Is faith a reliable path to knowledge?

Discussion in 'Comparative Religion' started by James R, Jul 23, 2015.

  1. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    If you must make assumptions, I guess there is no choice, but don't trust them.

    How can someone who can't reason reason that they can't reason?
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  3. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    I don't think trust comes into it after a certain point.

    In hindsight.

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  5. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    You mean it's ok to make assumptions based on temporal constraints, and the level of trust we have in those assumptions just doesn't matter?
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  7. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    Is that what you gleaned?

  8. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    What did you mean then that trust doesn't come into it? If we are making judgements based on incomplete information, which we have to do all the time, why doesn't trust come into it? How much confidence should we place in judgements that are just preliminary?
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Continuing with my reply to Jan Ardena:

    How do you know there is a big you? How do you know you're not imagining things, or engaging in wishful thinking, of just hoping?

    Regarding the corruption of organised religion:
    Out of interest: do you respect any kind of religious authorities, other than the scriptures?

    That's not clear. Are you claiming that there are no differences between the scriptures of the major world religions, or are you saying that you haven't come across any scripture that you reject?

    By the sounds of it, you're trying to make the ludicrous claim that all of the major religions are the same. That doesn't really warrant a serious response, on its face. You'll need to flesh out your claim if you want a serious response to it from me.

    No, but the same applies to any kind of human emotion or feeling. Emotions and feelings are subjective experiences. Objectively, being in love correlates with certain changes in brain chemistry and other physical changes, which are observable through scientific research. But that research can only dig out the objective facts. It can't reproduce the subjective feeling.

    On the other hand, as I mentioned previously, there have been many studies that have shown that stimulating the brain in certain ways can produce various emotions and feelings - sensations indistinguishable from having those experiences "in real life". The mind is the brain. I don't think there's any "big you" that is separate from your body. Destroy your brain and you destroy you. There's nothing to suggest that this is not true.

    It's funny you should say this. Please see my next post about faith, because this is going to lead to another discussion strand.

    We don't know what he saw. The best we can say, as objective observers, is that he has reported seeing a ghost. If he is trustworthy, we can conclude that he believes he saw a ghost. But there are no grounds at all for jumping from that statement to the conclusion that ghosts are real and this guy actually saw one. As for his belief, the best we can say is that he believes that ghosts exist because he believes he saw one.

    You seem to have difficulty separating subjective experience from objective truth - something I said at the top of this series of posts. There really is no "real for you, not real for me". Things are either real or not real. Our job is to do our best to try to distinguish one from the other. Where that is not possible, I think we should reserve judgment until we have access to better information. But this is one of the central questions of this thread. People with religious faith say that, when in doubt, we should take a "leap of faith" and just believe. Following that line of reasoning, ghosts are real unless proven otherwise. And so is God. And so are flying purple unicorns and teapots orbiting the Sun.

    Because he should care about what is objectively true (in my opinion).

    Seeing ghosts is not extremely common. It is common enough, however, to make us interested in finding out whether there is anything to these ghost sightings in terms of objective evidence. There results are in: the evidence is flimsy and unconvincing. The next step, therefore, is to enquire in to why it is that so many people claim to see ghosts. We also have some results of that inquiry, too. The reasons vary, and I think that this is not the thread to discuss that research in detail. It's a better topic for the Ghosts subforum.

    If knowledge is justified true belief, then he doesn't know anything unless (a) ghosts actually exist and (b) his claim to have seen a ghost is (objectively) justified with reference to (a). At this point, all his has is element (c) of knowledge: a belief.

    Maybe you should care more about what is true. Otherwise, you risk wasting your life on falsehoods, as I explained above.

    So I'm correct when I say that this is not a conclusion you arrived at on the basis of evidence. It is just "common sense" to you that (a) the universe needs a supernatural creator, and (b) God is that creator.

    This is a science forum. Circular "proofs" and begging the question don't fly well here.

    The point has been made to you a number of times in a different thread that defining a thing in a particular way doesn't mean that thing is real. If I define ArkFunkle as the little pixie who lives in my computer and makes it work, the evidence that my computer works does not prove the existence of Arkfunkle. The reason is that Arkfunkle is not understood merely as "whatever it is that makes my computer work". If that was all Arkfunkle was supposed to be, then we could say that my cutesy name "Arkfunkle" is really just a mask for my lack of understanding of electricity, energy, integrated circuitry and other relevant areas of science. But my definition of Arkfunkle says specifically that he is a pixie. From elsewhere, we import various other notions of what pixies are and what they do and how they do it. So, what I've done is to illegitimately try to sneak a whole lot of extra assumptions under the radar with my definition of Arkfunkle. You, of course, are doing exactly the same thing with your definition of God as the "original cause".
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I'd like to use this quote as a jumping-off point for another strand of this discussion.

