What is faith?
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04-02-2013, 03:22 PM
What is faith?
A recent thread here and a fairly recent conversation on facebook, have got me thinking about the notion of faith again. That and a section of a book called "Biblical Nonsense" I am a few pages into that brought up some good points I will reiterate in a moment.

Faith does not make sense to me anymore, and I am not sure it ever really did (but I can't get my 18 year old self here to explain it). So, I don't really know what faith is. That person on facebook whom I conversed with said that "faith is the substance of things hoped for" and I have NO FUCKING CLUE WHAT THAT MEANS. Especially considering the fact that the conversation attempted to spiral towards logic, ration, and reason not being mutually exclusive from faith.

I may not know what faith is, but I have an idea and (perhaps more importantly) I know what faith is not.

It is NOT logical, rational, reasonable, based in evidence, or an appeal to the intellect.

It appears to (to me) be nothing more than an appeal to emotion. Whether that emotion is fear (of hell, the afterlife, not seeing lost loved ones, not fitting in, etc) or greed (mansions in the sky, eternal bliss, reincarnation as a fucking EAGLE MAN!).

What I really don't understand about those with faith is 2 things.
1) the desire to reconcile faith with evidence
and
2) the notion of using faith in one portion of your life but not the rest

Faith means believing something without evidence and in some cases, in spite of evidence to the contrary. Essentially, faith means never being able to demonstrate your beliefs validity and also means never being able to truly "know" anything. If faith were accepted as a logical means by which to believe something, scientists would necessarily have to end all their papers with "but it could just appear that way because god wants it to look like X instead of Y." You could never discern reality from fantasy or fact from fiction. Reality in essence, does not exist and the matrix is as likely as any other story to be true.

Back to those 2 points though. Faith means having faith in something being correct/true, AND having faith in the idea of faith itself. Whenever someone attempts to cite evidence to back-up their faith-based claims, they are not helping their case. They are eroding it. They are admitting that faith is not enough. And that is probably because of point 2. They look both ways before crossing the street and trust user reviews and test drives before buying a new car. They don't live their everyday lives on faith and don't even do the most trivial of tasks based on faith (I double-check my chicken before I bite into it). So why base the precepts of your entire life on it? No matter how trivial you may think the faith-based assumption is (like the universe being controlled by a supernatural force outside of it, a supernatural force setting it in motion, some sort of universal consciousness, etc). Those beliefs may seem somewhat benign to the everyday life of the average person, but they completely undermine reality and our ability to move forward as a species.

I don't understand faith, and I contend that no one else does either.

Evolve
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04-02-2013, 04:00 PM
RE: What is faith?
I am. And I'm not a what, but a who.

(Sorry, couldn't help myself).

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderĂ²."
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04-02-2013, 04:25 PM
RE: What is faith?
Hey, Dude.

I met a professional hockey player last night at the Super Bowl party I went to. The poor guy was supposed to go play in Europe, but he broke his hand. Now he's waiting for it to heal and then he'll find out his fate. Heal up, brother!

People who play professional hockey have to start early. Like 4-years-old early. Malcolm Gladwell illustrated how a six month growth advantage that older children have over younger children who play in the same year is almost single-handedly responsible for eliminating those younger children from being able to play professional hockey later in life. From age four through to adulthood, these kids play and practice virtually every day in the hopes that they will one day sign one of just a few hundred NHL contracts or one of a few thousand professional contracts around the world. They have no reason whatsoever to believe that they'll be able to accomplish this. But they have faith.

Faith is not something restricted to religion. It's a natural human process that we all live with. All of us.

The colloquial definition is "without evidence" which is just a byproduct of the war between religious and secular forces primarily in the United States. It suffers from not corresponding to observation however.

In fact, the notion that science is utterly free from faith is equally false. That of course is not to say that science is not all of the wonderful things that your average booster will tell you it is. It is. It's great. So what, yawannafightabadit?

The ideological view is that faith is the domain of the religious and that fact and certainty is the reward for those dedicated to empiricism and the scientific method. It makes a great poster, but it is an ideology that can easily be deconstructed.

Quote:Reality in essence, does not exist and the matrix is as likely as any other story to be true.

Now you're speaking my language! But I digest Cool

Quote:...our ability to move forward as a species.

Evolution is not a process of amelioration.

The idea that our species can and is moving towards some form of perfection is ideological, not factual.

To answer your question, we, as a species, do not always have the answers. That's an indisputable fact. Without a mechanism to allow us to operate within uncertainty, we would quickly be rendered non-functional.

1 - Yeah. Sometimes faith comes into conflict with evidence. That's true. And sometimes people are unwilling to waver. That's true too. Sometimes people try to bargain in order to resolve their dissonance. True. It's also true that a worldview is a system of interdependent parts, not just a heap of parts. You can pull whatever you want out of a heap, but when you yank things out of a system, there is a cascade of effects. There are very real ramifications when that system changes and, even worse, when it collapses. So it's very easy to look at a system from the outside and suggest that the obvious problem pieces should be replaced, but it's not that simple. Sad? Possibly. But true. Doesn't mean that it's impossible or not desirable even, but that it's more complicated than just grabbing the frayed string and tugging.

2 - Again, a worldview is a system. Systems are never ideal. They are functional. They're also relatively hodge-podge. If you get upset whenever you meet a human system that hasn't been optimised, you're gonna have perpetual migraines because you're gonna be smashing your head against the wall a whole lot. There are contradictions in ALL world views. Including yours. Including mine. Including all that have been, are, or will be. That's an important thing to understand.

Quote:So why base the precepts of your entire life on it?

