Friday, March 4, 2011


I've noticed the "vanity cards" that Chuck Lorre has put at the end of his TV shows over the years, but I recently became fascinated by them (during the time when 2-1/2 Men was cancelled for the rest of the 2010-2011 season, and the multiple interviews with Charlie Sheen).  Reading an article about Chuck Lorre in which it was stated that on 2/28/2011, a vanity card appeared at the end of the Mike & Molly episode, addressing rather esoterically the drama surrounding the "situation" led me to actually go to his website ( and read many of these vanity cards.  There's some very interesting thoughts on there, going back to 1999 when he first began writing them during the production of Dharma & Greg.  Most are humorous to a certain degree, and many are filled with some very thought-provoking statements.

On 11/2/1999, the following vanity card (#42) appeared after that evening's episode of Dharma & Greg.  It talks about faith, and in reading it, I began to consider the topic of faith in a broader sense.  Here's the wording from that vanity card:
Thirty thousand feet in the air. Strapped into a seat that doubles as a flotation device. Thinking about faith. Faith in airplanes. In jet engines. In pilots. Faith that the sullen, unshaven guy across the aisle isn't the mindless pawn of a master terrorist with a deep hatred for America, the Great Satan. Then, assuming a safe landing, faith that the cabbie didn't have a fight with his adulterous wife who hides her deceit behind sly jokes about his unremarkable sexual prowess forcing him to soothe his anguish with that fifth of Jim Beam he keeps stashed beneath the seat. And, of course, faith that the doorknob leading out of the public bathroom isn't tainted with a flesh-eating bacteria that came to Earth imbedded in a small, flat meteorite that some unsuspecting child picked up to skip across the surface of a lake. Yes, faith is a wonderful thing. Without it, this world would surely be a fearful place. Once again, thanks for reading my vanity card. Have a nice day.
Faith is a fascinating subject.  At first when I read Chuck Lorre's vanity card, I thought that what he was talking about wasn't really faith.  But actually, the word faith has a much broader meaning than I realized.

Here below is the definition for FAITH from
- noun
1.  Confidence or trust in a person or thing; faith in another's ability.
2.  Belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3.  Belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4.  Belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.; to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5.  A system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
6.  The obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.:  Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
7.  The observation of this obligation; fidelity to one's promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.
8.  Christian Theology.  The trust in God and His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.

Interesting.  So in Chuck Lorre's vanity card, where he talks about having faith in airplanes, jet engines, and pilots, as well as his talk about cabbie's dispositions or issues related to terrorism, are all a form of faith.  The word faith actually has a much broader definition that I realized.

Of course, the reason for my confusion probably has to do with the fact that my main connection with the word FAITH always had to do with Mormonism.  But of course, Mormons are are essentially told to have "blind faith" since they are to follow everything without question -- suspending all reason in the process.  To me, having "blind faith" is not wise in any sense of the word.

I believe that when facts are shown to contradict what you are being told to believe, it is not faith anymore, but rather denial.  That is where I found myself in relation to Mormonism.  Once I discovered the truth about Mormonism, having faith in it anymore became an impossibility.

The following quote by Patrick Overton denotes a form of blind faith:
“When you have come to the edge of all light that you know and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”
That type of faith is baseless, having no foundation in any kind of reality.  To me, it is unreasonable to have faith in that form.

On the other hand, the following quote by Galileo Galilei makes a lot more sense to me: 

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use."

This is  exactly how I feel about Faith vs. Reason.  Why would God give us a brain if he didn't intend for us to use it?  It simply does not compute for me.  Why does the Mormon Church even have any educational institutions (like BYU) if they don't want people to learn to use their brains?  What a paradox.

The following is an excerpt from an article entitled "Is Blind Faith Immoral?  On Faith vs. Reason" by Robert Kaiser, which is contained on the Religious Tolerance website,
Many people, like this author, require a firmer basis for their beliefs than a blind appeal to authority. In fact, one can go further, and point out that it may well be immoral to have beliefs without a logical basis. Theodore Schick, Jr. and Lewis Vaughn discuss why this is so:
'Everybody's entitled to their own opinion' goes the platitude, meaning that everybody has the right to believe whatever they want. But is that really true? Are there no limits on what is permissible to believe? Or, as in the case of actions, are some beliefs immoral? Surprisingly, perhaps, many have argued that just as we have a moral duty not to perform certain sorts of actions, so we have a moral duty not to have certain sorts of beliefs. No one has expressed this point of view more forcefully than the distinguished mathematician W. K. Clifford: 'It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence.'
Others of similar stature have echoed this sentiment. Biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, for example, declared, 'It is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty.' And Brand Blanshard has proclaimed that where great human goods and ills are involved, the distortion of belief from any sort of avoidable cause is immoral, and the more immoral the greater the stakes.
These men think it wrong for belief to outstrip the evidence because our actions are guided by our beliefs, and if our beliefs are mistaken, our actions may be misguided, As Blanshard indicated, the more important the decision, the greater our duty to align our beliefs with the evidence, and the greater the crime if we don't. Where not much hangs on the belief, it might be thought that what one believes has little importance. But Clifford claims that even in trivial matters we have a duty to proportion our belief to the evidence:
'Every time we let ourselves believe for unworthy reasons, we weaken our powers of self-control, of doubting, of judicially and fairly weighing evidence. We all suffer severely enough from the maintenance and support of false beliefs and the fatally wrong actions which they lead to.... But a greater and wider evil arises when the credulous character is maintained and supported, when a habit of believing for unworthy reasons is fostered and made permanent.'
According to Clifford, responsible believing is a skill that can be maintained only through constant practice. And since responsible believing is a prerequisite for responsible acting, we have a duty to foster this skill.
["How to Think About Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age (second edition)", p.102, Theodore Schick, Jr. and Lewis Vaughn, Mayfield Publishing Co., 1999]

While this line of reasoning goes against what most religious people believe, I am firmly persuaded by the logic. Thus, we should not believe in God without reason. It seems, then, that we would be obligated to search for reasonable arguments to believe in God. Finding such reason we would be obliged to believe in God; lacking such reason we would be obliged to dismiss God's existence as a unproven hypothesis.
What Mr. Kaiser states here makes a lot of sense to me.  Finding a basis for belief through the use of such means as thought, research and analysis is a very reasonable approach for any person in arriving at a conclusion.  Simply believing because you are told to believe something is not reasonable to me.  It defies all logic. 


Naturally, in the end, my mind always turns to humor -- my defense mechanism, I suppose.  Can't be totally serious for too long.  So in a humorous vein, I also have to share these other great quotes about faith:

"Faith is what you have in things that don't exist."  Homer Simpson

"It ain't supposed to make sense; it's faith.  Faith is something that you believe that nobody in his right mind would believe."  Archie Bunker

No comments: