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Phi for All

The Strength of Faith

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I've mentioned several times that faith, to me, is a form of belief that requires unquestioning adherence and unshakeable commitment. People who consider themselves very devout followers of their religion often talk about the strength of their faith, and how it's like a comforting rock of solid footing in the stormy sea of Life.

 

In marketing (stay with me), we often take the weakest flaw in a product or service and paint it as one of our strongest points. Dick's Last Resort, a restaurant chain that despaired of ever finding a non-obnoxious waitstaff, eventually embraced the weakness and started hiring purposely obnoxious people and made it a convention for their whole chain.

 

In US politics, the major parties have learned to spin their weaknesses into apparent strengths. Republicans cry out that Democrats don't respect the sanctity of free market enterprise to cover up the fact that their biggest contributors are corporations looking for special considerations that will let them unfairly trump their competition, which is about as foul a thing to do to the free market as there is.

 

Is faith a similar weakness spun into strength in religion? Believing so strongly in things that have the least amount of evidence to support them seems ludicrous to me. Absolute conviction about things you can't possibly know is touted as steadfast, abiding faith, and practically every follower would be congratulated and praised for this kind of devotion to their god. If you divide belief into trust, hope and faith, faith seems the weakest to me but is often seen as the strongest.

 

Are the priests who preach faith just great spin doctors or is unassailable, resolute belief in things you can't prove really a strength?

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Looking in from the outside, i see faith as a defence mechanism against a perceived existential black hole in a person. With no inherent meaning to existence, life a scary. Faith that there is something more defends against this perceived bleakness.

 

There may be a degree of fear-mongering by priests, but the fear that what is in our lives right now, is all that is in our lives right now, is fear enough apparently.

 

I've been privileged enough in my work to be with many people as and when they die. Faith works for some, not for others. I think it takes more effort to believe in something in the face of evidence than we give credit. Whether it's worth it i guess is a choice each of us have to make for ourselves.

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People’s, apparent, need to conform is a large part of what I thought of as faith, in the right conditions most will believe black = white,
given enough people agreeing. Individualism is what we all strive for and yet mostly it’s within a prescribed, socially based norm. Perversely, faith, in this age seems to buck the modern science backed trend of empiricism and is claimed, it seems, by the truly individual.



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IIs faith a similar weakness spun into strength in religion? Believing so strongly in things that have the least amount of evidence to support them seems ludicrous to me....

 

Are the priests who preach faith just great spin doctors or is unassailable, resolute belief in things you can't prove really a strength?

 

You've badly misdefined what faith is.

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You've badly misdefined what faith is.

 

 

Feel free to define it...

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Feel free to define it...

 

Already have in this forum, on numerous occasions. The historical definition of faith, which goes back at least 3500 years and is how the word and its cognates are actually used in English, is "an act of the will by which one adheres to another who is known".

 

Phi's working from a misdefinition that arose during the so-called Enlightenment.

Edited by chilehed

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The historical definition of faith, which goes back at least 3500 years and is how the word and its cognates are actually used in English, is "an act of the will by which one adheres to another who is known".

 

Phi's working from a misdefinition that arose during the so-called Enlightenment.

 

 

So-called? Seriously?

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Faith is pretending to know something you cannot know.

 

As to the OP, I find myself largely in alignment. It comes across to me much like marketing or PR work where you try to trick people into thinking a weakness is a strength. At the same time, Sun-Tzu did largely the same thing in the Art of War, and with great success.

 

Those of us who value integrity and accuracy and empiricism tend to be put off by such spin, but history shows it is both powerful and effective at bringing the populace to your side and gaining strength in numbers.

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Phi's working from a misdefinition that arose during the so-called Enlightenment.

 

I'm working from the definition that I find most people of faith around me use. These are predominately Christians who regularly use the explanation that their faith in prayers to their god can work miracles. If prayer doesn't work, they claim it's because the faith of those praying wasn't "complete", or strong enough in its conviction.

