Chris Cuomo: ‘The Pro-Life Position is More About Faith and Feeling Than Fact’
Christians get too much lip service for our “sincerely held beliefs” — as in, “don’t expect anyone to care what you believe.” Beliefs are private, or so some people think. Faith is personal. And not to be confused with facts or knowledge.
And face it: faith is, well, quaint. People cling to their beliefs in spite of all reality, probably because they “find comfort in them.” I hear people talking like this, and I half expect them to pat me on the head and coo: “Aw, isn’t he cute?”
It’s the same dehumanizing, dismissive sense I get from CNN host Chris Cuomo’s recent tweet, saying, “the pro-life position is more about faith and feeling than fact.”
Disingenuous? No. There is certainly a need to explain the medical realities of the procedures and the risks to women of losing access to care but this is about politics mostly – and the pro- life position is more about faith and feeling than fact. But I pursue both avenues https://t.co/iTO2VQZwhh
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) May 7, 2019
I’m sure he didn’t mean to be patronizing. He’d never be rude like that; not consciously. But it doesn’t have to be conscious. In fact, that’s the point. Our whole culture has come to view “faith” and “belief” in a foggy, fuzzy light that assumes it’s nothing but unsupported opinion.
Cuomo doesn’t say as much explicitly. He doesn’t have to. I suspect he assumes it. That for him it’s not even worth thinking about. He knows (or, rather, he thinks he knows) that some people live by facts. They’re the mature ones, the ones we can trust with policy decisions, including the abortion question. Others, the poor little souls, live by faith and feeling. They’ll hold on to their beliefs, and that’s fine for them; it’s their business. They probably need the “comfort” it brings them.
So their faith might lead them to “feel” human life matters from conception onward. They’re not brave enough, mature enough, smart enough, to face down their feelings with the facts. So they’ve got no business making their beliefs anyone else’s business. Because faith just isn’t about facts. Faith is believing when there aren’t any facts.
The Comic Origins of “Faith is Belief Without Evidence”
It all seems so obvious. Except it’s a false view of both faith and belief. Nancy Pearcey has traced this view’s origins comprehensively in Total Truth. I’ll just take a brief look at a piece of it.
Ironically, it originated (as far as I’ve been able to track it down) in a pair of 19th-century by a humorist and a satirist, Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce. But here’s a news flash for the 21st century: Not everything a humorist says is meant to be taken as scientific truth. Not even when one of them wrote a book about A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
But this view is really convenient for people who want to make light of faith. Atheists like Richard Dawkins and Peter Boghossian promote it actively; it makes their unbelief look so much more intelligent and “reasoned.” But again, they’ve got no evidence for it.
For the fact is, Christian faith has never, from the beginning, been about believing without evidence or in spite of the facts. Jesus presented himself alive “with many convincing proofs” (Acts. 1:3). John wrote the Fourth Gospel so that readers would believe and have life in Jesus’ name, based on his report of the signs Jesus did.
That’s what faith was in its original, biblical form. It didn’t start out as believing in spite of evidence, and it never became that, either, except in unbelievers’ imaginations. No thoughtful Christian has ever said, “I can’t find any reason to think it’s true, but I’ll believe it anyway.”
Knowledge, Not Mere Opinion
And in case you’re wondering, a whole lot of Christians have looked for evidence both for and against the faith. A whole lot of us will tell you that search —and the facts we encountered through it — is what led us to believe.
Christianity is a matter of knowledge, not mere opinion. Opinions even on that differ, naturally. But if atheists can be wrong about something as easily verified the meaning of “faith,” there’s a good chance their opinions can be wrong on a lot more than that. Cuomo himself is weak on his facts, or as Tim Barnett put it, his tweet failed the science test.
Cuomo’s tweet fails the basic tests of secularized “tolerance,” too. Imagine patronizing people of color that way: “Oh, they only feel discriminated against. They’re not up to figuring out the real facts.” What an outrage that would be! How dehumanizing!
Secular culture feels just fine saying that about Christians, though. I use the word “feels” quite intentionally. It’s a feeling; you could even call it a “faith,” using their own twisted meaning of the word: It’s a belief not based on fact. And it’s another way in which they feel free to dehumanize believers — which secularists should certainly agree is wrong.
The best thing Christians can do about this dismissive, patronizing nonsense is to equip ourselves well. You can become a Christian without knowing all the reasons behind it, but why would you want to remain that way — especially when so many people just casually assume we don’t care what’s really true?
Read some Lee Strobel or J. Warner Wallace. Find out the truths that support our convictions. Then when you see someone patronizing Christianity like Cuomo did here, gently remind them that they’ve got it wrong.
Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream, and the author of A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ. Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.