What is Faith?

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SpazzyMcGee
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What is Faith?

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Sun Aug 09, 2009 6:39 am UTC

I don't understand the word faith. Generally it means trust. If you have faith in an individual then you trust them or have confidence in their abilities. It can also mean one's confidence in his or her religion, or one can call one's religion a faith. Simple enough.

The trouble comes in religious discussions. When pressed for logical or evidential support for some belief many religious people say "I just have faith". What does this mean? The way they use it it seems faith is defined as belief without evidence, but that seems blatantly illogical as evidence is the only thing to create beliefs with.

So what is faith?

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Turambar » Sun Aug 09, 2009 6:50 am UTC

SpazzyMcGee wrote:I don't understand the word faith. Generally it means trust. If you have faith in an individual then you trust them or have confidence in their abilities. It can also mean one's confidence in his or her religion, or one can call one's religion a faith. Simple enough.

The trouble comes in religious discussions. When pressed for logical or evidential support for some belief many religious people say "I just have faith". What does this mean? The way they use it it seems faith is defined as belief without evidence, but that seems blatantly illogical as evidence is the only thing to create beliefs with.

So what is faith?

(my bold)
You've ensconced within your question an assumption which negates the opposite point of view. Essentially, you have defined belief such that the existence of faith is impossible. Given that people do in fact have beliefs in things which cannot be objectively proven or perhaps even tested, your definition of belief as being created by evidence is incorrect (unless by 'evidence' you mean to include subjective experience).

I will venture to suggest that the word faith can have a wide variety of meanings. For one thing, the meaning is different when applied to people and to religious questions. For another, different religious people use it very differently. Some would say that faith is all-important and is to be followed regardless of conflicts with observable evidence. Others would compare it to a kind of hope or trust. The difficult thing about discussing religion is that it is not a monolithic entity, and nobody has yet, to my knowledge come up with a good way to answer the question, "What is religion?"

I would say faith is less illogical than alogical.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Sun Aug 09, 2009 7:04 am UTC

Turambar wrote:You've ensconced within your question an assumption which negates the opposite point of view. Essentially, you have defined belief such that the existence of faith is impossible. Given that people do in fact have beliefs in things which cannot be objectively proven or perhaps even tested, your definition of belief as being created by evidence is incorrect (unless by 'evidence' you mean to include subjective experience).

I do include subjective experience as evidence. If I was in a lab and witnessed a tachyon before the whole lab burnt down leaving me the only one to have ever witnessed a tachyon I would still have justification for holding my belief in tachyons even though I wouldn't have any objective evidence. The "faith" I am referring to is the word brought up by the religious who say "I just have faith" and leave it at that. Even when pursuing the issue some merely repeat, "I just have faith". Why do they have faith?

Are the people who "just have faith" who do not have any subjective experience to validate their beliefs using the word faith incorrectly?

How can the more aggressive of religious people denounce all other positions if their beliefs are merely substantiated with subjective experiences? Do they have another definition of faith or are they just jerks? :mrgreen:

Would especially appreciate posts from the religious.

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby mister k » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:39 am UTC

I believe faith comes from something internal. Most people who talk about having faith usually have a personal experience that provides evidence only for them. If they were to describe the evidence to you, you probably wouldn't regard it as terribly substantial, yet for them is has provided an inner certainty that they call faith. I certainly do not believe anyone believes anything without evidence, almost always there must be a belief in some kind of evidence, even if truly that evidence is flawed.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Oroborus » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:08 pm UTC

In regards to what you posted about faith being trust in people. Trust I think is mostly just an instinct/emotion for the most part. Based off a subconscious collection of information often considered sensitive shared between two people with neither of them betraying the other for their gain. That and a familiarity with the transferring of such data, and with the person in general. You can trust someone you know to act in a certain way because you are familiar with their past behavior. You have faith that people will continue to be who they are. Value is placed on information shared by both parties, fairly relative to how much it matters to whoever is sharing.

Also you might trust someone who "has a kind face" on instinct, probably them sharing an appearance or set of physical similarities between someone you already know.


In regards to religious faith well, for me the connotation is believing in something that cannot be objectively proven by experimentation.

