Faith

Faith has a few definitions. Hebrews 11:1 is often cited as a Biblical definition, though I think it only covers one aspect of it.
Hebrews 11 said:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
In context, the writer is basing faith in the Christian's identity in Jesus and end-goal: our sealed destiny to be with God for eternity, as sure and guaranteed as we the unchangeable past. We cannot see the future, but based on several reasons (such as the resurrection of Jesus and how God cannot lie), it is rock-solid fact.

I ran across this quote by a Christian apologist which I think covers more aspects of faith, though I think it is not complete:
Ravi Zacharias" said:
Faith in the biblical sense is substantive, based on the knowledge that the One in whom that faith is placed has proven that He is worthy of that trust. In its essence, faith is a confidence in the person of Jesus Christ and in His power, so that even when His power does not serve my end, my confidence in Him remains because of who He is. Faith for the Christian is the response of trust based on who Jesus Christ claimed to be, and it results in a life that brings both mind and heart in a commitment of love to Him.
While reading an essay of atheist Richard Dawkins, I ran across his definition of faith:
Richard Dawkins said:
The patient typically finds himself impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn't seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, he feels as totally compelling and convincing. We doctors refer to such a belief as 'faith'.

Patients typically make a positive virtue of faith's being strong and unshakeable, in spite of not being based upon evidence. [Emphasis in original.]
Now, as a "man of faith," I have to say that this definition is not recognizable to me. The things I believe are true can be supported by evidence and reason if one asks.

The above quote comes from "Viruses of the Mind" first published in 1993. Dawkins was found using his strawman definition again fourteen years later during a debate with John Lennox in 2007, where Lennox easily exposed his fallacious definition:
Dawkins: When you say faith is rational and evidence-based, if that were true it wouldn't need to be faith, would it? If there were evidence, why would you need to call it faith? We only need to use the word "faith" when there is no evidence.
Lennox: No, not at all. I presume you've got faith in your wife? Is there any evidence for that?
Dawkins: Yes, plenty of evidence!
Lennox: Hmm!
Dawkins: I--
Lennox pinned Dawkins down on his incorrect definition of faith and Dawkins sidestepped the issue.

I bring up the definition of faith here because I fear many, many non-believers are using Dawkins' definition. It's simply wrong. Take it from those who have faith and are familiar with it rather than those who profess an absence of and inexperience with it.
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Comments

  • It would seem to me that these definitions lack the necessary component of experiential evidence. It is not easily explained to someone to else, and yet it is still very powerful to the person that has experienced it.

    I've had God speak to me a few times. Telling that to someone who has not had something similar happen tends to put some distance between you and them. Even with that said, it should not take away from the gravity of the experience, or the meaning we might ascribe to it.

    However, to add this detail to the definition would not help a non-believer...
  • So much mental masturbation over such a simple concept. :rolleyes:



    Faith is the choice to believe in something that you can't prove.


    Most things in life aren't ANYWHERE near as complicated as people would like to believe they are.
  • said:

    So much mental masturbation over such a simple concept. :rolleyes:



    Faith is the choice to believe in something that you can't prove.


    Most things in life aren't ANYWHERE near as complicated as people would like to believe they are.

    So, you side with Dawkins?
  • said:

    said:

    So much mental masturbation over such a simple concept. :rolleyes:



    Faith is the choice to believe in something that you can't prove.


    Most things in life aren't ANYWHERE near as complicated as people would like to believe they are.

    So, you side with Dawkins?


    I side with myself.


    If someone else coincidentally puts forward the same opinion that I did, then it means that he happens to be right, but there's no connection.
  • There is no true faith without doubt to persevere against.

    If you can prove something is true, then it isn't a matter of faith.

    If you can't prove something, or are faced with clear proof of a contrary truth, yett absolutely without doubt believe regardless, it isn't faith, it's self-delusion.
  • said:

    There is no true faith without doubt to persevere against.
    True

    If you can prove something is true, then it isn't a matter of faith.
    False

    If you can't prove something, or are faced with clear proof of a contrary truth, yet absolutely without doubt believe regardless, it isn't faith, it's self-delusion.
    False


    In Re; Last Statement:
    (Corrected Version)

    If you xxx'x xxxxx xxxxxxxxx, xx are faced with clear proof of a contrary truth, yet absolutely without doubt believe regardless, it isn't faith, it's self-delusion.
    True
  • edited July 2010
    Faith may not be possible in a sane person without some evidence to encourage its development. But what makes it faith is that the level of certainty within a belief isn't justified by the evidence available. Emotion is filling the gap to strengthen a suspicion created by evidence into real belief. Ultimately faith is a combination of the emotional and the rational, which means it is not objective or really rational, it is a guess, perhaps something of an educated guess, but a guess nonetheless, one you may be willing to bet everything on. Making guesses is not an irrational thing to do per se, but the guesses themselves are.
  • Dawkins has faith in biogenisis, of which their is little evidence, and no proof.

