Why is faith different?

cyberpi

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I believe in being faithful in the non spiritual/religious sense to my boyfriend etc. You can google faithful to see what I mean.
As for faith? No. I don't have faith or hope. I am bi-polar. You figure that out. :)
Then you are placing faith in your boyfriend. If you ask your boyfriend to do something, does he do it? Then you have faith... the faith of your boyfriend.

No hope? You hope for nothing? Nobody has hope of you? I don't think it is possible, but I see you think it.
 

cyberpi

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The question is, Why is faith worthy of a different standard? Why isn't it held to standards of reason as most all other things in life seem to be?
Well...

Whatever standards or reasons you require of somebody to place faith in them is your choice. Whatever standards or reasons others require of you to place faith in you, is their choice.

So then what are your standards or reasons? Does a verbal agreement work? Deposit required? A written agreement with the signature of three lawyers? A resume with five hand-written recommendations... and a credit check?
 

chron

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Well...

Whatever standards or reasons you require of somebody to place faith in them is your choice. Whatever standards or reasons others require of you to place faith in you, is their choice.

So then what are your standards or reasons? Does a verbal agreement work? Deposit required? A written agreement with the signature of three lawyers? A resume with five hand-written recommendations... and a credit check?
You misunderstand.

Here's what I mean.

"Rain is caused by atmospheric conditions."

"No, no, rain is caused by the gods."

"But I can show you why rain is caused by atmospheric conditions. There are reasons why this is true."

"I refuse to believe other than that rain is caused by the gods. Why? Because my gods say that is the way it is, and I have faith in them. I trust them, and that is all there is to it."

Now listen to another conversation.

"Rain is caused by atmospheric conditions."

"No, no, rain is caused by little green mice of microscopic size that float in the air."

"But I can show you why rain is caused by atmospheric conditions. There are reasons why this is true."

"I refuse to believe other than that rain is caused by little green mice of microscopic size that float in the air. Why? Because I have faith that this is so. I trust my intuition, and that is all there is to it."

What is the difference in these two conversations? As I see it, there is only one difference. We somehow think it's okay for the god-believer to hold her belief that rain comes from the gods, but that it is not okay for the green-mice-believer to hold his belief that rain comes from green mice.

Why?

Why is faith different?

This is not about asking for proof -- at least, not in my mind. I simply want to know why we ascribe this special place to faith.

The bottom line for me is that I don't think faith is any different from any other area of life, and should not be given an exemption to the rules of logic. If that means I expect a person of faith to support their beliefs with logical reasons, then, yes.

Do I expect a certain standard? Why, yes. The standard that all rational men and women are held to.

Why is this wrong? If someone can give me a reason why it should be okay for faith to be exempt from logical reasoning, then I'll consider whether or not to ascribe to the things that faith says.

Thomas Merton speaks of a reasonable faith, but that phrase seems oxymoronic to me.
 

Saltmeister

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Here's what I mean.

"Rain is caused by atmospheric conditions."
"No, no, rain is caused by the gods."
"But I can show you why rain is caused by atmospheric conditions. There are reasons why this is true."
"I refuse to believe other than that rain is caused by the gods. Why? Because my gods say that is the way it is, and I have faith in them. I trust them, and that is all there is to it."

Now listen to another conversation.

"Rain is caused by atmospheric conditions."
"No, no, rain is caused by little green mice of microscopic size that float in the air."
"But I can show you why rain is caused by atmospheric conditions. There are reasons why this is true."
"I refuse to believe other than that rain is caused by little green mice of microscopic size that float in the air. Why? Because I have faith that this is so. I trust my intuition, and that is all there is to it."

What is the difference in these two conversations? As I see it, there is only one difference. We somehow think it's okay for the god-believer to hold her belief that rain comes from the gods, but that it is not okay for the green-mice-believer to hold his belief that rain comes from green mice.

Why? Why is faith different? This is not about asking for proof -- at least, not in my mind. I simply want to know why we ascribe this special place to faith.

The bottom line for me is that I don't think faith is any different from any other area of life, and should not be given an exemption to the rules of logic. If that means I expect a person of faith to support their beliefs with logical reasons, then, yes.

Do I expect a certain standard? Why, yes. The standard that all rational men and women are held to.

Why is this wrong? If someone can give me a reason why it should be okay for faith to be exempt from logical reasoning, then I'll consider whether or not to ascribe to the things that faith says.

Ok, chron. I think I see what you mean.

