Akemi Homura and the Argument of Faith

I’ve been meaning to get around to (re)writing this piece for quite some time as it was the idea that really got me into writing about the intersection of anime and my faith. I have alluded to this comparison many times in the past, but I don’t think any I have ever gone into detail with it before. I am sure many are familiar with the Madoka series, but as a necessary forewarning, this post will contain spoilers to the ending of the first season.

At the end of the final episode of the first season, Madoka has saved all mahou shoujo from becoming witches in the past, present, and future, which is an all too obvious, though certainly imperfect, comparison to the sacrifice of Jesus and salvation of sins. But that parallel was not what I found most intriguing about the ending. Instead, I was drawn to the final conversation between Homura and Kyuubey. Homura has explained to Kyuubey that the current world they live in and experience is not how it’s always been. She has memories of Madoka’s sacrifice in saving mahou shoujo from becoming witches. As a result of that wish, however, the laws of the universe have been rewritten and no one else remembers the world as it was before. Kyuubey, naturally, is not convinced that her pet theory is the truth.

“It’s not a theory. It really happened,” she insists.
“Even if it were true, we have no way to verify it.”

Indeed, Homura has no way to prove that her claim is real. However, she does not deny that she has no proof of Madoka’s existence. She accepts her inability to provide any form of evidence yet simultaneously continues believing that she is correct. This is the essence of faith both internally and outwardly. Oftentimes, Christians get insulted when people call their faith baseless with no proof of God’s existence. But that argument is not inherently an insult (though often intended as one); rather, it is by definition the faith we hold. If there were some hard, scientific proof of God, it wouldn’t be faith; it would be fact. Although it might seem obvious, as Christians, we need to remember this unpleasant truth about how baseless faith really is; yet, it is by faith we are saved. When others insult our faith, their arguments are more often than not grounded in reason, and that much should be given the respect it deserves. Although they could do without the insults, faith, by definition, is not based on facts and cannot be proven by facts (if it were someday proven, it would cease to be faith).

Isn't Kyuubey just adorable?
Isn’t Kyuubey just adorable?

Homura quietly accepts her lack of proof as a fair counterargument not only because it is definitively true but because her faith is unwavering. The lack of anything to prove to Kyuubey that her claims are true is naturally upsetting in the context of an argument. I think this is why Christians can get so riled up when people present this side of the argument. If your faith is lacking, it is because to some degree, you understand your beliefs to hold little scientific weight. It creeps into your mind and attacks your faith not with lies but with truth – the truth that faith has no objective basis. When that happens, we try to deny it by insisting that our beliefs are correct. And if our beliefs are correct, there must be some form of proof that we are not mistaken – the Biblical records of miracles, the long history of Christianity, the fellow believers we are surrounded by. We want such things to be an acceptable form of proof to justify our faith to ourselves, and we project this insecurity onto others. Unfortunately, anything we come up with is far from adequate proof – a truth that is oftentimes hard to accept. But Homura’s faith does not break despite acknowledging the absence of evidence because she has absolute confidence that what she believes has happened is true. In the same way, we must acknowledge and accept the reality that there is no way to prove Christianity as real. In the context of an argument, this means that we who are of faith have no argument to present. However, by recognizing our lack of an argument, we can be more like Homura, who calmly and proudly shows off her faith without any semblance of doubt.

Since you’re the only one who remembers that world, there’s no way to tell if your memories are real or simply imagined.

Kyuubey goes on to explain that perhaps Homura dreamed it all; perhaps she really did experience what she claims but that doesn’t make it an objective reality. Homura’s response is, again, silent acceptance that maybe, just maybe, she is actually wrong and it was all an imagined dream. With no proof that her tale of Madoka is the truth, with no one else speaking in agreement with her, it is only logical that she is the one in the wrong. Homura understands that to the outsider, deeming her claims as a dream is completely logical and normal. This next step is even harder to accept, but it is also necessary to fully come terms with our faith. No one can discredit what a singular person believes or feels. Individual truth is a very real thing, but it holds no greater scientific or objective truth. A person can fully believe something is true and believe it because he or she has experienced a very real feeling, change, or even apparent supernatural phenomenon. But when explaining this to others, it is greeted with disbelief and labeled something different. The human mind is prone to misinterpreting information all the time, after all. If we accept disturbingly realistic dreams or extreme delusions that are often associated with mental illness as real, then we must accept that our interpretation of the spiritual is perceived by others as something akin to mental illness. An individual’s personal experiences can be “true” without it being an objective truth; this is the basis of dreams and delusions (for example, this study on schizophrenia where patients are in fact hearing voices: their own).