    However he believes that it will be proven true in a future uncertain. That is part of Dawkins faith in a Godless Universe....which again is without proof.

    The Faith of Richard Dawkins.......or his Rage Against God.

    God, The Bastard!
  • Right now, we're treating the knowledge from which faith is built as if it must be utter certainty. Of course, faith will not be a part of something utterly proven or certain. No need for it, the fact stands, and can be known by anyone who wishes to know.

    But, what of probability, plausibility, or potential? All are on the positive side of knowing, yet none are certain. Each can engender "faith." It is that sort of "informed" faith that a believer has toward God. While a wholly other God cannot be "proven" in the typical manners or in any way without some form of doubt or skepticism, neither can He be dis-proven, and when all the reasons for holding faith are stacked up, the faith is reasonable, and yes, logical. It would be illogical to not have faith once the potential is shown.

    That is where Dakins, et al (including our own dear MCE), stray. While decrying the faith of a believer, they hold equally (or even illogically) to their own brand of faith in something that has even less plausibility than the existence of God.
  • said:

    Right now, we're treating the knowledge from which faith is built as if it must be utter certainty.



    Like Tonto said to The Lone Ranger at the Little Big Horn; "What do you mean "WE", white man?
  • said:

    said:

    Right now, we're treating the knowledge from which faith is built as if it must be utter certainty.



    Like Tonto said to The Lone Ranger at the Little Big Horn; "What do you mean "WE", white man?
    Okay... You (but others are doing the same thing).
  • said:

    Right now, we're treating the knowledge from which faith is built as if it must be utter certainty.

    Actually, I don't see anyone saying this. I don't subscribe to what you describe, some posting here may, I don't know. No one has asserted this yet, or even really implied it.
  • said:

    said:

    said:

    Right now, we're treating the knowledge from which faith is built as if it must be utter certainty.



    Like Tonto said to The Lone Ranger at the Little Big Horn; "What do you mean "WE", white man?
    Okay... You (but others are doing the same thing).

    Before I turn on the flamethrower, let me make sure that this isn't a simple miscommunication.


    ==================================================================


    I said this:

    Faith is the choice to believe in something that you can't prove.


    You said this:

    Right now, we're treating the knowledge from which faith is built as if it must be utter certainty.



    Do you see those two statements as mutually exclusive? Yes or No.
  • said:

    said:

    Right now, we're treating the knowledge from which faith is built as if it must be utter certainty.



    Like Tonto said to The Lone Ranger at the Little Big Horn; "What do you mean "WE", white man?
    That's racist, Kemo Sabe.
  • said:

    Faith may not be possible in a sane person without some evidence to encourage its development. But what makes it faith is that the level of certainty within a belief isn't justified by the evidence available. Emotion is filling the gap to strengthen a suspicion created by evidence into real belief. Ultimately faith is a combination of the emotional and the rational, which means it is not objective or really rational, it is a guess, perhaps something of an educated guess, but a guess nonetheless, one you may be willing to bet everything on. Making guesses is not an irrational thing to do per se, but the guesses themselves are.


    Interesting... Do you believe reason/logic has a measure of emotion as well?
  • said:

    said:

    Right now, we're treating the knowledge from which faith is built as if it must be utter certainty.

    Actually, I don't see anyone saying this. I don't subscribe to what you describe, some posting here may, I don't know. No one has asserted this yet, or even really implied it.
    I am probably reading into the conversation...

    MCEsher, yes... The two statements are exclusive. I am likely basing my remarks on your typical attitude toward the faith of believers, which you tend to dismiss as faith in nothing.

    Article out today by Al Mohler that deals somewhat with our topic.
    http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/08/02/a-new-agnosticism-coming-soon/
  • said:

    Like Tonto said to The Lone Ranger at the Little Big Horn; "What do you mean "WE", white man?

    Yeah, you too.