Both cases involve scientific falsities. I would disagree that we should encourage the god-believer to go on believing in something that is, to a significant degree, impractical, not just financially, economically and scientifically, but even spiritually.

The question is, does a person really need to believe that rain is caused by the gods? Are there not other ways to honour the gods without having to believe that they cause rain? Did the gods actually say that?

It may, for a while, seem like a desecration of something sacred, or a dilution of a requirement essential for holiness.

Moreover, if others can express devotion to your gods in other ways, without having to believe that they cause rain, is that not more honourable and noble than what you do? Why would the gods, if they were honourable and noble, hold you to such a standard? It is easy to say, "I believe the gods cause rain" but what virtue does that achieve? Is that not just a way of pleasing others who believe the same thing? Isn't that just politics?
 

cyberpi

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I find a lot of people on this thread that think they need to share with me what faith is, but I believe I have a handle on that.
You misunderstand...
I find that the overwhelming majority of people have the word 'Faith' wrong, including yourself. But it is just a word, and a word is just a symbol or a standard for the real thing. If we disagree with the definition of a word, then do we disagree with the real thing? Not necessarily.

If a person tells me something, and then my reasoning says they are wrong or dishonest, I will bring the evidence to their attention. If that person argues then I will hear their argument, to gain more evidence and because my reasoning or evidence could equally be wrong. But if it is a lie, and damage has been done from it, then I will rebuke and remove trust and faith in that person. If that person confesses to the cause and agrees to not do it again, then I will replace overwhelming trust and faith in that person. Replacing that trust and faith, counter to all known statistics, is the harder thing to do... especially if you think people are merely flesh.

Regarding the rain... I tell you that I found that the entire fabric of space, of time, of matter... every particle, force, and the nature of the interactions of those things, the entire fabric of everything physical was made. The reason I say that comes more from science than from any religion. It comes mostly from a study of control theory, information theory, communications theory, and thermodynamics. A lot of theory... but the subjects hold up scientifically and are in widespread use in engineering. Whether or not you believe me is irrelevant, because that is NOT a matter of Faith. Why? I am not asking you to do anything and you are not asking me to do anything. I suspect you are not going to do very much with the information I have provided and I am not trying to make you believe, or to sell to you, or to get you to join my club. I am just communicating. You do with it what you please. I speak truthfully and honestly whether I am right or wrong... but telling you that does not prove it.

If I don't consider any of that faith... then what do I consider to be faith? I'd like to send you a present as a token of my sincerity. Please send to me in PM your name and address so that I can deliver the present. Do you have faith in me? By what standard or reasoning would you place faith in me? What evidence can I provide to you that I am honest and trustworthy? What can I do to assure you that you will enjoy the gift?
 

Snoopy

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Seems I have to keep reminding people on this thread what the topic is:

Faith, whether or not you believe in it, is something that does exist. It's treated differently from most all other areas of life, IMO. The question is, Why is faith worthy of a different standard? Why isn't it held to standards of reason as most all other things in life seem to be?

But all I really want is an explanation of the questions above.

Still hoping someone can explain it.

"Most" is not "all." Therefore faith is not "different" (i.e. unique) from other areas of life.

Is this an acceptable answer your question? :)

s.
 

chron

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Ok, chron. I think I see what you mean.

Both cases involve scientific falsities.

But what if one didn't involve a scientific falsity? Or, going further, what if what is considered a purely religious idea (the resurrection of Christ, for example) is scientifically falsify-able?

The question is, does a person really need to believe that rain is caused by the gods?

No, of course not. And Christians don't really need to believe that Jesus is Lord, either. But the god-believer is convinced in spite of any facts that can be brought to bear on her intelligence. "Don't confuse me with the facts; my mind is already made up."

"Made up," indeed, when the substance of what one believes isn't in consonance with reality.
 

chron

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I find that the overwhelming majority of people have the word 'Faith' wrong, including yourself.

My personal definition of faith is that it is belief plus action, i.e., having faith in a person, or idea, or even an object, is believing in him, her, or it enough to act on what is believed.

There is a good illustration of this from my days as a Southern Baptist. A missionary was speaking at our church, and described a situation in which he served in a remote area with people whose language he didn't know very well. He had trouble communicating the idea of faith for weeks.

One day, a man of the village was helping him with work on the medical clinic. The missionary asked him to step up onto a chair to reach something on a top shelf. The man replied with "I don't _____ that chair."

And the missionary had his word and a good example of what it means to have faith. The man didn't trust the chair, didn't have faith, or, as I am saying it, he didn't believe in the chair enough to act by standing on it.