Once again, such “attacks” against Christian faith are not inherently attacks; they are the result of someone who doesn’t share our beliefs and is making, usually, a very fair and reasonable assessment based on their own experiences and understandings. I think it is so important as a Christian to recognize the logic of attacks on our faith. When someone asks if you aren’t simply imagining everything, perhaps the best response is “yeah, I might be.” To have faith in God is to hold strong to your beliefs while also comprehending the disbelief of those around you. At no point does Homura argue back against Kyuubey; in fact, she agrees with him but continues to hold steadfast in her beliefs. Faith is not the stubborn denial of counterarguments, which so many people seem to mistakenly believe. Rather, faith is the acknowledgement of counterarguments as possibilities on a logical level but rejection of them solely on a personal level. Despite understanding the lack of logic, we choose to believe. Hebrews 11:1 says it best “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (NIV).

While the many Christian parallels to the Madoka series may all fail to be perfect in their analyses, perhaps Homura is the perfect parallel to a person of faith. Her faith is unwavering regardless of the evidence provided against her, not because she denies the evidence but because she believes in spite of it. In fact, Homura is not merely a Christian example, but an example to those of all faiths of all religions. Religions may have vastly different beliefs, but the basis of faith is virtually the same – a belief in something which cannot be proven. Thus, while I may be interpreting Homura’s stance as a Christian, it can certainly be applied to any other religious belief as well.  Therefore, I do hope that all readers, regardless of where your faith lies, can find inspiration in this parallel and Homura’s confident faith.  When it comes down to it, one of the most fundamental problems across all religions is the question “why do I believe what I do?” The answer is not one that can logically convince others; it is simply a choice to believe and hope in something that you cannot fully understand. So when it comes to your faith, always remember that just like Homura, faith is not something you can or should have to justify because faith is not logical in the first place.



17 thoughts on “Akemi Homura and the Argument of Faith

  1. I get what your saying here that we shouldn’t launch into agreements with atheists and non-believers, but the thing is that their objections are not logical. The “you can’t prove it or provide evidence therefore your belief is illogical and wrong” is a argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy. It is NOT logical to for atheists to dismiss religious experiences and in God on those grounds. And they certainly have no right to call theists and religious people “stupid” or “mentally ill.” I think this article gives some light on this issue: http://philosophyotb.com/w/atheism-is-illogical-part-four-evidence-and-fallacies-the-atheists-headache
    The thing is, I’m sick of (some) atheists who keep insisting that religious people are somehow mentally inferior. There have been plenty of scientists and logical people who have believed in a God and or gods. Thank you for writing about this issue, though.

    1. Of course, you are correct that there are plenty of arguments against religion that rely on logical fallacies as well. And I get you, it’s really frustrating to have to listen to all the absurdity being hurdled that is completely unwarranted. All you can really do is take the moral high ground, stay calm and collected, and either respond maturely or ignore it. But I think once you filter all the hate and silliness, at the purest level, faith insists on a truth that lacks proof while science does not say God can’t exist but only that there is no reasonable basis to assume He does (the sole exception perhaps being the unpopular answer to the Fermi paradox). In this sense, non-believers most certainly have an edge in the argument, and it’s important to recognize that.

      Now that said, once again, such purity is ruined by the massive amount of logical fallacies and emotionally charged arguments that surround us. But that’s really not an issue of arguing faith per se so much as just an issue of…arguing. While religious arguments might invite the most amount of craziness, illogical arguing takes place all the time on smaller scales. I say that as someone who, despite avoiding religious arguments, still gets very frustrated with logical fallacies (and random, unrelated, immature insults, etc.) when arguing about really mundane things. Like, ugh, I get so angry just recalling some of the absurd things people have argued vs me about completely pointless things. So, you’re right, and your frustration is totally understandable, but I think discussing that problem opens up a whole different topic that isn’t even related to religious beliefs, even if it’s most prominent in religious debates. Also as a scientist myself, I’m quite proud that scientists can believe in God 😀

      Thanks for reading, and I pray you will have great patience with all of the hatred that we deal with on a regular basis.