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby QwertyKey » Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:03 pm UTC

Evidence? How can you find evidence? Please do find evidence for the following:
Supernatural
Existence(Your own, this is not simply "cogito ergo sum" that's really lame.)
Reality; difference with perception
Fate

Therefore, I could say I believe in
Existence
Fate/Fatalism/Fixed Way of Events

So you probably could say I have faith in my own existence. There seems to be no hard evidence, nor can you ever claim evidence of existence.

For me:
Beliefs ignore evidence, just plain faith, taking X Proposition to be true.
Evidence is hard and irrefutable, and proves Y Proposition to be true.

As for religion, it can be anything now because of public stupidity. It is almost as if religion forces theism.

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Sun Aug 09, 2009 3:15 pm UTC

So faith means confidence.

If someone said they have faith in God's plan that just means the events in their life have given them confidence in God's willingness to make things work out for them.

Am I getting this right?

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Dark567 » Sun Aug 09, 2009 4:02 pm UTC

wikipedia wrote:As with "trust", faith involves a concept of future events or outcomes, and is used conversely for a belief "not resting on logical proof or material evidence."


I think this quote sums up the "idea" of faith well and most of the posts have had meaning that aligns well with this.

To address the idea that "evidence is the only thing that makes beliefs", this is by no means a consensus. I don't think there is any reason why one couldn't come up with an a priori belief.

Now what is more interesting: Logic itself rests on our unfounded faith in it. It is the only reason you could come up with to believe logic, because any other reason to believe logic is itself founded on either logic or some other thing that depends on logic(ie. science).


This has caused somewhat an awakening in me of realizing that my criticisms of religion... ultimately rest on the same thing I was criticizing, faith. Ultimately every belief relies on, some level or another, faith.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby guenther » Sun Aug 09, 2009 4:13 pm UTC

I've thought about this a lot and here's what I've come up with so far.

I think of faith as "explicit belief without evidence" and is a more general version of "belief without evidence" (I don't have a word for that).

To take a broader view, I think our "beliefs" represent facets of our mental model of how the world works. We hold them with different levels of confidence. And sometimes we hold them explicitly and sometimes not. When we say "I believe", this means we're ready to defend it (point to evidence, logic, experience, faith, etc.).

So I'd say that faith represents an explicit, confident belief that we hold without relying on evidence. What this really means is that it gets disconnected from our subjective experience. When we say "I have faith in her", it means that despite actions that others take as evidence of deceitfulness, we're going to rely on our internal model of her as trustworthy.

When people state their "faith" in religion, I'd say people are taking this to the extreme and are using it to shape their worldview around it. In fact, I bet that stating it regularly as a faith actually reinforces this facet of the mental model and makes it even more immune from evidence.

To look more generally again, I think we all hold many beliefs without evidence because we live in a world where we have to make decisions without the luxury of knowing the right answer. And further I believe that we look for something to believe in for a source of wisdom. Just like early on when we meet a mechanic, we might try to vet him more to make sure he's reliable, but eventually we start trusting in what he says. And at some point if he gives advice on home improvement or even relationships, we might hold his opinion with more weight despite never really vetting him on these topics.

So I think beliefs without evidence are a part of us like emotions. If we try to dispel them, we'll fail and they'll just show up in places where we don't expect them. But if we learn to manage them, we'll get better results. We should explicitly look for reliable sources of wisdom. (Note: I do think that holding to faith in religion can yield good results, but I'm not trying to imply that faith in religion is the only good source of wisdom.)
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Snowflake » Sun Aug 09, 2009 5:11 pm UTC

"Evidence? Who cares about that? I feel this way in my heart, so it must be true!"
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby mister k » Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:38 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:
wikipedia wrote:As with "trust", faith involves a concept of future events or outcomes, and is used conversely for a belief "not resting on logical proof or material evidence."


I think this quote sums up the "idea" of faith well and most of the posts have had meaning that aligns well with this.

To address the idea that "evidence is the only thing that makes beliefs", this is by no means a consensus. I don't think there is any reason why one couldn't come up with an a priori belief.

Now what is more interesting: Logic itself rests on our unfounded faith in it. It is the only reason you could come up with to believe logic, because any other reason to believe logic is itself founded on either logic or some other thing that depends on logic(ie. science).


