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Why Is Faith A Virtue?


kittypaws
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Faith is considered to be a virtue, but even fundies laugh at people who fall for "Nigerian letter" type scams. So what is the difference between blind faith in God and credulity? Since faith is necessary for salvation according to the Christian doctrine, shouldn't Christians value gullibility as a character trait? After all, credulity makes believing much easier. Or is faith only a virtue if it doesn't come naturally and you work hard at it?

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I have thought of this very issue a number of times. As a Christian, I, like so many others, believed that faith in god was a virtue. In fact, it was the most virtuous of all attributes and the Christians I knew admired a person with strong faith. What I did not realize as a Christian was that the true virtue of faith is that it holds one into the religion, creates a sort of fog through which reason cannot easily penetrate, and foils one's attempt to use one's mind to think cohesively about the religion. Once I was finally able to overcome my faith, then I saw it for what it really is. It's an obstacle that can be one of the most difficult things about the religion to get past so the truth can be understood.

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No matter what domain of knowledge you enter into, there will be some propositions which must be accepted on faith. Faith can be virtuous in so far as one adheres to it long enough to see the implications of one's faith.

 

I am very upset with Christians for appropriating the word "faith". And I'm upset with the secular for allowing them to do it.

 

I am a heathen. But I have faith in many things. I have faith that entailments exist between phenomena, for instance. I can't prove it. Indeed I can think of no way to prove it. I just believe it.

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Faith, as in the aforementioned entailments, and faith in that which is wildly improbable and even has evidence against it are two entirely different things. Religionists have confused faith with gullibility if not willful ignorance.

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Faith, as in the aforementioned entailments, and faith in that which is wildly improbable and even has evidence against it are two entirely different things. Religionists have confused faith with gullibility if not willful ignorance.

This is very true. Willful ignorance is not an act of faith. It is the exact opposite of faith. Faith embraces knowledge.

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Faith as in believing incredible tales? Like talking snake and talking ass? Flooding the earth and save 8 people but wipeout almost all humanity? The 10 plagues?

 

Is this the type of faith you talking about?

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Religious faith (i.e., wishful thinking as invisible "evidence") is for cowards, the indoctrinated and the intellectually and emotionally dishonest, among others. It has been called a virtue by those same cowards, etc., which were the majority of people in power and control in the past (and still to the present day in large part). Religious faith is the enemy of rational thinking, logic, curiosity, exploration and intellectual honesty.

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Faith is considered to be a virtue, but even fundies laugh at people who fall for "Nigerian letter" type scams. So what is the difference between blind faith in God and credulity? Since faith is necessary for salvation according to the Christian doctrine, shouldn't Christians value gullibility as a character trait? After all, credulity makes believing much easier. Or is faith only a virtue if it doesn't come naturally and you work hard at it?

Great question. I'm not sure there is a difference, except that in which faith is placed.

 

The problem with faith (as a concept) is that it opens us up to bad things (not just to God). If you take a stance of faith, you can:

- be led down the garden path by one of God's "prophets" (this happened to me)

- stay with an abusive partner because you have faith that God is working 'through' the situation (this happened to some people at this site)

- develop a child-like demeanor that is inconsistent with who we should be as adults

- fall for Nigerian scam letters

 

It is faith that leads people to drink the proverbial Kool-Aid.....

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The idea of faith being a virtue is a product of our culture. In stories and mythology we are taught that faith is always rewarded. The "leap of faith" is a common meme in many of these stories where it is presented as a test for the hero who is rewarded for their belief because the story is crafted in that way. I usually think of the third Indiana Jones movie where Indie solves a puzzle by taking a leap of faith and I think to myself that this premiss could be completely turned around. A leap of faith could just as easily be turned into a test of reason with "true believers" throwing themselves off a cliff to their death, while the hero uses reason and logic to solve the puzzle.

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Faith means you reliably don't ask questions about your boss or the existing social order from which he benefits.

This is why it is called a virtue by the prostitutes who work by way of the church to get a scrap of your boss' capital.

No surprise that these institutions and the 'faith' they peddle are riddled with corruption and scandal. Any good they offer is little more than the security of the herd. Accordingly, you can sit back and watch the sheep get sheered.

 

People obsessed with their belief and faith are suckers and easy marks.

Let's be careful out there.

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Religious faith (i.e., wishful thinking as invisible "evidence") is for cowards, the indoctrinated and the intellectually and emotionally dishonest, among others. It has been called a virtue by those same cowards, etc., which were the majority of people in power and control in the past (and still to the present day in large part). Religious faith is the enemy of rational thinking, logic, curiosity, exploration and intellectual honesty.