  2. “Kyuubey goes on to explain that perhaps Homura dreamed it all; perhaps she really did experience what she claims but that doesn’t make it an objective reality. Homura’s response is, again, silent acceptance that maybe, just maybe, she is actually wrong and it was all an imagined dream. With no proof that her tale of Madoka is the truth, with no one else speaking in agreement with her, it is only logical that she is the one in the wrong.”

    Well…sort of. The truth is, there are plenty of things people experience that at this point in time can’t be proven by science, but nobody argues that what you experienced was a dream or a hallucination. I call that “The bad slice of pizza” paradox. Basically, when I was in elementary school, they served this really delicious, really terrible for you lunchroom pizza. I ate a ton of that pizza, but this was in the 90s— Way before the existence of elementary school security cameras in every room. Chances are, there are only six people who remember I was at that school. Chances are also pretty high that none of those six people specifically remembers me eating that pizza. My body’s cells have been replaced three times since I ate that pizza (Every cell in the body except some heart and nerve cells is replaced every eight years), so even if we had the technology there’s no physical record that I ate it. At this point, there probably isn’t even a DNA record left showing I was even there. In other words, you cannot, scientifically, prove I ate that pizza— But it still definitely happened, and you would never question whether I was lying or not.

    This is the biggest thing that bugs me about people dismissing non-repeatable religious experiences as a fantasy, or a dream— That a huge number of our experiences, actually, are not repeatable or provable events. I think a better argument is actually to say that what they saw or experienced is something else entirely, rather than nonexistent.

    “No one can discredit what a singular person believes or feels. Individual truth is a very real thing, but it holds no greater scientific or objective truth.”

    I think that non-religious people are right to dispute whether something’s the objective truth— It makes you think about what you’ve experienced in a different way. Kaze, your article was really cool beans for explaining why that happens, and why having faith anyway can be a good thing. :] It’s when people dispute whether a deeply-held belief is your individual truth, or whether you’re “stupid,” that serious anger results. Because then what the person’s really attacking is the other person’s Self.

    1. Well, let’s not take things out of context here. The context of that quote is that Homura is claiming something pretty unbelievable and that Kyuubey is denying it based on a lack of proof. As you said, no one would argue whether or not you ate pizza as a kid, so of course the quote is invalid when its assumption that an argument is already taking place is invalid.

      The funny thing is, while incredibly rare, I don’t even have a problem with someone thinking I’m “stupid” for having certain beliefs because…that makes up their own beliefs of “people who believe in God are stupid.” Although almost never true, surprisingly, there are people who can think you are stupid for believing in God yet respect you everywhere else, and those people are actually really awesome for being able to judge you as a whole rather than just a single part.

      1. Well…what defines an experience as “unbelievable?” In the Middle Ages, if you claimed that you met the Devil and you desperately needed religious advice and spiritual guidance, chances were pretty high that at least some people would believe you. The reference for which experiences are “pedestrian” and which experiences are “unlikely” has more to do with culture than the rarity of the experience. Similarly, there are a surprisingly large number of people who claim to have experienced supernatural and unlikely phenomena, and at least a third of these are not crazy and are earnestly telling the truth about what they saw. Despite this…we don’t give spiritual experiences the benefit of the doubt in the same way we give other experiences in one’s life, even though the person can (probably) lie just as effortlessly about either one. We just dismiss the spiritual experiences as having “not really happened.”

        I do get what you’re saying in its context (That of having no evidence available to prove one’s faith when it’s disputed but adhering to it nonetheless, without judgment of the person questioning it, being valuable) but I actually think questioning the context that something’s being framed in is a valuable exercise in and of itself. Because to me, if you had a spiritual experience and told me about it….There would be no question in my mind that you were telling the truth as you saw it, however unbelievable. You don’t seem like a liar. :]

        “Although almost never true, surprisingly, there are people who can think you are stupid for believing in God yet respect you everywhere else, and those people are actually really awesome for being able to judge you as a whole rather than just a single part.”

