You gotta have faith

Without knowledge, without the sure light of Truth in all it’s glory we need faith (of varying kinds) to get through this thing called life without constant pain and sadness.

Indeed, I have to have faith that the food I eat today won’t poison me, or I’d sit around the whole day hungrily worrying about it

I’ll submit a post here at the risk of sounding bellicose. :wink:

I have argued that I perhaps never use faith. :astonished:

My argument is this (taking the possibly poisened food as an example):

Poisonings don’t happen very often. I have knowledge that 8,000 people die of food poisoning a year. Do I have faith that my food isn’t poisoned? No. I have knowledge that statisitically the odds are that it isn’t.

See my train of thought? Folks have argued again and again that I use faith for something, and I have never been convinced that I use it. I know this tempts some people to try, but please do not be offended if I remain unconvinced. I’ve had this argument dozens and dozens of times. :smiley:

No worries

I see your train of thought but the faith is that the stats for past incidences of food poisoning will resemble the future instances. Things could (and have been known to) change suddenly, our food sources could become compromised without our knowing.

Only faith can ward off such scepticism - no?

Surely to have faith in something you have to have at least considered what it is you’re having faith in?

Well (ahem) no. :slight_smile: I agree that we use the past to determine what might happen in the future, but for me that is the opposite of faith: that’s using evidence, statistics. I’m aware that things can change suddenly; why? again evidence and statistics; experience.

I’ve tried to imagine scenarios where I would resort to faith but have been unsuccessful. Even if I were blindfolded, kidnapped, locked in a nondistinct cell, etc., everything I would do would be based upon logic. Perhaps I would wish and hope that I would not be killed, but I wouldn’t have faith that I wouldn’t be killed. Faith seems to imply some kind of certainty without the existence of evidence, and I just can’t bring myself to indulge in it. :smiley:

Have I worn out my welcome yet?

Your welcome isn’t mine to wear out.

But to the point - my point is that it takes faith for us to believe the future will resemble the past. There’s no logical proof either way, and no amount of evidence makes what happens tomorrow any more or less a matter of necessity.

There is an inherent reliance on faith in all rational and/or scientific explanations, that’s my point.

I myself consider faith a vice. I explain what I see as a difference between faith and confidence (its opposite), and assess faith as a virtue in an article I’ve written here…

First off, and most importantly, that’s a hell of a fish. What kind is it, what were using for bait, and how long did it take to reel it in?

Secondly, at some point you have to have faith that your eyes are not deceiving you when you read those statistics and that your mind is functioning properly when you assess the odds.

I’ve quoted this under other topics because I find it fascinating. Max Planck, generally regarded as the father of quantum physics:

“Anybody who has been seriously engaged in scientific work of any kind realizes that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: Ye must have faith.”

I apologize for not seeing it. :cry:

I may not be 100 percent certain that the future will resemble the past, but whatever doubt I may have is simply doubt. The degree to which I have certainty is based upon logical stuff. To paraphrase: if I’m ~60 percent certain that something will happen a certain way (based upon evidence, logic, etc), the remaining ~40 percent is simply uncertainty. I don’t fill that ~40 percent in with faith thus giving me 100 percent certainty. I just remain uncertain. Likewise for scientific stuff. I believe scientists retain a little bit of uncertainty in all their beliefs since they want to allow for scientific progress. Heck, even things that they might be certain of they call “theories”.

Let me know when I start repeating myself. Thx.

Oop, I’ve been discovered! That’s not really me in the avatar!

I live on the west coast, and I was walking down the pier in Capitola (near Santa Cruz) and happened upon this older guy who had just caught this nice fish so I took a snapshot.

Now before I came to I’d just come from being banned at this other forum, so I was a little sheepish about chosing my avatar. My previous avatar was Isaac Azimov and in retrospect I though that maybe some might have considered his expression smug. So I hit upon the idea of the guy with a the fish. I though it had a humble bent to it, with the guy obviously bearing a big smile, etc. Also there is the element of the classical “fish story”, the tendency to exagerate a story more and more over time. So there you have it, my secret!

