I regularly refer to holding beliefs and making decisions on faith as an indulgence, but was recently asked to clarify. Webster’s defines indulgence as taking unrestrained pleasure in something, yielding to the desire from it. Faith is not a means to knowledge and as such, decisions based on them are not informed, not logically warranted. Therefore to hold a belief on faith, one is yielding logic and rationality for the sake of some pleasure or satisfaction gained from holding the belief. That is, by definition, an indulgence.
We all have our indulgences, some worse than others. As such, some will say that we should then be respectful of others’ indulgences. I find that as silly as being respectful of others’ opinions. Not every opinion is worthy of respect. the opinions of NAMBLA, for instance, are not worthy of respect. However, as Patrick Henry is credited as saying, “I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” I have a friend who indulges in too much online gaming. That indulgence keeps him from doing things which could improve his position in life, which he’ll admit isn’t ideal, plus of course some exercise now and again would be nice (for me as well, btw). Now just as he has a right to indulge, I have a right to critique his indulgence. That’s the REAL way mutual respect works.
Anyway, I’ve gotten side-tracked. The thing with indulgences is they often are merely personal, as in the indulgence all or mostly just impacts the one indulging. Such personal indulgences are not so bad in the grand scheme of things since you’re not harming or imposing on anyone else. An example of indulgence harming others though would be drinking alcohol and then driving. There was a time when such behavior was not just tolerated but laughingly acceptable. No more. Faith based beliefs like religion or anti-vaccinations should be moved to that category as well, indulgences which often cause harm to others beyond the one indulging. For instance, you can indulge in believing in a god or specifically Yahweh, but when that indulgence then dictates actions such as voting to deny others their equal rights, a quality education or even medical and scientific advances, then you as an indulger should be held accountable.
Faith is an indulgence, a highly appealing and addictive indulgence which I find virtually impossible to keep as merely a personal indulgence.