The Difference Between Believing Something To Be True And Faith
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04-01-2014, 07:44 PM
The Difference Between Believing Something To Be True And Faith
I often have to explain to creationists the difference between believing that evolution is true, and how that's different than a religious person having faith in their god.

When atheists say they believe that evolution is true, it means that we think that the evidence for it is true. However, that belief could easily change if evidence comes to light that proves evolution to be wrong. We don't have faith in evolution. We don't say "Well, this person came up with this idea, and no matter how much anything disproves it, we will still hold it to be true."

When a religious person has faith in their god, it means that they are believing something that have no proof actual proof for (a 2,000 year-old book with a crapload of inaccuracies in it does not count as proof). You are going by faith that your god exists.

Does that mean that I don't have faith in anything? No, there are certain things that I do have faith about. I have faith in my friends when they tell me something, or that they will not hurt me. I have faith in my family being there when I need them. I don't have anything that shows 100% proof that these things will happen. I can't prove that a friend won't steal from me or betray me in some way at some point, but obviously I have faith that they won't, otherwise I wouldn't be calling them a friend.

Science doesn't go by faith - it goes by evidence. When something else comes along that shows evidence of a previous idea to be wrong, then science changes it's stance and says "Well, this proves that idea to be wrong, so obviously we have to get rid of that." What science doesn't allow is for somebody to concoct any ridiculous idea, and say "Well, we can't disprove that, so we have to say that it is true" (which is the stance that religious people use). We run our legal system by the same principles as science. I can't go filing a lawsuit claiming that somebody owes me money, yet show no proof of it, and have a judge rule in my favor because the other person can't disprove that they don't owe me money. That would be insanity. When a person makes a claim the burden of proof is on them to prove they are right, not on others to prove they are wrong.

“Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.” - Mark Twain
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05-01-2014, 12:38 AM
RE: The Difference Between Believing Something To Be True And Faith
(04-01-2014 07:44 PM)WindyCityJazz Wrote:  Does that mean that I don't have faith in anything? No, there are certain things that I do have faith about. I have faith in my friends when they tell me something, or that they will not hurt me. I have faith in my family being there when I need them. I don't have anything that shows 100% proof that these things will happen. I can't prove that a friend won't steal from me or betray me in some way at some point, but obviously I have faith that they won't, otherwise I wouldn't be calling them a friend.

I would argue you don't have faith in your friends or family. You've observed their behavior (that they help when you're having troubles, don't steal from you, etc) and are extrapolating that they'll do similar in the future. This is evidence based. And if they do betray you, you'll re-evaluate the situation. Evidence is not just about what is, but also about forming predictive models that work. To believe something without evidence. or rather (as I think most theists do) in spite of the evidence, is something we do only in little bits.

Now, you do have faith to an extent, when trusting what your friends/family say is true. Granted, you're again going on the evidence that they mostly tell the truth but there's no way to know any given thing they tell you is, and critical thinking would require that we not assume any statement is true even if it comes from a generally reliable source. ... But still...
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05-01-2014, 12:59 AM
RE: The Difference Between Believing Something To Be True And Faith
(04-01-2014 07:44 PM)WindyCityJazz Wrote:  I often have to explain to creationists the difference between believing that evolution is true, and how that's different than a religious person having faith in their god.

When atheists say they believe that evolution is true, it means that we think that the evidence for it is true. However, that belief could easily change if evidence comes to light that proves evolution to be wrong. We don't have faith in evolution. We don't say "Well, this person came up with this idea, and no matter how much anything disproves it, we will still hold it to be true."

When a religious person has faith in their god, it means that they are believing something that have no proof actual proof for (a 2,000 year-old book with a crapload of inaccuracies in it does not count as proof). You are going by faith that your god exists.

Does that mean that I don't have faith in anything? No, there are certain things that I do have faith about. I have faith in my friends when they tell me something, or that they will not hurt me. I have faith in my family being there when I need them. I don't have anything that shows 100% proof that these things will happen. I can't prove that a friend won't steal from me or betray me in some way at some point, but obviously I have faith that they won't, otherwise I wouldn't be calling them a friend.

Science doesn't go by faith - it goes by evidence. When something else comes along that shows evidence of a previous idea to be wrong, then science changes it's stance and says "Well, this proves that idea to be wrong, so obviously we have to get rid of that." What science doesn't allow is for somebody to concoct any ridiculous idea, and say "Well, we can't disprove that, so we have to say that it is true" (which is the stance that religious people use). We run our legal system by the same principles as science. I can't go filing a lawsuit claiming that somebody owes me money, yet show no proof of it, and have a judge rule in my favor because the other person can't disprove that they don't owe me money. That would be insanity. When a person makes a claim the burden of proof is on them to prove they are right, not on others to prove they are wrong.

Yeah, check some of the earlier stuff in this section of the forum.