This has caused somewhat an awakening in me of realizing that my criticisms of religion... ultimately rest on the same thing I was criticizing, faith. Ultimately every belief relies on, some level or another, faith.


Yes it does, but no it doesn't. Any argument will fall down, if we can't have any assumptions, because the argument "what if we're all trapped in a computer simulation" is pretty much impossible to refute. However, with some shared assumptions, that all human beings tend to have, we can come to fine conclusions.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Turambar » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:22 pm UTC

mister k wrote:Yes it does, but no it doesn't. Any argument will fall down, if we can't have any assumptions, because the argument "what if we're all trapped in a computer simulation" is pretty much impossible to refute. However, with some shared assumptions, that all human beings tend to have, we can come to fine conclusions.


No, we can't. Just because all human beings tend to think something does NOT in any way add one whit to that thing's truthfulness. A strong majority of humans believe in various forms of supernatural beings or occurrences. That does not mean we can safely conclude that there are in fact supernatural beings. A few hundred years ago, there were probably very few people on Earth who believed the universe to be 13.7 billion years old. They assumed it was younger than that (or, in some cases, that it had existed forever). The near-unanimity of their assumptions did not make them right.

I can assume that there is a universe external to myself which behaves according to physical laws, laws which also gave rise to myself and other beings I see around me. Within the framework built upon that assumption, my observations and understanding of the world cohere very nicely and I can come to conclusions about the world. I can also assume that all events I see are caused directly by the hand of the Deity, whose purpose I do not entirely understand, but in whom I must place ultimate trust. Within this context, the universe also is sensible. I could start out with a whole bunch of other assumptions. But there is no a priori proof of any of them (the ontological argument being bollocks), and so the only basis I have for any of these starting assumptions is my own preference and opinions, and the opinions of those around me.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby General_Norris » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:24 pm UTC

QwertyKey wrote:So you probably could say I have faith in my own existence. There seems to be no hard evidence, nor can you ever claim evidence of existence..


"Cogito ergo sum" is very hard evidence as it can never be false even if you are being mind-raped and is a priori . Just my two cents.

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby MoghLiechty2 » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:48 pm UTC

According to my faith, faith itself is the "assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

The weird thing about faith is that it necessitates a subjective epistemological machine, i.e. one that doesn't work perfectly or objectively. That is, if our minds objectively took every single experience it had ever had as inputs, and probabilistically analyzed them into an output distribution of likely possible beliefs, faith would be impossible, and I suppose such a machine would always output a high likelihood of Naturalism, for the important reason that this objective machine is purely natural and deterministic.

The problem is that this machine would be unlikely to generate the thought, "What if my objective thought processes aren't enough to generate the most likely results?" and if so, how would it objectively factor that into its outputs? Humans, however, seem hardwired to have such thoughts and to have faith in things, either by selfish want for a specific point of view to be true, or an objective examination of his or her subjective experience (if that's not paradoxical, which I don't believe it is). The important question then, is whether such hardwiring is a result of the fact that the brain became subjective through purely deterministic processes, in which case belief in God would be an evolutionary trait or fluke (depending on whether it's actually a survivability trait) or whether such subjectivity was planted there by a Creator whose purpose was for the human to be subjective enough to be able to choose Him or not, should he choose to or not! Both options are perfectly plausible, and yet both presuppose themselves as a cause, and thus are both based on faith.

mister k wrote:Most people who talk about having faith usually have a personal experience that provides evidence only for them. If they were to describe the evidence to you, you probably wouldn't regard it as terribly substantial, yet for them is has provided an inner certainty that they call faith.

This is certainly true for me, and if I were to describe the personal experience, anyone here certainly wouldn't accept it as valid evidence, although I do. It is based on what is Biblically known as seeking God, and then finding him to be true. Of course, this "finding him to be true" is only one of many plausible explanations for my experience, but ends up being the one I choose on faith. Choosing another explanation would also require a certain level of faith, depending on the strength of the experience itself.

I would encourage anyone to go out and seek the experience for themselves, and depending on their circumstances, possibly reprimand for not doing so at some point in their lives (if they choose not to for the wrong reasons, such as an unfounded absolute assurance in God's lack of existence). How can one feel justified in objectively denying God's existence if in fact the only way He expects to be found is through a subjective experience, which one has never sought out?