    Philosopher (and atheist) Peter Boghossian has defined "faith" as "pretending to know stuff you don't know".

    When believers say "I have faith in God", that can mean that they believe that God exists in the absence of sufficient objective evidence. It can also mean that they have confidence or trust in this being-of-uncertain-status - that He will help in times of trouble, that He has a plan for the World, and so on.

    Ask the believer how confident that they are that God exists, has a plan for the world etc. etc., many will reply that they are "100% confident". That is, there is no doubt in their minds.

    I seems to me (and to Boghossian) that one can't know that God exists, and one can't be sure about what God wants or plans even if he does exist. Therefore, saying that you are 100% confident on account of your "faith" is pretending to know something you don't actually know.

    A reminder: this usage of the word "faith" is in accordance with the distinctions I made in my opening post to this thread. If you say "I have faith that my mother loves me" you are not pretending to know something you don't know. Why not? Because you're basing your conclusion on (presumably) solid evidence - how your mother relates to you, how she acts, etc. Were this evidence to be laid out in front of an unbaised jury, the jury could reasonably come to the conclusion that your mother loves you, based not on your subjective experience but on the objective signs. It can be known, in principle, by anyone whether your mother loves you. This is in contrast to something like knowing God's plan for your life.

    So, another question to the readership: do you think that faith is "pretending to know stuff you don't know"?
  11. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    I'm not entirely happy with the word "pretending". At its best, faith is the default position for situations where we really don't know. We don't know for sure whether gods or Bigfeet exist; there's no solid evidence but most of us skeptics would be happy enough to accept evidence if it was found. We can believe one way or the other without pretense.
  12. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Faith is not the best path for gaining knowledge, because all this requires is memorizing facts and buzz words, without having questioned anything. Questioning is needed to gain understanding, since questioning goes beyond blind faith into the need to see better.

    After you understand, then faith becomes useful, especially for innovation. Innovation places you outside the box where you can't see, even if you want to, since the data and understanding is sparse. You need to have faith in unsubstantiated hunches to make any progress. Eventually you strike gold and faith is rewarded with knowledge that allows those of little faith to gain knowledge.
  13. EoDEo Registered Senior Member

    There are two important things to be noted here. First and foremast is that all knowledge rests on faith. Not only because objective knowledge is literal impossibility, but because subjective knowledge is uncertain.

    Second is that belief in God as absolute value for moral and understanding standard is also uncertainty. Certainty removes faith by removing doubt. Doubt is essential to faith.

    Without doubt, there is no faith. Those who claim otherwise have blind fanaticism, not faith.


    You have the wrong question. You suppose the answer before you ask. Asking the right question is being half way there.

    A better question would be- Whose evidence you deem as more important? Evidence from personal experiences, or what others tell you is true.

    Even though I answered it earlier- the short answer is yes. Yes it is.

    I have faith that my experiences are true, therefore I count them as evidence. As such, a large portion of it, say 90% is evidence based, while 10% or less is on faith that my experiences are true.

    Think of your computer. Most of you know to use this box that comes alive because of the tamed thunder, using electrons to communicate with the whole world in less than a second. Most don't know how computers work, even in theory, but have little trouble believing the authority when they say something like- you need a modem to communicate to the outside world. These guys tamed the thunder, you better believe you need a modem to communicate.

    Faith is an extension of knowledge, much like intuition is extension of logic. Logic alone is insufficient for knowledge and knowledge alone is insufficient for understanding. You have to believe that your knowledge is true, otherwise you don't even think of it as knowledge.

    Hope is something you wish to be true regardless of your understanding.

    Idea of the creator fits perfectly to what science has learned about our world. It not only fills the gaps, but it makes the whole puzzle complete and meaningful. It does all of this in addition to the strong personal understanding of the creator we all have inside. This understanding of the world completes what we already personally learned to be true.
  14. yipeekiaye Registered Member

    Faith is not a proper path for gaining knowledge as it is based on unquestioningly believing what a human being in a position of Religious power is telling you. That human being most likely has a personal interest in telling you what to believe, usually financial gain, status gain or other self interest. Hence the person telling you what to believe is being subjective and acting out of self interest.

