"Faith" We ALL have it!

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"Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby Howdybud » Mon May 05, 2014 3:53 pm

I have always been fascinated by a particular point of debate between people of Faith, and Agnostics and Atheists. I would like to discuss this curious take that seems universal among skeptics. The basic argument goes something like this; “As an atheist/agnostic I have NO faith, not an alternate faith; just NO faith. I don’t have to offer some alternate belief system or try to prove a negative. In fact, my whole position is that I specifically LACK any, “faith”.”
Thus, the atheist/agnostic defines those who believe in things that include a supernatural element, (“Extra-Naturalist” you might say), as people of “faith”, while Atheists are simply those who reject acceptance of that supernaturally based element of “reality”. They say they merely “lack” any “faith”. That is how this argument has been presented in numerous debates I have watched and articles and books I have read where this has come up, and it virtually ALWAYS comes up, and it seems a critical point of defining terms for atheists. They refuse to be defined as being beholden to any “faith” based worldview?
So, my first thought is to try to get a definitive definition for the term, “faith”. In the King James Version of the New Testament, Paul, writing in Hebrews 1:11 calls Faith, “…the substance of things hoped for, the evidence (“argument”, or “conviction”) of things not seen.” So he specifies that the standard of trustworthy evidence for making an acceptance commitment in terms of input from “unseen” or ”supernatural” realities has a reliable basis in wisdom that must then come from circumstantial evidence within the natural world (Romans 1:19), and spiritual revelation received from OUTSIDE, (transcendent from), the material world.

Obviously this is a point of departure for the atheist or agnostic who holds no stock in believing anything supernatural that can’t be rationally demonstrated by way of intellectual or scientific means (Materialistic Naturalism). But it seems obvious that this narrow definition of “faith” is insufficient for purposes of deciding whether or not the atheist/agnostic has a faith system at work in their own worldview paradigm? We are addressing macro existential questions. Why are we here? How did this Universe in its vast complexity and design, and including us as self-aware, sentient creative agents, come to be? Paul essentially is saying that faith is the willingness to entertain believing in things that can’t be “proven” by normal worldly means (Again, specifically, “materialistic Naturalism”). The question then becomes, in terms of a supernatural realm or a Creator God behind the Universe, though not tangibly apparent within it in normal naturalistically detectable ways we can “prove”, whether materialistic naturalism has disproven those realities, or accepts its rigid materialistic standard on an unproven standard of rejection based upon a FAITH that this standard is reliable as a limit to knowing. Does not then, that background standard of acceptance or rejection which governs Atheism’s rejection of transcendent realities beyond the material world, exist as a reliance on an unproven “faith” standard, a faith by definition in an as yet unproven conviction by that materialist standard.

The Atheist will immediately respond with the stock argument that they owe no responsibility to try to prove a “negative”. But the contemporary expression of the question does not exist today in a void as just proving a negative. There is “evidence”, circumstantial as it may be, that bears on the question that renders this stock atheist’s argument as invalid. It is not just proving a negative, but also disproving positive anthropic evidence. This argument is especially cogent in our present world specifically BECAUSE of the advanced state of, ironically, “Science” (even in its present stultified dogmatically atheistic establishment system). The Intelligent Design paradigm, by way of contrast, asserts and reveals a robust God-positive interpretation of the world we find ourselves in and a part of, that helps define a context wherein there is much more to this atheist argument than just “proving a negative”. The Atheist view is thus revealed as only one asserted negative view, still an unproven “faith based” system of thought, balanced by an alternate “positive” one, where these existential macro issues are concerned, both paradigms "interpreting" differently the evidence from the Natural world. This specific argument, or course, still excludes altogether the complimentary concept of personal spiritual "revelation", essential to the "believer", but it is yet more than enough in and of itself to demonstrate that the atheist is, in fact, working from a faith based perspective in terms of his or her background worldview.

Basically, at the root of anything one asserts concerning God and the supernatural (realities beyond the natural, tangible world), one’s outlook (worldview), exists, for us all, as a “faith” system established by whatever background presuppositions that lead us to draw conclusions about what defines the limits of reality. Thus, I argue, Atheists and Agnostics are basing their viewpoint on, “faith”, as much as the Christian, (and in light of the contemporary expression of Intelligent Design within the scientific community even more so). We ALL, even as Paul asserts, believe in "things unseen", (unproven), though God’s fingerprints on the world make compelling circumstantial evidence that such Faith comes out of a wise standard of interpretative discernment.

(Romans 1:19 “ …what may be known about God is known … because God has made it plain … For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.”)