    Can you prove your own rationality? If not, you believe you are rational on faith, by your own definition.
  • said:

    said:

    Right now, we're treating the knowledge from which faith is built as if it must be utter certainty.

    Actually, I don't see anyone saying this. I don't subscribe to what you describe, some posting here may, I don't know. No one has asserted this yet, or even really implied it.
    Knowledge, such as the accurate transmission of the Bible from writing to our hands? We have evidence to support this, as a historical matter it cannot be proven but we have reasonable evidence to support it. Christians take it as fact on faith, I suppose.
  • edited August 2010
    said:

    MCEsher, yes... The two statements are exclusive. I am likely basing my remarks on your typical attitude toward the faith of believers, which you tend to dismiss as faith in nothing.

    While I would count my differences with him theologically as approximately ample, I've never drawn that from his writing. To hold that faith represents an individual's choice to believe does not suggest that it is faith in nothing. It is explicitly not a faith in nothing.

    Since MCE describes a faith he has, it doesn't make sense to acuse him of dismissing that faith. He is describing faith as he experiences and understands it.
  • said:

    Now, as a "man of faith," I have to say that this definition is not recognizable to me. The things I believe are true can be supported by evidence and reason if one asks.

    Something I wanted to add to my OP....

    Dawkins' quote is frustrating because his description of faith is not recognizable to me, it bears no resemblance to my experiences. It's not a matter of denying a fact, but that he is inaccurate. As such, the rest of his argument falls apart; he spends many words that simply do not stick to the believer, they are ineffectual and don't help.

    Now, to evidence his definition, he points to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, how the bread and wine actually become the real flesh and blood of Christ. Any resemblance to bread and wine at that point is a "mystery". This is what he uses to evidence his definition of "faith" - belief apart from any evidence whatsoever. He also mentions the Trinity but does not elaborate on that one so I don't know what he meant by that.

    I don't believe in transubstantiation, but I know enough about it to empathize with the Catholic. It is not belief in the transformation of the bread and wine itself, but belief in God who cannot lie, specifically Jesus who said the bread and wine "are" his flesh and blood. There is plenty of evidence to support Jesus' truthful words. So the outward belief in transubstantiation is indirect to faith in Christ.

    This actually looks similar to things Dawkins' has faith in. For example, life coming from nonlife. Given the evidences Dawkins sees in evolution, it is a logical necessity to believe that life can come from nonlife, though he has absolutely zero evidence for this. This is not a "blind faith", though. It is a reasonable faith just like Christians have.

    Dawkins definition of faith is best called "blind faith," a strawman definition that few I met actually hold.
  • said:


    MCEsher, yes... The two statements are exclusive. I am likely basing my remarks on your typical attitude toward the faith of believers, which you tend to dismiss as faith in nothing.

    Really?
    And which of my remarks are you basing this statement regarding my "typical attitude" upon?
  • said:

    This actually looks similar to things Dawkins' has faith in. For example, life coming from nonlife. Given the evidences Dawkins sees in evolution, it is a logical necessity to believe that life can come from nonlife, though he has absolutely zero evidence for this. This is not a "blind faith", though. It is a reasonable faith just like Christians have.

    Dawkins definition of faith is best called "blind faith," a strawman definition that few I met actually hold.

    I'd say that is spot on. It isn't that a limited faith in some of Dawkins' ideas is error. Indeed, I think Dawkins may draw many to his position by using as his example of truth some reasonable and widely held beliefs.

    Dawkins' error rests in redefining faith as idiocy. Sam Harris intentionally does this in a more directly derisive manner.
  • said:

    said:

    Like Tonto said to The Lone Ranger at the Little Big Horn; "What do you mean "WE", white man?

    Yeah, you too.

    Can you prove your own rationality? If not, you believe you are rational on faith, by your own definition.


    Hold up there skippy...

    Right now, you're basing THAT statement on your automatic assumption that what Guy said was accurate and correct, just because he said it.

    In other words, your question and the following statement are both assuming facts not in evidence.
  • said:

    He is describing faith as he experiences and understands it.



    Actually, I'm describing Faith as EVERYONE experiences it, whether they realize they are doing so or not.

    Faith, as a function of conscious thought and removed from the religious connotation, IS exactly as I described it. It's a decision to believe something that you cannot prove, and it remains a decision even if it happens at a near subconscious level.

    More significantly, the ability to HAVE faith is absolutely necessary to our ability to function as conscious, sentient beings.

