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Subject: What the hell is "faith"? rss

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Kevin
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Over in the What the Hell Do You Believe? thread, Corin took me to task for using the phrase "God-belief" instead of the word "faith" to describe the particular type of theism the respondent identified with (a-, mono-, poly-, etc.).

One of the reasons I used "God-belief" (besides asking for your particular ... wait for it ... belief in God!) instead of "faith" is because I don't know exactly what "faith" means. It seems to mean a lot of different things depending on the speaker and the situation. The only constant I can identify is that it is always considered to be a Good Thing by the speaker.

So first, a poll, because I'm in a polling mood:

Poll: "God-Belief": Good or bad?
In the poll thread, I used "God-belief" in an attempt to include the theological opinions of all respondents, from atheists to pantheists to Catholics and beyond. Was this a bad choice of words?
Do you have an issue with the phrase "God-belief"?
Yes. It's offensive to hear my faith discussed in such clinical-sounding language.
Yes. It's inaccurate.
No. It's not the way I would have asked the question but your meaning was clear and your intentions were good.
No. "God-belief" is exactly what beliefs in God are.
      37 answers
Poll created by dysjunct


And some discussion fodder:

Dictionary.com: Faith
Dictionary.com: Religion

So, PEOPLE OF FAITH! I HEARKEN UNTO YOU!

1. What is faith, in your definition?
2. What is religion, in your definition?
3. Is there a difference? How much of one? Is it significant?
4. Why is faith (in popular parlance) a good thing, but religion (ditto) often not?
5. Is it true that G.W. Bush only has an "Office Of Faith-Based Initiatives" because calling it an "Office Of Religion-Based Initiatives" would makes its blatant unconstitutionality even MORE obvious?
6. Do you find "faith" a nebulous term, as others use it?
7. As an atheist, religious people sometimes tell that the faith I have that a chair will not collapse when I sit in it IS THE EXACT SAME kind of faith that (e.g.) they have that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human. Is it the exact same? Why or why not?

Oh yeah, and people not of faith, you can answer these too. Rawk on!

Best,
Kevin

edit: typo.
 
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I have faith in myself that I'm going to finish this project tonight. Am I a god?
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MWChapel wrote:
I have faith in myself that I'm going to finish this project tonight. Am I a god?

Well, if you're not, I'm going to feel really bad about all those goats I sacrificed to you.
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MWChapel wrote:
I have faith in myself that I'm going to finish this project tonight. Am I a god?


Next time someone asks you if you are a god, you say YES!!
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Steve Cates
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Faith: Any belief outside of belief based on empirical evidence

Note:
Empiricism itself is cannot be based on empirical evidence and is thus faith.

God-belief is an ok term by me.
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ironcates wrote:
Faith: Any belief outside of belief based on empirical evidence

Note:
Empiricism itself is cannot be based on empirical evidence and is thus faith.

Only if faith is defined as you here define it, which is not a very accurate definition of faith if you ask me. Your definition of faith means that you can't have faith in anything that is demonstrably true, because the belief is then based on empirical evidence.

I found a definition I agree with: "Confidence or trust in a person or thing." Faith is not a bad thing. Faith is an integral part of interacting with reality. Faith without reason is another story, which I guess is how most people use the word.

Edit: I sounded a little too harsh before.
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Faith: Personal determination that something is true without having directly encountered it with your own five senses.
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The Unbeliever wrote:
Faith: Personal determination that something is true without having directly encountered it with your own five senses.

I agree with this definition.

However, if you "take the leap of faith" in God, he will from time to time give you little bits of evidence, experiences that go beyond what you might expect from just "wishfull thinking."
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My understanding of faith, based on my own thoughts on the matter plus what I have been taught through the years...

FAITH:
A mechanism used to express belief in a thing which cannot be proven to exist using the known physical senses or the laws of nature as currently understood. As to Cap's point, to my mind there is no need to have faith in something that can be plainly demonstrated to exist using our senses and knowledge of the laws of nature. Faith bridges the gap between belief and proof.
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All right, I'll take a stab at this. (Disclaimer: I am using the term "God" based on my understanding, experience, and faith, but feel free to replace it with "Goddess," "gods," "the Divine," "the Force," or whatever.)

Quote:
1. What is faith, in your definition?

