why argue faith?

1 view
Skip to first unread message

jptxs

unread,
Aug 17, 2008, 8:40:45 AM8/17/08
to Church of the Churchless
I have a philosophical question I've been trying to sort out for a
long while. I've asked it many places. There was once a great thread
about it at godgab (http://godgab.org/), but it was lost to server
issues. The question deals with faith. By faith, I'm not referring
to any specific creed. What I mean is the general concept of faith -
the word faith. The word is defined by the internet as (in an
abridged form):

faith /feyth/ –noun 1. confidence or trust in a person or thing:
faith in another's ability. 2. belief that is not based on proof: He
had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
["faith." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 17
Aug. 2008. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith>]

I'm more interested in the second definition: "belief that is not
based on proof". Of course, to understand that definition, you need a
working definition of belief (again abridged):

be·lief /bileef/ –noun 1. something believed; an opinion or
conviction: a belief that the earth is flat. ["belief."
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 17 Aug. 2008.
<Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/belief>]

So you can take the definition of faith and now use some substitution
and come up with this:

Faith is an opinion or conviction not based on proof.

If that is true, then one can't really disprove a matter of faith,
either. Right? If there was no proof in the first place, how can one
offer any argument or proof that would sway someone who actually had
real faith in something. Now, if someone merely "believed" in
something, that would be a different matter. Belief is only an
opinion or conviction. Generally, one can be sure something believed
has it's roots in some article of faith. For example, I have faith
that my senses give me data about the world I can rely on to make real
judgments. So I believe that the sun rose this morning and it is now
shining in my window. However, someone could present a very
convincing scenario to me about why it only appeared that way and I
may be swayed. What they could do is convince me that what I saw
seemed to be the sun, but was not and present proof of this. However,
if they tried to make a case that my senses were actually completely
inept and that I'm actually a brain in a vat and there is no sun at
all (the Matrix scenario), I would deny that based on my faith in my
senses.

All this brings me to my question: why does anyone bother to argue any
issue to which they claim to have faith? If you truly have faith in
something, isn't it beyond reproach? You may have lots of little
beliefs that have built up around your faith you may argue about, but
why argue about the core articles of faith?

Bonus points question: if someone is willing to argue about something
they claim to have faith in, is that a sign that it's really only a
belief that they will drop with proof?

Seeker

unread,
Aug 18, 2008, 12:17:51 PM8/18/08
to Church of the Churchless
Wonderful question. Such depth shows how close you are to reveal the
Reality in this reincarnation. This is one of the main spiritual
questions, but it falls into 3 separate questions/topics, although
independent, but always connected in human quest:

1. Any Faith, which is not a logical extension of (or deduction from)
the proved reality, is no different from the wild fantasy of a child.
2. The term of a proved reality or even the validity of the Absolute
Truth is always conditioned by the personal perception of the person-
subject who is in search of Truth. Whence introspective quest such as
"what am I? what are my senses? what is my mind? can I trust them?" is
to become a major object of the quest. This is a point in evolution of
the quest, where the search for the external reality turns into the
introspective search.
3. Nobody should bother to argue about faith unless (see 1 above)
faith is an extension of a certain knowledge which represents Absolute
Truth , and on the condition that debaters sincerely want to know the
Absolute Truth to a such degree that they are not immune from making
themselves an object of analysis (see 2 above). If above conditions
don't apply, any arguments or debates about faith are no more than
argument who's fantasy is more wild...

Each topic is quite deep for this posting but I will post an article
on the web specifically to answer those questions.
My heart rejoices seeing how close some people come to the touching
the Absolute Reality - truly a sign of the end times.


