My question is whether the criticism of faith are purely political: whether faith is a means of limiting political influence – coercion. As much as it WAS an instrument of coercion in the past. It’s content has changed since the darwinian revolution. Other than one remaining dogmatic super-cult, most are a personal religion now that defines a natural law that limits the state, by defining a communal preference over the demands of the state. If economic secularism is wrong. Faith is ‘right’.
In other words, reason is insufficient to test the the content of faith or secular statism. The only scientific answer is which religion: the democratic secular economic religion of the state, or the christian/buddhist/hindu religion of the community is ‘true’, rather than a tautology. Reason is the language of the state, of commerce and of science. All of which dissolve community, family, and tribe. From which we gain our comfort. Our ‘gravity’. A force of nature which is present in our genes.
To the broader question that separates religion from ‘faith’. To the argument as to whether faith is rational, the only reason to have this discussion is to persuade someone for some material reason. Otherwise we are arguing taste. And taste is not material. It is purely subjective. So the only reason to argue about faith is either political or commercial gain. Faith is an insulation against the political trevails of the overactive, and self interested. Political claims via reason, are claims on the actions and property of others. They must be. That is all it is possible for them to be. Reason by definition cannot a ‘subjective taste’.
An honest discourse would not be conducted over a person’s faith, but over the property of individuals, and what must be exchanged for it. Rather, than over how individuals believe something, so that they will transfer their time, effort, or property at no cost, or lower cost. Political pundits are most often beggars in fine robes of reason.
Faith then, is a means of saying “I’m not interested”.
I am not sure that given the durability of the religions and the temporal nature of states, and the current understanding that we have of the limits of collective decision making, that ‘faith’ isn’t demonstrably ‘right’ and much of our political and economic theory ‘wrong’. Even if secularism is constructed of rational argument, and faith is constructed of myth and analogy, those constructs are not material — only the result of their application is.
This has been said simply two millennia: the state is responsible for temporal affairs (commerce and war) and the church (faith) is responsible for limiting the state from expanding beyond commerce and war into the preferred state of man. And the preferred state of man is demonstrably that state of community that is found in the commonality of values, and the rituals that insulate us from the alienation of commerce and violence, and connect us to the security of our family and tribe. Faith has no place in State, commerce and science and vice versa.
I mean, I don’t know really, why gravity works either. I don’t have to. But I would be uncomfortable in a world without gravity — genetic evolution has guaranteed I depend upon it. Likewise, I don’t know really why the different faiths ‘work’. I just know that I do not want to live in a world where there is no equivalent. I might prefer the Germans had succeeded in abandoning christianity in favor of return to their pagan roots. I might prefer my bible was of history, and gods, our heroes. But that is a question of taste. Whether the outcome of a more mystical christianity, or a more heroic history is superior, I am not sure I can forecast.