In the realm of philosophy, much like in the realm of science, it is important that we value the method that we reach our conclusions. What often separates different philosophies is how they approach questions. A different philosophy will start out with different premises, before building upon those premises, and then -- ultimately -- applying them to the real world (sometimes referred to as "Applied Ethics" when dealing with morality). Often times, though, while one philosophy may start out with a premise and another with a different premise, or a "given," they will most likely use the same or similar methods for approaching their questions. "What is the meaning of life?" is an ancient philosophy question. "How do the organs in animals work to ensure the survival of the creature?" is a biology question. Both can be approached with the same method of answering a question. The two primary methods of approaching a question are Faith and Reason. While all logical philosophies attempt to answer the questions of life using Reason, there is still a great deal of illogical philosophies which use Faith as their foundation. The two theories of approaching questions may be summed up as follows. Reason believes that an idea should be supported with evidence, demonstration, observation, anything that could serve as a reason to support the hypothesis. Faith believes in the idea that something is too noble or too divine to need to be supported with evidence, and that it ought to be believed regardless of what our natural senses tell us.
I will say this of Reason: it has provided science with an accurate method of discerning truth from myth -- it has given the common person the ability to understand and investigate matters for themselves -- it has empowered the individual with the right to judge truth from fiction, it has given to each seeker a light to follow. The man who believed in Reason said, "Why should I believe it?" and the man who believed in Faith responded, "You don't need a reason to believe it." Religion, psuedo-science, and government gained the respect of Faith, while Reason struggled to survive in the darkness. Science, real science, was banned from the churches and the governments. Investigation was a crime, and every soul that desired to know was a criminal. I defend Reason because it supports those values which I hold close to me: compassion, truth, fairness, justice. But the support of those ideas is only coincidental. I will follow the footsteps of reason -- of a method that requires evidence for every theory -- to whatever beliefs it brings me to, to whatever suspicions it confirms or disconfirms. And when we ask a theory to support itself with sound evidence, we find that Humanitarianism gains worth and Rationalism is deserving of respect.
I will say this of Faith: it has been the foundation of every religion, every cult, every sect, every religious terrorist organization that desired to gain advocates whose will greatly exceeded their intelligence. When a religion asks that its followers believe all that it declares, and to do so without evidence, it speaks volumes of the intent and meaning of that religion. These churches and mosques, they will keep their followers in the shadows of millennium past. Evolution is still howled as the great enemy of faith. It simply has the greatest following of scientists and evidence. It's not scientifically that any religion has ever tried to debunk Evolution. They brought forth no evidence. They claimed no new discoveries. Their only tactic was to point to a tattered, old Bible -- to flip through the pages, and read the rancid words, almost as if they were pure gold. Faith does not require investigation, or evidence, or demonstration, or observation, or logical deductions. It simply requires that a person believe, in spite of what evidence may say: it requires that a person blindfolds themselves when demonstration is shown, to use earplugs when anyone speaks of logic, and to turn away at every reason for them to believe what Faith tells them is wrong. Those cults and sects which have utilized violence for the realization of their apocalyptic future -- they required nothing but the willpower and a great deal of Faith.
In this world, with the struggles for solidarity among the workers, with the fights for a real Democracy in this Consumerist society -- with the battles of life that have been going on as long as there have been "haves" and "have nots" -- there is a real question: what is there to aid in the advancement of civilization? I have yet to see a Capitalist point to any evidence that Free Trade brings about prosperity. There is a great deal of talk on hypothetical matters based on unfounded conclusions, of what will happen or what will not happen, and then some praised deduction that, in the end, the worker is benefited. No where among all the talk of the Capitalist does he bring about a single strand of evidence, a single proof, that child labor, that slavery, that war and Imperialism, that working 16 hours a day -- never does he prove these things, but rather, he says, by allowing them, we are becoming free. Faith supports these things, and it is why religionists have so often sided with the Capitalist doctrine. The church has been the enemy of the workers for centuries now. In the beginning, in those Feudalist days of old, it has been the one to benefit from slavery, and the greatest owner of slaves. And what is there to support these ideologies, these malicious creeds of men? Nothing, but Faith: the idea that you should believe regardless of what your heart tells you, in spite of what your eyes see, regardless of what common sense dictates.