The complexity and intelligent design infused into a DNA molecule, for example, seems to me to refute that stock argument that the Atheist, as able as any to perceive the reality of the natural world, is not basing his or her rejection of God and a transcendent reality on just the expectation that they must, “prove a negative”. Like us all, he or she must make an interpretation on the evidence we have available (a judgment by way of “faith”) and based upon that INTERPRETATION, assert what they “believe” it all means. Atheists “believe” what they believe, within the context of what we all may perceive and must interpret, in just as “unproven” a fashion as the person of Faith in his or her interpretative worldview. And both must do so in the face of very compelling positive circumstantial evidence of intelligent design infused into the natural world that is a rational, and as much a science based interpretation of existing objective evidence, as is atheistic science, (which is equally unproven on those macro existential questions we are speaking of as far as rigid naturalism is concerned). It is NOT that ID has “proven” anything. But is exists as a parallel paradigm, interpreting scientific data, that reveals the atheist’s “interpretation" as just that; a faith based, subjective, “interpretation” of evidence, rooted in background presuppositions about what “reality” can be, but that are unproven.

OK. Go :-)
Last edited by Howdybud on Mon May 05, 2014 6:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Mon May 05, 2014 6:35 pm

I'm a little different than the standard atheist cliche, but I think I can argue most atheists to my position with a little bit of effort.

...

Supernatural

Supernatural vs natural is a dichotomy devoid of value and meaning. "Supernatural" is largely a meaningless word. The difference between what is supernatural and what is natural is by cultural convention only. Neutrinos have been declared to be natural. Gods have been declared to be supernatural. What goes in each category is completely arbitrary and entirely socially constructed. The terms are not useful to this conversation.

...

>Why are we here?

This is a purpose question. AFAIK, there are two good kinds of ways to answer this question.

The first kind of purpose is the intent of the designer or creator. I believe we do not have a designer or creator, and so the question is malformed under that meaning of purpose.

The second kind of purpose is what usefulness we can attribute to some thing. For example, one might say that the purpose of a bird's wings is to fly. Even though we might use the word "purpose", all we're doing here is description. We're just describing the possible uses and utility of some object.

One bad kind of purpose is the kind of purpose which isn't one of the above two. For example, the spiritualist kind of thinking that begs them to ask "why are we here?" and to think that there might be an answer to that question which would be life altering. No such thing.

...

> How did this Universe in its vast complexity and design, and including us as self-aware, sentient creative agents, come to be?

How did the universe come to be? I don't know if that is a well-formed question. It might have always been here. The earlier portions of our universe may be subject to "quantum time", which means that talking about "beginnings" is nonsensical. (I don't know. That kind of stuff is way beyond my pay grade.) And what about universes which can be described with classical time according to "{ t : t in R and t > 0 }" ? Such a universe does not have a first moment of time, but time is bounded in the past. Is it even sensical to ask "where did it come from" for such a universe? I don't know where the universe came from.

However, after that early moment, big bang theory and the rest of science do a good job. Inflation kicked in. Galaxies formed. Stars formed. Planets formed. Other elements formed from stellar nucleosynthesis. Then other stars formed. Then Earth formed. Then the first biological replicator - the first life - formed. How? We don't know. Then evolution kicked in to give the diversity of life we see today.

Where did self-aware, sentient creative agents come from? The above process.

There might be a question that you meant to ask: "I understand how the listed processes can explain the creation of a philosophical zombie, but how did these material processes result in a mind with first-person experience, qualia, etc.?". I don't know. I don't know if the sentence is well-formed. If it is well-formed, I still don't know.

You see, when someone is asking that kind of how question, the only possible answer is in terms of something which the questioner already understands. I cannot answer your question about how material processes, how brains, result in minds, because I do not understand it in terms of something which you're more familiar with. It's one of the parts of the universe, and with that fact, we can explain a great many other facts.

See:
Richard Feynman explaining how magnets work.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFPe-DwULM

...

>Paul essentially is saying that faith is the willingness to entertain believing in things that can’t be “proven” by normal worldly means (Again, specifically, “materialistic Naturalism”).

In the intended sense, that's a complete non-starter. If you say that there exists something in our shared reality, if you say that something exists and it isn't just a figment of your imagination, you are saying that it can kick me in the knee. Colloquially. You are saying that it sometimes has some effect on my material body. Also, because my mind is merely the result of physical processes going on in my brain, that includes my mind.

I don't respect beliefs. I respect justifications. If you want to say that there exists some thing in our shared reality, then I want to know your justification for that belief. If your justification is bad, then I'll reject your belief - not reject it as false, but merely tentatively reject it as unsubstantiated and curently unworthy of belief.