 

I must oppose this wholesale categorizing of people who have a religious faith of any kind as "cowards" "intellectually and emotionally dishonest", etc...

 

This assumes all religions are the same. It assumes way too much. Life is hard, and if a person finds a philosophy/religion that helps them, I say go for it. Where it crosses a line is when they try to impose that religion/philosophy on others.

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Faith, as in the aforementioned entailments, and faith in that which is wildly improbable and even has evidence against it are two entirely different things. Religionists have confused faith with gullibility if not willful ignorance.

 

Religionists also confuse gullibility and willful ignorance with morality. Belief and faith can't take the place of ethics. Being virtuous is hard work, while credulity is laziness.

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I feel faith is the opposite of belief. Belief tends to be rigid and fixed with little chance of giving in even a little. Faith, on the other hand, is being open to the truth where ever it leads.

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Faith, on the other hand, is being open to the truth where ever it leads.

I would call that reason, not faith. Having faith in something means that your belief is unwaivering, even in the face of conflicting evidence or the lack of evidence. Taking a "leap of faith" doesn't mean you are willing to step down from a potentially fatal fall to find another way around. I feel that faith is the opposite of reason. People who have faith in god and the infallability of the bible will not break from that idea no matter what evidence they are shown. Conflicting evidence is just a test of thier faith to them. They take pride in ignoring that evidence.

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Having faith in something means that your belief is unwaivering, even in the face of conflicting evidence or the lack of evidence.

No it doesn't. That is the opposite of faith. If you can see it, then you don't need faith. Faith may hold certain beliefs, but it is flexible and open. Those that can't change their beliefs have no faith at all. Their beliefs are a substitute for faith.

 

Taking a "leap of faith" doesn't mean you are willing to step down from a potentially fatal fall to find another way around. I feel that faith is the opposite of reason.

Actually, a leap of faith is not is not the opposite of reason in the sense that the term was originally coined. It was used as an existential leap of faith, that says that despite the fact that reason cannot penetrate or explain why you should have faith, that you make an existential choice to have faith for the value that faith affords - but it was never against evidence, it was in spite of a lack of evidence. Don't confuse anti-intellectualism with the existential leap of faith.

 

People who have faith in god and the infallability of the bible will not break from that idea no matter what evidence they are shown.

Why not? I did. Didn't you?

 

Conflicting evidence is just a test of thier faith to them. They take pride in ignoring that evidence.

In how they justify it. Again, they call it faith when in fact it is not. I'm going to quote myself from earlier today elsewhere as it explains this better:

 

To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.

Alan Watts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That's nicely put. Trying to say, 'See, science confirms the Bible!', is trying to grab hold of the water. Knowledge and understanding changes, and if you try to place faith in an understanding, then as that understanding changes you loose hold of the basis of that faith.

 

The best way I've heard it talked about is the difference between Belief, Faith, and Experience. Belief is what most people have in religions, that they put their trust and hope in things they believe; in objects in other words. But they have a hard time allowing for any challenges to those beliefs because it is what they secure themselves to. Someone who as Faith on the other hand, is 'believing' not in a belief or an understanding, but in a sort of intuition of something not yet seen. Belief puts trusts what is seen, faith in what is unseen. So when a challenge to a belief they may have comes along, they are much more easily able to adapt and roll with it because they 'lay back' in the changing stream, trusting something inside towards what is not yet realized in themselves. It is a faith not in objects of belief, but in some unseen beyond objects of belief.

 

Faith then is replaced by direct experience. Experience is the actual realization of what faith intuited. And that realization is necessitated on not being married to your ideas at a 'belief' level. Realization requires the inclusion and ability to process multiple perspectives, not a single one. It is not, "I thought this was true, now I know this is true instead", replacing one object of belief for another. It remains fluid and adaptive to all things, as it knows what is beyond defining, beyond any objects. So when I hear most religious people speak of faith and belief I hear conflations of terms, and no real appreciation for the differences and the roles. Anytime someone says, "See, science confirms the Bible!", I hear a leaning towards beliefs, a lack of faith, and certainly limited or no experience.

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Antler, it sounds like we are quibbling over labels to definitions. The way you are describing faith sounds very much like the way I would describe "trust". If I look at the sky and see that it is blue, I trust that my eyes aren't deceiving me because I have no evidence that they are. However, if I am presented with evidence, I will change that position accordingly.

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People who have faith in god and the infallability of the bible will not break from that idea no matter what evidence they are shown.

Why not? I did. Didn't you?

