1. Joined
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    15 Oct '08 17:181 edit
    What do you mean when you say the word, "faith"? What is faith to you, and what role does it play in your life?

    It's only fair that I answer first, so here goes: I regard "faith" as "belief in something whether or not I know it to be true." It starts from that nugget, and then the belief becomes encompassing, and I "know" (i.e., I feel like I know, and I would use the word "know" ) the belief is true. Wonderful things can happen with faith, but faith as I understood it when I was a Christian and in my subsequent religious experiments always starts with that core. I don't have any faith now. I've found what it used to do for me--the desires and needs it used to fulfil--I can now satisfy in other ways. I generally don't use the word these days. Where I once may have spoke of having faith in my friends, I now (more honestly and more precisely) speak of having trust in my friends. So that's my answer.

    Please, please, PLEASE don't take this as an opportunity to argue with me--I have the "why god?" thread for argument. I really just want to know how you use the word--the answer often surprises and interests me. Consider this an opportunity for fruitful, respectful and intelligent dialogue between atheism and theism. Don't try to convert us, and, please, atheists, let's not try to convert them, either.
  2. Standard memberblack beetle
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    15 Oct '08 17:31
    Originally posted by convect
    What do you mean when you say the word, "faith"? What is faith to you, and what role does it play in your life?

    It's only fair that I answer first, so here goes: I regard "faith" as "belief in something whether or not I know it to be true." It starts from that nugget, and then the belief becomes encompassing, and I "know" (i.e., I feel like I know, and ...[text shortened]... to convert us, and, please, atheists, let's not try to convert them, either.
    I consider as "faith" the strenght/ energy of the determination that keeps you on your chosen track and unables you to stand for your beliefs;
  3. Joined
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    15 Oct '08 17:32
    Originally posted by convect
    What do you mean when you say the word, "faith"? What is faith to you, and what role does it play in your life?

    It's only fair that I answer first, so here goes: I regard "faith" as "belief in something whether or not I know it to be true." It starts from that nugget, and then the belief becomes encompassing, and I "know" (i.e., I feel like I know, and ...[text shortened]... to convert us, and, please, atheists, let's not try to convert them, either.
    I have faith because it is the thing that explains the unexplainable, comforts the inconsolable, defends the things that are good while combating the evils of the world. Evil destroys. The good things in this world promote health and peace of mind. I believe that much is blamed on God which should be blamed on Satan. One is the epitome of Good and the other is the epitome of Evil. I often hear people blame God for not intervening when bad things happen. This is what probably caused you to lose your faith. I have been in your place, so I am not going to try to argue you out of your decision. But, I have had proof enough in my life that there is Someone who can work miracles, and change lives.
  4. Joined
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    15 Oct '08 17:43
    Originally posted by ale1552
    I have faith because it is the thing that explains the unexplainable, comforts the inconsolable, defends the things that are good while combating the evils of the world. Evil destroys. The good things in this world promote health and peace of mind. I believe that much is blamed on God which should be blamed on Satan. One is the epitome of Good and the other ...[text shortened]... have had proof enough in my life that there is Someone who can work miracles, and change lives.
    Thanks for your post! Both replies so far have been exactly what I want to read. Keep them coming, O ye faithful! Quick note, though, since you brought it up: Me losing my faith had nothing to do with something bad happening to me. You said "This is what probably caused you to lose your faith," and I just wanted to make it clear: that's wrong. No trauma here!

    I could press on another question, which is how you see the relationship between faith and proof, since you said some nice things about your faith but then said you have proof, too, but I won't. Except I guess I just did, but let's leave the "what is the relationship between faith and proof?" for another thread.

    I just want to hear more people talk about what they mean by "faith."
  5. Joined
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    15 Oct '08 17:48
    Originally posted by ale1552
    I have faith because it is the thing that explains the unexplainable, comforts the inconsolable, defends the things that are good while combating the evils of the world. Evil destroys. The good things in this world promote health and peace of mind. I believe that much is blamed on God which should be blamed on Satan. One is the epitome of Good and the other ...[text shortened]... have had proof enough in my life that there is Someone who can work miracles, and change lives.
    Oooo,...actually...clarifying question: You've told me why you have faith, but you haven't told me what faith is? What do you mean by the word "faith"?