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby kingofdreams » Mon Aug 10, 2009 12:47 am UTC

General_Norris wrote:
QwertyKey wrote:So you probably could say I have faith in my own existence. There seems to be no hard evidence, nor can you ever claim evidence of existence..


"Cogito ergo sum" is very hard evidence as it can never be false even if you are being mind-raped and is a priori . Just my two cents.


It provides evidence of the thought, not necessarily the thinker, or even under the best of circumstances that the thinker exists as long as he had that thought. Granted its petty but people seem to enjoy raping Descartes for some reason. :cry:
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Mon Aug 10, 2009 1:27 am UTC

Like I said earlier, subjective experiences count as evidence. All this talk about faith being independent of logic or evidence is ridiculous which is why I can't believe people actually respect the notion of faith. If someone believes in something because of a personal experience that can't be communicated as objective evidence then they are perfectly validated in believing something based on that experience. However that would be evidence and thus, going by some of the definitions posted in this thread, is not faith.

I can't just say their is a leprechaun under my bed without a logical/evidential argument. Now if I said I heard a leprechaun whisper to me in the night that would be evidence I wouldn't be able to give to anyone else, but that would still be enough to validate my belief on a personal level. And every argument has to be logical. I can't say I have faith in C because A = B.

So what is going on here guys? Does having faith mean you lack objective evidence or is it actually utterly unsubstantiated and illogical? If the former then everyone who says "I just have faith" has to have some personal experience to back up their beliefs correct?

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby guenther » Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:33 am UTC

SpazzyMcGee wrote:So what is going on here guys? Does having faith mean you lack objective evidence or is it actually utterly unsubstantiated and illogical? If the former then everyone who says "I just have faith" has to have some personal experience to back up their beliefs correct?

I bet they do have something personal to back it up. Just because faith is a belief that's not subject to evidence, it does not mean that it was formed without evidence. The evidence could even be something like "My parents are a trusted source of wisdom and they believe in God, so maybe I should too", and followed by "I've lived my life by these rules and beliefs and they've worked pretty well for me so far, perhaps I should keep going." At some point, we might stop spending energy scrutinizing it and just accept it as true. And if that belief leads to a good source of wisdom, then I think that's an energy efficient solution.

By the way, I think that when a belief moves to a faith, it's like when a scientific theory stops being referred to as a theory and accepted as science fact. Early in a theory's life, good scientists should be checking, cross-checking results to make sure everything is consistent. But later, there's less scrutiny and fewer experiments checking for validity and people just believe it. Our mind doesn't use the scientific method or peer review, so the evidence that goes into personal beliefs are much less rigorous than those that form the body of science. But otherwise I'd say it's analogous. It takes a lot of energy to question something, and once we can satisfy ourselves that it will serve as a good model, it's better to spend energy elsewhere.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Turambar » Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:39 am UTC

SpazzyMcGee wrote:Like I said earlier, subjective experiences count as evidence. All this talk about faith being independent of logic or evidence is ridiculous which is why I can't believe people actually respect the notion of faith. If someone believes in something because of a personal experience that can't be communicated as objective evidence then they are perfectly validated in believing something based on that experience. However that would be evidence and thus, going by some of the definitions posted in this thread, is not faith.


Why is it ridiculous? You are starting from the premise that evidential observation is the only method of achieving truth. Also, it would help if you would be a little more clear on what you mean by "evidence" and "experience". For example, if I say that I am aware of the presence of a divine being, not based on data from any of my senses, but rather upon an overpowering intuition or feeling, does that count as experience/evidence? This sort of experience has been reported a number of times by mystics, including, I believe, Saint Teresa of Avila.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby MoghLiechty2 » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:39 am UTC

Turambar wrote:For example, if I say that I am aware of the presence of a divine being, not based on data from any of my senses, but rather upon an overpowering intuition or feeling, does that count as experience/evidence?

Right. One should not discount an overpowering intuition or feeling even if he doesn't believe it to be valid "evidence" at least semantically. It's up to the person to determine where this overpowering intuition is coming from, since it does circumvent the logically inductive processes of the brain. And clearly, for better or worse, are brains aren't perfect epistemological machines. If in fact such an intuition is actually a "sensus divinitatis," it would in fact make the person wrong to discount it as a a pure byproduct of natural processes, a random occurence of neurons, etc. But there's not an obvious way to determine this, thus any assertion regarding it will be based on faith.

