Four

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Five

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Six

Is Faith Inevitable - Part Seven

Tagged as: Death, Faith, God, Mortality, Religion, Science, Steve Paikin, Terror Management Theory

Daniel DiRito | June 3, 2008 | 12:30 PM
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