That's the best way I know of to explain what I personally mean by faith.

But it is just a word, and a word is just a symbol or a standard for the real thing. If we disagree with the definition of a word, then do we disagree with the real thing? Not necessarily.

If a person tells me something, and then my reasoning says they are wrong or dishonest, I will bring the evidence to their attention. If that person argues then I will hear their argument, to gain more evidence and because my reasoning or evidence could equally be wrong. But if it is a lie, and damage has been done from it, then I will rebuke and remove trust and faith in that person. If that person confesses to the cause and agrees to not do it again, then I will replace overwhelming trust and faith in that person. Replacing that trust and faith, counter to all known statistics, is the harder thing to do... especially if you think people are merely flesh.

I follow your logic, but don't see what it has to do with the question of why faith is treated differently.

Regarding the rain... I tell you that I found that the entire fabric of space, of time, of matter... every particle, force, and the nature of the interactions of those things, the entire fabric of everything physical was made.

I find this astonishing. If it is true that the theories of control, information, communications, and thermodynamics support this, then why hasn't this proof of a creator been publicized?

I suspect you are not going to do very much with the information I have provided and I am not trying to make you believe, or to sell to you, or to get you to join my club. I am just communicating. You do with it what you please. I speak truthfully and honestly whether I am right or wrong... but telling you that does not prove it.

On the contrary, I plan to look into these theories (it's been a long time since I studied them -- some, not at all) afresh and see if they do, indeed, support the idea that everything is made.

I'd like to send you a present as a token of my sincerity. Please send to me in PM your name and address so that I can deliver the present.

Thank you for the kind offer, but I think I will decline.

Do you have faith in me?

Well, I have no reason for having faith in you at present. If we could converse for more than we have, I might grow to have faith in you eventually.

By what standard or reasoning would you place faith in me?

The same standard that most people accept. I see you frequently, we interact, and, over time, I come to see that your actions match your words, that you act with integrity, and thereby I come to have faith in you. It's all based on what I see in you.

What evidence can I provide to you that I am honest and trustworthy?

Only what I mentioned above. It's about a relationship, faith is, at least, when it comes to people. When it comes to ideas, it's about whether the idea meets the standards of rationality, of logic, or, put more informally, of common sense. (Don't forget, though, that all of these can be wrong, just as people can make mistakes, too.)

What can I do to assure you that you will enjoy the gift?

Well, that's a moot point at present.

I appreciate your willingness to engage me in the discussion. I always learn from these interchanges.
 

chron

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"Most" is not "all." Therefore faith is not "different" (i.e. unique) from other areas of life.

Is this an acceptable answer your question? :)

s.

I didn't say that faith is unique. Different and unique are two distinct concepts. Something can be different from many (not all) things and not be unique.

Faith is treated differently from most other areas of life.

That is a fact. If it were not, then we would not be having this discussion. Either everything would be a matter of faith in what is received from on high, or everything would be subject to the scientific principle.
 
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Chron said:
My personal definition of faith is that it is belief plus action

Stop right there. That's perfect!

Faith makes one act solely on principle. The fact that something is right, in principle, is the only stimulus needed. The only question, and it's really just hair splitting, is: Is it the compulsion to act, or the act itself that constitutes real faith? If you think it's a silly question consider the sectarian fault lines that run right through the middle of precisely this question.

Chris
 

Saltmeister

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Stop right there. That's perfect!

Faith makes one act solely on principle. The fact that something is right, in principle, is the only stimulus needed. The only question, and it's really just hair splitting, is: Is it the compulsion to act, or the act itself that constitutes real faith? If you think it's a silly question consider the sectarian fault lines that run right through the middle of precisely this question.

Chris

I think we could go one step further . . . and then it'd really be perfect.:D

Faith isn't just belief plus action, but it's where belief and action become one and the same, to the extent that there's no difference between the two. The only way this could happen is if the belief and action associated with it came from the heart not the head. If is where one starts to ignore the distinction between the flow of air in and out of the lungs and the mechanical act of drawing air in and out of the lungs. That is because without one or the other you are really not breathing. But once you start breathing, you really don't care about the mechanism nor whether there is a flow of air, since if you are breathing, there must be both and they must be one and the same. You see it then as a natural process. If a plant will grow it will grow and if a river is going to flow it will flow. If you are a car mechanic you fix cars and concern yourself with how cars work, but since you didn't make the river or the plant you don't care how it works. It just does.

