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What is faith?
09-08-2009, 01:47 PM
Post: #1
What is faith?
Hi everyone, I want to start off by noting that I am an atheist but one thing that always interests me is the concept of faith. I have a few ideas and arguments against it, but wanted to get a theist perspective.

So I would like to get a good idea from everyone:

1. How would you define faith?
2. How is faith a good thing?

Thanks!
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09-08-2009, 03:12 PM
Post: #2
RE: What is faith?
Well, I tend to go with the dictionary for things like this.

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>

For me, faith comes down to two things. Blind faith, which I often like to call "ignorance," and the sort of faith that we all have. For instance, I have faith that my beloved will love me next year, in five years, and forever. There is no proof of this. But I know my beloved, and I have observed her in the years we have been together, and thus my faith is based on sound evidence. I have faith that humankind can overcome any obstacle, given enough time for planning. I say this because I have observed in my studies of history that in times of great distress, and especially when there is an external threat, people band together and suddenly begin acting intelligent. There is no proof in my faith, but there is evidence.

Blind faith, on the other hand, requires no evidence. Blind faith is bad. Blind faith in a political party led to the election of George W. Bush. Blind faith in an economy led to the current economic crisis. Blind faith in religion has led to atrocities that saner men without faith would have resisted (the Inquisition, for instance, or the slaughter of countless "heathens" by an ever-expanding church.)

Faith is necessary, because we do not always have proof. Without faith we would be paralyzed, able to make a move only after we were certain it was the right one. That is bad. But blind faith is even worse. If one has to choose between making no choice at all, and making a choice blindly based on arbitrary principles that cannot stand up to any rational historical review, it is far better to make no choice at all.

It is better still to look at the evidence, consider things rationally and logically, and then make the shortest leap of faith necessary.

I'm back baby! Thanks for everyone who sent me PMs asking what had happened to me.
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09-08-2009, 06:08 PM
Post: #3
RE: What is faith?
(09-08-2009 03:12 PM)GTseng3 Wrote:  Well, I tend to go with the dictionary for things like this.

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>

For me, faith comes down to two things. Blind faith, which I often like to call "ignorance," and the sort of faith that we all have. For instance, I have faith that my beloved will love me next year, in five years, and forever. There is no proof of this. But I know my beloved, and I have observed her in the years we have been together, and thus my faith is based on sound evidence. I have faith that humankind can overcome any obstacle, given enough time for planning. I say this because I have observed in my studies of history that in times of great distress, and especially when there is an external threat, people band together and suddenly begin acting intelligent. There is no proof in my faith, but there is evidence.

Blind faith, on the other hand, requires no evidence. Blind faith is bad. Blind faith in a political party led to the election of George W. Bush. Blind faith in an economy led to the current economic crisis. Blind faith in religion has led to atrocities that saner men without faith would have resisted (the Inquisition, for instance, or the slaughter of countless "heathens" by an ever-expanding church.)

Faith is necessary, because we do not always have proof. Without faith we would be paralyzed, able to make a move only after we were certain it was the right one. That is bad. But blind faith is even worse. If one has to choose between making no choice at all, and making a choice blindly based on arbitrary principles that cannot stand up to any rational historical review, it is far better to make no choice at all.

It is better still to look at the evidence, consider things rationally and logically, and then make the shortest leap of faith necessary.

That is a completely reasonable answer. My main concern is that when one offers the examples you did, they wouldn't really be considered faith, rather just conclusions based on mild or weak evidence (Seeing how your prior relationship has been you can assume the remainder will go okay / Seeing how humans are you can see generally they can overcome certain obstacles). Can we really call it faith when our core judgment is purely coming from evidence (whether it be small or large amounts)?

Even when we talk about things like God or more specifically something like the concept of Jesus. Many theists when out of rational answers for their beliefs will say it is just a matter of faith. But there still has to be a reason they have one faith (Jesus) and not another (Muhammad). This reason could be purely cultural. So is there any reason for us to put a label on anything as faith if there is always a rational reason that we attribute the idea to begin with?
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09-08-2009, 06:24 PM
Post: #4
RE: What is faith?
(09-08-2009 01:47 PM)kilrizzy Wrote:  1. How would you define faith?
2. How is faith a good thing?

1. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
2. To me, God has proven Himself more than once. I have a reason to believe. A reason that can't be explained away by science.

I find faith a good thing though because it actually helps me to relax. I am putting my trust in someone who has proven Himself.

Passionately Sharing Jesus at http://www.apperson.blogspot.com
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09-08-2009, 06:30 PM
Post: #5
RE: What is faith?
Define a "rational reason". In my opinion, "because I was taught it as a child" is not a rational reason to believe in anything. Have sex with a guy who was taught that pulling out really fast prevents pregnancy and you'll prove that one really quickly.

On the other hand, patterns of behavior are a rational reason. Knowing someone well for ten years gives you a pretty good baseline for their behavior. Is it perfect? No. People can always be surprising. But as a general baseline, it is a completely rational basis.