The Seeker

On Aug 17, 8:40 am, jptxs <the.philosop...@gmail.com> wrote:
> I have a philosophical question I've been trying to sort out for a
> long while.  I've asked it many places.  There was once a great thread
> about it at godgab (http://godgab.org/), but it was lost to server
> issues.  The question deals with faith.  By faith, I'm not referring
> to any specific creed.  What I mean is the general concept of faith -
> the word faith.  The word is defined by the internet as (in an
> abridged form):
>
> faith  /feyth/ –noun  1. confidence or trust in a person or thing:
> faith in another's ability.  2. belief that is not based on proof: He
> had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
> ["faith." Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 17
> Aug. 2008. <Dictionary.comhttp://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith>]
>
> I'm more interested in the second definition: "belief that is not
> based on proof".  Of course, to understand that definition, you need a
> working definition of belief (again abridged):
>
> be·lief  /bileef/ –noun  1. something believed; an opinion or
> conviction: a belief that the earth is flat.  ["belief."
> Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 17 Aug. 2008.
> <Dictionary.comhttp://dictionary.reference.com/browse/belief>]

jptxs

unread,
Aug 18, 2008, 4:13:09 PM8/18/08
to Church of the Churchless
I'm glad the question gives you something to be happy about. I'm not
sure how to feel about shiver that goes down my spine when I hear the
phrase "truly a sign of the end times", but to each his or her own I
guess.

I do not believe we're on the same page. That may be due to me not
bring clear. Let me address your points and see if it helps.


>> Any Faith, which is not a logical extension of (or deduction from) the proved reality

I do not think we are using the word "faith" in the same way here. In
my question, I'm talking about the philosophical context for the word
faith. The word faith as when it is used like: "I have faith that
there is a god". I do not mean the use of the word faith where it
refers to a particular set of creeds. That use of the word faith is
like: "I am a believer in the Zoroastrian faith, therefore I am a
monotheist". The former sense of the word faith, the faith that you
place in something in particular and is belonging to an individual -
the one who has the faith in question - that form of the word faith is
foundational. It is not the "logical extension of (or deduction
from)" anything else. It is the same way the word is used in the
phrase "leap of faith". I stated I have faith in my senses. That is,
for me, a true leap of faith. Sure I can rationalize it a bit and may
be able to make a good case in an informal setting, but in a strict
ontological context I have absolutely no basis to believe my senses
are actually giving me information about the world as it is (a priori)
other than my faith that this is so. And thus, for me, every other
belief I have is founded on that one leap of faith. Though it's
likely a discussion for another time, I believe that all knowledge
requires faith of some kind in order to be held "true".


>> the validity of the Absolute Truth

Here, we have little common ground. A phrase like "absolute truth" is
too high and mighty for me. I believe neither in absolutes nor in any
form of truth that is deserving of a capital "t". So whatever you see
in my words that invokes this in you comes from an inwardly derived
inspiration. I and my thoughts have little to do with it. I do not
mean to sound in any way superior as this is read, by the way. I am
completely envious of all who have larger faith than I. That sort of
peace of mind is the ultimate green grass on the other side of the
highest fence imaginable to me.


>> If above conditions don't apply, any arguments or debates about faith are no more than argument who's fantasy is more wild...

There is a lot of connotation (and maybe even condescension, though
likely unintentional) in equating faith to fantasy. I don't think
anyone would say that C.S. Lewis's fantasy books were tantamount to
his faith, but clearly to call his faith fantasy would have caught his
ire since he saw fit to base a lot of fantasy on cherished beliefs.
To put it another way, in the absence of real proof, anything may be
proven correct. So no idea is on higher footing than another. The
effects of that idea and the relative moral standing it may have is,
of course, another matter entirely.

The real nut here for me is that you feel that some conditions can
make it OK to argue faith. I don't really see how. At least, not the
kind of faith I'm talking about. If faith is really a first
principle, a prime mover in an intellectual sphere, then how can one
engage in any meaningful debate about it? Wouldn't that bring
everything else out of joint and throw all previous arguments into
disarray? Would that not have, as Nietzsche would say, "unchained
this earth from its sun?" All argument needs premises. All premises
need axioms. And, I would add, axioms require faith. If you are
enough of a skeptic, QED. If not, help me understand why not...

