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Thread: Rationalizing faith.

  1. Top | #11
    Veteran Member Tigers!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Even online dictionary definitions have shifted to reflect common usage. Faith practically being synonymous with trust and confidence, etc. It's quite odd.
    Or perhaps the dictionary(ies) are merely reflecting what has been within them for a long time.

    Faith is a belief held without the support of evidence of evidence
    - paraphrasing Dawkins and others.

    Do you have a year(s) in which the aforementioned quote first appeared in a dictionary? I do not know where it first appeared.

    If it appeared quite recently then it is hard to justify that the conventional/traditional meaning of the word 'faith' are attempts by theists to change accepted meanings.
    NOTE: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

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    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    We have a condition where people do believe in the truth of something without the support of evidence. We call that "faith." That condition, that class of belief provides the context for the given definition.

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    There is no "the" meaning, there are TWO meanings. The problem is when people conflate the two different meanings.

    Having faith (ie trust) that a chair won't break when you sit on it is completely different from having faith (ie a belief in that is "based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof") that an invisible chair is present in an empty room.

    The latter is not trust that existent things will persist.

  4. Top | #14
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    They are confusing two completely different meanings of the word, one meaning (the secular, colloquial usage) merely refers to some level of trust or confidence without referring to the basis of that trust. The other meaning is the epistemological meaning often referred to by the Bible and religion dealing with the fact that the trust is not based upon (and thus is impervious to) reasoned thought, empirical evidence, or anything but deference to a religious authority (whether the doctrines, "the word", etc.)

    This latter is what the father of Protestantism was referring to when he said "Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God." Anti-reason and anti-intellectualism are foundational to Protestantism, which advocated direct appeal to the authority of the Bible (leading to literalism) and a purely emotional relationship to God, both of which bypassed any need for the centuries of Church controlled (pseudo)scholarship and theology.

    But Luther didn't invent that conception of faith as emotional belief against reason. It is central to the Bible itself, with many versus advocating faith as belief without and often against empirical evidence, reason, knowledge, wisdom, and admonishing any who have any of the doubts these things inherently give rise to, while praising the absolute certainty that only unreasoned emotionalism and authoritarianism can produce.

    "For we live by faith, not by sight."
    "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
    "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified
    "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
    "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
    "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

    Note that last one equates faith with "hope" as in being a kind of wishful thinking, and though the second phrase mentions "evidence" the "not seen" makes clear that it not empirical evidence or anything rational though counts as evidence but rather that the desire/hope that it is true is taken as the basis for it being true.


    This idea that faith is belief in what the reasoned mind says is impossible is also at the heart of the idea that those who have faith will be able to do things that reasoned thought says is impossible.


    “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
    "Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them."
    "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, "Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”

    The Bible wouldn't spend so much time threatening and promoting harm, damnation, and genocide towards those who doubt or don't believe, if there was any sense that such believe should or could be based in reason, which is the opposite of responding to threat.
    And the Bible is wise to take that epistemological stance, b/c it's claims and God's existence never could be rationally based, and modern science has severally eroded even the pseudo-intellectual pretension of reasoned belief (e.g., argument from design).

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Point of history:

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Even online dictionary definitions have shifted to reflect common usage. Faith practically being synonymous with trust and confidence, etc. It's quite odd.
    That's not the change. The idea that faith and trust are separate contexts is the change, a product of the changing philosophical and scholarly trends in European tradition. Faith, in Christian contexts, does and always did mean a personal relationship of loyalty and mutual trust/obedience; it is a translation of the ancient Greek term pistis, which held both meanings, likewise its Latin equivalent fides from which the English term is etymologically derived. They often were used in civil contexts to indicate legal relationships; for instance, a viceroy had the "faith" of his king, and something similar was being implied about Christ and his followers in relation to God, that they were adopted sons of God and therefore had the faith of and in God, a reciprocal relationship of faith and authority. No one predating the Renaissance ever talked or wrote about faith as though it were synonymous with "acceptance of a philosophical proposition". But cultures and priorities change over time. That new definition came to sit alongside the older sense of the word connoting trust and confidence, and both senses have been used (often interchangeably) in religious circles and secular contexts from the end of the Renaissance onward to the present. Four hundred years is a long time, and both definitions are commonly in use in our society at this point.
    "Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the tree of knowledge."

  6. Top | #16
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    Back a ways on science as to evolution theist made this argument.

    Science can not experimentally prove evolution created humans, therefore it is faith.
    Religion can not prove experimentally faith that god exists.
    Therefore religion is as valid as science.

  7. Top | #17
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    They are confusing two completely different meanings of the word, one meaning (the secular, colloquial usage) merely refers to some level of trust or confidence without referring to the basis of that trust. The other meaning is the epistemological meaning often referred to by the Bible and religion dealing with the fact that the trust is not based upon (and thus is impervious to) reasoned thought, empirical evidence, or anything but deference to a religious authority (whether the doctrines, "the word", etc.)