8000 years before Jesus, the Egyptian god Horus said, "I am the way, the truth, the life."
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05-01-2014, 01:07 AM
RE: The Difference Between Believing Something To Be True And Faith
I've said something similar to this in other threads so I'll keep it brief here but think it's worth interjecting.

Faith to me has a more sinister connotation now, than it used to.

It used to be, believe without evidence but in this day and age there are mountains upon mountains of evidence to support alternative world views (for example; evolution completely contradicts creation) ... So I view 'faith' in the religious sense as belief INSPITE of the evidence.

A man blames his bad childhood on leprechauns. He claims they don't exist, but yet still says without a doubt that they stole all his money and then killed his parents. That's why he became Leprechaun-Man

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05-01-2014, 01:13 AM
RE: The Difference Between Believing Something To Be True And Faith
Ok very good. Now explain the difference between faith and stubbornness....

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05-01-2014, 01:15 AM
RE: The Difference Between Believing Something To Be True And Faith
(05-01-2014 01:13 AM)LostandInsecure Wrote:  Ok very good. Now explain the difference between faith and stubbornness....

With my definition they're exactly the same thing! .Smile

A man blames his bad childhood on leprechauns. He claims they don't exist, but yet still says without a doubt that they stole all his money and then killed his parents. That's why he became Leprechaun-Man

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05-01-2014, 02:37 AM
RE: The Difference Between Believing Something To Be True And Faith
(04-01-2014 07:44 PM)WindyCityJazz Wrote:  When atheists say they believe that evolution is true, it means that we think that the evidence for it is true. However, that belief could easily change if evidence comes to light that proves evolution to be wrong. We don't have faith in evolution. We don't say "Well, this person came up with this idea, and no matter how much anything disproves it, we will still hold it to be true."

I just had this conversation with my friend who is Christian. He says there isn't enough evidence to support evolution and that belief in evolution is also a faith due to the lack of evidence. I don't know if they are blind or they just turn their cheeks the other way. I told him I would gladly change my view on evolution if it was disproved, but to this day this hasn't been the case. We have loads of evidence and the list grows on a daily basis. That is the reason I am passionate about Anthropology, and I am majoring in it for college.
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05-01-2014, 02:48 AM
RE: The Difference Between Believing Something To Be True And Faith
(05-01-2014 02:37 AM)jgarciajr686 Wrote:  That is the reason I am passionate about Anthropology, and I am majoring in it for college.

You should also do at least a minor in the biological sciences, it goes well with physical anthropology.
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05-01-2014, 03:10 AM
RE: The Difference Between Believing Something To Be True And Faith
(04-01-2014 07:44 PM)WindyCityJazz Wrote:  Does that mean that I don't have faith in anything? No, there are certain things that I do have faith about.

This is true. We can't eliminate faith completely. OddGamer correctly pointed out that some of what you described as faith is really inductive logic, i.e. a generalisation following a limited number of observations. But you are correct that we all use faith, i.e. have unsubstantiated beliefs. When we go to a resturant for the first time we don't know that we won't get food poisoning; we believe that we won't get food poisoning.

Lawrence Krauss over-eggs the skeptic pudding on this matter. Trying to position himself as some sort of super-skeptic iin some of his debates he has claimed that he has no bleiefs. This is wrong according to all of the senses of belief that I am aware of. Krauss doesn't know that the building he is debating in will not collapse and kill him; he believes this will not happen (and that is a reasonable belief). Similarly, he doesn't know that his cup of water hasn't been poisoned by his debate opponent; he believes this has not happened (and that is a reasonable belief) and he sips his water.

Regarding evolution by natural selection, I don't see how belief in it can be said to be undergirded only by faith. There are multiple and convergent independent lines of evidence that suggest that evolution is true. I believe in evolution by natural selection because of the evidence I have read about and because it has more explanatory power and scope than any alternate hypotheses.
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05-01-2014, 04:53 AM
RE: The Difference Between Believing Something To Be True And Faith
Quote:...
When we go to a restaurant for the first time we don't know that we won't get food poisoning; we believe that we won't get food poisoning.
...
Krauss doesn't know that the building he is debating in will not collapse and kill him; he believes this will not happen (and that is a reasonable belief).
...
I believe in evolution by natural selection because of the evidence I have read about and because it has more explanatory power and scope than any alternate hypotheses.

Let's face it, it's a term ripe for equivocation.

I hope I won't be poisoned and I hope the building will not collapse.
I base my unconscious decision (my unspoken risk avoidance strategy) to eat or dwell, on my knowledge of health and safety standards or when younger, on my trust in my parents who eat and dwell there too.

I'm OK with evolution because I trust the scientific method and the evidence of my own eyes.

Hope and trust.

Call it belief if you like but faith - belief without evidence? Nah.

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