The only acceptable justification for claims of existence of things in our shared reality is sensory experience. If you say that your god exists, you better have evidence. You better have sensory experience of seeing the damn thing (or one of its effects). For example, seeing a burning bush, having it talk to you in your head, etc,. are all good starting points. That's not the end. That's just the bare minimum of what constitutes evidence. Then, we have to examine where the evidence points, and there are many, many known faults of the human mind which readily explain a great many of that kind of evidence far more readily and plausibility than a god. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

...

The question then becomes, in terms of a supernatural realm or a Creator God behind the Universe, though not tangibly apparent within it in normal naturalistically detectable ways we can “prove”, whether materialistic naturalism has disproven those realities, or accepts its rigid materialistic standard on an unproven standard of rejection based upon a FAITH that this standard is reliable as a limit to knowing. Does not then, that background standard of acceptance or rejection which governs Atheism’s rejection of transcendent realities beyond the material world, exist as a reliance on an unproven “faith” standard, a faith by definition in an as yet unproven conviction by that materialist standard.

And here's the heart of the confusion. Hopefully what I said earlier will help this make sense.

We all start with axioms. It's the only acceptable answer to the Münchhausen Trilemma. Now, if you think that circular justifications are acceptable, then the conversation is over. If you think that endless regresses of justifications are acceptable, then the conversation is over. If you think that it's not proper to formalize our beliefs in this way to allow application of the Trilemma, then this conversation is over. That leaves axioms.

Depending on the definition of "faith", one can say that you take your axioms "on faith". One of my axioms, or starting values, is that I will use science. Colloquially, "science works". (I don't like that phrasing, because "works" is defined in terms of the scientific method, which makes that phrasing circular.)

A further axiom, or starting value, is that science is the only acceptable justification for a belief about a thing in our shared reality with material causal power.

Please note something very important. Note that I did not use the words "natural" or "supernatural" anywhere. I don't care if you label the thing as "supernatural" or not. If it exists in our shared reality, and if it has material causal power (e.g. it can kick me in the knee), then science can show it exists. If it can kick me in the knee, then I can collect evidence, and I can do science.

You may have heard of "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.". Arthur C Clarke. There's a common rephrasing: "Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science!" My favorite source on that is Girl Genius Webcomics.
http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20081205
Please read the comic on that page. It gets across what I'm trying to say.

Nowhere in my beliefs do I say that gods do not exist, or magic does not exist, or miracles do not exist (miracles and magic are the same thing in my mind). I'm just holding all of that to the example same standard that I would hold a particle physicist, or a historian. Supernatural vs natural simply does not come into it.

The word "supernatural" is often used as a "get out of justification" free card. Sorry. No. I will not allow that card to be played. If you think that something exists in our shared reality, I want to know your justification, and the only acceptable justifications for existence claims in our shared reality are within the framework of science.

For example, to borrow from PZ Myers, if a 300 tall Jesus materializes and starting blasting people with eye lasers, I wouldn't say "Oh, that's supernatural. No point trying to use science to learn about it." I would be out there with a syringe to get a sample.

Example: If there was a certain Latin prayer which when spoken aloud when holding a glass of water would turn it to wine, and this could be reproduced by everyone, you can well better bet we would do science on this. It would be in all of the major (and minor) science journals. We would do experiments to see how off your pronunciation could be before the prayer stopped working. What are the size limits of the "cup". What are the chemical limitations of what qualifies as "water". And so on. We would do science to learn the limits of this new prayer and its effects, in order to better predict what will happen in the future. That is science.

Those are my axioms. Those are my starting values. If you disagree, then our conversation is over. You can no sooner convince me to abandon science than you can convince me to abandon the use of logic. You can no sooner convince me to use justifications other than science for shared reality existence claims than you can convince me that hammers do not fall when released under normal Earth conditions.

...

The Atheist will immediately respond with the stock argument that they owe no responsibility to try to prove a “negative”. But the contemporary expression of the question does not exist today in a void as just proving a negative. There is “evidence”, circumstantial as it may be, that bears on the question that renders this stock atheist’s argument as invalid. It is not just proving a negative, but also disproving positive anthropic evidence. This argument is especially cogent in our present world specifically BECAUSE of the advanced state of, ironically, “Science” (even in its present stultified dogmatically atheistic establishment system). The Intelligent Design paradigm asserts and reveals a robust God-positive interpretation of the world we find ourselves in and a part of, that defines a context wherein there is much more to atheism than just “proving a negative”. The Atheist view is thus revealed as only one negative, but still, “faith” system, balanced by an alternate “positive” one, where these existential macro issues are concerned.

