We humans spend a huge amount of time trying to determine what the truth is, how to reach the truth and what to call it once we have determined what it is.
The word "belief" might work to describe a conclusion of truth, but there are a number of different definitions for the word in most dictionaries. There are those definitions that equate "belief" with faith or a belief in a particular religion. Those meanings do not work for our purposes here. Then there are those definitions that describe "belief" as a confidence in something or someone. Those definitions do not apply here either. The definition that works best for our purposes here is that a "belief" is "to accept something as true" and that is how we will be using the word "belief" in this section. Of course, we can also conclude that it is true that something is false, so a belief that something is false will also be a valid use of the word "belief" here.
Our next task is to determine the legitimate bases upon which we can reach a belief, i.e., conclude that something is true. We will examine the two most prominent (if not the only) bases upon which humans try to determine the "truth" - reason and faith.
Reason is orderly thought based upon verifiable data and logical, rational, clear and coherent mental processes which are, also, free of emotion and self-interest.
Proponents of reason do not expect reason to answer all mysteries immediately. While they might use conjecture and speculation to imagine solutions to those mysteries, they never assume that those conjectures and speculations to be true and certainly do not try to force a conclusion not provable by reason.
Proponents of reason, if true to reason, will welcome differing evidence. Truth is their true goal, not a presupposed conclusion.
Faith is a belief in something without question or logical proof - sometimes even contrary to logical proof. Faith is often impulsive and based upon hopes, feelings and emotions, as opposed to logic. Faith, certainly in the religious sense, often involves a belief in "ancient wisdom" even if brought into question by modern evidence.
Faith depends for its survival on that presently unknown and apparently incomprehensible - areas not resolved by reason. Then, when reason disproves the faith belief, faith believers often refuse to relent. Thus, we find faith believers interjecting a god into every mystery unproved by science despite the fact that there has never been any evidence of the presence of a god anywhere.
Advocates of faith often:
If a belief were held based upon logical proof, it would be based on reason. There would be no reason for faith. Beliefs based upon faith can be the same as those based upon reason. However, it would be unnecessary to continue to believe in something based on faith if proven by reason.
The essence of faith is to consider an idea as true even though it cannot be proven with reason. Since faith must entail belief in the absence of rational demonstration, all propositions of faith are irrational. People turn to faith when beliefs cannot be defended by reason.
Faith does not erase contradictions and absurdities; it merely allows one to believe something in spite of contradictions and absurdities.
Both faith and reason are dependent on unexplained phenomena for their existence. Reason examines the unknown based upon a logical analysis of facts. Faith examines the unknown based upon hopes and dreams for and sometimes in contradistinction with reality. Faith is impatient and instead of waiting for a logical explanation for unexplained phenomena, gives up and assumes a conclusion without proof.
Faith is irreconcilably opposed to reason. Compared to reason, FAITH FAILS!
For a more extensive discussion about faith, I recommend chapter 4 entitled "Reason Versus Faith" in George H. Smith's book Atheism: The Case Against God.
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