    Faith is what people who have no proof or logic use to get people to believe in them and what they say, usually that God exists.

    In the Catholic Church, followers are expected to believe or have faith that when a Bishop says something at a Confirmation Ceremony that the Holy Spirit has entered a young person receiving the sacrament of Confirmation. Despite camera phones and all the technology that exists there is not one piece of evidence that any Holy Spirit has ever entered any young person. Hence belief and faith in a Bishop is about believing in something that no evidence exists for, simply because someone else says so when that someone else has a personal interest in promoting that belief. It is in the interest of the Catholic Church to suggest it can do things others can't and that they are somehow important and needed by people. It is incredible that they still essentially play a game of make belief similar to a child pretending to pour tea for another child and people go along with this pretence.

    Given the knowledge people now have about the Catholic Church and what they did to protect their money and status, is it not obvious that they would also simply say they can do things they have no proof of, just to get that status and money in the first place?

    It is the leaders of religions such as the Catholic Church who convince people about the virtue of faith as it is the dubious virtue of believing what they are told by those leaders which keeps those leaders in positions of power. Hence faith is the wrong way to gain knowledge as it is about the people telling you to have faith in God and everything they say.

    People don't have beliefs or faiths, they repeat what others have told them so it is other people's faiths and beliefs they have unquestioningly gone along with and think those beliefs are their own. This is unthinking behaviour and not to be encouraged.
  15. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    It means that just as the physical body has a linage, the soul also has a linage. It is explained in the relationship between brahman and param-brahman.

    You mean do I accept any kind of religious authority, other than the scriptures?
    Yes, those who base their religion on scriptural injunctions.

    I'm asking if you have any examples that we can discuss.

    I made no mention of religion.

    Yet the subjective feeling most certainly exists, and is the most important bit.
    Science can only comment on it its effects.

    You're correct. We cannot say ghosts are real until we see one for ourselves.

    If you haven't experienced something, and somebody else has, and you claim that their experience wasn't real, then for you it's not real, but for the other person, it is.

    Following your line of reasoning.

    I read an article somewhere that claimed 18% of Americans claimed to have seen a ghost. I think that's extreme, for something that does not exist. And that's just America.

    Is it possible to believe ghosts exist, if you have knowledge of ghosts that ghosts exist?
    The reality is, there is no way of empirically knowing whether or not they exist. There are filmed documentation of ghosts and unexplained phenomena, but they simply get explained away, by people who are skeptical of their existence. So the only way to find out for sure, is to have the actual experience.

    I find this remark quite insulting, but it's what I come to expect from atheists like yourself.

    It's not a conclusion, it's the definition.
    Try to keep that in mind.

    It's not intended to prove anything, it is simply the definition of God.
    Any meaningful discussion about God, has to have the definition of God at it's core, otherwise we're not talking about God. Can you comprehend that? Denying that definition does nothing to advance the discussion.

    Of course it doesn't, but to find out whether it is real or not, you must first define it.

    We're not discussing what makes something work. We're discussing God, who is defined as the original cause/creator of the material world. Whether you believe that to be fact or not, makes no difference.

    You mean that is what you did when you claimed to be theist.

    Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
  16. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    He's insulting people by saying that.

    No. There are unseen aspects to our lives. Things we are neither consciously aware of, or have any knowledge of. Faith, is the hope that God will take care of these things, because we can't.

    I would be skeptical of a person who uses mathematical statistics to gage how much they believe in God.

    You wouldn't say that you have faith that your mother loves you, unless you were in a position where were unable to access the love of your mother, and her love for you was important at that particular time. Of course there are people who pretend to love, and be loved, so you're analogy, once again, crashes, burns, and dies.

  17. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Good, they deserve it.
  18. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I agree with Jan (this is perhaps the first time I've ever done that) that Boghossian's remark is nothing more than snark. It certainly isn't a sound philosophical argument.

    Boghossian probably believes the sun will rise tomorrow, in the absence of of sufficient objective evidence.

    Yes, I know that JamesR doesn't want to talk about that kind of example. But seeing as how this thread is trying to draw a strong distinction between religious faith and the rest of life, the atheist hoping to defend that distinction will have to show that the criticisms that he's directing at religion don't also apply in areas of life that he approves of, like science.