Don't strawman. I don't strawman you.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

I know damn well that you know that atheists disagree about the quality and interpretation of the available evidence. Painting it in this way is saying that atheists are aware the evidence is against them, but choose to disregard it. You are accusing all atheists of willful dishonesty. Your behavior here is flagrantly dishonest, and far from conducive to a constructive dialog. I don't go around saying that you are lying about the evidence for intelligent design. I may say that you are deluded, which is fine if you want to apply that to atheists, but that's fundamentally different than saying atheists knowingly take a faith position.

As for "intelligent design". Concerning the origin of species (a distinct concept from the origin of life), it has been shot down time and time again. Look at the transcript of the Dover trial, and see the talks of Ken Miller, the Catholic, who was one of the main expert witnesses in that trial, describes the utter shenanigans that went on from the intelligent design side in that trial. It has been my experience that intelligent designers can survive only in ignorance or dishonesty. If you research intelligent design enough, you will find that it's completely empty, and you will have to decide between intellectual honesty and your religion.

If you want to have a conversation about the specific evidence for and against intelligent design, we can do that. However, let's try to tackle one thing at a time.

...

Evidence for first cause gods and Christianity.

Almost all of your "evidence" is entirely independent of Jesus Christ and the Christian tradition. It works just as well for Islam, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and most other religions. These are the errors that you are making:
1- There is a first cause.
2- The first cause is intelligent.
3- The first cause purposefully created the universe. -- Maybe it did the equivalent of a cosmic fart, and a byproduct was our universe. You have enough pride, hubris, to think that you are the center of the universe.
4- The creator purposefully created life. -- Maybe it's running a simulation of some astronomical phenomena, and we're an accident. Again, hubris to assume otherwise.
5- The creator purposefully created life on Earth. -- Who is to say it's not true that the aliens on Rigel 7 were made in the creator's image, and they are its special creation, and we're just some cosmic fluke. Maybe the creator did create life on Earth specially, so that in a million years time, those chosen aliens of Rigel 7 will come to Earth, meet the intelligent descendents of chipmunks, and learn some important moral lesson. Again, pure hubris to assume otherwise.
6- One of the current world's religions is right. -- Why did the creator have to leave a record at all? How do we know that the record of the creator's actions was not lost to time? How do we know that the record of the creator's actions is not some musty old tome in some library somewhere?

I can name a different religion just as plausible as Christianity by taking Christianity and replacing "Earth" with a planet around any star in the observable universe. The sheer size of this number means that any evidence you have for a first cause god is completely and utterly unrelated to Christianity whatsoever. If you want to convince me of Christianity, you need evidence specific to Christianity.

...

PS: What are my axioms and starting values? Some of the important ones: I will enjoy my life. I will do good by others ("good" defined according to human well-being and humanism). I will use logic. Skepticism - I will not hold unjustified beliefs except for my starting axioms and starting values. I will use science. Science is the only acceptable justification for claims about things in our shared reality with material causal power. In a slightly metaphorical sense, I am not the center of the universe (and when you combine that with modern scientific evidence, that allows me to conclude that other humans have minds just like me).

Why do I do good? What a nonsensical question.

I can ask you the same question. Why do you do good? Why not be evil? Saying "Because god says so" is not a compelling answer. Why do what your Christian god says instead of what your Satan says? Whatever answer you can give with or without a god works equally well for me with no god.
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby dobbie » Tue May 06, 2014 8:08 am

Does anybody here think that giving something a try is, in a sense, a way of applying a kind of faith towards doing something, at least at first? It's like the saying, "You never know till you try" ... does it mean that, to make an effort or to give something your best shot, you must have faith in yourself? Or does having faith in yourself just mean "be strong"? Am I making sense?

It seems the discussion of the word "faith" wants to define it as being a good or bad thing. So is it okay to have faith in yourself? Is it a good thing?
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby Howdybud » Tue May 06, 2014 1:00 pm

@Dobbie
"faith" within the context of this discussion, just means what we might choose to believe or not believe to be "true" (reliable), and, significantly, why we might hold that opinion (the background presuppositions that drive our decisions as to why we would believe or reject something). What is our "standard" for believing or rejecting an idea? Value judgement as far as good or bad doesn't have to enter into it, although one can attach moral value and people of "Faith" certainly do.
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby dobbie » Tue May 06, 2014 5:53 pm

Howdybug: What is our "standard" for believing or rejecting an idea?

Well, unless I've missed the whole point, it's pretty much what I'm talking about, too. Even to have "faith in oneself" is to have a standard for doing so. In other words, what are the reasons for believing in oneself. Plus, you can clarify something for me, if you will: you seem to equate believing in something with having faith in something. Am I right?