 

So for the purposes of this thread, I guess we'll need to use the misdefinition (according to chilehed's interpretation) that the majority of Christianity uses, which is a secure, steadfast belief in God and an unquestioning acceptance of God's will.

 

And for the record, chilehed, I find "an act of the will by which one adheres to another who is known" to be so vague and subject to interpretation as to be essentially meaningless. It certainly doesn't express any of the elements I've heard from those I've encountered.

Edited by Phi for All
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I am sure that the definition of faith as something believed in with out evidence and against all reason predates the "enlightenment" by a considerable margin and in fact was demanded by Early Christian thinkers if not in the bible it's self...

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Faith is pretending to know something you cannot know.

Samuel Clemens would say it's "Believing something you know ain't so".

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I'm working from the definition that I find most people of faith around me use....

 

I know a number of people who believe in evolution, who think that it means that man came from chimpanzees. Surely you'd attack that as an egregiously sloppy, distorted statement about the nature of evolution; why then do you choose to rely on equally sloppy thinking about the nature of faith?

 

 

 

So for the purposes of this thread, I guess we'll need to use the misdefinition (according to chilehed's interpretation) that the majority of Christianity uses, which is a secure, steadfast belief in God and an unquestioning acceptance of God's will...

 

A key element of your original definitinon was belief in something in the absence of evidence, or in the face of evidence to the contrary. The definition you propose here conspicuously lacks that element, and in fact is compatible with the actual, historical definition. I have a secure, steadfast belief in God and acceptance of his will precisely because I know him, just as I have a secure, steadfast belief in my wife and an acceptance of hers because I know her. That's what "being faithful" means, and it requires knowing the other.

 

 

And for the record, chilehed, I find "an act of the will by which one adheres to another who is known" to be so vague and subject to interpretation as to be essentially meaningless. It certainly doesn't express any of the elements I've heard from those I've encountered.

 

Do you really believe that if you don't understand something, it therefore must be meaningless? That's pretty arrogant.

 

In any case, it's not a complicated definition and the words are simple.

 

 

I am sure that the definition of faith as something believed in with out evidence and against all reason predates the "enlightenment" by a considerable margin and in fact was demanded by Early Christian thinkers if not in the bible it's self...

 

I have no doubt that that's what you're sure of, but in fact this is the definition that the Catholic Church has always had, is the one demonstrated repeatedly in the Bible, and is how it and its cognates have been actually used in English since the language developed.

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I know a number of people who believe in evolution, who think that it means that man came from chimpanzees. Surely you'd attack that as an egregiously sloppy, distorted statement about the nature of evolution; why then do you choose to rely on equally sloppy thinking about the nature of faith?

 

Quotes about faith...

 

William K Clifford

“It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

 

Richard Dawkins

“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”

 

Benjamin Franklin

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”

 

William James

“Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is theoretically possible.”

 

Søren Kierkegaard

“Certainty... lurks at the door of faith and threatens to devour it.”

 

Martin Luther

“Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding.”

 

Blaise Pascal

“Faith certainly tells us what the senses do not, but not the contrary of what they see; it is above, not against them.”

 

Bertrand Russell

“We may define ‘faith’ as the firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. Where there is evidence, no one speaks of "faith." We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.”

 

Mark Twain

“Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

 

Voltaire

“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.”

 

A key element of your original definitinon was belief in something in the absence of evidence, or in the face of evidence to the contrary. The definition you propose here conspicuously lacks that element, and in fact is compatible with the actual, historical definition. I have a secure, steadfast belief in God and acceptance of his will precisely because I know him, just as I have a secure, steadfast belief in my wife and an acceptance of hers because I know her. That's what "being faithful" means, and it requires knowing the other.

 

So you have heard, felt, smelt, touched God?

 

Do you really believe that if you don't understand something, it therefore must be meaningless? That's pretty arrogant.