    David Hume (an atheist) famously wrote:

    "All inferences from experience suppose, as their foundation, that the future will resemble the past... If there be any suspicion that the course of nature may change and that the past may be no rule for the future, all experience becomes useless and can give rise to no inference or conclusion. It is impossible, therefore, that any arguments from experience can prove this resemblance of the past to the future, since all of these arguments are founded on the supposition of that resemblance." (Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (IV.ii.32)

    Interestingly, Hume never proposed a solution to the 'Problem of Induction'. (No generally accepted solution exists today.) But he didn't think that human beings should (or even can) abandon use of induction. Instead his view was that human beings instinctively think in this way. Hume lived a century before Darwin so he didn't put an evolutionary spin on it, but contemporary evolutionary epistemology does exactly that. But while appealing to evolution may explain why we think inductively, it still isn't a justification of induction. The fact that we evolved in conditions where the orderliness of nature held true doesn't provide us with any logical certainty that the same order will continue into the future.

    I think that 'faith' might perhaps be defined as willingness to act in the face of imperfect information. The thing is, imperfect information is the human condition, yet we blunder through our lives anyway. Every time we take a step, we trust that the law of gravity hasn't been repealed. Scientists assume that they are somehow inductively justified in drawing universal conclusions from finite data sets such as experimental or observational results.

    One can't know with total deductive certainty, such that there's no possibility of being wrong. But few if any human beliefs will satisfy that strong a standard. There's always going to be a sliding scale of justification, where absolute proof and disproof are rarely encountered cognitive ideals, where propositions will need to be assigned informal likelihood weights and where judgement calls will have to be made. It's the kind of situation that fuzzy logic was invented for.

    Yet we continue to make our plans in life and commit ourselves to our courses of action, behaving as if our assumptions are all true.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    As I said, it's not intended to be an argument. It's (one of) Boghossian's definitions of "faith". Call it a snark if you like. The question is: is it a reasonable definition or not?

    As Jan is aware, defining something in a certain way doesn't mean that the thing defined necessarily exists in the form that it is defined. (But more on that when I respond to Jan's posts above.)

    I have talked about that example several times in this thread. The first time was in the opening post.

    It is possible to claim that that there is insufficient objective evidence to justify the expectation that the sun will rise tomorrow. That seems to be your aim in referring to the problem of induction. I will not argue that the inductive scientific method provides some kind of iron-clad proof that the sun will rise tomorrow. It does not do so. However, on the basis of the general predictive success of scientific theories such as the rotating earth, solar lifetimes and so on, I argue that there is sufficient objective evidence to make our expectation that the sun will rise tomorrow reasonable and defendable on pragmatic grounds.

    I have no argument with Hume, and I agree that the problem of induction remains a philosophical problem. But from a pragmatic point of view, scientific induction works. This is demonstrated over and over again in every moment of our lives. Philosophers (and perhaps you) may worry that induction is not on a sound logical footing. When in a philosophical mood I sometimes ponder the issue myself. But the possibility that the sun may turn into a giant frog tomorrow rather than rising as usual doesn't really rate as a serious possibility on my radar, even though it's logically possible.

    By your definition, all science would be a matter of faith, because all of the major findings of science are based on inductive reasoning from the specific to the general. For that reason, I don't think your definition of faith is very useful. And it doesn't help us at all to get at the difference between believing in God and believing that the sun will rise tomorrow - or, to take a different example - believing that the place called Canada exists.

    But maybe you don't think there is a meaningful distinction?

    Would you say that you have faith that Canada exists, or that you know that Canada exists? Is Canada in the same category as God in terms of belief in existence, in your opinion, or would you make a distinction?

    Actually, no. Scientists appreciate that all scientific theories are provisional, subject to revision in the light of new evidence. Scientific theories provide working models of the natural world from which scientists can make predictions. Some models are better than others. This is determined by tests of the predictive power of the models.

    A statement like "Any two masses always attract one another gravitationally" may sound like a universal conclusion. But it really isn't. It's a model, subject to revision. If we every find an example of two masses repelling each other gravitationally, then we'll need to modify our gravitational model. In the meantime, it looks like the theory of gravity works ok (see that pragmatism at work again?).

    In contrast, a religious person like Jan Ardena draws universal conclusions that he admits are largely based on subjective experience and "common sense". He claims to know that God exists because he believes he has direct contact with or access to God. This is not ultimately based on anything objective, as far as I can tell.

    I think you and I are almost on the same page with this. But my problem is this: when you ask the average believer in a particular religion how confident he is that God exists, a very common response is "100%. There's no doubt in my mind." That believer is not weighing up the evidence in deciding that God is real. He is just believing. He isn't particularly interested in what objective evidence has to say about the question. The subjective judgment is made (often) largely in absence of an examination of the objective evidence for and against. See what Jan wrote earlier if you're not convinced about this.