What I'm driving at is that there's the other half of the business of believing something (such as an idea). And as it seems, you've mentioned it already: standard. I call it the reasons for believing something. If we believe something, we must have reasons for the belief. Isn't that right? What counts more, then, are the reasons that support the belief. That's the way I see it. Saying that we presuppose stuff at bottom, while it's true, leaves out what is the more central issue: the reasons to presuppose stuff or believe stuff. The way I see it, the real discussion lies there, in the reasons.

It also seems to me that in a roundabout way, you imply that there is a standard for believing Christianity. Am I right? The discussion seems to be leading to that. So to put it another way, the question is to do with the reasons for believing Christianity. I could rephrase the question still: What are the indications that it's true? What inferences that it's true does somebody make?

Or if you like, the reasons for believing the theory of evolution of species. What are the indications it's true. What particular inferences that it's true does somebody make? Am I right?

>Value judgement as far as good or bad doesn't have to enter into it, although one can attach moral value and people of "Faith" certainly do.
Okay. It's just that when the theists talk about the atheists having faith in science, the theists seem to be saying that faith isn't a good thing. As if faith is whimsical. Then the theists turn around and allow themselves to have faith in their religion, say, in Christianity. It sounds to me like they've got a double standard. Or have I misunderstood their position?

I myself see nothing the matter with saying that one puts one's faith in science. It may not be the usual way of saying one generally relies on science, but it's still one way to explain one's position. I see no reason, yet, for the atheists to get hung up on the word faith in that context. I've talked with secularists (a little bit) who avoided using the word faith in a branch of science, but it came down to their believing and holding expectations just the same, their believing that the particular branch of science would remain reliable (why wouldn't it?) and even improve on itself. In that philosophical sense, the word faith is synonymous. Does anybody else here basically agree with me? It's just a word, that's all. It doesn't mean anything other than a degree of confidence or trust, for whatever reason. Why get hung up on the word?
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Tue May 06, 2014 6:11 pm

Does anybody here think that giving something a try is, in a sense, a way of applying a kind of faith towards doing something, at least at first? It's like the saying, "You never know till you try" ... does it mean that, to make an effort or to give something your best shot, you must have faith in yourself? Or does having faith in yourself just mean "be strong"? Am I making sense?
Do I think that's faith? No.

Of course, this is now a pedantic discussion about the definition of the word faith. So, let's play word taboo.
http://lesswrong.com/lw/nu/taboo_your_words/

When there's something new, for example attending this one concert with my (former) girlfriend, I didn't know if I would enjoy it. I was ignorant about whether it would be enjoyable or not. I went. I did not go with an unsubstantiated belief that I will enjoy it. Neither did I go with an unsubstantiated belief that I will not enjoy it. I went in mostly ignorant. I knew enough to determine some rough odds of my likelihood of enjoying it, and then I took a chance. I took a chance because it seemed like a good bet.

We do not live in a world of certainty. We never do. Every action we take has lack of knowledge. Every action we take involves some element of the unknown, and necessarily thus involves some element of risk. In life, nothing is certain. This lack of certainty should not be paralyzing. Every person does this kind of risk benefit analysis for every action they take, consciously or subconsciously, or they rely on habit formed by previous risk analysis. Every action we take is us taking a chance.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the strange phenomenon that some religious people claim to know that their god exists with strong conviction in the absence of compelling evidence.
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Tue May 06, 2014 6:22 pm

"faith" within the context of this discussion, just means what we might choose to believe or not believe to be "true" (reliable), and, significantly, why we might hold that opinion (the background presuppositions that drive our decisions as to why we would believe or reject something). What is our "standard" for believing or rejecting an idea? Value judgement as far as good or bad doesn't have to enter into it, although one can attach moral value and people of "Faith" certainly do.
This sounds like what I would call willful delusion.

In a strange sense, I am a presuppositionalist. I presuppose that we should use science. I presuppose that we should not have presuppositions about specific material claims about our shared reality. Having a presupposition about a specific material claim about our shared reality is delusion.

If you mean to argue that your presupposition that the Christian bible is true, and Jesus died for your sins, etc., is comparable to my presupposition of science - that is a complete nonstarter. If that is your position, then the conversation is already over. I have no recourse but to call you delusional, and perhaps to invoke ridicule. Ridicule in the hope that you will come to recognize the error of your ways, and to help others who might be reading this to see the extreme ridiculousness of having such a presupposition.

You have a presupposition that an amazingly powerful superman created the universe from nothing, created humans, condemned these humans for being imperfect through no fault of their own - condemned to hell or to some nondescript "bad stuff", and that the only solution this superman could come up with to fix this problem of his own creation was an arcane blood magic ritual whereby he sacrificed himself to himself, but the blood magic only works if people willingly believe in the absence of straightforward evidence. Right. That is what you believe, more or less. You might quibble with the dressing, but none of the substance. That is more outrageous, ridiculous, and stupid than many fantasy novels I read. If that was the plot of a novel, it would receive a failing grade.

"Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions." - Jefferson
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Tue May 06, 2014 6:32 pm

I myself see nothing the matter with saying that one puts one's faith in science. It may not be the usual way of saying one generally relies on science, but it's still one way to explain one's position. I see no reason, yet, for the atheists to get hung up on the word faith in that context. I've talked with secularists (a little bit) who avoided using the word faith in a branch of science, but it came down to their believing and holding expectations just the same, their believing that the particular branch of science would remain reliable (why wouldn't it?) and even improve on itself. In that philosophical sense, the word faith is synonymous. Does anybody else here basically agree with me? It's just a word, that's all. It doesn't mean anything other than a degree of confidence or trust, for whatever reason. Why get hung up on the word?

IMHO most religious people do not use the word "faith" for "justified confidence". Sometimes religious people do, sometimes they do not. This is an argument over definition, and I hate those above all else, so I'll keep it short.

All people have an unjustifiable belief that tomorrow will be sufficiently similar to today to apply inductive reasoning. (I've met some people "trained" in the philosophy of science who disagree, but they're wrong.) This is a "faith" position. You cannot justify it. It just is.

For a particular branch of science, I have a justified confidence based on the evidence that the scientists conducted those experiments, and that I do not live in The Truman Show. Thus, by straightforward inductive reasoning, it is safe to conclude that this particular branch of science will very likely not be overturned tomorrow. None of that involves any faith, except the faith that tomorrow will be sufficiently similar to today to use inductive reasoning. The only unjustified belief here is the starting one - that we should use the scientific method to inform our beliefs. There are no unjustified beliefs in play specific to any particular branch of science. For any particular scientific fact, that is the result of good justifications on good justifications on good justifications. The house is built well, solidly. The only "weak" point is the single foundation of inductive reasoning.

I would never use the word "faith" to describe a particular branch of science. I might use it in a very careful way to describe the scientific method itself, but never apply it specifically to a particular branch of science.
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby dobbie » Tue May 06, 2014 7:43 pm

EL: I knew enough to determine some rough odds of my likelihood of enjoying [the concert], and then I took a chance. I took a chance because it seemed like a good bet.


Okay. And you're adverse to say you had a little faith that the concert would turn out well enough, that it'd be worthwhile to a greater or lesser degree. Is that right? As it seems, you held some expectation, believed the concert just might be good entertainment. In a very loose sense, such expectation is putting faith in the possibility of good entertainment on the horizon?

Of course we don't usually say we had faith in the musical concert, that we had faith that it would be good. We don't usually talk as odd as that, but cannot the gist be the same? Meanwhile it in no way implies biblical faith. In fact, it's a bit too philosophical a word, for my taste in the context of going out to attend a musical concert. But it's the gist that matters, and so might the word be okay in a weak sense, even odd sense?

What I'm driving at is the theists appeal to the word faith, evidently to trap the atheists into admitting they've got biblical faith too. However, it's pure non-sequitur; the word is basically neutral. That is, it isn't axiomatic that the word must have something to do with biblical faith. Only when one applies it in its independent religious sense, it becomes a religious word.

I think the theists conflate the sense meanings of the word and thereby hope to demonstrate that atheists have biblical faith at bottom. The theists are wrong to make the conclusion, because it's clear enough, to me, that a semantics issue, and nothing else, is at play. It's a waste of time to say people have faith in something when people all do have it in a sense, even abstract sense. Something tells me the theists won't bring up the word faith if they know the word cannot prove anything about theism. The theists are barking up the wrong tree. Talking the way the theists do, about people's faith in stuff, can't do anything to prove theism.

It's a matter of the theists making use of word pun--for example, believing in UFOs doesn't imply having hope in UFOs. Yet faith can be thought of as hope. As for believing an idea (as this thread seems to be about), believing an idea doesn't always imply hope. So I say the theists should be more careful with their argument about who has faith in an idea, or not use the argument at all, since the theists tend to resort to pun in order to lead to the Bible in some manner. I'll ask the theist who started this topic, am I right? Or have I misunderstood?
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby dobbie » Tue May 06, 2014 7:54 pm

EL: it is safe to conclude that this particular branch of science will very likely not be overturned tomorrow. None of that involves any faith, except the faith that tomorrow will be sufficiently similar to today to use inductive reasoning.

So you don't mind use of the word faith in the inference, about tomorrow, in the above statement?