    I only ask this because I have seen some very interesting answers and I want to see more!
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    15 Oct '08 18:39
    First let me say that there are a few human reactions which are like faith. But I do not feel comfortable speaking of them as faith, ie. the faith talked about in the Bible.

    For instance - my father looks a lot like me. When we are together people often speak of the resemblence.

    Now he tells me and has always told me that he is my father. Now I really don't know that. I mean, I never took his blood sample and mine to have a DNA analysis done. I wasn't there when he caused my mother to conceive me. I wasn't aware enough to know that the nurses or doctors who signed the birth certificate were either not mistaken or were not lying.

    I really do not know that the man who looks like me whom I have always called "Dad" is my real father. But I trust him that he is telling me the truth.

    This is a human mental attitude of trust which is something like the faith in the Bible. But not exactly so.

    This biblical faith to me is a Person. When I am aware of the presence and closeness of this person spontaneously I also have faith.

    Things by sight may look very bleak. And reasonings in the mind may seem very persuasive. But for some reason deeper within my being is this trust that I know what I know - God is here and is with me.


    It is very difficult for me to seperate the Person of God and the faith that I have. It is a living thing. It is an "organic" matter deep in my being.

    In myself I do not have any more faith than the next person. I am full of doubts in myself. But the presence of God, the touch of God when I get in the Bible imparts faith into me. This is somewhat like radiation.

    God's words and God's nearness imparts faith into my heart.
  7. weedhopper
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    15 Oct '08 18:531 edit
    Faith is believing without seeing; belief in something without requiring unassailable proof for that belief.
  8. Standard memberblack beetle
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    15 Oct '08 19:18
    Originally posted by PinkFloyd
    Faith is believing without seeing; belief in something without requiring unassailable proof for that belief.
    Hey Pink Floyd dude, this is not faith; it 's a blind belief.
  9. Joined
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    15 Oct '08 19:31
    Originally posted by jaywill
    First let me say that there are a few human reactions which are like faith. But I do not feel comfortable speaking of them as faith, ie. the faith talked about in the Bible.

    For instance - my father looks a lot like me. When we are together people often speak of the resemblence.

    Now he tells me and has always told me that he is my father. Now I re ...[text shortened]... mewhat like radiation.

    God's words and God's nearness imparts faith into my heart.
    I like your answer Jaywill. An honest attempt to describe what is obviously a difficult concept

    Convect, from what I have read of your threads, I think you will be a great asset to these forums.

    For my part, I think faith is the belief in something in the face of objective evidence. Like you I think, I would not use the word 'in anger'. However, subjective experience can be a substitute for real objective evidence. I think that what many people see as evidence for their faith is a result of the pattern-matching nature of our species.

    I do not have faith in my own subjective experience. I merely trust them in the everyday world. If I experience something contrary to the norm, I will suspect my senses first.

    If this make no sense, it's because I've had 1/2 a bottle of wine.

    --- Penguin.
  10. Joined
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    15 Oct '08 20:46
    Originally posted by convect
    What do you mean when you say the word, "faith"? What is faith to you, and what role does it play in your life?

    It's only fair that I answer first, so here goes: I regard "faith" as "belief in something whether or not I know it to be true." It starts from that nugget, and then the belief becomes encompassing, and I "know" (i.e., I feel like I know, and ...[text shortened]... to convert us, and, please, atheists, let's not try to convert them, either.
    Why not let the theist define the nature of their belief? Some theists obviously believe that there are irrefutable proofs that God exists (even if you may challenge whether those proofs stand criticism). Their faith obviously does not start as a 'nugget' and then become increasingly taken for granted as true but is something grounded in an intellectual conviction.
  11. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    15 Oct '08 20:47
    Originally posted by black beetle
    I consider as "faith" the strenght/ energy of the determination that keeps you on your chosen track and unables you to stand for your beliefs;
    Deep-seated conviction that life is worthwhile.
  12. Subscriberjb70online
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    15 Oct '08 21:29
    Faith to me is knowing there is a power greater than me who is loving and good and will provide what I need even though I might think I need something else.We are all the same inasmuch as we are on a spiritual journey.We want to grow spiritually.We are spirit with a body not a body with a spirit.All religions believe they are the "one and only"
    true word of GOD.Religion is the organised side of faith with the dressing-up and special days and churches and rituals,but people can have that on its own without faith and be part of a community.Faith is greater than the bricks that build the church.Faith is knowing we are here for a purpose and to be guided by a loving GOD.
  13. Donationbbarr
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    15 Oct '08 23:36
    Originally posted by convect
    What do you mean when you say the word, "faith"? What is faith to you, and what role does it play in your life?