Ask my friend the hockey player.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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04-02-2013, 05:19 PM
RE: What is faith?
As the good old Nietzsche said, faith is wanting to believe what is not true.

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04-02-2013, 05:43 PM
RE: What is faith?
(04-02-2013 04:25 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Faith is not something restricted to religion. It's a natural human process that we all live with. All of us.

The colloquial definition is "without evidence" which is just a byproduct of the war between religious and secular forces primarily in the United States. It suffers from not corresponding to observation however.

In fact, the notion that science is utterly free from faith is equally false. That of course is not to say that science is not all of the wonderful things that your average booster will tell you it is. It is. It's great. So what, yawannafightabadit?

The ideological view is that faith is the domain of the religious and that fact and certainty is the reward for those dedicated to empiricism and the scientific method. It makes a great poster, but it is an ideology that can easily be deconstructed.
I disagree for a few reasons. Sure, many of us trust the scientific findings of others. There is no time or money for everyone to reinvent the wheel all the time (though it is theoretically possible), and some assumptions must be made sometimes. However, the thing with religious faith is it doesn't tend to change when new/contradictory evidence is presented. Since it is not based in evidence (at least, not evidence everyone agrees upon or can test), it requires a person to believe and there is never a reason to change that belief (while in that same religion/belief system). In fact, it seems to thrive on being contradictory to evidence. If science makes assumptions, they are ALWAYS subject to change. If new evidence is found, they will be revised or thrown away. Science is a process, not a belief system, and it does not require faith. It requires curiosity about the world.
Quote: Evolution is not a process of amelioration.



The idea that our species can and is moving towards some form of perfection is ideological, not factual.
Quoted for truth. It's like how people talk about "survival of the fittest" when Darwin talk about survival of the "fit" (well-suited to its environment). Spencer talked about the "fittest." But anyway, both of these things make it sees like there is a perfect ideal to be achieved, and that evolution is the process of getting to that goal, which is false.

Anyway, I still think that faith as "belief in the absence of evidence" is fitting.
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04-02-2013, 06:06 PM
RE: What is faith?
Hey, Amy.

Amen about the evolution thing.

I hear you. I just remain convinced that what you are saying is not in and of itself incorrect, but that it is a narrow frequency of a larger spectrum.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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04-02-2013, 06:21 PM
RE: What is faith?
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/faith
Quote:

1
a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions

2
a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3
: something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>
This is why I don't think science requires the type of faith that religion often requires. "Belief in the the traditional doctrines of a religion." Science can change all the time, but if you're a Catholic or whatever, your faith involves believing what Catholics traditionally believe. Science doesn't involve complete trust in anything, anyone can challenge findings, findings can change all the time. That seems to contradict what I understand of religious faith (traditional, homogenous, relatively unchanging). As I see it, many theists are proud of just "having faith" in spite of evidence, many atheists would seem to prefer having evidence to back up the claims.

I've said this before, but people I've talked to talk about "leaps of faith" and "just having faith," and keeping that faith even when one doubts things. I think a lot of the problem with this is that doubt is seen as weakness and even as something caused by devils, and it's a point of pride to "overcome" this doubt, and be "strong" in your faith even when evidence would appear to contradict it. Not true for everyone, but seems true for many people I have talked to about faith and doubt. On the other hand, I value skepticism because I want to figure out what is most likely to be true, rather than to test the endurance of my faith-muscles.
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04-02-2013, 07:11 PM
RE: What is faith?
The hockey example falls under hope, not faith because of all those kids, some of them will get that professional contract later on in life. They have hope that they will be good enough. It's not a question of having faith. It's like drawing names out of a very large hat. Someone is going to win. All of the people HOPE that their name is drawn.

Faith is pretending that you know something when you really don't.
A guy who is blindfolded walks out into traffic having faith that no cars are coming. He is hit and killed.
A guy with a revolver, puts one bullet in his gun and spins the chamber having faith that he won't be shot. He is killed.

Faith is an empty glass all the while pretending it contains something that will, heal you, give you good advice, provide you with comfort, answer your questions, etc etc.

Put your faith in the empty glass. Drinking from it will be the answers to all your prayers and yet, it's NOT

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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04-02-2013, 07:12 PM
RE: What is faith?
Hey, Amy.

I think that you may be reacting to an old argument rather than to what I'm talking about. I could be wrong, but I get that sense. I'm not comparing faith to science. That's not my argument. I recognise that it happens, but my argument is other.

Hey, Rahn.

Sophistry.

You've redefined what I said in order to prove me wrong. Not happening. Sorry, brother Smile

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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05-02-2013, 02:17 AM
RE: What is faith?
(04-02-2013 04:25 PM)Ghost Wrote:  People who play professional hockey have to start early. Like 4-years-old early. Malcolm Gladwell illustrated how a six month growth advantage that older children have over younger children who play in the same year is almost single-handedly responsible for eliminating those younger children from being able to play professional hockey later in life. From age four through to adulthood, these kids play and practice virtually every day in the hopes that they will one day sign one of just a few hundred NHL contracts or one of a few thousand professional contracts around the world.
(04-02-2013 04:25 PM)Ghost Wrote:  They have no reason whatsoever to believe that they'll be able to accomplish this. But they have faith.

Yes they do have a reason to believe they can accomplish this, because others do accomplish this.
If you put in the time and hard work you have a chance. This is hope, not faith.
Faith is believing in something when there is no evidence of expectation,
In other words, if someone believes that it will snow on a hot summer day, this is faith, believing that something will happen when there is no reason to.

Do you understand the difference now ?
I can try other examples if you don't.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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