- I take my definition of faith from the Bible: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1, NKJV) The thing I like about this version of it is that it's not just blind faith. There is "substance" and "evidence" involved. Faith does not just spring to life out of nothing; there is evidence and reason supporting it. Evidence and reason cannot on their own bring us to God. Faith is necessary. If it were possible to logically or evidentially prove the existence of God, faith would be useless. In order to be valuable, we need both. So I guess to put it in my own words, faith is a willingness to believe in a premise, even if it can't be conclusively proven.

Quote:
2. What is religion, in your definition?

- I would define religion as a blanket term for all of man's attempts to know, communicate with, or influence, God.

Quote:
3. Is there a difference? How much of one? Is it significant?

- Absolutely there's a difference. Faith is what prompts us to believe in the existence of God. Religion is us trying to interact with Him. Religion can't shouldn't exist without faith, but faith can exist without a formalized religion.

Quote:
4. Why is faith (in popular parlance) a good thing, but religion (ditto) often not?

- It's mostly because we've come to equate "religion" with "legalism." For us, "religion" somehow seems to have become synonomous with "rules and tricks to get into heaven," and we're so desperate to set ourselves as being wholly different that we have to come up with crappy catch-phrases like "I'm not religious, I'm a Christian." Which then requires us to explain exactly what the hell we mean by that, which in turn makes us sound self righteous and preachy. But that's kind of off the point.

Quote:
5. Is it true that G.W. Bush only has an "Office Of Faith-Based Initiatives" because calling it an "Office Of Religion-Based Initiatives" would makes its blatant unconstitutionality even MORE obvious?

- Don't know, don't care, don't feel qualified to answer. (Being Canadian and all, the inner workings of the American system do not particularly interest me; I'm basically apathetic about American politics beyond presidential races and bitching about your proclivity for negative political advertising.)

Quote:
6. Do you find "faith" a nebulous term, as others use it?

- Yeah, because it's often used as a catch-all term without bothering to define it further. "I have faith in Jesus." We take that to mean that the person saying it is in agreement with the tenets of Christianity but it could just as easily mean "I believe that He existed," or "I believe that He was a good teacher, but not the Son of God." Absolutely, the term "faith" is used nebulously in a lot of circumstances.

Quote:
7. As an atheist, religious people sometimes tell that the faith I have that a chair will not collapse when I sit in it IS THE EXACT SAME kind of faith that (e.g.) they have that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human. Is it the exact same? Why or why not?

- It is the same faith in nature, but not the same faith in degree. We sit in the chair because we have reason to believe that it will not collapse, owing to the fact that a) it hasn't collapsed under us yet, and b) it was designed and constructed to handle such a load as we put on it. This is an easy faith, especially since the consequences aren't particularly far-reaching (at worst, we look like a fool and maybe get a bruise or two if the chair collapses under us). We use that same kind of faith (past experience and reason) to believe in the existence and nature of God, but it requires greater faith. So short answer to the question, no it's not exactly the same faith, but it's the same kind of faith.

That's where I'm at with the whole matter of faith.

PS: I voted for the third option in the poll. I would likely use "faith" language, but especially in a forum like this, with so many different worldviews, I have no particular problem with more specific language.
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desertfox2004 wrote:
As to Cap's point, to my mind there is no need to have faith in something that can be plainly demonstrated to exist using our senses and knowledge of the laws of nature. Faith bridges the gap between belief and proof.

I hesitate to define it like that, but I can see where you're coming from. I would say I have faith in things that appear to be true.

I just don't like its use as "belief in something completely unsupportable", which is useless except as a philosophical concept.
 
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Excellent line of questioning!

dysjunct wrote:
So, PEOPLE OF FAITH! I HEARKEN UNTO YOU!

1. What is faith, in your definition?

Scripture is better than my definition:
Heb. 11: 1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

dysjunct wrote:
2. What is religion, in your definition?

Religion is either Godly or only a form of godliness. It is either institutionalized truth or a messy conflation of faith, tradition and human wisdom. Not all religion is the same. There is a gradation from bad religion to good religion, in my opinion.
dysjunct wrote:
3. Is there a difference? How much of one? Is it significant?

See last answer
dysjunct wrote:
4. Why is faith (in popular parlance) a good thing, but religion (ditto) often not?

In direct reference to my previous answers, faith is good because there are things worth hoping for and things that are real that I am unable to see. Religion is often bad because of the way that worldly wisdom gets mixed up with truth.
dysjunct wrote:
5. Is it true that G.W. Bush only has an "Office Of Faith-Based Initiatives" because calling it an "Office Of Religion-Based Initiatives" would makes its blatant unconstitutionality even MORE obvious?