        I think it can be more complicated than that, Kaze. My Stepmom respects me to the Nth degree, but refuses to believe what I have said about my own God— And even, refuses to believe I am telling the truth about it. Insisting that the presence and voice of the being I worship is a figment of my overactive imagination. I really love the woman, and she means the world to me, but that….Is a huge part of my identity and Self that she will never, ever grasp because of the refusal to really engage with it. Talk about it.

        I think that….there’s a difference between someone saying you’re “stupid” for believing in God because of their own beliefs about God, and respecting you otherwise (Your friendly neighborhood atheist 🙂 )….and someone outright denying or dismissing your experiences without looking into them further, not treating you like an equal. I’m not a Christian like my sister, but the strength of her conviction in the religion and belief in her experiences is obvious enough to me…That I come here, looking for answers.

  3. “In the context of an argument, this means that we who are of faith have no argument to present.”

    I appreciate this article a great deal, but this is one claim I really take issue with. Perhaps I differ from most modern Evangelical Christians in this way, but I tend to think that our faith shouldn’t be “baseless” or blind; it does us good to shore up our faith with reason, as countless Christian thinkers have done historically. Otherwise, how can we engage with unbelievers – or even with each other – in matters of theological importance? I just can’t help thinking of important Christian figures like C.S. Lewis, who was brought to faith by reasoned discussion with believers, and how they would never have converted unless Christianity really DID have an argument to present – and a good one!

    Still, this is a really interesting parallel, and it adds even more depth to one of my favorite scenes in the Rebellion film. When I first watched the field-of-flowers scene, where Homura admits that (for a time) she had started to fear that Madoka was just a story she invented to comfort herself, I thought of it only in terms of Homura’s love for Madoka – of the pain of fearing that someone you love might not even exist. But now I see that it also represents, for her, another kind of pain – a crisis of faith – which, I suppose, just adds another layer to her suffering. Poor gal can’t catch a break!

    1. An excellent point! I suspect we might agree but I was definitely not clear enough in my writing. Firstly, I intended to mean that we have no argument that will prove anything (as opposed to convince, which you seem to be thinking of). I was referring to Kyuubey’s line “we have no way to verify it,” and that indeed, there is no verification (argument) available to us. Secondly, while absolutely, our faith is not completely baseless or blind, I maintain it is those things on a purely objective level. To me, faith begins where logic ends, so regardless of how much you reason, faith is not faith until it is objectively baseless, such as skipping the final step in a mathematical proof. Even if 99% of the proof is legitimate, if the final step is “faith,” that step called faith is baseless, blind; however, the proof as a whole is not baseless because the first 99% was fair. In the same way, as you say, there is much reasoning available to us before we reach the point of faith. The stronger the argument, the “less” faith is needed. Furthermore, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, etc. there are many pillars of support for our faith. We use such pillars as a kind of springboard to jump from a logical argument to the faith needed to reach actual belief.

      I could go on a lot about engaging non-believers but in short, I think conversion happens because I believe everyone has some inherent yearning for God. A purely logical argument is not good enough. If one existed, I imagine it would be quite widespread. Rather, it is because there are spiritual things happening beyond what we see that incomplete arguments can win people over. Of course, well thought out arguments can only help! Thanks for reading, and yes, I had honestly forgotten about that line in Rebellion which definitely makes this parallel even better.

      1. Kaze, thanks for the article. Always appreciate your insight. Also appreciate your clarifying statement. You and Alex G. took the words right of my mouth! I will add that as Christians we are called to give a reason for the hope that lies within us and to do it with gentleness and respect(I Peter 2:15-16). The central evidence or fact to our faith is Christ Himself. If He truly didn’t come, die, and rise again (which all historically and objectively happened), we would all still be lost. We can have a faith that is grounded in objective truth and yes, for it to be faith, we have to believe it. In light of Easter coming up, John 20:24-29, the scene with Jesus and Thomas, is worth mentioning. Essentially, we are blessed for believing in Him even though we don’t “see” Him like Thomas did.

        Keep up the great work and please, please, please write something on Madoka the Rebellion.