Assuming there is a God, that that God created us and He created us to be sentient beings, I would say that most important is the sentiment of faith itself. There are many different kinds of faith, some not as "sentimental" and "soppy" as others, but the most authentic kind of faith is the kind of faith that comes from the heart. You are not following orders but simply following your feelings. It is as natural as sentiment comes to humans beings. You don't think about the mechanisms that caused you to have the feelings you do. You simply accept that you have them. By doing so you are acknowledging your own individuality and spontaneity.
 

chron

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Stop right there. That's perfect!

Faith makes one act solely on principle. The fact that something is right, in principle, is the only stimulus needed. The only question, and it's really just hair splitting, is: Is it the compulsion to act, or the act itself that constitutes real faith? If you think it's a silly question consider the sectarian fault lines that run right through the middle of precisely this question.

Chris

Glad you agree, Chris. And the additional comments you make are good, too.
 
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Salty,

I agree that it's both. Faith compels one to act in faith. Minus the compulsion there is no stimulus to act. Faith is self-born in that it isn't created in the pragmatism of reasoning. And faith supersedes the deductive process. The principles upon which faith acts are primal, this is what is desirable from the point of view of the cognitive mind deferring to faith.

Chris
 

cyberpi

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My personal definition of faith is that it is belief plus action, i.e., having faith in a person, or idea, or even an object, is believing in him, her, or it enough to act on what is believed.
My personal definition: You have merely described control. It is the exact opposite of Faith. Why? Faith is a matter of giving control, not in taking it. It seems the lack of control of another person is likened to the lack of control of a chair. But a chair does not give you control, and a person is not a slave.

What of communication? A person is entirely different from an idea or an object when it comes to communication and control, the two which comprise most every action. When you approach a person and you believe and apply action, do you apply the action blindly or do you first ask and communicate? Do you just control people the way that you control an object like a chair? An idea is implemented, and an object is controlled, but what person do you control when you place Faith in them? Faith is a matter of giving control. You might request a person to control something (them giving you control), and you might equally give control to someone. Or, do you prefer to be an object pushed around against your will and sat on like a chair?

Having the faith of another person is possible, but it is impossible for an object or an idea to place faith in you. The computer and the car are controlled... they do NOT place faith in you because they have no will of their own. The object is made to obey. While it is common language to say that a person places faith in a computer or a car, for instance, what computer or car asks you to do something per its will? If the car or computer does ask you, it is not really its will... is it?

And the missionary had his word and a good example of what it means to have faith. The man didn't trust the chair, didn't have faith, or, as I am saying it, he didn't believe in the chair enough to act by standing on it.
In what religion does a person place faith in an object? Maybe ask a stone statue to provide answers? Maybe ask a chair to be trustworthy?
 

Saltmeister

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Salty,

I agree that it's both. Faith compels one to act in faith. Minus the compulsion there is no stimulus to act. Faith is self-born in that it isn't created in the pragmatism of reasoning. And faith supersedes the deductive process. The principles upon which faith acts are primal, this is what is desirable from the point of view of the cognitive mind deferring to faith.

Chris

Chris:
I just went back to read my last post and . . . just realised I forgot to mention something which might have made things slightly confusing. I was referring to a similarity between having faith and breathing in that having faith is supposed to be as natural as living and breathing.

Cyberpi:
Good point. You can't really put faith in lifeless and inanimate objects can you? Can they love, adore, worship, value, appreciate and honour you (as either God or a fellow human)?
 

chron

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In what religion does a person place faith in an object? Maybe ask a stone statue to provide answers? Maybe ask a chair to be trustworthy?

In no religion that I know of.

But you're straying from my original definition -- with which you do not agree. I put faith -- trust -- in a chair. People say it all the time. "Do you trust that chair to hold you?" i.e., Do you believe in the chair's ability to support you enough to act by standing on it?

I don't know where you get the idea that this is about control. It's not.
 

Saltmeister

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But what if one didn't involve a scientific falsity? Or, going further, what if what is considered a purely religious idea (the resurrection of Christ, for example) is scientifically falsify-able?
No, of course not. And Christians don't really need to believe that Jesus is Lord, either. But the god-believer is convinced in spite of any facts that can be brought to bear on her intelligence. "Don't confuse me with the facts; my mind is already made up."

"Made up," indeed, when the substance of what one believes isn't in consonance with reality.