    It's only fair that I answer first, so here goes: I regard "faith" as "belief in something whether or not I know it to be true." It starts from that nugget, and then the belief becomes encompassing, and I "know" (i.e., I feel like I know, and ...[text shortened]... to convert us, and, please, atheists, let's not try to convert them, either.
    Epi and I had a nice discussion about this very topic not long ago. I wrote the following, which perhaps you will find interesting:

    It is difficult for me to be clear about all this, primarily because I rarely use the term 'faith' and am typically unsure of the intended sense of the term when I hear it used by others. Further, there is a fine line between excavating and stipulating the sense of terms used colloquially. So, what follows is largely vague and exploratory, so please bear with me, and begins with natural language considerations. Now, many terms that refer to psychological states or properties are not used univocally. Think of all the ways the term 'faith' is commonly deployed in speech. Consider the following handful of examples:

    1) S has faith that P.

    This reads as though faith is a type of propositional attitude, similar in structure to belief, desire, fear, etc. in that faith is a stance one can take with respect to some proposition. I could believe that it will rain, desire or fear that it will rain, or have faith that it will rain. But the difficulty here is specifying the difference between faith and the other propositional attitudes. It seems clear, to me at least, that the claim 'S has faith that P' analytically entails the claim 'S believes that P'. It would certainly be strange for somebody to claim that he has faith it will rain while sincerely believing that it will not rain. Note that this is one reason it is so hard to understand just what Kierkegaard is getting at when he speaks of the psychology of the Knight of Faith. But it is also strange, though perhaps less so, to construe faith as wholly cognitive, unconnected to conative or affective states. Typically people do not claim to have faith that P when they simply do not care whether it is the case that P. Further, people typically claim to have faith that P only when that take some broadly pro-attitude towards P. It is natural to claim that one has faith that his friends will treat him well, but it sounds strange to claim that one has faith that his enemies will treat him viciously. But, if this is right, then faith is a mongrel state, much like optimism, possessing characteristics of both belief and desire. If faith is construed in this way, then there is no reason to think that faith, by its very nature, is epistemically irresponsible. Whether an instance of faith is epistemically responsible will depend on the evidence upon which it is partly based.

    2) For S, P is an article of faith.

    Unlike (1), this does not read as though faith is a propositional attitude, but like (1) it entails the claim 'S believes that P'. The term 'faith' here seems to demarcate a class of propositions constitutive of either an epistemic orientation or a normative worldview. If the former, these are the propositions that serve as epistemically basic and are taken to be non-inferentially justified (if one is a foundationalist of either the internalist or externalist variety), or those nearest the center of the web of belief and most insulated against revision urged by the tribunal of experience (if one is a holist or coherentist). If the later, these propositions are those that specify the deepest, most fundamental normative commitments one has; commitments that function as first principles, perhaps tacitly, in practical deliberation. Since, on this reading, 'faith' refers to classes of propositions specified by function within the cognitive and/or evaluative life of agents, rather than to propositions specified by either their content or evidential backing, it will be an open question whether any particular article of faith is epistemically irresponsibly held. Again, it will be the evidence that decides. Of course, settling disputes at this level will often be difficult, and the threat of begging the question in such disputes looms. In many cases the best we can do to settle disputes about the nature of epistemic justification or of the credentials of first-order moral judgments is to construct localized consistency arguments of the form "if you believe that, then you commit yourself to this implausible entailment", where we hope the implausibility of the entailment is evident to our interlocutor.

    3) S takes P on faith.