Brian

unread,
Aug 19, 2008, 11:55:07 PM8/19/08
to Church of the Churchless

jptxs, good questions and interesting thoughts. You stimulated a
Church of the Churchless blog post:
http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2008/08/real-and-false.html


Seeker

unread,
Aug 26, 2008, 4:34:12 PM8/26/08
to Church of the Churchless
Definitions of Faith from American Heritage Dictionary :
# Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a
person, idea, or thing.
# Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

Last sentence implies a person, idea or thing under consideration in
regard of the Faith. This does not mean that such Faith must not have
basis in the past. If you remove a proceeding proof or facts of any
kind to form a Believe or Faith, then your meaning of the word
incorporates any fable or fairy tale.

On Absolute Truth.
Not necessarily (though possible) to be considered the same as in any
formal religion.
If such Ultimate Truth as idea is not present in the mind, what is
other reason of existence left? Only Darwinism. I am opened to learn
any other possibilities as a reason for life... as of now I know no
other approaches.
In case of accidental evolution with no Ultimate reason behind, any
analytical sophistication, any search, research, development becomes
irrelevant... If no Absolute truth to be revealed as a result of the
self development, then, there is no need for self development...
Simply food, sex and any ego boosting means should be sufficient.

About conditions for arguments:

only in case somebody needs arguments for the sake of argument, then
surely no need for preconditions.
In my case, based on believe in existing Ultimate reason for life on
earth and whence reason for my own existence - I seek that Reason
(capital R because this is not a reason for my personal quest only but
for existence of life) and therefore, arguments make sense for me only
if they help me to reveal that Absolute Truth to myself.
If I were to believe in "accidental" life forms and no Ultimate Reason
for life, any forums like this or groups would be nothing but waste of
time while "life clock is ticking"...
Message has been deleted

Obed

unread,
Aug 27, 2008, 4:39:35 AM8/27/08
to Church of the Churchless
Hi Seeker,
You wrote
I am opened to learn
> any other possibilities as a reason for life
perhaps consider the following idea

AUTOPOIESIS
the process whereby an organization produces itself. An autopoietic
organization is an autonomous and self-maintaining unity which
contains component-producing processes. The components, through their
interaction, generate recursively the same network of processes which
produced them. An autopoietic system is operationally closed and
structurally state determined with no apparent inputs and outputs. A
cell, an organism, and perhaps a corporation are examples of
autopoietic systems.

Best regards
Obed

Seeker

unread,
Aug 28, 2008, 12:12:54 PM8/28/08
to Church of the Churchless
The only "foundation" for this theory is nothing else but lack of
knowledge of very much apparent inputs and outputs in all : cells and
organisms.
Regarding any living organisms, it is enough to observe them without
any scientific tools. They all show uninterrupted continuous
communication with outside world.
For simple cells only scientific labs showed reality as human senses
don't work in micro world.
Read a book by biologist Bruce H. Lipton Ph.D. "The Biology of
Believe: unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles"
You can buy it on Amazon. What is new in his book? That he spelled out
the fact: cells change their behavior, been controlled from outside...
even more, he empirically found which part of every cell on the planet
is responsible for "input-output" change of the firmware program of
the cell. This part happen to be a cell's membrane.

SIncerely,
Seeker

jptxs

unread,
Aug 28, 2008, 7:09:35 PM8/28/08
to Church of the Churchless
Obed or Seeker,

Do you see any connection between the question I asked - about the
concepts of faith and belief, and these discussions?

You seem to be discussing thing one may believe or have faith in. Or
am I missing something?
Message has been deleted
Message has been deleted
Message has been deleted
Message has been deleted

Seeker

unread,
Aug 29, 2008, 10:41:33 AM8/29/08
to Church of the Churchless
I think you are missing the explicit answer to your question.
To repeat your question: " If there was no proof in the first place,
how can one
offer any argument or proof that would sway someone who actually had
real faith in something."

I will try to re-word my answer in this way:
if you assume no pre-existent proves as a foundation to a particular
faith or believe, then no arguments make any meaning just as no one
can argue which fairly tale is more valid...
If you base your faith or believe on the pre-existent proves (not
though specifically applied to the subject of consideration, whence
the notion of believe comes into play), then arguments and search ...
(for something, whatever you call your goal of development,) do make
sense for the mentioned purpose.

So in the end it comes to the major topic, do you have a goal in your
quest? or just play of words?

