Last night I started reading a book called Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About it by Gary Taubes. Taubes writes what was likely a throw away line but got me thinking about faith:
What sets science and the law apart from religion is that nothing is expected to be taken on faith. We’re encouraged to ask whether the evidence actually supports what we’re being told to believe–or what we grew up believing–and we’re allowed to ask whether we’re hearing all the evidence or just some small prejudicial part of it.
This statement is categorically false. It simultaneously mischaracterizes faith and science. The principle of faith properly understood is fully operative even by avowed atheists. Joseph Smith taught that “Faith is not only the principle of action, but it is also the principle of power in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth.”
True Faith is anything but unsubstantiated wishful thinking. It is not walking to the edge of the light and leaping blindly into the darkness ignorant of what you’ll find. True faith is envisioning something that may not, at present, exist anywhere but in your own mind and exerting all the energy of your soul until it is actualized. It definitely requires stepping into the unknown but not into a void, towards something yet unseen. That is why faith is a principle of power in all intelligent beings.
But belief and effort are only two ingredients of true faith. In order for faith to be true it must be belief in and work toward something that is in fact true. Otherwise all efforts are vain. For a scientist researching a false hypothesis this means that no amount of effort or belief can make it true. And for a believer in any religion, faith is vain when not founded on correct principles.
So don’t tell me that science is somehow reason immortalized, free from the oppressive blindness of faith. When a physicist pushes the limits of our understanding of the universe she is acting on principles of faith, and every innovation is the fruit of an idea of something previously unseen.
Putting a man on the moon was an act of pure faith. It had never been done, yet many were convinced of it’s possibility and worked their guts out until it was accomplished.