    This latter is what the father of Protestantism was referring to when he said "Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God." Anti-reason and anti-intellectualism are foundational to Protestantism, which advocated direct appeal to the authority of the Bible (leading to literalism) and a purely emotional relationship to God, both of which bypassed any need for the centuries of Church controlled (pseudo)scholarship and theology.

    But Luther didn't invent that conception of faith as emotional belief against reason. It is central to the Bible itself, with many versus advocating faith as belief without and often against empirical evidence, reason, knowledge, wisdom, and admonishing any who have any of the doubts these things inherently give rise to, while praising the absolute certainty that only unreasoned emotionalism and authoritarianism can produce.

    "For we live by faith, not by sight."
    "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
    "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified
    "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
    "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
    "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

    Not that last one equates faith with "hope" as in being a kind of wishful thinking, and though the second phrase mentions "evidence" the "not seen" makes clear that it not empirical evidence or anything rational though counts as evidence but rather that he desire/hope that it is true is taken as the basis for it being true.


    This idea that faith is belief in what the reasoned mind says is impossible is also at the heart of the idea that those who have faith will be able to do things that reasoned thought says is impossible.


    “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
    "Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them."
    "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, "Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”

    The Bible wouldn't spend so much time threatening and promoting harm, damnation, and genocide towards those who doubt or don't believe, if there was any sense that such believe should or could be based in reason, which is the opposite of responding to threat.
    And the Bible is wise to take that epistemological stance, b/c it's claims and God's existence never could be rationally based, and modern science has severally eroded even the pseudo-intellectual pretension of reasoned belief (e.g., argument from design).
    Tell me, which makes more inherent sense:

    1. "If you have enough confidence, you can accomplish anything."
    2. "If you have a correct philosophical position based on rejection of evidence, you can accomplish anything."

    To put things another way is it necessarily true that your (presumably Protestant) would-be handlers have taught you the most correct and obvious interpretation of the Matthew passage you're quoting? In your opinion, are they normally trustworthy guides to what is or is not true? Do you have faith, let's say, that they aways teach about the Bible in an unbiased fashion?
    "Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the tree of knowledge."

  8. Top | #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

    Note that last one equates faith with "hope" as in being a kind of wishful thinking, and [b]though the second phrase mentions "evidence" the "not seen" makes clear that it not empirical evidence or anything rational though counts as evidence but rather that the desire/hope that it is true is taken as the basis for it being true.
    The sentence structure is "Faith is... the evidence".

    So believing-in is itself the evidence for what's believed-in. IOW "it's true because I believe it real hard".

    Theists feel God's presence "in their hearts" by staying fervent in their belief till a presence is felt. So they get their evidence of personal experience by striving for their evidence of personal experience. Likewise a person could easily feel a deceased person's ghost in the room with him if he worked at it.

    This sort of thinking is the basis of "he didn't pray enough" and other excuses for why a Christian might lose their faith that God/Jesus exists. The believer would have stayed a believer if they'd created the feeling of God more assiduously.

  9. Top | #19
    Elder Contributor DBT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Point of history:

    Quote Originally Posted by DBT View Post
    Even online dictionary definitions have shifted to reflect common usage. Faith practically being synonymous with trust and confidence, etc. It's quite odd.
    That's not the change. The idea that faith and trust are separate contexts is the change, a product of the changing philosophical and scholarly trends in European tradition. Faith, in Christian contexts, does and always did mean a personal relationship of loyalty and mutual trust/obedience; it is a translation of the ancient Greek term pistis, which held both meanings, likewise its Latin equivalent fides from which the English term is etymologically derived. They often were used in civil contexts to indicate legal relationships; for instance, a viceroy had the "faith" of his king, and something similar was being implied about Christ and his followers in relation to God, that they were adopted sons of God and therefore had the faith of and in God, a reciprocal relationship of faith and authority. No one predating the Renaissance ever talked or wrote about faith as though it were synonymous with "acceptance of a philosophical proposition". But cultures and priorities change over time. That new definition came to sit alongside the older sense of the word connoting trust and confidence, and both senses have been used (often interchangeably) in religious circles and secular contexts from the end of the Renaissance onward to the present. Four hundred years is a long time, and both definitions are commonly in use in our society at this point.
    I wasn't disputing that the word 'faith' has been, and still is used in multiple ways, synonymous with trust, confidence, etc, just that this semantic drift creates sufficient ambiguity to allow theists to align and defend their faith, a belief held without the support of evidence, with trust or confidence.....which are not the same, thereby muddying the water.

  10. Top | #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Back a ways on science as to evolution theist made this argument.

    Science can not experimentally prove evolution created humans, therefore it is faith.
    Religion can not prove experimentally faith that god exists.
    Therefore religion is as valid as science.
    Some folks say that religion is as valid as science, but they don't demonstrate as much in their behavior, else they'd pray away illness, disease and injury.

    Isn't faith really just hope? Faith is only required because there is serious doubt that a certain belief or claim is true. That's why faith is needed, because of the evidence that causes doubt. If there wasn't so much evidence against, one wouldn't ever need to deal in faith.

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