When you talk about things like having "faith" in the scientific method, well that is so rational and so logical that it almost isn't faith at all. Yes, we call them "theories", like atomic theory, the theory of gravity, or the theory of evolution because the fact is that we are not 100% certain that we are correct. But there is so much evidence that it is hardly a leap of faith to believe in these things. Every time a manufacturer builds and sells a television they "have faith in" atomic theory. Every time we send a spaceship into orbit we "have faith in" the theory of gravity. Every time we make a new vaccine we "have faith in" the theory of evolution.

So we have three distinct levels. We have faith that is based on no logic or rationality at all, faith based on evidence that is not conclusive, and faith based on evidence that is conclusive. While it is true that all three levels involve some sort of faith, to compare the three is like comparing Mt. Everest, the foothills of the Himalayas, and a sand castle. It's easy to say "Well they're all higher than sea level," but they're not in any way equally mountains.

I'm back baby! Thanks for everyone who sent me PMs asking what had happened to me.
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09-08-2009, 06:47 PM
Post: #6
RE: What is faith?
Well for me......again this is personal but my Mom had MS. Multiple Sclerosis. She has the medical documents to prove it. This was in the 70's and early 80's when the life expectancy was low and the meds not good. Anyway she had MS and there was nothing left to her. Skin and bone literally. She could barely move as there was no muscle left. We had ust become Christians a few months before and had been praying for her. INSTANTLY. I do mean Instantly in Jan of 84 she was healed. Muscles popped up in a snap. Docs said she had the muscle tone of a 21 year old at the age of 33! 21 was how old she was when she got the disease.

Medical records proving both the disease and the healing. From that point on there was no way people could tell me there was no God!

Passionately Sharing Jesus at http://www.apperson.blogspot.com
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09-08-2009, 07:00 PM
Post: #7
RE: What is faith?
I actually ran a documented experiment on this very message board where I prayed for all the cancer patients and amputees in the world to be healed. Now, I prayed sincerely, because quite honestly I am perfectly willing to admit that I am dead wrong about my beliefs if it means god would heal all the cancer patients and amputees in the world.

It did not happen.

When I was a Christian, I prayed for many things with the sincerity of a true, even zealous believer. God never gave me anything.

In America, the wealthiest nation in the world, one of every 8 people are starving. God doesn't hear their prayers. I have a friend who was regularly abused as a child by her father. His wife runs a nursery, and he is around infants and toddlers all day. While their parents are away he would emotionally abuse these small children. She has tried to get him arrested, but there is no hard proof. No one believes her. Those infants and toddlers still show up at his house to be cared for every day, and their parents blissfully offer them to this man.

How dare you tell the starving, the dying, the abused, the tortured, the spat upon that there is a god because your mother happened to get better, when it is so clear that god will do nothing to save them? The standard christian answer is that "it is all for god's glory," or "all things work together for good," but if this is your good, if this is your god's glory, then he should be fought tooth and nail rather than worshiped. If this world is the result of your god's love, then I would gladly be sentenced to hell for resisting him to my last breath.

There may be a god. As a rational, logical man I am forced to concede that it is a possibility, although it is an extremely unlikely and remote one. But if there is a god he is not the god you claim to worship. That is obvious just by looking around.

I'm back baby! Thanks for everyone who sent me PMs asking what had happened to me.
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09-08-2009, 07:05 PM
Post: #8
RE: What is faith?
Not everyone is healed, I am not God. He has His reasons who He heals and why. I am saying this is why I have faith. I tell people there is a God because of more reasons than that.

Passionately Sharing Jesus at http://www.apperson.blogspot.com
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09-08-2009, 07:09 PM
Post: #9
RE: What is faith?
He has his reasons? HE HAS HIS REASONS? Would you accept that from a man? Forget a man. Would you accept that from a god? Do you watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and think that Indy is the bad guy, because surely Kali, the evil god of death, HAS HER REASONS?

Don't you have any ethical standards at all? How can you worship a god for healing your mother, when that same god allows women and children to be abused, allows lives to be destroyed by war and famine? How can you sit there and say, "I know god is good because he healed my mother" to people whom god hasn't healed? To people that god, for all intents and purposes, seems to have spat on? "Gee, little boy, I know you're dying of AIDS because the Catholics wouldn't allow condoms to be distributed to your mother, and so she got it as she was impregnated, and I know you're suffering from malnutrition, but you should still be a christian, because even though god is going to allow you to die a wretched, agonizing death without any comfort at all, HE HEALED MY MOTHER."

I'm back baby! Thanks for everyone who sent me PMs asking what had happened to me.
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09-09-2009, 08:35 AM
Post: #10
RE: What is faith?
GTseng3, I have to go with you on this one. Because something happened that is unusual does not prove the existance of a god. Especially if it falls within the bounds of naturalistic possibility. I am also still waiting for some amputee limbs to grow back before I evaluate any such claim and even still this would:
-Not prove a god was the cause
-Definitely not prove it was the god of christianity
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