For me, I can point to a specific day (7-23-09) where, after months of contemplation and epistemic pain over the matter of faith and religion (much of it in the form of visciously trying to defend Christianity on these silly forums), had a moment where it all came crashing down and, bam, I could finally say I believed it. It was interesting, because at this point I became all the more cognizant of the reasons I wasn't using to justify my faith, (and my faith has continued to make this more so), and yet there it remained, this undeniable compulsion to believe and especially to act upon the belief. With it came a compulsion to accept the compulsion itself as supernatural, even though the alternative (some sort of psychological or sociological experience or process) is equally logically and evidentially plausible. What can I say, I'm human, therefore am capable of this. Faith, that is.

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:08 am UTC

Turambar wrote:Why is it ridiculous? You are starting from the premise that evidential observation is the only method of achieving truth. Also, it would help if you would be a little more clear on what you mean by "evidence" and "experience". For example, if I say that I am aware of the presence of a divine being, not based on data from any of my senses, but rather upon an overpowering intuition or feeling, does that count as experience/evidence? This sort of experience has been reported a number of times by mystics, including, I believe, Saint Teresa of Avila.

Well an overpowering feeling would count as subjective evidence. What I have been trying to figure out is why people always use the term faith, when in reality they have much better ways to explain their belief than "I just have faith". Saying "I just feel an overwhelming presence" despite being ambiguous is immeasurably more understandable than "I just have faith".

Other people have heard of people just saying they have faith as an explanation for why he or she believes right? Or have I just been talking to religious people who don't actually know why they believe what they believe?

If you ask me everyone should just drop the word faith all together when it comes to explaining why one holds certain beliefs.

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby MoghLiechty2 » Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:22 am UTC

SpazzyMcGee wrote:Well an overpowering feeling would count as subjective evidence. What I have been trying to figure out is why people always use the term faith, when in reality they have much better ways to explain their belief than "I just have faith". Saying "I just feel an overwhelming presence" despite being ambiguous is immeasurably more understandable than "I just have faith".

You're thinking of the effect that the overpowering compulsion has on belief incorrectly. The overpowering feeling isn't used in this case as an evidential reality that provides the logical part of the brain with a good reason to posit belief. It is directly causing the belief, in a similar fashion that seeing a chair directly causes you to believe it's there. You can come up with as many reasons as you want for why the chair is there, and yet the compulsion (as a human) to believe it's there remains, just by seeing it. But the chair might not actually be there, hence the faith. Sure, in both cases the overwhelming compulsion might possibly in itself be good reason to believe (although other explanations may have high plausibility), but it wouldn't be compelling if it didn't have a direct connection with the belief itself, rather than having to go through the logical part of the brain for verification.

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby mister k » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:29 am UTC

Spoiler:
forcemax wrote:
SpazzyMcGee wrote:I don't understand the word faith. Generally it means trust. If you have faith in an individual then you trust them or have confidence in their abilities. It can also mean one's confidence in his or her religion, or one can call one's religion a faith. Simple enough.

The trouble comes in religious discussions. When pressed for logical or evidential support for some belief many religious people say "I just have faith". What does this mean? The way they use it it seems faith is defined as belief without evidence, but that seems blatantly illogical as evidence is the only thing to create beliefs with.

So what is faith?


Faith is not what a real thing,it is the houghts or power one people depends on in his life,in his job,or in this touble etc.

faith is a very big power from one's heart when he met some problem,and also this lead his way to be conquer the difficulty.

of course,you can believe it or not,every one has his faith to some extent.

just feel it,my friend.

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Mogh, the reason one believes a chair is there is that we observe it to be there. This provides evidence. What spazzy is saying is that saying one has personal evidence is a more powerful, and truthful statement, than saying one has faith. I'm not sure I agree, however. Faith is a difficult to define word, yet I think we all know when we have it.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby SpazzyMcGee » Mon Aug 10, 2009 10:54 am UTC

Sorry, but all I am getting out of this thread is that faith based belief equals unsubstantiated belief.

It would appear that the term faith is used to prop up those who are wrong. I don't mean to insult the religious, but if faith can support anything then it supports nothing.