Then perhaps one could reason that maybe faith doesn't need to rest on historical fact? Is loyalty and devotion to the religion a pursuit of an experience that a group of people had 2,000 years ago or does it rely and depend on historical truth? Do people value a tradition for the experience or the truth of its story?

I believe the reluctance to accept that the resurrection didn't happen has to do with people not being given an alternative within the same tradition, given that they value that particular tradition. It depends on whether or not a resolution is out there on offer. Unfortunately, there's a lot of opposition to concepts that go against conventional thinking. So...even if someone does offer something to explain away the resurrection but in a way that still preserves the meaning of the tradition, it'll not be popular.

Consider, as an example, the King Arthur legend. Nobody knows for sure if King Arthur actually existed and when and where he reigned. There is simply a story about him. What if, some time in the future, someone reveals evidence that says we can't know for sure when and where Jesus actually lived, say 100 B.C. in Rome or even 200 A.D. in Persia. What do we do then?

The problem of "right belief" can be solved if people are trained to be flexible in their thinking. They should be trained to find alternatives when a particular way of seeing things no longer works. While this may be condemned as "picking and choosing," one may be overlooking the possibility that it may not even matter exactly and precisely how we conceptualise things, but that we seek the experience that those concepts represent.

It's like the Trinity. Conventional Christianity (since the 4th century) insists that one see God as three in one, but we have no way of knowing if that's what the first-century Christians believed. We all have our metaphors, and the metaphors help us conceptualise our relationship with God (or the Divine), but nobody said we all had to use the same metaphors. If our metaphors work, should we not be happy? If it's not broken, do we have to fix it?

Another example: What if the New Testament isn't accurate? Does that mean that Christianity isn't valid anymore? Question: Does Christianity rely on the New Testament being accurate? Isn't the New Testament just a way of reminding us what the first-century Christians believed? That said, the validity of Christianity doesn't rely on any Text. The Text simply projects the mostly forgotten tradition of Christianity. From the point of view of Catholic and Orthodox churches, sacred tradition is what preserves the original first-century tradition.

So there we are.....we can always find alternative rationalisations. There's a way out. We just have to find it. That's what you have to tell the fundamentalists: that there alternative ways of seeing things. It doesn't matter so much what you believe, but that what you experience is similar to what the founders or first-adherents of the religion/tradition experienced.

Is Jesus Lord? Sure it says that in the New Testament, but that doesn't mean that's how you have to express the association. You don't even have to call him Jesus, Christ or Lamb. Why not pick a name out of a comic book that means the same thing? Could I call him George Washington or Napoleon? What about Adolf Hitler? What if I replace the cross with the swastika? Is that blasphemy? My answer would be no if you can recreate the experience of Jesus' first followers. The experience matters more than the name. The name means nothing without the actual experience. Words are just tools of expression. Same with "symbols" like Christ and Adolf Hitler. The names matter less than what they actually represent. In generations to come, people will remember Jesus Christ and Adolf Hitler for what they did (or meant to people) in history, even if their names didn't originally mean that.
 

Saltmeister

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I don't know where you get the idea that this is about control. It's not.

Could this not be a question of -- who's got the power? The chair is a lifeless, inanimate object. The chair is not a who, but a what. The chair doesn't have a personality. It is neither good nor evil and doesn't have feelings. "Do you trust the chair?" isn't a personal question. Your relationship with the chair isn't personal as the chair doesn't have a mind of its own. The chair doesn't hate you or get angry. Faith is personal isn't it? I think a more valid question of faith is whether you trust a genie who offers you three wishes.

If the chair was evil then . . . lol. Do you trust the evil chair?
 

chron

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Could this not be a question of -- who's got the power? The chair is a lifeless, inanimate object. The chair is not a who, but a what. The chair doesn't have a personality. It is neither good nor evil and doesn't have feelings. "Do you trust the chair?" isn't a personal question. Your relationship with the chair isn't personal as the chair doesn't have a mind of its own. The chair doesn't hate you or get angry. Faith is personal isn't it? I think a more valid question of faith is whether you trust a genie who offers you three wishes.

If the chair was evil then . . . lol. Do you trust the evil chair?

Well, the idea of faith to having to do only with people is overly restrictive. I'm using the word as it is commonly used. People regularly express faith in chairs and ideas. People have faith in visions. Steve Jobs at Apple, Inc. and Bill Gates at Microsoft are two tech-industry pioneers who had faith in their visions of what could be.

I think it's silly to say that definitions that don't fit with my conceptualization of what a word "should" mean are wrong.
 
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