Ambrose BierceAmbrose Bierce, (1842-1914) American Civil War soldier, humorist, writer

Ambrose Bierce Quote

“Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.”

Ambrose BierceAmbrose Bierce
~ Ambrose Bierce

Ratings and Comments

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

I believe he has a point there... ;-)

David L Rosenthal

The common mistake of many is that they believe that the person of faith lacks evidence. In fact, some experiences are so personal, subjective, that the evidence is not immediately perceptible to others. When they said the Earth was round, before men flew, they could prove it by certain calculations, but those who could not see were sure that they were wrong, that the Earth must be flat. In the book of Job, however, it is mentioned that the Earth is an orb, round, which was written about 1500 BC. People of faith knew that the Earth was round long before people of science did. Faith and science are not mutually exclusive, except in the minds of people with closed minds. But neither is science the great infallible system as many regard it. Scientific "knowledge" develops, or transforms, with new discoveries that contradict old assumptions, over and over again.

Mike, Norwalk

I believe Bierce's shot at 'Hebrews 11:1' was an attempt at humor; he missed. Maybe it was cute in context???

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Anonymous    9/13/06

This can certainly be applied to many areas in our present modern world. I do not need to write anything specific here, it applies to every continent of this planet. People were ostracised by people of faith, because of their scientific proofs on the shape of the earth, regardless of what any other sources said.

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EGL, LA    9/13/06

This is really just a definition,not a thought. If you want to read what the new Pope has to say about the inability for faith and rationality to coexist read today's (9/13/6) NY Times-- "Pope Assails Secularism, Adding Note on Jihad".

E Archer, NYC

Chrisitan revisionists convenienty excuse the persecutions of the unbelievers throughout history. They make about as much sense as the Islamic and Jewish fundamentalists. This quote is not funny at all because it is too true. David is the perfect example.

David L Rosenthal

Interesting, Archer, that you should say I am perfect. ;-) I was not aware of it. So, are you saying that I persecute unbelievers, or that I do not have knowledge. What exactly are you saying, Archer?

E Archer, NYC

David, I am well aware of your imperfections -- I'm sure you have many more. ;-) Let me clarify: When I think of 'belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel' your proselytising comes to mind as a perfect example.

David L Rosenthal

Archer: Thank you for clarifying, but it would help if you could specify a given instance of "proselytizing," specifying what I believe without evidence, what I speak without knowledge, et cetera. When I speak of things related to God, I prefer that they be of use to the hearer, but in fact a follower of God is bound to warn others for the sake of his own salvation; this concept is found in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, and is connected to love of one's neighbor, not thast warm fuzzy feeling, necessarily, which I somehow have not quite developed in your case, but the simple intention of helping the other understand God's will and conform to what God sees as right, to please God, and to receive eternal life in optimal conditions. I know, sometimes I get angry. Just one more imperfection. But despite all our imperfections, the focus is not on damnation but on salvation.

Jack, Green, OH

David, if you please, you must know the scripture you referred to in Job, or any place in the Bible, saying the earth was an orb. I don't recall seeing it anywhere. I know Job does consider the vastness of the earth and at one place mentions shaking the earth out of its place, causing the pillars of it to tremble (Job 9:6), but no mention of an orb. I know the Bible is full of metaphors and problems with translations, but I have yet to see anything remotely refering to a spherical earth. I know Creationists latch onto misquotes and preach them as fact. I'd like to refer you to one web site that very effectively explains how this type thinks. Please go to: In fact, I challenge you to find any historical reference to a sperical earth before about 500 BC, when Pythagoras observed ships approaching over the horizon, first the masts showing, then the hull as they came nearer. Then Aristotle, a couple of centuries later, noticed the round shadow of the earth on the moon during a partial eclipse of the moon. I may be wrong but those are the earliest accounts I am familiar with. What observations did Job make to come up with his remarkable conclusions?

David L Rosenthal

I did not write that Job made these observations. I wrote that observations were made, before men flew, but in a separate sentence I wrote that Job knew that the Earth was round. Once you made your challenge, I looked up the reference I had been thinking of and found that you are right. The reference is not to the Earth being round, but only that it hangs on nothing, in the emptiness of space. I do not know how I got confused on that point. It has been many years since I found anyone who wanted to make an issue of it, so I should thank you for making me realize the reference in Job 26:7 is to the Earth hanging on nothing. I think it was my brother who told me that the Orientals realized centuroes before the Europeans that the Earth was round. He was a Buddhist, did a lot of reading on the Orientals. Now, I am sure you are not insinuating, or expect anyone to accept, that scientists do not latch on to untruths and teach them as though they were facts. For we know that science is constantly changing the facts to suit new discoveries that disprove old assumptions made by scientists. So try and be a little less obnoxious, as though preachers were the only ones who are not completely in touch with absolute reality. It makes you seem, oh, disingenuous.