    I do not think the average believer makes a "judgment call" in deciding that God exists. Judgment doesn't really come into it. Instead, it's a "leap of faith". And many believers will happily tell you that.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I think you may be using the word "faith" here in one of the ways that I distinguished in the opening post, rather than in the sense of religious faith.

    It might be good if you could expand on why you think objective knowledge is impossible. Is it simply because there's always a subjective entity doing the knowing, or are you getting at something else?

    If doubt is essential to faith, then why do you think it is that so many believers will tell you that they are sure that God exists and/or that their religion is true? Are they all fanatics?

    The question I'm asking (in part) is: which evidence is more likely to reliably point towards the truth? What do you think?

    Have you ever been mistaken about something? Did you ever, for example, "remember" an event or occurrence and later find out that it didn't really happen that way (from somebody else)? Have you ever misinterpreted something you saw or heard, and later found out that you were mistaken?

    Here I think you're using the word "faith" in reference to your experiences in the sense of "trust". You trust that your senses and faculties are reliable. And because your senses and memory and perceptions are so reliable, you regard them as trustworthy evidence.

    Have you ever been drunk or under the influence of a drug? Have you ever hallucinated? Have you ever had a dream that seemed real but turned out not to be?

    Have you ever seen a ghost? Do you believe in ghosts? What is the best evidence for the existence of ghosts in your opinion (regardless of whether you believe in them or not)?

    I would say that your belief in the necessity for a modem need not be based on trust in experts. The fact is, without the modem you can't access the internet. With it, you can. Isn't that fairly cut and dried?

    I don't see how faith can extend knowledge. Can you explain? Also, I see logic as a closed system. How does intuition extend it? Isn't intuition a completely separate process? For the same reason, I would say that faith is separate from knowledge.
    As I mentioned above, knowledge is sometimes defined as justified true belief. Using that definition, you're correct that you can't hknow something unless you believe it is true.

    In other words, the idea of a creator makes you feel happy and satisfied that you have the answer.

    I have my doubts that you had any understanding of the creator inside before you were told about the idea of God.
  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Jan Ardena,

    Examples of the incompatibilities between different religions? No, I fear that would take us off on a tangent away from the topic of the thread. I'd be happy to discuss it in another thread.

    I understand your claim that Jesus, Vishnu, Allah, Zeus, and the other gods are all really just manifestations of the one big God. So, probably you want to claim that all religions conceive of this one God in the same way. I would say that at a high level of abstraction you are probably right. All gods have things in common. But when we get to the specifics about what these gods are supposed to be like, what they want, what they do in the world, etc., we find many differences. I would have thought this would be obvious to anybody who has studied more than one religion.

    Maybe this is where believers and nonbelievers diverge. We disagree on what the most important bit is. (?)

    You talk as if there is no objective reality at all - just competing subjectivities. Is this what you believe?

    If I claim that 2+2=5 and you claim that 2+2=4, has either of us got a better claim to the truth? Does it matter to you as to who is right? Or are you content to let 2+2=5 be real for me? Would you see any value in trying to persuade me that, in fact 2+2=4, contrary to my current belief?

    I'm tempted to say that Americans have a particularly high tolerance for pseudoscientific beliefs. But, when it comes to ghosts I think those statistics would likely be duplicated in many first-world countries.

    Large numbers of people believe in lots of things that are false. I'm sure you'll agree.

    Like EoDEo, above, you have a touching degree of trust in subjective experiences - so much so that you seem to privilege subjective evidence over objective evidence almost as a matter of course.

    As you'd expect, I stridently disagree with you that there is no empirical way of knowing whether ghosts exist. In fact, I'd say that the only reliable way to know whether ghosts exist is by gathering empirical evidence.

    Do you think that any experience can be "explained away" by skeptics who are appropriately motivated by their (presumed prior) disbelief? Or is there something about ghosts (to take one example) that makes them susceptible to this explaining away?

    Many people feel insulted when their views are challenged. My apologies for hurting your feelings.

    I don't think I've denied your definition. In fact, I recall writing that I was happy to work with it. It's not the definition, by the way - just a definition.

    God makes the material world work, doesn't he? Regardless, my point about trying to implicitly import extraneous concepts into the definition stands.

    Oh dear. We're back to the point where you say that I was never a real, proper theist, are we? I assure you, any priest or minister of the Christian religion would have ratified me as a bona fide Christian believer, even if for some reason you think I wouldn't have passed your stringent test for theism.

