C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

FAITH A Four Letter Word

Faith:
Hebrews 11:1: the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Encarta.com: belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof
Dictionary.com: confidence or trust in a person or thing, belief that is not based on proof

It appears some believe faith to be a four letter word that they will have no part of. So today, I am questioning faith with the idea of, can anyone actually live life without such? I am not narrowing my idea of faith to only saving faith or even religious faith, but simply faith as it stands in anything.

Does every person at least have some type of faith in something or someone, even if they deny such? I believe the answer is yes.

Is there not a sense of faith in believing that ones mother and father are actually their biological parents? Unless there is a DNA test that proves undeniable evidence that such are, is it not based on trust in a person without actual proof? One may say that the evidence points to that, ah, but the evidence though may point to such may only be leading one away from the truth.

I know children that look like their parents, but their parents are not their biological parents. There are cases that children do not even know they have been adopted till their teen years when they are told of such. Men have signed birth certificates stating they are the father when they are not the biological father. Yet all these children do not simply “think” these people are their parents, they “believe” and have “faith” that these are their parents without requiring or requesting logical evidence or proof.

Theists are often criticized for having faith that indeed a Creator (whom we call God) created this universe. We are often scoffed by saying we have no evidence and it leaves too many unanswered questions.

On the flip side, when questions as to the origination of the Big Bang, of what set all this in motion, we are given answers like “We don’t know yet” or “Maybe matter and energy has always existed”. Some may claim evidence to the “after effects” of the Big Bang, but not the “start” or the “cause” of the Big Bang. Does this not fall in line with the Biblical definition of faith? “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” No one saw the Big Bang, but there is hope and they believe evidence of that not seen exist to prove it happened.

There could be many more examples, but I just don’t see where it is possible for anyone to live life without some type of faith whether small or great in someone or something without requiring or demanded “show me the evidence first”.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

But don't confuse faith with taking things as a given or speculation.

Your example about having faith that your biological parents are, in fact, your biological parents is an example of taking something as a given, not of faith. It is possible to prove/disprove your biological connection to your parents. No faith is required. That most of us simply take as a given our biological parentage is a result of the fact that it doesn't actually matter too much -- there is far more to parents than biology. If you learn that you were adopted, does that mean your parents aren't your parents? I say no. If it does matter to you, then you can have a test to determine the matter.

The example of the big bang is also not an example of faith. The objective evidence for the big bang is quite strong (although not conclusive. A small but not insignificant number of mainstream cosmologists think that there are alternative explanations that fit the evidence and are investigating them.) However, the big bang hypothesis says nothing about how things were created. At this point, what happened prior to the big bang (or the event that resembles the big bang) is outside the realm of science altogether. Any comments about the state of things before that are speculation, not faith.

There is a third confusion that I hear commonly, too: between faith and hope. For example, people might say they have faith that the future will be brighter, but what they really mean is that they have hope.

--JohnFen

JohnFen said...

(Hey, look! I got the login to work. Thanks for the advice.)

I had one further thought... it seems to me that when atheists (or others) criticize religious faith, what they are really criticizing is not faith in the general sense, but rather blind faith. Blind faith is when a belief is held not just in the absence of evidence, but despite contrary evidence.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Glad to see you got it working. I got your email and hope to respond tonight or tomorrow.

when atheists (or others) criticize religious faith, what they are really criticizing is not faith in the general sense, but rather blind faith.

This may indeed be the case, but from what I am getting it seems like atheists consider the word faith as not even being in their vocabulary. I even had one say that they do not "believe" they "think". I am unclear how one can seperate those two, but I guess in their mind they do.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

johnfen,

Do you believe it is possible for a person to live life totally removed from any type of faith whatsoever?

JohnFen said...

it seems like atheists consider the word faith as not even being in their vocabulary.

Well, in my opinion, this is a result of a cultural thing. When an atheist hears a theist use the word "faith," the tendency is to mentally prepend the word "religious" onto it, and assume that the theist isn't talking about garden-variety dictionary definition faith. In other words, "faith" is a bit of a trigger word. In other contaxts, an atheist isn't averse to using the word "faith" in a secular sense. When I am driving through an intersection, for example, I may say that I have faith that the other cars will stop at their red light.

But note that this garden-variety faith is not offered as an absolute. I have faith that cross-traffic will obey the light, but I also understand that it's only a probability. There's a chance that they won't. I think this sense of absoluteness is what distinguishes religious faith from secular faith. It is the absoluteness that, I suspect, is what vocal atheists really object to.

Do you believe it is possible for a person to live life totally removed from any type of faith whatsoever?

Yes, I do. Although I think that it's not easy (faith is a mental shortcut and to completely eschew it is a lot of constant work), there are indeed people who do it. The completely faithless worldview is a variety of classical objectivism (not to be confused with Ayn Rand's Objectivism.)

JohnFen said...