 

In any case, it's not a complicated definition and the words are simple.

 

 

 

I have no doubt that that's what you're sure of, but in fact this is the definition that the Catholic Church has always had, is the one demonstrated repeatedly in the Bible, and is how it and its cognates have been actually used in English since the language developed.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith_and_rationality

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I know a number of people who believe in evolution, who think that it means that man came from chimpanzees. Surely you'd attack that as an egregiously sloppy, distorted statement about the nature of evolution; why then do you choose to rely on equally sloppy thinking about the nature of faith?

 

I suppose because it's that sloppy thinking that I'm commenting on in this thread. You can question whether or not these people are being rigorous enough for you, but the fact is they're using the term faith in the way I've outlined. If I was pointing out that the way some people drive on the highway is dangerous, would you complain that I shouldn't be calling them drivers?

 

A key element of your original definitinon was belief in something in the absence of evidence, or in the face of evidence to the contrary. The definition you propose here conspicuously lacks that element, and in fact is compatible with the actual, historical definition. I have a secure, steadfast belief in God and acceptance of his will precisely because I know him, just as I have a secure, steadfast belief in my wife and an acceptance of hers because I know her. That's what "being faithful" means, and it requires knowing the other.

 

But you can't know a god in the way you know your wife, not from a scientific standpoint. I honor the commitments and vows I made to my wife, and always have, and I trust her to do the same, but unquestioning faith? I don't believe in anything that way.

 

Do you really believe that if you don't understand something, it therefore must be meaningless? That's pretty arrogant.

 

In any case, it's not a complicated definition and the words are simple.

 

Let's move the goalpost back where I set it in the first place. I agree that your definition is simple and uncomplicated, and therefore malleable and subject to multiple interpretations. The word "know" alone is so broad that it defines nothing in this context. Are you claiming you "know" God in the biblical sense the way you "know" your wife on the biblical sense?

 

 

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Quotes about faith...

 

Some of those are abysmally sloppy (e.g, Dawkins, Franklin, Luther, Russel, Twain). Others may be compatible with the historical definition (e.g, Kierkegaard, Pascal, Voltaire).

 

 

So you have heard, felt, smelt, touched God?

 

The so-called enlightenment, which so far abandoned reason that it insists that only that which can be heard, smelt or touched is real.

 

It was really the enDarkenment.

 

 

 

Wikipedia? Really? That's funny.

 

Try Faith and Reason, by Pope John Paul II.

Edited by chilehed

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The so-called enlightenment, which so far abandoned reason that it insists that only that which can be heard, smelt or touched is real.

 

So what ever anyone believes is just as real as the reality we see around us? or is only your religions faith real? If it's only yours how can you tell? How do you perceive something that is supernatural? What effect on the world does the supernatural have? What part of our first world civilization has been provided by anything other than reason?

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So what ever anyone believes is just as real as the reality we see around us?

 

You don't really think that that's what I said, do you? More sloppy thinking.

 

Are you claiming you "know" God in the biblical sense the way you "know" your wife on the biblical sense?...

 

What I'm pointing out is that if your definition of faith were correct, then phrases such as "being faithful to one's spouse" would be meaningless. Such phrases are not meaningless, therefore your definition is flawed.

Edited by chilehed

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You don't really think that that's what I said, do you? More sloppy thinking.

Please feel free to explain it to me in detail, I hate sloppy thinking, please help me understand...

What I'm pointing out is that if your definition of faith were correct, then phrases such as "being faithful to one's spouse" would be meaningless. Such phrases are not meaningless, therefore your definition is flawed.

you do realize you are confusing being faithful with faith don't you? I am faithful to my wife, I have faith she is faithful to me but my faith in her is based on evidence not blindly believing against all reason and evidence...

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What I'm pointing out is that if your definition of faith were correct, then phrases such as "being faithful to one's spouse" would be meaningless. Such phrases are not meaningless, therefore your definition is flawed.

