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Faith

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Interbane

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Faith

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Me: "Some faith is necessary. But it is the object of faith, that if it's able to be reasoned about, should be critically examined before having faith in it."MA: "No, I'd say that at one point or another, you have to take some object of faith as a given, and refrain from subjecting it to a critical appraisal. Otherwise, you're stuck back in that infinite regress, because you have just as much reason to question the logic of the premises that allowed you to appraise the object of faith in question."It seems to me that the only thing that cannot be examined is logic itself(perhaps reasoning also, in places where logic isn't enough), since the tool doing the examining is logic. Can you think of any others?
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Frank 013
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Re: Faith

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Faith is belief in something without evidence or contrary to the evidence. Do you believe in unicorns even though the evidence is largely conclusive that they do not exist? To believe in unicorns it takes faith. Faith is a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence (American Heritage Dictionary, 2003).There is another definition for faith and it is the one more commonly used by people when they are talking about "Atheists have to have faith." Faith is also the confident belief in the value or trustworthiness of a person or thing.There is also another form of faith; faith in our regular patters. For example, we have faith that the Sun will come up each morning. While experience certainly almost guarantees this, which is to say that a major catastrophe does not stop it from happening. We have faith that this catastrophe will not occur (unless shown contrary evidence) and that the dawn will continue to occur every morning as it always has.Regardless of any sharing of the word faith (not the same definition), it does nothing to help the argument of the theist. We are both human beings, but that does not justify one argument over the other. The theist must still show that belief in a god is justified - and faith (by the first definition) fails to do that in any way.No one is saying that faith is inherently evil or completely "bad." What we are saying is that faith alone cannot justify a belief in anything. While it may give someone a 'warm fuzzy' to talk about his or her faith, it does not provide anything concrete to the argument.alabamaatheist.org
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Re: Faith

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Interbane: It seems to me that the only thing that cannot be examined is logic itself(perhaps reasoning also, in places where logic isn't enough), since the tool doing the examining is logic. Can you think of any others?Even logic can be examined logically -- that's how I arrived at my conclusions concerning the limitations of logic. My point wasn't that there are some things that cannot be examined logically. Actually, the fact that you can examine every premise logically is a big part of what I was trying to show. It's that fact which leads to infinite regress, and the tendency to infinite regress makes logic untenable as a basis for knowledge and practical application of that knowledge. If you don't place an arbitrary stop somewhere, every premise will call for substantiation, and when you have substantiated P0, P-1 will demand substantiation, and after that P-2, and so on. Frank 013: There is another definition for faith and it is the one more commonly used by people when they are talking about "Atheists have to have faith."Some people may employ another definition -- I think the American Heritege Dictionary definition you provided demonstrates the necessity that even atheists have for faith.The theist must still show that belief in a god is justified - and faith (by the first definition) fails to do that in any way.The missionary theist might -- I don't see why theists in general should feel any compulsion to justify their belief to anyone but themselves.What we are saying is that faith alone cannot justify a belief in anything.And what I'm saying is that no logical argument can stand without an element of faith at its most basic level -- even Descartes cogito ergo sum takes cogito as a priori valid -- that's an assertion of faith, even if Descartes smirks at the idea.What's interesting to me is that you've brought theism/atheism into a discussion where that conflict isn't already explicit, and wasn't even really implicit in the original discussion that spawned this thread.
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Dissident Heart

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Re: Faith

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Faith is acting on inconclusive, incomplete, and uncertain data: it is moving into vaguely mapped territory, trusting general outlines and basic forms, but lacking important facts and details.Key is the element of risk: the stakes involved with the choice...the degree of cost, sacrifice, danger...all of these move from the realm of simple logic and mathematic certainty, into those more murky waters of trust and hope.
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Frank 013
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Re: Faith

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[Mad: What's interesting to me is that you've brought theism/atheism into a discussion where that conflict isn't already explicit, and wasn't even really implicit in the original discussion that spawned this thread.]Why else would a theist even care about the meaning of the word faith, unless they were attempting to try to use it against atheists to validate their own faith? Hey, maybe I'm wrong, I was just heading the argument off at the pass, so to speak. When a theist says that an atheist has faith, they are not technically correct. Atheists have belief which is not the same thing. We have made a conclusion from what we have observed. Belief not faith. If we had just decided that the planet Pluto is actually the hidden world of Mickey Mouse than we have faith. Later
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Re: Faith

