In a classical Donald Duck episode our feathered friend is converted to the ways of "flipism": the philosophy that every question should be decided by flipping a coin. This doesn’t turn out to be the winning formula that mr Duck initially expected it to be, and in the end he has to appear before the judge because of the mess caused by his random actions. Mr. Duck tries to defend his actions by pointing out that he was only doing what was required of him by his "religion" of flipism. As a result the judge increases his penalty for using a stupid coin instead of his brains.
To me "flipism" is a brilliant metaphore for making decisions based on religious faith. Or as the brilliant Lauren Becker from Point of Inquiry puts it: going by faith rather than sight:
As far as accuracy is concerned faith-based decisions, whether about true vs. false or right vs. wrong, are no better than random guessing, or, for that matter, flipping a coin. I see the mayhem caused by religious extremists as merely the random effects of a way of thinking that leads people to make [i:e6264d9dc6]uninformed decisions[/i:e6264d9dc6]. These random effects include among other things:
-Islamic suicide bombers who think that they’ll get into paradise by blowing themselves up in a crowd of innocent bystanders.
-The practice of stoning, cutting off hands etc. because the Sharia (or Mosaic) laws are believed to be the perfect word of God.
-Christian scientists and other cults who would rather let their children die than allow necessary medical treatment.
-Catholic preachers trying to prevent condom use in AIDS-ridden Africa.
-The damage inflicted upon science education, as well as the public attitude toward science in general, by creationists etc.
-Intolerance towards homosexuality, premarital sex, contraceptions etc. for the sole reason that it is thought to be against the will of God.
-Millions of people in India being discriminated and excluded for being born into the wrong "caste".
Fighting these effects without addressing the broader issue of faith itself is, in my view, like fighting the symptoms rather than the disease. Off course one might point out that religion also has other effects, like people renouncing all violence or dedicating their entire lives to helping the poor. That’s absolutely true, but i can’t help thinking that it sort of misses the point: Would Donald’s actions have been any more pardonable if the coin had not accidentally flipped the wrong way? As long as you keep making uninformed decisions based on random beliefs, it’s really through no effort of your own whether you end up toward the Bin Laden or Buddha end of the spectrum. After all, both are/were guided by their faith, which means that religious faith is not the proper way to decide any question. I guess what i am saying is, as Lauren Becker put it:
"Going by faith and not by sight is a terrible way to go."