It seems to me to be a marketing thing. Faith does have a more pleasant connotation than Religion. It flows off the tongue easier too.
dysjunct wrote:
6. Do you find "faith" a nebulous term, as others use it?

I do sometimes. All words are like that though. It is usually the case that words are used differently by different people at different times.
dysjunct wrote:
7. As an atheist, religious people sometimes tell that the faith I have that a chair will not collapse when I sit in it IS THE EXACT SAME kind of faith that (e.g.) they have that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human. Is it the exact same? Why or why not?

I think I agree with this, but only from a certain point of view. Faith in a very abstracted sense is everywhere. Everyone has faith that their chair will support their weight or that the sun will rise in the morning. That is conceptually similar to faith in Christ but is also rather different. We can easily test the validity of our faith in our chair. We can also test the validity of our faith in Christ but it is not so easy or straight forward. On that note, it is erroneous to divorce faith and reason. Faith and reason are each at their best when used hand in hand with the other. Similarly, it is erroneous to insist on the reality of a thing based on faith. That runs up against a conundrum though. If we are talking about a chair, I can prove my faith to another individual very easily. If we are talking about salvation in Christ, I cannot prove my faith to another individual at all. I can testify but the proof of my faith is not clearly evident to anyone but me.
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Wrayman wrote:
We can also test the validity of our faith in Christ but it is not so easy or straight forward. On that note, it is erroneous to divorce faith and reason. Faith and reason are each at their best when used hand in hand with the other. Similarly, it is erroneous to insist on the reality of a thing based on faith.

Wouldn't it make sense then, for a God who desired the salvation of his reasonable creations, to make that pathway to salvation reasonable? Instead, we have a pathway to salvation that requires either faith in an UNreasonable proposition, or divine intervention as empirical evidence of its reasonability. How do you explain that paradox?
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CapAp wrote:
Wrayman wrote:
We can also test the validity of our faith in Christ but it is not so easy or straight forward. On that note, it is erroneous to divorce faith and reason. Faith and reason are each at their best when used hand in hand with the other. Similarly, it is erroneous to insist on the reality of a thing based on faith.

Wouldn't it make sense then, for a God who desired the salvation of his reasonable creations, to make that pathway to salvation reasonable? Instead, we have a pathway to salvation that requires either faith in an UNreasonable proposition, or divine intervention as empirical evidence of its reasonability. How do you explain that paradox?

Your question starts from the premise that there is an unreasonable proposition. With all of the competing Christian propositions out there, I understand and generally agree with your position. The thing is, God has made a reasonable pathway to salvation. That is way easier to say than to have faith in though. The paradox that you talk about isn't really a paradox. It is a very unclear thing to interpret though. Since people believe directly contradictory things, not all of the things that Christians believe can be true. So what, or who, is one to believe? That is the problem. It is not paradoxical, just incredibly confusing at times.
 
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CapAp wrote:
Wouldn't it make sense then, for a God who desired the salvation of his reasonable creations, to make that pathway to salvation reasonable? Instead, we have a pathway to salvation that requires either faith in an UNreasonable proposition, or divine intervention as empirical evidence of its reasonability. How do you explain that paradox?


C.S. Lewis, in one of his books, claims that the unreasonableness of Christianity is one of the biggest evidences that it's true. Because if it were a religion invented by humans, it would make sense.

Although I have to say that I can easily make up an even more unreasonable religion than Christianity in about 5 seconds (e.g.: Christianity, but you must also venerate hopping on one foot while eating kumquats) so I don't know that that's the best argument in its favor.

Best,
Kevin
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CapAp wrote:
Wrayman wrote:
We can also test the validity of our faith in Christ but it is not so easy or straight forward. On that note, it is erroneous to divorce faith and reason. Faith and reason are each at their best when used hand in hand with the other. Similarly, it is erroneous to insist on the reality of a thing based on faith.

Wouldn't it make sense then, for a God who desired the salvation of his reasonable creations, to make that pathway to salvation reasonable? Instead, we have a pathway to salvation that requires either faith in an UNreasonable proposition, or divine intervention as empirical evidence of its reasonability. How do you explain that paradox?


It's not a paradox once you agree that knowledge is not limited to empiricism.

That's a silly argument by CS Lewis. I'd like to see where he said it's one of the best arguments.
 
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Wrayman, you make a good point about different systems having different levels of reasonability. Let's take a large portion of the denominations, those that believe "you must accept Christ as your savior" is the only pathway to salvation. This is an unreasonable proposition, is it not?

ironcates wrote:
It's not a paradox once you agree that knowledge is not limited to empiricism.