    Think for a moment of how many times a day you proceed on the comfortable assumption that X = Y = Z.

    Even driving through a Green light requires faith that someone else will stop at the corresponding Red light. If you didn't believe that he would, would you EVER drive right through that green at 30-45mph? Or would you treat every traffic light as a 4-way stop sign, refusing to believe that the other drivers would do their part until you WATCHED them do it with your own eyes?


    Every person here who has ridden a motorcycle knows that your faith in the near-universal obedience to traffic control signals can easily be shaken, even if you NEVER witness someone running a red light.
  • edited August 2010
    said:

    said:

    said:

    Like Tonto said to The Lone Ranger at the Little Big Horn; "What do you mean "WE", white man?

    Yeah, you too.

    Can you prove your own rationality? If not, you believe you are rational on faith, by your own definition.


    Hold up there skippy...

    Right now, you're basing THAT statement on your automatic assumption that what Guy said was accurate and correct, just because he said it.

    In other words, your question and the following statement are both assuming facts not in evidence.
    I based that on two posts of yours:
    said:

    Faith is the choice to believe in something that you can't prove.

    And:
    said:

    I side with myself.

    If someone else coincidentally puts forward the same opinion that I did, then it means that he happens to be right, but there's no connection.

    In other words, what Dawkins said here is correct (but perhaps not things Dawkins said elsewhere).

    Dawkins believes he is devoid of faith, you can see that in his definition here. You are agreeing with Dawkins' definition. If you believe you have faith in something, state so clearly so as not to misdirect the reader and I will apologize for my misunderstanding.

    EDIT: I crossposted:
    said:

    More significantly, the ability to HAVE faith is absolutely necessary to our ability to function as conscious, sentient beings.

    I stand corrected. Sorry, Escher.
  • said:

    said:

    He is describing faith as he experiences and understands it.



    Actually, I'm describing Faith as EVERYONE experiences it, whether they realize they are doing so or not.

    Faith, as a function of conscious thought and removed from the religious connotation, IS exactly as I described it. It's a decision to believe something that you cannot prove, and it remains a decision even if it happens at a near subconscious level.

    More significantly, the ability to HAVE faith is absolutely necessary to our ability to function as conscious, sentient beings.
    As we've discussed in the past, it is the bolded portion with which I differ.
  • edited August 2010
    So Matt, do you believe that belief is an involuntary process?
  • said:


    As we've discussed in the past, it is the bolded portion with which I differ.


    That's OK. You can be wrong too.
  • edited August 2010
    said:

    So Matt, do you belief that belief is an involuntary process?

    Preliminarily, I don't see "knowledge" and "belief" as qualitatively different. I think knowledge can be, and very often is, not a decision and therefore not a matter of volition.

    The example I've used in the past is

    image

    A young child sees one image, and we see another. We do not choose to see what we do, but our knowledge and other prejudices work to change what we see, what we know the picture is.

    At the other end of the spectrum, if a belief is held too self-consciously, it might not even really be believed. If I decide at lunch that will believe that I am Napolean, the authenticity of my belief is open to question.

    That still leaves room for a generous middle-ground where a free mind can reason to the conclusion it finds congenial, but that doesn't make what one believes categorically a matter of choice.

    I understand MCE to be describing a very specific kind of knowledge/faith/belief and how one arrives at it. He asserts that his description is accurate and universal. I disagree, but I don't think he is describing a belief based on nothing.

    EDIT - It was not my intent to re-hash my position, but to note that MCE's position is not dismissive of faith or of those who hold it.
  • said:


    Dawkins believes he is devoid of faith, you can see that in his definition here. You are agreeing with Dawkins' definition.


    I know that you saw something that made you realize you were making an incorrect assumption about me, but I wanted to address that statement anyway. As a "for the record" sort of thing.


    I am not agreeing with Dawkins's definition. I am in fact, barely aware of his existence and have read almost nothing that he's written.

    The reason for that is because when I first encountered him, it took me all of 30 seconds to realize that he was possibly the most un-self-aware jackass of our time, and I lost all interest in reading more of his stupidity.



    People have a need to complicate things. I haven't yet decided on a theory for why that is, but just like "Faith", "Art" has a simple definition as well.

    "Art" is something that is created by one or more people, with the intent of causing a reaction in an observer.

    "Faith", as I said, is simply the decision to believe something that you cannot prove.


    The DEFINITIONS are simple. The part that's complicated is the way we EXPERIENCE them.
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