David L Rosenthal

Jack: I did a little reading and found that it is not universally accepted that Copernicus or Aristotle or Columbus "discovered" the roundness of Earth. It is believed that the Persians and Babylonians knew of it long before. What else would you like to challenge?

Joe, Rochester, MI

Rosenthal is a delusional liberal, and regardless of how exact or general your definition is, you will never satisfy him and he will deny your fact. If you said "horse", he'll ask what size it is? You say "big horse", he'll ask what color? "Big brown horse", what gender is it? "Big brown stallion", what breed is it? "Big brown Arabian stallion", then he will circle back to what type of animal is it. If you said "horse" ...

Jack, Green, OH

Nobody said Copernicus or Columbus discovered the world was round, David. They lived in the 15th century when everyone knew that. Copernicus is known for figuring out the earth revolved around the sun and Columbus merely set out to find a new route to the Far East, which he thought he had done. He thought the people he met were real Indians. What did he know? He had never seen an Asian. Why should anyone challenge you on anything, David, when you didn't even explain where Job said the earth was an orb, and no references to the Babylonians or Persian discovery of it either? After all, these cultural regions lasted some 2000 years, and covered much of the same vast region from what is now Pakistan to the Mediterranean. Where and when were these early observations made? Of course, there are lots of things not "universally accepted", especially the Bible.

David L Rosenthal

Read what you wrote, Jack. You put the challenge in your own words: "In fact, I challenge you to find any historical reference to a sperical earth before about 500 BC..." Actually, in reading, I saw references to all three with regard to the subject at hand. I did not write that you said it. I said that I had read it. Your reading comprehension is very poor lately. And Joe, a delusional liberal? How do you arrive at that conclusion. Liberal, me? You must be ultra-right to think so.

David L Rosenthal

Jack, You make yourself look very small minded and obnoxious by refuting something just because I write it. I read about the Babylonians and Persians believing the Earth was round, and you challenge me to show references as though my goal in life must be to find references for you or prove the point. Anyone interested in this can spend time resear ching it with the Internet, just like you do. Jack, you are proving only that you are a good little antichrist, nothing more, when you so firmly oppose the Bible. It is your loss. As for the Earth being an orb, you read what I wrote about my error, did you not? Are you in an abusive relationship? Get out of it. I am not the one abusing you, Jack.

Editor, Liberty Quotes

For goodness sake, David, you are calling people anti-christs now?

Andy, Portland, OR

David, you have proven the essence of the quote better than anyone could have ever described it. And you weren't even trying... Oh, the irony... I love it!

Anonymous, Virginia

Very interesting quote. I heard some solid arguments from all of you. David's first paragraph was a real good argument.

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    Anonymous    5/5/09

    I don't understand "faith." I believe in God, but I have concrete reasons for this belief (which I'm not at liberty to discuss). How can someone believe in something for no reason whatsoever? Or am I just incorrectly defining "faith?" Could someone please clarify?

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    Anonymous    9/21/09

    I don't get what you all see wrong with Davids argument. He was demonstrating that belief in a supreme being of some sort does not constitute ignorance or denial of information. He already demonstrated that the flat earth idea is a fallacy citing three different cultures that embrace three different faiths. I suspect that you who are resorting merely to ad-hominem are pre-programmed to have a negative response to anyone or anything that entertains the idea of a supreme being or higher unobserved power. That is where his anti-christ statement came from. You demonstrated that this quote applies to people beyond the realms of religion. Eratosthenes of Alexandria (circa 276 to 194 or 192 B.C.) calcuated the circumference of the earth "within 50 miles of the present estimate." [Encyclopedia Brittanica]

    jim k, Austin

    A good definition of faith. Ambrose is right on target.

    Ronw13, Oregon

    "Faith" emunah, fidelity-faithfulness, truth, stability, steady, firmness, honesty. Considering our nation was founded upon trust in something other than the dictates of a monarch, the pun at humor falls short. Faith is the most powerful thing in the universe and the ability of some to move it. "Faith is knowledge based, and feared by those who have none". RVP 

    Felipe, São Paulo

    This one was bound to get the proselytists angry. On point.
    Keep reeding that one book of your folks...

    E Archer, NYC

    Faith in government comes to mind ...


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