MoghLiechty2 wrote:You're thinking of the effect that the overpowering compulsion has on belief incorrectly. The overpowering feeling isn't used in this case as an evidential reality that provides the logical part of the brain with a good reason to posit belief. It is directly causing the belief, in a similar fashion that seeing a chair directly causes you to believe it's there. You can come up with as many reasons as you want for why the chair is there, and yet the compulsion (as a human) to believe it's there remains, just by seeing it. But the chair might not actually be there, hence the faith. Sure, in both cases the overwhelming compulsion might possibly in itself be good reason to believe (although other explanations may have high plausibility), but it wouldn't be compelling if it didn't have a direct connection with the belief itself, rather than having to go through the logical part of the brain for verification.

Is this out of personal experience or educated guesswork?

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby EnderSword » Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:09 pm UTC

SpazzyMcGee wrote:Sorry, but all I am getting out of this thread is that faith based belief equals unsubstantiated belief.


I think that's more what you want to conclude than what you're actually getting from people's responses.

It would appear that the term faith is used to prop up those who are wrong. I don't mean to insult the religious, but if faith can support anything then it supports nothing.


I think you kind of do mean to insult them, but that aside, many of the things people have 'faith' in can't actually be proven wrong.

You've stated that you'd accept someone's feeling as a type of evidence, and you can't produce any counter-evidence to that claim, so you can't really state its used to prop up someone who is wrong, only that it is used to justify beliefs that ca be neither proven nor disproven.

If someone has faith in God for instance, you can't really counter that claim with anything evidence based either. And if their feeling counts as evidence, then really it puts them in the lead, since your only argument can be a lack of any evidence.

Saying 'I have faith' is really just recognizing that they believe it, they know its immune to being disproven, and doesn't innately need to be justified.
It's a more complete answer than trying to articulate 'why' you think or believe something because each individual why could be knocked down.
It's the acceptance that there is no proof or logical path leading to the conclusion, or away from it.

Ultimately, everything requires some leap of faith which isn't provable so it seems innate to us that we can make these leaps.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Moo » Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:30 pm UTC

General_Norris wrote:mind-raped
kingofdreams wrote:people seem to enjoy raping Descartes
You guys keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Please stop trivialising a very serious and personal thing that some people, including many in this community, have had to cope with.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Duban » Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:36 pm UTC

Faith is believing in something without need of evidence or reassurance that they'll be there for you. Applied to people it usually shows trust that you'll believe that they'll do the right thing or be there for you.

Applied to supernatural powers its believing in something without need of evidence or proof. Its pretty much blaming some outside force for everything good or bad rather then taking matters into your own hands and actively trying make things go as you want. Its also a major cop-out because it helps people who don't want to admit sometimes you just get unlucky and/or #@$#ed in life.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Moo » Mon Aug 10, 2009 3:50 pm UTC

Duban wrote:Its pretty much blaming some outside force for everything good or bad rather then taking matters into your own hands and actively trying make things go as you want. Its also a major cop-out because it helps people who don't want to admit sometimes you just get unlucky and/or #@$#ed in life.
Careful, your ignorance is showing.
Proverbs 9:7-8 wrote:Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt. So don't bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you.
Hawknc wrote:FFT: I didn't realise Proverbs 9:7-8 was the first recorded instance of "haters gonna hate"

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby General_Norris » Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:00 pm UTC

Moo wrote:You guys keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.[/b] Please stop trivialising a very serious and personal thing that some people, including many in this community, have had to cope with.


First of all we are not trivilising anything. We could say "killing Descartes", that doesn't make us murderers. You are being over-sensitive here.

Also ,ind-rape is a commonly used term and is very much what I wanted to convey

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Strilanc » Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:27 pm UTC

When someone says they have faith in something, it means they have confidence that it is true. It is not dependent on justification, and I don't think it requires a lack of justification either.

That being said, saying "I have faith in X" is a very poor argument to convince people X is true. If someone simply keeps using it, they've gone defensive and the conversation is over.

Side-note:
Please stop derailing threads with unrelated complaints about people using the word 'rape'. This is not a thread about rape or usage of the word rape. Go make such a thread if you want one.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Belial » Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:30 pm UTC

Strilanc wrote:Side-note:
Please stop derailing threads with unrelated complaints about people using the word 'rape'. This is not a thread about rape or usage of the word rape. Go make such a thread if you want one.