    Yes. It's no surprise that people of faith feel insulted by that definition. But the fact that some people are insulted doesn't mean it isn't a good definition. So, I'm asking the question.

    It's ok to talk about these things without getting personal about it, isn't it?

    Now you're talking about faith in God, I think, which you say means the hope that God will take care of things. That is an adjunct to the more basic belief that God exists, it seems. You can't hope that a non-existent being will act on your behalf. You might hope that God exists so that he can act on your behalf, I guess. Anyway, it looks like we're back to faith = hope.

    The percentage thing is just one way to get believers to reflect on their level of confidence in their belief. This is something that many probably rarely do, if ever. Maybe it's easier to say "You can't put a number on something like that" than to really think about it. Thinking might shake one's faith, maybe.

    That was not an analogy - just an straightforward example. Also, I might point out that there is often objective evidence of pretending to love or pretending to be loved, just as there is evidence of actually loving or being loved.

    Where exactly is the crash and burn death?
  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    It's his "definition", so he needs to justify it. Absent any justification, it's just some writer "pretending to know stuff", in this instance what the nature of faith is.

    Do I think that it's reasonable? Certainly not rhetorically. It's never wise to start out by insulting the people that you are trying to convince. Doing that just hardens them against you. It's ironic, since Boghossian is a proponent of atheist evangelism and apologetics, of atheists going out into the wider community to convert people to atheism. Yet like most so-called "new atheists", he doesn't seem to be writing for that larger community, content instead to preach to the choir, writing for the audience of angry atheists that buys mass-market atheism books.

    Do I think that his "definition" is reasonable epistemologically? The remarks that follow address that.

    My motivation was that faith was being presented in this thread as something anti-intellectual and deplorable. I was just pointing out that faith is something that arises in pretty much every human act. It's part of the human condition.

    That's why I sought to replace Boghossian's overly-aggressive faith is "pretending to know stuff you don't know" with the more moderate alternative "faith is the willingness to act in conditions of imperfect information".

    When the problem is whether the order observed in the past will carry on into the future, no amount of observations of order in the past are even relevant, unless we've already implicitly assumed the answer to the our problem.

    Perhaps it has in the past.

    And that's an expression of your faith. It's a faith that I happen to share (I think that Hume did too). But if that's so, then it's probably wrong to give faith the kind of perjorative spin that Boghossian tried to give it.

    Right. I think that there's a great deal of faith/poorly-justified assumptions hidden in the nooks and crannies of scientific reasoning.

    It isn't as useful as Boghossian's formulation if one's intention is to attack religious faith.

    I'm not convinced that there's a sharp dichotomy between knowledge and faith. They overlap and aren't two disjoint sets. If we go with a justified-true-belief account of knowledge (as I tend to) then most real-life justifications for our beliefs and knowledge-claims aren't going to be slam-dunks. They won't be based on totally complete and reliable information and they won't result in logical certainty. So there's going to be an element of iffy-ness to most of our attempts to justify whatever we believe we know.

    So I'll say that I know that Canada exists, even though there's an element of faith implicit in that. I used to live in Canada and I'm very certain it existed then. (Assuming my memory is still reliable.) I haven't been there in years, but I watched a CFL game on TV a couple of nights ago that purported to be broadcast from Vancouver. And just generally, countries don't just disappear, certainly not without their neighbors noticing and remarking on it. If Canada suddenly disappeared, the US where I live would have an absolute consternation fit. So while my reasons for saying that Canada's still there aren't perfect, I'm nevertheless willing to commit myself 100% to the proposition that it is. (My Canadian leap-of-faith, eh?)

    I think that there's a lot more evidence for the existence of Canada than for the existence of God. Better quality evidence too. I certainly don't want to say that all knowledge claims are equally well justified or equally plausible. They aren't.
  23. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Faith is defined as the belief in things not seen. Most of the knowledge you learn, in books, is learned with faith, since very little of what we learn is based on things proven with our own eyes. A person who does not read, or study from books, has to learn more with their eyes and experience.

    I never saw the Civil War, with my own eyes. I learned about it , because I had faith that the accounts were true. I, nor anyone else, ever saw dark matter or dark energy with our eyes, yet many have faith this is real. Science tries to give faith, eyes for seeing.

    When I first studied chemistry, I was told if you mixed chemical A and B, a precipitate (another phase) would come out of solution. I had faith this was real and true when preparing for the tests. This became more than faith, when I saw it for myself, in the lab. Then I went beyond faith, into experience.

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