Faith Litmus Test by B. E. Smith

December 21, 2014

Once started, the university professor yielded the floor to debate. Students in Philosophy 101 voiced pros and cons up and down the lecture hall—back and forth across the rows, before settling in the middle.

Sitting on the left side of the aisle—row seven, seat eight, a young man in a white T-shirt and blue jeans stated that “People don’t need faith.” A detached look of assurance on his face, he flipped his bangs out of his eyes before continuing with “We can just as easily navigate the world with reason alone.”

Up the steps and on the right side of the aisle, a young man of continually rankled forehead sputtered in response, “You can’t—egh. You don’t—ugh. I mean, you’d have to be crazy to think that people don’t need faith!” If his emphatic eyebrows and his face of heavy consternation didn’t convince people of how seriously he took his responsibilities as Student Body President, then the dark serge suit and tie with white shirt he wore for church or business extinguished all residual doubt.

“Maybe you do,” said his new-found theological nemesis, tossing his hair and spreading an incredulous smirk across his face. “But that doesn’t mean everyone else does.”

The class president’s furrowed brow clenched alternately in anger and surprise to his classmate’s remarks. After he heard that impertinent voice mention “science and evidence,” he flushed red glaring down across the aisle and interrupted with “Don’t tell me about science! I have faith and I’m a scientist!”

Upon the next word from seat number eight, the Honors Society president—bald, phallic, and standing up behind the class president, rifled down an accusatory finger, “Hey! You take it easy on Spunk there!”

“His nickname is ‘Spunk’?” number eight rejoined. “Happy-go-lucky or jissom?”

Amidst the laughter, a plaintive cry from a seat in the shadows near the top of the hall begged, “Please, I’m the valedictorian. No profanity! Please!”

When the well-read hoodlum suggested that scientists work with evidence and not faith, Spunk bolted upright from his seat and shouted what his force and volume suggested had to be the conclusive salvo in the debate, “Are you trying to tell me Einstein didn’t have faith when he invented the light bulb!”


B. E. Smith is a freelance writer from Utah. In addition to essay and article publications, his stories and poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines such as Gutter Eloquence, Zygote in My Coffee, The Legendary, Static Movement, the delinquent, and in the current issue of The Binnacle. He lives in Salt Lake City and is writing a memoir.