 

It's NOT my definition. Please read what I'm writing. Google "unwavering faith" and you get 953,000 hits on the phenomenon I'm talking about. Google "unshakable faith" and you get 873,000 hits. Google "the strength of faith" and you get 103,000,000 hits.

 

"Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to." -The Miracle on 34th Street

 

If this is not the way you define faith then that's fine, but there are a lot of people out there who do, and that's what I'm addressing in this thread. Why is the least supported type of belief considered the strongest by so many? And why do so many of those people consider trust in science, the best supported type of belief, to be the weakest?

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Some of those are abysmally sloppy (e.g, Dawkins, Franklin, Luther, Russel, Twain).

You think MARTIN LUTHER didn't know what faith is?

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You think MARTIN LUTHER didn't know what faith is?

 

 

Of course not he was protestant...

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I'm working from the definition that I find most people of faith around me use. These are predominately Christians who regularly use the explanation that their faith in prayers to their god can work miracles. If prayer doesn't work, they claim it's because the faith of those praying wasn't "complete", or strong enough in its conviction.

 

That's like saying a coke didn't come out of the vending machine because they didn't push the quarter in forcefully enough. That's just silly. Sometimes the answer is a flat out "No".

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I am faithful to my wife, I have faith she is faithful to me but my faith in her is based on evidence not blindly believing against all reason and evidence...

 

Therefore it can't be that the definition of faith is "believing against all reason and evidence".

 

In fact, "to believe against all reason and evidence" is the definition of credulity.

 

Being faithful to one's spouse involves a decision (an act of the will) to enter into, and remain in, a union that binds (adheres) us to the other. We make the decision not because we have absolute scientific proof that the other will reciprocate, but because we our experience leads us to trust that it will be so (the other is known). It's the establishment of a relationship, a leap beyond science and not a leap beyond reason.

 

It was only during the enDarkenment that people became so foolish as to think that science is the extent of reason.

 

 

You think MARTIN LUTHER didn't know what faith is?

 

There were a lot of things Luther had wrong. The idea that faith tramples reason underfoot is one of them.

Edited by chilehed

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Therefore it can't be that the definition of faith is "believing against all reason and evidence".

 

In fact, "to believe against all reason and evidence" is the definition of credulity.

 

Being faithful to one's spouse involves a decision (an act of the will) to enter into, and remain in, a union that binds (adheres) us to the other. We make the decision not because we have absolute scientific proof that the other will reciprocate, but because we our experience leads us to trust that it will be so (the other is known). It's the establishment of a relationship, a leap beyond science and not a leap beyond reason.

There are multiple connotations of faith. Just because the one being used in the discussion is one you personally don't like doesn't change the argument. Being faithful to someone and having faith in the supernatural are two separate definitions of something. Also, IIRC, being faithful came from being full of faith, i.e. to trust them unconditionally. Languages and definitions change all the time.

It was only during the enDarkenment that people became so foolish as to think that science is the extent of reason.

Terrible right? I mean what has science ever done successfully. I would totally be having a discussion on an online forum without it.

 

There were a lot of things Luther had wrong. The idea that faith tramples reason underfoot is one of them.

A lot of people get a lot of things wrong. One example is obfuscating a point based on an outdated definition and not actually addressing any points.

 

 

On the topic of the OP, if one takes out the religious people when talking about faith it's pretty obvious how weak faithful thinking tends to be. If you were to use homeopathy or ghosts most will say the faith people have in that is ludicrous. Yet it is a necessity in anything where objective measurements cannot, or flat out prove the faith wrong, be made. I have mixed feelings on the issue, I sometimes envy people's ability to trust in things unconditionally. I wouldn't say faith is a strength in any way, in fact I would argue it is the cause that makes groups that purposefully cause harm due to ideologies. I would also say that, in regular life at least, faith can be useful for people in certain scenarios.

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