Cease, then, in terror of mere novelty, to drive all Reason from your mind, but rather weigh with Accurate judgement. If the thing be true assent: If false, attack it hardily.
— Titus Lucretius Carus 1
. . . Fair Truth’s immortal sun Is sometimes hid in clouds; not that her light Is in itself defective, but obscured By my weak prejudice, imperfect Faith And all the thousand causes which obstruct The growth of goodness.
— Hannah More 2
Faith with no reason for its basis is nothing but superstition and folly. We write for unprejudiced men, and have no wish to flatter irreligion any more than fanaticism. If there be anything essentially free and inviolable in the world, it is belief. By science and persuasion, we must endeavour to lead bewrayed 3 imaginations from the absurd, but it would be investing their errors with all the dignity and truth of the martyr to either threaten or constrain them. . . . Faith is nothing but superstition and folly if it have no reason for its basis, and we cannot suppose that which we do not know except by analogy with what we know.4
He who believes his own religion on faith, . . . will regard that of every other man as a lie, and hate it on that same faith. Moreover, unless it fetters reason and entirely blinds our perceptions of anything outside our own particular faith, the latter is no faith at all, but a temporary belief, the delusion we labour under, at some particular time of life. Moreover,
“faith without principles is but a flattering phrase for willful positiveness or fanatical bodily sensations,”
in Coleridge’s clever definition.5
He is expected to have, or pretends to have, unquestioning faith in, and veneration only for the teachings of his own Church. . . . one has, as a conditio sine qua non, to show faith in the dogmas expounded by the Church and to profess them; after which a man is at liberty to lead a private and public life on principles diametrically opposite to those expressed in the Sermon on the Mount. The chief point and that which is demanded of him is, that he should have — or pretend to have — a blind faith in, and veneration for, the ecclesiastical teachings of his special Church.
Faith is the key of Christendom,” saith Chaucer, and the penalty for lacking it is as clearly stated as words can make it, in St. Mark’s Gospel, chapter xvi, verse 16th:
“He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” 1
Bereft of understanding, blind faith is make-believe. Only the efflorescence of personal experience can bring forwards the selfconfidence of faith. “Blind faith” is an expression sometimes used to indicate a belief without perception or understanding; while the true perception of the Manas is that enlightened belief, which is the real meaning of the word “faith.” This belief should at the same time be accompanied by knowledge, i.e., experience, for “true knowledge brings with it faith.” Faith is the perception of the Manas (the fifth principle), while knowledge, in the true sense of the term, is the capacity of the Intellect, i.e., it is spiritual perception.2
If a belief is not the outcome of a thoughtful comparison of the merits of a proposition with our own reason and experience, we are neither likely to adopt concordant attitudes, nor to act accordingly. Confidence to such beliefs will be short-lived, with attitudes and conduct ever following the prevailing wind. The Adept has no favours to ask at the hands of conjectural sciences, not does he exact . . . blind faith: it being his cardinal maxim that faith should only follow enquiry. . . . Thus he leaves his audience to first verify his statements in very case by the brilliant though rather wavering light of modern science: . . . In short, the “Adept” — if one indeed — has to remain utterly unconcerned with, and unmoved by, the issue. He imparts that which it is lawful for him to give out, and deals but with facts. 3
Lord Buddha taught that we must not believe in any proposition on account of the authority, status, or prestige of its author. We are to believe and act only when a proposition has been corroborated by our own reason and consciousness.
“Are there any dogmas in Buddhism which we are required to accept on faith?” [A Buddhist Catechism 1 explains:] No. We are earnestly enjoined to accept nothing whatever on faith; whether it be written in books, handed down from our ancestors, or taught by the sages. Our Lord Buddha has said that we must not believe in a thing said merely because it is said; nor in traditions because they have been handed down from antiquity; nor rumours, as such; nor writings by sages, because sages wrote them; nor fancies that we may suspect to have been inspired in us by a deva (that is, in presumed spiritual inspiration); nor from inferences drawn from some haphazard assumption we may have made; nor because of what seems an analogical necessity; nor on the mere authority of our teachers or masters. But we are to believe when the writing, doctrine, or saying is corroborated by our own reason and consciousness. “For this,” says he in concluding, “I taught you not to believe merely because you have heard, but when you believed of your consciousness, then to act accordingly and abundantly.” 2
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