Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Is faith avoidable?

The definition of faith is as complicated one. Lots of people study the issue of religion, but no one can examine every parameter of the issue. So, we have to live on the basis of some view of ultimate reality or another, fully acting on the view we accept, even though it is always possible that there is some feature of reality that we haven't considered that might give us a reason to believe and act in the opposite way. Defined this way, faith is impossible to avoid. 

9 comments:

John Moore said...

I wonder if you saw this big argument over at the Thinking Christian site where Tom Gilson was arguing fiercely against Peter Boghossian's suggestion that faith means "pretending to know what you don't know."

I thought the two were really agreeing with each other on substance, and their whole argument was just about words. Gilson insists on careful respectful words while Boghossian likes to use flippant snarky words. But they're really saying the same thing.

Mr. Green said...

It doesn't have to be complicated: five seconds with a dictionary will reveal that "faith" means "trust or confidence"; now certainly there is much, much more that could be said about it, but that's enough to start with, and certainly enough to rule out foolish rhetoric about "believing something against the evidence" or what have you. And it's enough to indicate that yes, it is impossible to avoid faith — you don't even need to address grand questions of the meaning of life... you couldn't even cross the road without faith.

Gyan said...

That our thoughts have some relation to reality is itself a leap of faith. And this leap many moderns find themselves unable to make.
Faith is unavoidable.

Victor Reppert said...

John: Why do you say they really agree?

Legion of Logic said...

When someone is pretending to know something he doesn't know, I call that BS'ing. That is not even remotely the same thing as having faith, so I have no choice but to conclude that Boghossian is pretending to know something he doesn't know when it comes to faith.

Tom Gilson said...

No, John, we weren't saying the same thing. Wow. But thanks for pointing people my direction.

John Moore said...

Gilson says faith is trust based on a certain amount of evidence. Gilson himself admits that trust implies a lack of total certainty. Boghossian says faith is behaving as if you have total certainty, even though you don't.

Maybe Gilson and Boghossian disagree about whether there is any evidence supporting belief in God. But the core of their dispute was whether faith entails acting without certainty, and they both accept that.

Tom Gilson said...

That's an incredibly generous depiction of Boghossian's view, and a seriously pared down version of mine.

Yes, Boghossian and I do agree that faith means acting without total certainty. Saying that means we're basically saying the same thing about faith, however, is like saying that HIllary Clinton and Donald Trump both agree there should be a strong leader in the White House, so their arguments about the presidency are just about words.

oozzielionel said...

There seems to be plenty or room for disagreement. First, there is the issue of evidence. Based on definition, criteria, and sufficiency, some argue for total lack of evidence while other cite tons. Certainty and how to conduct oneself with lack of total certainty provides many areas of potential disagreement. There comes a time when available alternatives have been considered that one boldly walks into life based on the best concept of reality that can be had. Great boldness is bolstered by great faith.