Unfortunately, you get called out on it where it happens, not in some other thread that can be conveniently ignored. My recommendation is that if you don't want to get derailed or called to task on your inflammatory phrasing, that you stop using it. And then the issue will never arise. It's going to lead to a derail every time. So stop it.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby mosc » Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:43 pm UTC

Eh, I don't see faith a something linked to ethics or religion, or belief in the supernatural (necessarily) or all the rest of this. Faith is fundamentally something much simpler: a citation.

We all use facts to support our beliefs. Even the most out there extremist. We just don't have all the facts. Even the most well read scientist hasn't read up on every possible subject. We fill in unknown details with faith taking other people's word for what the truth is. Faith is, basically, deferring to a known truth. Granted some people do less research than others but I am always amazed at people that say all their beliefs are based on evidence. There's no way. They're just placing their faith in the scientific community and accepting the synopsis as gospel.

When someone says "I just have faith" in reference to a religion, perhaps over some scientific evidence, they're just anouncing the difference in quality of facts they see from various sources. Details don't always point to the same conclusion, even with perfect evidence (which you'll never have). People differentiate by applying their own quality standards. Some people just have more faith in what people tell them than factoid #XXXX.

We all have faith in a lot of things. We cannot function as rational beings without a great deal of faith. Do people get misguided and have enormous faith in things they shouldn't? Yes. I don't find that unique to areas of religion or spirituality though. I've seen plenty of bad science where people try to make data fit a pre-determined conclusion they have faith in instead of using objective judgment.

That's not to say faith is a bad thing. It's necessary. It's just people are in general far too trusting.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Mon Aug 10, 2009 7:55 pm UTC

SpazzyMcGee wrote:Sorry, but all I am getting out of this thread is that faith based belief equals unsubstantiated belief.

It would appear that the term faith is used to prop up those who are wrong. I don't mean to insult the religious, but if faith can support anything then it supports nothing.
The religious don't use faith as if it's valuable to anyone other than themselves. I think the problem is that you're trying to look at faith as though it fits in with a strictly empirical mode of thought, and it doesn't. The fact that faith is not empirically sound is irrelevant. An individual's faith is entirely subjective and relevant only to that individual, and can be based on a variety of things. My suggestion is, if the subject really interests you, ask someone about their religious faith specifically, because it isn't the sort of thing where you're going to get a generalized answer. It might be "I'd like X to be true," it might be "I have a strong personal conviction that X is true," it might even just be "belief in X will have/has had a positive influence in my life, so I choose to believe it." And, in most cases, X is not the sort of thing that could be proven empirically anyway.

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby mosc » Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:46 pm UTC

People who read a high school biology book and then get on here talking about how evolution is law have faith not very different to me then someone quoting bible verses as the word of god. I always enjoy digging out my father's first year physics book for some perspective. The things we pass off for facts in this society bother me just as much as the religious fanatic's mindless ramblings. Bottom line is faith is all about who you believe for what you don't know. And frankly, what we don't know could fill a fucking bottomless pit.

I have faith in a lot of things, many I wish I didn't have to. That said, I try not to shit on other people's faith as inherently some form of defective logical reasoning. Belief in things you can't explain is not weakness or stupidity, it's hypothesis.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:57 pm UTC

Disbelieving evidence to the contrary of your beliefs however, and maintaining a hold on those beliefs, is not hypothesis. I have no quelm with faith; I have issue when faith is used to ignore reality. There is a world of difference between saying "I believe in God" and "This book is correct no matter what evidence science discovers." The first is fine. The latter is not.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Strilanc » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:10 pm UTC

mosc wrote:People who read a high school biology book and then get on here talking about how evolution is law have faith not very different to me then someone quoting bible verses as the word of god.


I really agree with this. But I do think there is a difference between trust in a religion and trust in science, because of the types of claims. For example I might not be able to find a fossil and verify that it is consistent with evolution, but I can write a genetic algorithm and verify that the basic mechanics are sound. That's not to say there are no verifiable/falsifiable religious claims, but the core of religions always seem to center around something unknowable (eg. the existence of an afterlife).