I’ve also taken to using lots of emoticons to soften my arguments, something I never used to do before I got banned. :astonished: :smiley: :sunglasses: :wink:

Anywho, back to the topic, there is evidence that my eyes work in determining stuff and my logic has worked too. When I am wrong, what has failed me? My eyes have failed me, true. My logic has failed me, true. But there is no doubt (in my mind at least) that those were the things that I used.

It sounds like the argument is being made that there is some kind of underlying layer of faith in all things that we do. If that is the case, I’m willing to agree to that. I would make it wholly separate from the conscious, intellectual act of faith; a choice. The first I will agree to being possible, the second, a choice of faith, I would say I never chose faith.


Well then let me amend my comment. That’s a hell of a photograph! Always pays to have a camera on hand.

I don’t think I have a problem with this. I think people of “faith” or who proclaim they believe in something based on “faith” probably really have rational reasons deep down. Maybe it makes them feel better to believe in something. Is that valid? Maybe, maybe not. But it is a conclusion drawn by choice at some level, I would say, and not purely on faith.

Still, my larger point would be that there must be an underlying layer of faith that allows us to function without ever being totally sure our minds are properly assessing what we are experiencing. Our functioning is sustained moment by moment by such a faith. And if that’s the case, one could make an argument that faith has some credibility, some purpose, some usefulness.

If all you mean by “having faith” is believing that the food won’t poison you, then, of course, you are right. People who believe that food will poison them without having any evidence for that are called “paranoid” and are mentally disturbed. But I thought that faith was belief without evidence, and your belief that the food will not poison you has plenty of evidence to back it up. So it is not faith at all.


I see your train of thought but the faith is that the stats for past incidences of food poisoning will resemble the future instances. Things could (and have been known to) change suddenly, our food sources could become compromised without our knowing.

Only faith can ward off such scepticism - no?

So you mean that because it is possible that things might change it is not rational to believe that what has happened many times before will happen again? Why is that? From the fact that the inference from the past to the future (really from the known to the unknown) is fallible so that you might make a mistake, why does it follow that it is not rational to make that inference? No reason in the world that I can see.

That view would imply that just because it is possible to imagine that a person who is decapitated would not die, but would walk around without a head, that it is not rational to believe that if you have your head cut off, you will die. The only faith needed is the faith that such a view is not absurd!

An “underlying layer of faith” it is! It is refreshing to bridge a bit of compromise between two positions. It hardly hurt at all! :smiley:

We could be an inspiration to all of ILP!

I strongly expect that when I sit down my chair will not collapse under me. If that is what “an underlying layer of faith” is supposed to be, I suppose I agree. But I would not call it “faith”. I would call it “rational expectation”. In his devilish “Devil’s Dictionary” Ambrose Bierce defines “faith” as follows:

Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.

Faith (used in the normal way) is just a confident belief in something. People understand what I mean when I say, “My wife is faithful to me”. All that this means, is that I have good reason to be confident in her.

Usually, I should hope that faith is given by some kind of justification; for instance having faith that your chair won’t break when you sit on it. There’s plenty of good reasons for us to have faith… faith is not something that you have only in the abscence of reason and logic. That idea of faith is rather perverse.

Tell me, why is it rational to believe that when I let go off the spoon it will drop to the floor?

Just because something has happened doesn’t mean it is a future possibility, let alone a probability. Ever seen Groundhog Day?

“It is no more rational to believe that the sun will rise tomorrow than to think that it won’t.”

I can hope all I like that the sun will rise tomorrow, but it won’t make one jot of difference as to whether it does.

Well that’s not exactly what I’m saying. Your expectation that the chair will not collapse is indeed rational. Having an idea that your eyes are not deceiving you when you look at what you believe is a “chair” and that your mind is able to assess the situation properly so that you can go on to formulate your rational expectation, is based on some kind of faith, I would say. I wouldn’t know what else to call it.

At some level you have to trust your interpretation of what you perceive to be reality.

We all have, and must have, faith. That faith can be blind, or it can be based on evidence. Not a very difficult choice if you ask me.

That’s really all there is to it.