  4. First and foremost I wanted to apologize for not responding earlier when you first released your article on Beneath The Tangles. I was extremely intrigued by the title, and quickly went through the entire first season in a few days to fully grasp what you were explaining.

    Funny enough, I have been struggling lately with a similar issue: how do we know that the Bible is true? I have searched relentlessly for the answer, desperately desiring an adequate answer that would solve my problem. And I definitely agree with everything that you discussed, that faith isn’t proof, but instead confidence in the unknown. However, I believe that carefully looking at logical arguments can actually disprove the absence of a god, pointing strongly to Jesus Christ. If you want to take a look at an article that goes over this idea, I have the link posted down below for your reading pleasure:


    I hope that you find the information to be insightful and helpful like it was for me!

    Micah Marshall

    1. No need to apologize; I’m glad you felt the need to go be more informed before reading. The struggle with faith is a common one and it’s completely understandable you would want hard proof showing the Bible is real; just look at Thomas who refused to believe in the resurrection until he saw the nail marks in Jesus’ hands for himself. It is no wonder that many people are the same in wanting proof.

      In regards to the article you posted, I must be honest and say I do not find it to be a good argument. It is a compelling one for those who are believers or already want to find a convincing argument. In fact, I would even say as a Christian, I do not think there is anything wrong with using that argument to further your own beliefs, as long as you see the fallacy in it. As a logical proof of the truth, it is quite a poor one. It relies far too much on the initial assumption that the Bible is true. Furthermore, the scientific explanation completely ignores the actual foundation of science of trial and error, and the fact that scientific theories have changed and been revised as we find that no, we were wrong about what we believed our predictions to be. Science is not based on assumption of uniformity; it is based only on what we have observed and the constant replication of it without fail. While science relies on this “consistency,” things go against conventional scientific knowledge all the time, forcing theory to be revised. I would go as far as arguing science progresses BECAUSE things aren’t consistent, and the drive to understand why things didn’t behave as expected is what fuels scientific discovery.

      I hope I haven’t been too discouraging here, but as a scientist myself, I was kind of insulted by how scientific theory was twisted to “prove” the Bible is true. I mentioned in a previous comment, but the fact is there is a scientific solution to proving God: the Fermi Paradox. You can watch this detailed video on it but in short it is the paradox of why we have not detected alien intelligent life when we expect to be able to. There are numerous solutions to this paradox, none of which are provable, but one of them is the existence of God who created us. Of course, this solution is perhaps the least accepted answer, but the fact that it is still considered a possibility should be encouraging to a Christian who wonders how science could prove God.

      1. I’m sorry if the article that I found offended you. From my personal background I’m not a scientist, but instead entertain the ideas of others, trying to keep a non-biased perspective. I’m glad that you informed me of the errors found because I was oblivious and ignorant to them when I initially read the article.

        Thank you for summarizing the detailed video that you included, as fifty five minutes would have been a lot of information to digest. I’m starting to see a pattern arise when we try to prove the Bible with the constructs of man: it will eventually fail. Even our science, what we perceive and observe in our world, cannot be fully proven because there is always a science behind a science (we will never truly understand the origin of everything within the universe without the explanation of God).

        And thinking about these things gives me a lot more hope in the faith that you discussed in your article. Trying to even prove the existence of God and having accurate, “factual” proof would undermine the very definition of faith.

        I’m really glad to have talked with you about these topics, things which I’m still struggling to figure out for myself, and I hope to connect with you on future posts!

  5. Hey Kaze,
    I know it’s kind of unseemly to reply to a years old comment, but I’m curious if you’ve changed your mind on this issue, or if you still believe in scientism.

    The belief that all truth comes from science is invalid, because that belief itself doesn’t come from science, but from philosophy. This means the claim doesn’t survive the consequences of its own implications.

    Also, the meaning of the word faith as it’s used in the New Testament is more accurately portrayed as trust. We are to trust in Jesus not because of what we don’t know, but because of what we do know. As apostle Paul said, if Christ isn’t raised, we are to be most pitied of all people, and we will die in our sins. Besides, the apostles appealed argued with reason and evidence. I don’t think the apostles were mistaken in doing so.

    God bless,

Leave a Reply