Seeker

jptxs

unread,
Aug 29, 2008, 2:35:47 PM8/29/08
to Church of the Churchless
In the context of theology, words are all you've got. So the words
seem very important. Yes, I am mainly concerned with the words. But
I feel that people using words like this without any real agreement
between them about their meaning causes a huge amount of confusion.

People make statements like "I have faith the sun will rise tomorrow"
when clearly they would accept proof of the sun's explosion as
evidence that the sun would not rise the next day. Then they will say
"I have faith that god exists" but know that there's nothing on earth
that would make them think otherwise. Are there different kinds of
faith? Or is faith (the word) being misused in one of these contexts?

If you can't establish something simple as that, how can you proceed
to discuss the deepest questions there are?

Obed wrote me: "are you prepared to explain a little why "belief" and
"faith" are so important issues for you? The reason I ask I am
seeking to avoid writing something which may hurt your feelings. I
basically live very well without either but use the words just
according to how a conversation goes."

I think the above explains why those concepts are important. I would
argue, given the definition I understand, no one bu the pure nihilist
could live without some form of faith. Understand, that does not mean
faith in a god or higher power of any kind. I have faith in my
senses. I have faith my senses are giving me information about a very
real world outside my skin. No supernatural forces required for that
form of faith. But an epistemological sense, it is faith since I have
no evidence for this at all. I believe it a priori.

I always come into new philosophical and theological groups and ask
this question first. I have always foudn the discussions about it
revealing of general attitude and level of the discussions.

Obed

unread,
Aug 30, 2008, 1:35:57 AM8/30/08
to Church of the Churchless
Dear jptxs,
For the fun of it let me give you a thought experiment.
Belief and faith dont exist.They are illusions.They are nothing
more than electro-chemical processes in the brain.
Who perceives the processes?Awareness decodes and
I perceive.
Who am I?
I am not faith or belief
But who am I?
I am what I am
That is the only certainty.
Everything else is illusion.

Regards
Obed

Peace Seeker

unread,
Aug 30, 2008, 12:15:54 PM8/30/08
to Church of the Churchless
The ultimate truth is indecipherable by the human mind and can only be
divulged to the spirit which also often misinterprets its meaning,
hence we have various religions and beliefs. The quest for the truth
is futile during our lifetime but our spirit when in deep meditation,
is at times able to communicate with the ultimate spirit. (truth,
purity, supreme, God, Allah, etc.). Meditation is the only essential
in religion, everything else is nonessential ritual or conditioning.
What mankind calls God is incorporeal, all that is spiritual in a
spiritual state or dimension.

jptxs

unread,
Aug 30, 2008, 2:27:41 PM8/30/08
to Church of the Churchless
Obed,

You're taking a metaphysical view of this. You are trying to question
the existence of things - belief and faith int this case. I don't
care about metaphysics at all. Frankly, and I don't mean this to be
confrontational, I find it boring. I'm not sure if you're taking the
nihilist, materialist or solipsist version of the particular
metaphysical "all is illusion" argument you're making. But I grant
you any and all of them. To me, it's moot.

My questions are epistemological in nature. Even if all of this is an
illusion, we're all here and we're all trying to communicate using
language. We are all trying to acquire knowledge - even if that
knowledge is based in a false illusory context. My questions are
centered on the nature of that knowledge and how we go about acquiring
it.

Does that make sense to you? Do you know what I am saying?

Obed

unread,
Aug 31, 2008, 2:12:34 AM8/31/08
to Church of the Churchless
Dear jptxs,
Thank you for your reply.Yes I do to a certain extent understand
your position.
All the best
Obed

Seeker

unread,
Aug 31, 2008, 1:25:01 PM8/31/08
to Church of the Churchless
Dear jptxs
I also came to understand your position. I misinterpreted your goals
in your first posting. that's why I wrongly joined this topic.
wish you luck in acquiring knowledge even if "based in a false
illusory context".
Seeker

jptxs

unread,
Aug 31, 2008, 5:04:59 PM8/31/08
to Church of the Churchless
it seems that whenever I finally make my question clear - no one wants
to talk about it... oh well.
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages