In a moral context, I have nothing good to say about faith.
When it comes to making the claim, "You deserve to suffer harm," the person to be harmed has a right to ask what reason exists to do that harm.
The answer, "I have no reason to harm you, but I have faith that you deserve to suffer nonetheless," simply is not good enough. When a person to be harmed asks what the reasons are, those reasons need to be real and demonstratable.
I see a great deal of similarity between somebody who will fly an airplane into a sky scraper in the name of God (driven by his faith), and a person who will vote against stem cell research or to ban homosexual marriage (driven by his faith). Both do harm to others. Both do it because they claim that God told them so. Both are driven by faith and are beyond the reach of reason.
The latter - the person who supports a ban on stem cell research or homosexual marriage - is even the more deadly of the two. The costs of a prohibition on stem-cell research, in terms of lives lost and monetary costs, easily exceeds the costs of 9/11.
To make matters worse, while these people do not consider it wrong to support legislation harmful to others - that, in some instances, gets people killed - they insist that it is wrong to question their faith. Getting people killed - that's okay. Questioning the faith that gets people killed - that's prohibited.
I bring this up because a member of the studio audience brought up the issue of faith.
Many theists claim that faith in god or a supernatural force is the same as having faith that say, the earth revolves around the sun, or that there are other galaxies out there trillions of miles away. My thoughts are that I do have a sort of faith in other people. Scientists, doctors and other people who HAVE the means by which to find out this information. I have to say that having faith in another person is much different than having faith in something supernatural.
Convicting a person of a crime on the basis of scientific evidence (to use one example), as opposed to convicting him on the basis of an evidence-free "faith" that he is guilty, is not the same thing.
I have no faith in science. Science earns my respect through its ability to predict the future. It earns my respect because it can tell me that a particular medical procedure will decrease the odds that a cancer will be fatal, because it can tell me when a hurricane will hit, because it can tell me how to build a sky scraper that can withstand an earthquake, because it can tell me what to do to prevent the spread of disease.
And when the scientist makes these claims, she can back them up. The percentage of patients who die of that type of cancer actually goes down, the hurricane goes where predicted, the sky scraper remains standing during the earthquake, and small pox and polio disappear (or nearly so) from the face of the earth.
Religion requires faith precisely because it cannot produce these types of results.
Religious people tell us that prayer in school provides protection against terrorist attacks, and that laws against abortion will prevent a city from being hit by a hurricane. However, they have never been able to provide any demonstrable evidence that this is the case. If they could, then variables such as "number of abortion clinics in an area" would turn out as a significant variable in scientific equations predicting the course of hurricanes, in addition to ocean surface temperature, the location of various high and low pressure systems around the hurricane, and the spin of the earth.
Some instances that the defenders of faith attempt to count in their favor is simply a rational application of principles of probability.
I have no faith in my doctors. I do know that if I visit a doctor on getting the signs of some sort of malady that the probability that the malady will be fatal goes down. There is a reason why it goes down - because doctors, in general, have the best information on how to discover a particular malady and on what courses of action have (in scientific studies) demonstrated the best success rates against those maladies.
When I choose an option with a 10% chance of dying over one with a 50% chance of dying, I am not acting on faith. I am playing the odds.
A person's natural right to liberty gives them a right to act on faith - without any knowledge but with "certainty" in the results - if they so wish. Up to the point where their actions are harmful to others. Those who demand harm to others on the basis of faith clearly violate this principle. Those who also insist that it is insulting and wrong to question their faith-based claims that others may be harmed take this evil to an extreme.