Belial wrote:
Strilanc wrote:Side-note:
Please stop derailing threads with unrelated complaints about people using the word 'rape'. This is not a thread about rape or usage of the word rape. Go make such a thread if you want one.


Unfortunately, you get called out on it where it happens, not in some other thread that can be conveniently ignored. My recommendation is that if you don't want to get derailed or called to task on your inflammatory phrasing, that you stop using it. And then the issue will never arise. It's going to lead to a derail every time. So stop it.


Spoiler:
Rule 2 of this forum is to stay on topic. From your own rules post:
Rule 2 - Staying on topic is Serious Business

We generally take a pretty lax stance toward off-topic posts on the rest of the forum. The Serious Business forums are not the place for that. Off-topic posts will be deleted with extreme prejudice.


Part of the purpose of this forum is to avoid derails. If you're going to purposefully derail threads, then I don't think you should be moderating this forum.

Please make a separate thread so we can stop derailing this one.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby mosc » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:27 pm UTC

Well I totally agree that comments like "This book is correct no matter what evidence science discovers." are moronic. But that's really not faith, it's more like blind faith. General faith even in a religious context does not exist despite of evidence or in direct conflict to evidence. You can take faith to the extreme for sure but it's not always the case. We treat the entire concept like it's all or nothing. It's human nature to use faith as a supplement to experience. It's only when people refuse to expand their experience ("no matter what" kind of reasoning) that faith is a problem.

Faith can be a powerful focusing tool. It allows us to keep perspective on things and target our understanding where it should be.

Strilanc: Rule #1 for me as a moderator is always "discuss moderation in private, not on the forums". I know it's not stressed as much here but frankly I and a few others don't want to read that shit. Just PM Belial and leave us out of it.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Box Boy » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:45 pm UTC

Strilanc wrote:Part of the purpose of this forum is to avoid derails. If you're going to purposefully derail threads, then I don't think you should be moderating this forum.
Please make a separate thread so we can stop derailing this one.

Unfortunately for you, what you think isn't worth shit when a senior mod (especially an Admin) uses their red text in SB.
It means that the argument is over, and that anyone still going on about it can and will be banned if they don't stop.
If you really must continue arguing about a mod's actions then you should PM them about it, not constantly argue about it in here.

Make note the red text is for warning users, and is not part of the discussion. User warned.

...Not you, Box Boy, but still; you're being off-topic. User warned.
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Oroborus » Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:25 am UTC

I believe people accepting objectively unprovable and unobservable things based on subjective evidence is pretty much the basis of faith. I believe in science because it is based around observation, it uses the only tools we actually have. If tomorrow everything goes floating off into space because it turns out that gravity is actually not a constant, well then I'll stop believing that it is. But I do have faith that it has a pretty high probability of still being a property of matter tomorrow. If you want to argue that all experience is truly subjective because of the nature of observation then that is one thing. But if you didn't really believe in a consistent reality or rather one were the nature of others observation were similar to yours I don't really believe you'd be on a thread discussing it logically. Basically all the I think therefore I am is sort of a derail imo.

Saying that faith does not need to be justified or questioned is a pretty dangerous thing. That being said I may have faith that the people I know are generally good and honest and worthy of a chance, despite any evidence to the contrary, but it is only because personally I do not want to live the alternative.

So really if you're talking about faith looking for more than just a definition (which I think many various posts have reached a consensus at), I think really like most things it can be a positive or negative force. I don't believe that anyone should have the arrogance or ignorance (and I'm not saying anyone here is) to demand that someone else's faith should be justified to the one asking. But I do believe that any faith someone has should be questioned by themselves. My two cents anyway, feel free to refute/comment.

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Re: What is Faith?

Postby Xear » Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:41 am UTC

SpazzyMcGee wrote:Would especially appreciate posts from the religious.


In my experience, you'd be surprised how many people just say, "I just have faith/believe in X" to end awkward conversations about religion, especially when they do not know how to argue on behalf of what they believe. In addition, these people also don't have motivation to become educated about what they say that they believe (generally).
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Re: What is Faith?

Postby EnderSword » Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:46 am UTC

They can't become educated on it. By definition it's a non-arguable position.

They often say it to end conversations with people who don't get that.
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