I think, as I've said before, although the word faith is suitable sometimes, at other times it gets overly philosophical, and I'm left wondering where the conversation is headed, if not for the Bible.
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Tue May 06, 2014 11:49 pm

@dobbie
I think the theists conflate the sense meanings of the word and thereby hope to demonstrate that atheists have biblical faith at bottom. The theists are wrong to make the conclusion, because it's clear enough, to me, that a semantics issue, and nothing else, is at play.
Agreed.

I'm not going to spend more time (at least not much more) arguing about the proper definition of a word. However you want to use it.

I think I'm with you all the way.
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby Howdybud » Wed May 07, 2014 1:41 pm

I can see that the thread may overwhelm me in terms of the time I have to make meaningful responses! (I have a job;-) But I am presently considering EnlightenmentLiberal's first lengthy post. I also want to respond to Dobbie's thoughtful posts.

On this one I can offer a quick and reasonable explanation. Of course anyone outside the Christian Faith system is free to disagree that the position is true, but it is a consistent viewpoint for a pretty easy to understand reason. From WITHIN the Christian Faith the believer has no choice but to believe that agnostics and atheists alike do, in fact, have some deep level of knowledge or innate awareness of fundamental Biblical Truth. This must come off as arrogant to the unbeliever I realize, but at least you can understand where this attitude is coming from when you realize that the whole system of thought in Christian theology rests largely upon the concept that ALL people are "sinful" and all are "responsible" for knowing better. This doesn't make the Christian a hypocrite, since biblical theology is clear that the Christian too is a sinner needy of Salvation and better be careful about judging others. But it does necessitate that he or she see all people, non believers notwithstanding, as part of that corporate group of sinful humanity. Romans 1:19 communicates this clearly for the Christian in an inescapable way;
"...what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."

"People" obvious means all of us. So it will seem to the non believer like Christians are wrongly "conflating", but they aren't. It isn't a point of semantics. It's a fundamental point of Christian doctrine. Naturally you would disagree that the assertion is true. But for the Christian, from within that belief system, there is consistency in their feeling that ALL people fall under the assertion expressed so clearly in Romans 1:19. Elsewhere is the famous quote that "ALL" are sinful and "fall short of the Glory of God". (Romans 3:23) ALL are needy of Salvation. Thus, to bear responsibility, ALL must on some level know the Biblical "Truth" about things. You can't be responsible if you aren't aware of the rights and wrongs. ALL are responsible before the Christian God.

Again, not a conflation, but a clear and unavoidable doctrine.
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby EnlightenmentLiberal » Wed May 07, 2014 5:37 pm

@Howdybud
Ok. I don't see how that was a response to me. To dobbie perhaps?

What you said in the above post sounds all nice and mostly reasonable. One thing thought:

Of course anyone outside the Christian Faith system is free to disagree that the position is true, but it is a consistent viewpoint for a pretty easy to understand reason. From WITHIN the Christian Faith the believer has no choice but to believe that agnostics and atheists alike do, in fact, have some deep level of knowledge or innate awareness of fundamental Biblical Truth.
It is not a consistent viewpoint.

Your Christian worldview also contains science. Your worldview is my worldview, plus a bunch of other stuff (your Christian tradition). An honest examination of the scientific evidence, reasoning, and argument will show a huge contradiction. The evidence is clearly against the Christian story the whole way through.

The book of Genesis is a complete fiction. It would take me an hour to list every branch of science which testifies to this fact.

AFAIK so is the book of Exodus. There was no Moses. There was no mass exodus of Jews who camped out in the desert for 40 years. The archeology is pretty solid on this one.

One can also make a compelling argument that Jesus, if he even existed as a human on Earth, was a nobody. There are several purported miracles where we have sufficient documentation to show that it did not happen. For example, the zombie infestation in Matthew 27.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?se ... rsion=NKJV
The "3 hours of darkness" also didn't happen.

We can also make the argument that the gospel of the New Testament are mutually contradictory on many points, and bear the usual hallmarks of fiction and propaganda. For example, I forget which gospel offhand, but my favorites offhand are: 1- Jesus comes along, and the apostles / disciples drop their jobs, their lives, just to follow this guy on the flimsiest of excuses. This is not how real people behave. This is a caricature. This is an Aesop.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aesop
2- Later, the apostles / disciples were chilling with Jesus in a town without food or water. The apostles / disciples were at a loss of what to do. Then superman Jesus conjures some food and water, and all were happy. Later in the same book, with the same apostles / disciples, the same situation happened of being out of food and water. They seemingly forget that Jesus can conjure food and water, and they don't know what to do. Then Jesus conjures food and water, and they are amazed that Jesus could do that. Again, that's not how people behave.