    Like (2), this usage of the term 'faith' is closely tied to issues of inference and deliberation, but unlike (2) this claim does not invariably entail the claim 'S believes that P'. I have heard this expression used to indicate that one has taken a proposition as a hypothetical posit; a provisional assumption for the purpose of guiding inquiry. Here, unlike the first two examples, the will is implicated in faith. Nothing in either (1) or (2) entails that S chooses to take any particular stance towards P. But here we have a use of 'faith' that seems to require choice. An agent must choose, perhaps in some limited manner, to deliberate and act as though P was the case. The term "leap of faith" is most clearly an example of this usage, but admonishments to have faith often take this sense as well, at least when they are not mere exhortations in the face of flagging confidence. Now, a case could be made that posits of this sort are epistemically irresponsible, since if one had sufficent evidence for P one would not need to posit P provisionally, and why treat the world as though P were true if there is insufficient evidence that P is true? But there is no guarantee that, for all P, the world is such that the truth or falsity of P is discoverable independently of treating the world as though P were true. Conditional proofs work this way in logic, after all. Further, since provisionally positing P does not commit one to the belief that P, it is always open to one who takes P on faith to cite pragmatic reasons for the positing.

    4) S believes P based on faith.

    Of course this entails that S believes P, and so it will be an open question whether this belief is epistemically justified. I hear this or similar claims quite often, and admit to being at a loss as to what exactly is meant. Often the claim is simply pejorative; elliptical for "S has no evidence for his belief that P'. If this is how 'faith' is to be construed, then of course it will follow that faith is epistemically irresponsible, since it leads to unjustified believing. But this is not the only way we can construe (4). 'Faith' here could refer to either some other propositional attitude, as in (1) above, from the propositional contents of which the belief that P is inferred, or to some actual proposition taken to be foundational or nomratively central, as in (2) above, from which P is inferred, or it could refer to some psychological capacity or state or trait that functions as a mechanism of belief formation. Although the epistemological details here matter, the upshot of this non-pejorative reading of 'faith', and the basing relation in particular, is that justified faith can itself justify belief (or, if faith is a belief forming psychological mechanism, that it may yield justified beliefs if it reliably produces true ones).
  14. Hmmm . . .
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    16 Oct '08 00:29
    Originally posted by bbarr
    Epi and I had a nice discussion about this very topic not long ago. I wrote the following, which perhaps you will find interesting:

    It is difficult for me to be clear about all this, primarily because I rarely use the term 'faith' and am typically unsure of the intended sense of the term when I hear it used by others. Further, there is a fine line between ...[text shortened]... may yield justified beliefs if it reliably produces true ones).
    My own definition of faith, as I see it in the NT—or in Zen, for that matter—is a stance or attitude of confidence in the face of uncertainty. * I perhaps should add the word “active” or “decisive” to that. I call it a “radical faith” in that it neither requires nor entails “belief” about anything—other than, perhaps, possibility.

    I sometimes draw upon examples from sports, such as a quarterback making a “hail mary” pass in the final seconds of a game. Sports psychologists will counsel that the greater confidence with which the pass is thrown, the greater the likelihood that it may actually connect. This does not, however, say anything about the probability of completing such pass under the given circumstances. What it does is to remove the effects of sloppiness deriving from a negative attitude. If one decides that there is any possibility of making the pass, then one might as well act with all the confidence that one can muster. I think that such a stance enriches living, generally—and is very Zen in that regard.

    This seems closest to your (3), and will is clearly implicated. Instead of a “leap of faith”, I might just speak in terms of a “decision of faith”. Such decisions invariably entail risk.

    Although “belief” may have been an adequate (if somewhat poetic) translation of pistis—as it is used in the NT— in 1611, I think that is no longer the case. I also do not think that “faith”—under any definition—ought to be used to escape epistemic responsibility, or to create a false indefeasibility. Epistemic calculations—even under your example of faith as a provisional position—must come from elsewhere.

    ____________________________________________

    * I have become a little uneasy about that word “uncertainty”, based on past discussion here about fallibist versus infallibist knowledge, and the fact that one can reasonably claim to know something without absolute certainty.
  15. weedhopper
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    16 Oct '08 03:33
    Originally posted by PinkFloyd
    Faith is believing without seeing; belief in something without requiring unassailable proof for that belief.
    I'm just gettin' down to the core, "dude". At some point in discussing religion and beliefs, there must be a "leap of faith" in order to believe in God. The supernatural is by definition unexplainable. If you want to call it blind belief, that's cool with me. I however, don't see it that way.
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