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Frank 013: Why else would a theist even care about the meaning of the word faith, unless they were attempting to try to use it against atheists to validate their own faith?Because he's also a philosophy student with an emphasis in epistemology? That's my reason.Hey, maybe I'm wrong, I was just heading the argument off at the pass, so to speak.I wasn't headed in the direction, and I'm going to resist the urge to follow you there right now. We can discuss it if you like -- it was a feature, though not the only, of the discussion that Interbane and I had months ago. But I didn't see it as absolutely necessary in this thread, so I didn't bother bringing it up.When a theist says that an atheist has faith, they are not technically correct. Atheists have belief which is not the same thing. We have made a conclusion from what we have observed. Belief not faith. If we had just decided that the planet Pluto is actually the hidden world of Mickey Mouse than we have faith.No, it's just as much an article of faith to say that our senses are reliable indices of reality. If you can formulate an argument for why that shouldn't be regarded as a form of faith, I'll be willing to consider it. But as things stand right now, I consider it not only technically correct to say that all arguments, secular or religious, stand on a foundation of faith which is inseperable from human cognition, but literally so.It seems to me that the effort made by some atheists to distinguish their belief from faith often dictates for them the definitions of each that they are willing to entertain. Some go so far as to deny the possibility of belief. Popper, for instance, smilingly claims to "not believe in belief" -- his knowledge is all either "objective knowledge", in whatever sense that's possible, or hypothesis in a state analogous to freefall. It seems that Popper, and his intellectual kin, are so worried about attempts to equate science to religious belief that they're willing to deny entire categories of thought rather than look at alternatives modes of distinguishing the tow, or even admitting some degree of ambiguity in their discipline.I'd recommend that you don't fall into the same trap. What I'm arguing here is that logic always affords the opportunity to lose one's self in a kind of Zeno's paradox, where you never arrive at an answer because you're continually dividing the steps into halves in order to substantiate the concepts that undergird the progression of thought. And the only way that I can see out of that paradox is to take some premises as given. Whatever degree of likelihood you feel inclined to assign to those premises is beside the point -- you have no definitive evidence for them, and there for you bridge the gap with faith. That is, so far as I can tell, the essence of human knowledge.
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Re: Faith

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Frank: Why else would a theist even care about the meaning of the word faith, unless they were attempting to use it against atheists to validate their own faith?There is some truth in this. The long, often ugly, sometimes beautiful, even sublime development of monotheism within Judaism has been a struggle to patrol the borders of correct belief, right behavior and proper worship of the true God- against Idolatry. Thus, naming God and following God's will has been profoundly shaped by avoiding false gods and their attending perversities. In much the same way, Christianity developed its Biblical canon, creedal statements, christological doctrines, by proclaiming dogmatic solidity via its struggle against Heresy.These religious identities (which are more complex than simply bundles of beliefs) took shape in conflict: a struggle to define the boundaries of who was in, and who was out. Who they were was in large measure a reflection of who they were not. The idolator and heretic have served as essential elements in the evolution of religious dogma.Still, the struggle to maintain theological and communal purity (protection of orthodoxy from heresy) is not the primary fuel nor the ultimate goal. And this is different for different theists.
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Frank 013
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Re: Faith

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[Mad: Because he's also a philosophy student with an emphasis in epistemology? That's my reason.]Ok, it sounds like you guys are going deeper than I usually swim, but I will give my opinion before I shut up. My beliefs generally follow from what I know about a certain subject, what I know about a subject is derived from my personal experience what I might have studied and the input of others on the subject. To say that I have faith in my own senses is true, but it is based off of practice and application not the absence of these things. To go back farther, to question reality itself is irrelevant to me. These questions offer no practical answers for me and I simply do not bother with them. Like I said in this respect I swim in shallow waters. You guys have fun though. Later
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I'm not questioning reality. In fact, I'm talking a very practical point of view here. The dictates of pure reason would, if followed carefully, lead you to question reality, and I don't see that you'd ever really be able to substantiate belief in reality.That's why I pointed out Descartes -- his "Discourse on Method" is basically an attempt to question everything, with the goal of arriving at a firmer basis for knowledge. And "Discourse" is the basic primer for the whole of scientific method in the modern world, but the catch is, he doesn't found knowledge of reality on objective fact. He basically takes it on faith that he's not deluded about a particular mental activity, and from there argues his way back to the ability to know reality more or less objectively. But he doesn't really call it faith.Even saying that you can rely on your sense because they've been reliable in previous experience is an act of faith -- faith in the veracity of your memory, faith in causality, etc. Hume framed the problem of inductive reasoning, and no one that I've read has ever really found a convincing way of dealing with his conclusion that we have no basis for generalizing that past phenomenon will take the same course in the future. That, too, we have to take on faith.What I'm suggesting is that the only way to get out of the absurdity of questioning reality when there's no real way to answer the question one way or the other, is to take some things for granted, and that taking for granted is an act of faith. The logical positivists basically take the same tact, though I doubt any of them would call it faith -- seems to me that would be pretty antithetical to their ideology. When they say that a is a, they seem to be quite sincere in believing that it's so, and not merely that we have no other practical way of looking at it.So in the end, it seems like what I'm saying is that faith is ultimately more practical than pure reason.
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Frank 013
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Re: Faith

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I really do not see trusting experience and established patterns as faith; to me it's just trusting the odds. I believe for something to be qualified as faith means that it is exempt of any such evidence.Later
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