You want to know how people behave? There's good odds that a town, upon seeing that this itinerant preacher could conjure food and water - that town would capture that preacher and hold him prisoner for the rest of his days, commanding him to conjure food and water.

Once you take out all the demonstrably false parts, there's not much left of the Christian bible. Even if you want to argue Genesis is allegory, what about Exodus? What about the documented false miracles of Jesus and the general tone of fiction in the gospels? What about the rest of the baloney of the Christian bible?

Your beliefs are not consistent. You merely choose to ignore the inconsistencies.
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby Howdybud » Wed May 07, 2014 6:52 pm

My response was to your quote from Dobbie and your response to it, and on a very narrow point of disagreement that you have utterly strayed from in your present response.

You launch into a general apologetic against the Bible which utterly misses the specific point I was making. My immediate point in response to Dobbie and you in terms of Christians believing that atheists and agnostics retain an underlying knowledge of Biblical Truth, was completely consistent with Christian Redemption theology. My point was merely that the assertion that EVERYONE is responsible for knowing moral and spiritual "Truth" according to a Biblical perspective is a "consistent" (unavoidable) Christian/Biblical doctrinal issue, not a semantic one as Dobbie has argued. I believe I conceded that you would undoubtedly disagree with that doctrinal outlook since, obviously, you hold no stock in Scripture as a reliable source, pretty much for anything. It just explains rather clearly why Christians feel that way as a point of DOCTRINE, not a semantic sidestep. So the actual specific argument I was making was correct, and consistent, and should explain reasonably and rationally why Christians feel that way regarding non believers. All the, "Your Bible exists as collection of false fairy tales" arguments you propose are straw men in terms of the actual specific argument and point I was making. We can certainly discuss all of those issues you bring up. But they are separate from the singular point I was making in response to Dobbie's assertion that believer's holding non believers responsible for somehow "knowing" Biblical Truth is just a semantic mistake. It isn't. It is a fundamental doctrinal viewpoint that has nothing to do with a literal reading of Exodus, or whether there was a Moses, or whether there was a Jesus (which ancient historians Tacitus and Josephus would flatly disagree with you on).
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Re: "Faith" We ALL have it!

Postby dobbie » Wed May 07, 2014 7:05 pm

Howdybug: From WITHIN the Christian Faith the believer has no choice but to believe that agnostics and atheists alike do, in fact, have some deep level of knowledge or innate awareness of fundamental Biblical Truth.

Thank you for sharing this point of view that exists among those of the Christian faith.

As an agnostic-atheist, I tend to hold the reverse point of view--that on some level Christians know for themselves that they might well be misguided about Christianity. That they might well have made a mistake about the religious doctrine of the New Testament, that the doctrine isn't what it's cracked up to be.

As for my unbeliever "innate awareness of fundamental biblical truth," I'll make the assumption (I will make it for the time being at least) that your use of the words "biblical truth" is equivalent to "Christian truth."

So, given that "fundamental biblical truth" is the same thing as "Christian truth," I'll take another step, and assume that so-called Christian truth directly depends upon a few factors. I'll name one of them, the view that the Old Testament predicts Jesus. In my view, however, there aren't any such Old Testament predictions. The early Christians, in order to get from the Old Testament books predictions of Jesus, turned many of the verses upside down. So, with that particular view of mine in mind, there's no innate awareness of fundamental biblical truth, not on that score, not for me. I assume I know my own feeling about Christianity, to that extent.

At this juncture, then, aside from the Old Testament so-called predictions of Jesus, I turn to what factor of fundamental biblical truth is next. I can name one again, one which you've brought up already. In your post, you named the presupposition that all know they are sinful before the Christian God.

I say that many have heard something like this view from Christian preaching itself. But somehow I doubt the Hindu, Buddhist, Jew have the innate awareness they are sinful before the Christian God.

Further, the presupposition there, hasn't got any validation. Of course that's why it's called a presupposition. For validation, the Christians may appeal to the words of Paul. But in order to support the authenticity of the New Testament, one doesn't use the New Testament. Do you agree?

Or is Christianity simply based in presuppositionalism? (I'm aware that my use of the word "simply" shows my bias.)

I want to say, too, that anyone can manufacture a presupposition--for example, I can assert that humans can tend to be strange rather than right. Call it a basic drive they serve. Thus, the Christians know they're incorrect on some level, know Christianity has its flaws. In spite of that knowing, the Christians believe and talk strange. The bottom line: it isn't very hard to devise a presupposition, whether a religious one or otherwise.

If a third factor exists as to why Christianity is supposed to be true, perhaps it will be a better idea to allow the Christian adherent to name it. In that way, I can avoid putting words in somebody's mouth.
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