I even had one say that they do not "believe" they "think". I am unclear how one can seperate those two

It's pretty simple, really. Belief and thought are nearly opposites. That is to say that once someone believes something, they cease to question it. To say "I believe" means certainty. To say "I think" means the acknowledgement that I may be wrong, and so long as I may be wrong, then I have to think about it.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

To say "I think" means the acknowledgement that I may be wrong, and so long as I may be wrong, then I have to think about it.

Would it be fair to say that atheists then live a life full of uncertainty? I mean without absolutes what is one left with but chance?

Vincent said...

The Atheist Ethicist explained it pretty well:

"I have mentioned in the past that humans are not fully rational and, more importantly, we cannot be fully rational. We do not have the time to hold all of our beliefs up to rational scrutiny. Therefore, we (rationally) adopt rules of thumb – heuristics that allow us to get our beliefs mostly right even though they can lead to mistakes.
One of these heuristics is to listen to those around us."

http://atheistethicist.blogspot.com/2007/02/theism-as-mental-illness-or-child-abuse.html

I explained the think/believe dichotomy elsewhere to you, but I will put it again:
To think is to make rational, logical inferences from evidence and to do so with an open mind. To believe is to presume something is fact when there is and cannot be any evidence.

And what is wrong with an absence of absolutes?

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

And what is wrong with an absence of absolutes?

The simple definition of relativism.

any theory holding that criteria of judgment are relative, varying with individuals and their environments.

Vincent said...

That doesn't answer my question.

What is wrong with relativism?

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

what is wrong with an absence of absolutes?

If there are no absolutes:

1. No one can tell me there is no God, only that they think (without certainty) that there is no God.

2. No reason for "hate crime" bills because no one can tell the person they are wrong for speech or actions against another, only justice to actions (not motives) against the law can be judged as against the law, not wrong or right.

3. What you believe to be right or wrong is relative and another can disagree without you claiming they are wrong or right.

4. Science and all its theories and tests are relative and could all be a made up lie that has deceived many.

Need I go on?

Vincent said...

1. You like when people tell you there is no god?

2. There is such a thing as right or wrong without absolutes.

3. People don't have to agree on everything, but you will find most agree on basics.

4. Here you touch one, but not quite right. Some may take relativism that far (and they call that neomodernism) but it's a straw man argument. In fact it's an inconsistency as well because it calls for absolute relativism.
In fact, relativism does not apply to physical, testable, reproducable matters.

So yes, go on. You still haven't shown me why absolutes are necessary.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

2. There is such a thing as right or wrong without absolutes.

How can something be right or wrong without being absolute?


3. People don't have to agree on everything, but you will find most agree on basics.

Are the basics absolute?

Vincent said...

Are you suggesting that something cannot be wrong in one situation and right in another?

Just picking a simple biblical example, if there is abosolute right and absolute wrong, why was it right to stone a disobedient child to death in ancient times but wrong now?

No, basics aren't absolute. They are based on utility and results. Don't kill people is not an absolute, but human experience teaches us that our lives are more comfortable and secure if we don't just kill people.
Is there ever a time when killing is right?

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

So you are absolute there are no absolutes?

Vincent said...

Unless you include physical laws.
I do not agree with your dichotomy that you have either absolutes or chance.
For one thing, it supposes that all of human culture that doesn't agree with your position (what you believe to be the absolutes) is a matter of chance.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Unless you include physical laws.

So I don't get it. Either there are absolutes or there are no absolutes.

You said what is wrong with an absence of absolutes?

And to my question of "So you are absolute there are no absolutes?" you said Unless you include physical laws..

How are you on both sides of the coin?

Vincent said...

As far as human beings are concerned, there are physical laws to the universe that, in the span of human lifetime, will not change. It's not exactly absolute, because it's not eternal. However, it's absolute in the sense that there is nothing we can do to affect it.

So, when you said "Would it be fair to say that atheists then live a life full of uncertainty? I mean without absolutes what is one left with but chance?"
I did not think you meant atheists were uncertain about gravity. In that case I guess I don't live a life full of uncertainty. I don't think it's just a matter of chance that I don't float away from the planet.

JohnFen said...

Would it be fair to say that atheists then live a life full of uncertainty?

Yes. As does everyone else, regardless of religious belief. At any moment, you could drop stone cold dead, or lose your job, or win the lottery. Life is full of uncertainties everywhere you look!

I think this is a good thing, myself. If all were certain, then there would be no room for growth or change. If there's no room for growth and change, then what meaning could life have? It would be terribly boring.

BEAST said...

Hmm, Too much to discuss, and I will cut it short.

As an atheist, I do not like the word "faith". If someone asks me if I have faith in a person, I will say I trust him, based on my previous experience with him.

Similarly, I do not purchase a laptop, or anything else, based on this silly quality called faith.

Faith doesn't really work in my sphere. Trust is a far better thing than mere belief.

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.