I agree to such. Now, what non-empirical knowledge will add to the reasonability of the unreasonable proposition described above?
 
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dysjunct wrote:
C.S. Lewis, in one of his books, claims that the unreasonableness of Christianity is one of the biggest evidences that it's true. Because if it were a religion invented by humans, it would make sense.

Perhaps C.S Lewis is referring to the idea in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” Christianity is unreasonable, from a "worldy" point of view - it's a terrible plan to follow if your ultimate goal in life is money and pleasure. Or if you are a die-hard empiricist.


 
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cull wrote:
Perhaps C.S Lewis is referring to the idea in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” Christianity is unreasonable, from a "worldy" point of view - it's a terrible plan to follow if your ultimate goal in life is money and pleasure.


Or, if your goal is logic and reason.

1 Corinthians 2:14 - "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

You can't beat a book that says it's true because it says it is true, and that anyone who doesn't believe it's true, won't believe it's true until they believe it.
 
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CapAp wrote:
Wrayman, you make a good point about different systems having different levels of reasonability. Let's take a large portion of the denominations, those that believe "you must accept Christ as your savior" is the only pathway to salvation. This is an unreasonable proposition, is it not?

ironcates wrote:
It's not a paradox once you agree that knowledge is not limited to empiricism.

I agree to such. Now, what non-empirical knowledge will add to the reasonability of the unreasonable proposition described above?


Always check your assumptions, I say. I agree with the simple statement "you must accept Christ as your savior" is the only pathway to salvation. There are more fundamental beliefs underlying my beliefs though. I expect that there are for you as well. From my point of view, I have a hard time understanding your assertion that that is so unreasonable. We clearly have different fundamental knowledge and/or faith. Who's knowledge/faith foundation is correct, or even better? Is anyones knowledge/faith foundation correct or even better than yours or mine? It seams to me that if there is such a thing as objective, universal truth, it has to exist outside the feeble minds of people.

This is a fun problem to chew on. Is there a source of truth and understanding that is superior to ours, or is our reasoning the best approximation of truth there is?
 
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CapAp wrote:
cull wrote:
Perhaps C.S Lewis is referring to the idea in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” Christianity is unreasonable, from a "worldy" point of view - it's a terrible plan to follow if your ultimate goal in life is money and pleasure.


Or, if your goal is logic and reason.

1 Corinthians 2:14 - "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

You can't beat a book that says it's true because it says it is true, and that anyone who doesn't believe it's true, won't believe it's true until they believe it.


That's why I'm waiting for the Gospel of CapAp to show me the way.
 
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CapAp wrote:
cull wrote:
Perhaps C.S Lewis is referring to the idea in Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” Christianity is unreasonable, from a "worldy" point of view - it's a terrible plan to follow if your ultimate goal in life is money and pleasure.


Or, if your goal is logic and reason.

1 Corinthians 2:14 - "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

You can't beat a book that says it's true because it says it is true, and that anyone who doesn't believe it's true, won't believe it's true until they believe it.


I think you have that about right but fall short of getting it. Some things are understood logically, some things are understood spiritually. I think ultimately everything is meant to be understood both ways but we can't do that in our current states. It is rather like a blind man and deaf man going to a concert. Vision and hearing are both required to get the full effect. Either man can only understand the concert in a limited way. If these men don't know that they are blind or deaf, they might each suppose that the other is deluded in the understanding of the concert. Likewise, an unreasonable man and an unspiritual man may not realize their predicament.
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CapAp wrote:
Wrayman, you make a good point about different systems having different levels of reasonability. Let's take a large portion of the denominations, those that believe "you must accept Christ as your savior" is the only pathway to salvation. This is an unreasonable proposition, is it not?

ironcates wrote:
It's not a paradox once you agree that knowledge is not limited to empiricism.

I agree to such. Now, what non-empirical knowledge will add to the reasonability of the unreasonable proposition described above?


Historical knowledge about the new testament writings, the resurrection account, and the foundation of the disciples belief (empirical evidence from the past).

Philosophical knowledge that can lead one to have a reasonable understanding about human nature... prone to sin, and about the nature of God... perfect being.

Logic, read the book of Romans, Paul sets out his arguement in logical form in many places.
 
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MWChapel wrote:
Am I a god?


No. You are THE god laugh
 
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Quote:
Re: What the hell is "faith"?

HWGA
 
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