 

Actually, I shed the idea of faith being a virtue before I shed the idea of god.

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People who have faith in god and the infallability of the bible will not break from that idea no matter what evidence they are shown.

Why not? I did. Didn't you?

 

Actually, I shed the idea of faith being a virtue before I shed the idea of god.

Then you did what you said people don't do. You still held a belief in God while shedding ideas about God. You began by doubting those beliefs and teachings, eventually leading to dropping the idea of God altogether. Correct? That to me fits into the faith category itself. Doubt and faith go hand in hand. Belief and doubt do not.

 

I don't consider this a quibble over definitions, but rather a conflation of terms. To call faith one thing misses and dismisses other non-irrational roles faith plays in religious contexts. Your explanation of faith as trust in what you see is actually what you see, is not how I mean or am using it, nor goes far enough in explaining how it functions as a religious phenomena. I used the word intuition. That goes beyond a mere evaluation of the data and making a conclusion as best you can that what is seen is factual and going with that in an act of trust. In colloquial uses that is faith with a small f. I mean religious Faith with a big F.

 

I'm going to quote at some length here from Ken Wilber's A Sociable God, which I think delineates this very well in the context of religious use. I do agree that the terms get interchanged a lot within religion itself, but the context determines its more appropriate meanings. The issue I have is the conflation of terms and an improper valuation or devaluation of it based on that, not only in religion itself but in the contexts of critics of religion. To quote snippets from the chapter, Belief, Faith, Experience, and Adaptation:

 

...it seems you can have belief without faith, faith without experience, and experience without permanent adaptation.

 

Belief

 

Belief is the lowest form of religious involvement, and in fact, it often seems to operate with no authentic religious connection whatsoever. The "true believer" - one who has no literal faith, let alone actual experience - embraces a more-or-less codified belief system that appears to act most basically as a fund of immortality symbols. This can be mythic-exoteric religion (e.g., fundamentalist Protestantism, lay Shintoism, pop Hinduism, etc.), rational-scientism, Maoism, civil religion, and so on. What they all have in common, when thus made a matter of "true belief" is that an ideological nexus is wedded to one's qualifications of immortality.

 

<snip>

 

Faith

 

Faith goes beyond belief but not as far as actual religious experience. The true believer can usually give you all the reasons he is "right," and if you genuinely question his reasons he tends to take it very personally (because you have, in fact, just questioned his qualifications for immortality). His belief system is a politics of durability. The person of faith, on the other hand, will usually have a series of beliefs, but the religious involvement of this person does not seem to be generated solely or even predominantly by the beliefs. Frequently, in fact, the person cannot say exactly why he is "right" (has faith), and should you criticize what reasons he does give, he generally takes it all rather philosophically. In my opinion this is because belief, in these cases, is not the actual source of the religious involvement; rather, the person somehow intuits very God as being immanent in (as well as transcendent to) this world and this life. Beliefs become somewhat secondary, since the same intuition can be put in any number of apparently equivalent ways ("They call Him many who is really One"). The person of faith tends to shun literalism, dogma, evangelicalism, fundamentalism, which define almost solely the true believer.

 

Paradoxically, the person of faith is often in great and agonizing religious doubt, which the true believer rarely experiences.

 

<snip>

 

Since the person does not yet have this greater closeness [a greater knowledge-union to the Divine], it throws his present state, by comparison, into doubt (and yearning). In fact, the greater the faith-intuition, the greater the doubt. Zen has a profound saying on this:

 

Great doubt, great enlightenment;

Small doubt, small enlightenment;

No doubt, no enlightenment.

 

How different that is from the literal and dogmatic certainty of the true believer.

 

He then goes on the speak of how experience replaces faith, and offers further examples of the relationships and differences between belief, faith, experience, and adaptation. I would highly recommend this book of his for some great insights into these and many other others of religion.

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"Why is it that when I talk about belief you assume I'm talking about God."

~Shepherd Book Serenity

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Faith,: the shit you've made up in your mind... to pretend it has something to do with reality.

 

That is pretty much the wholly babble's definition

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Faith,: the shit you've made up in your mind... to pretend it has something to do with reality.

 

That is pretty much the wholly babble's definition

 

Yes. Faith is self delusion. You walk up to life blindly and take whatever was going to happen anyway due to the circumstances you didn't bother to check. Then if things go good you tell yourself that God has blessed you and your choices follow God's plan for your life. When things go bad you tell yourself that God is testing your and God is telling you that your choice is not part of God's plan for your life. All the while you pat yourself on the back for your faith.

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Faith......That the thing greater that we are predestined within has the same outcome as the lesser thing we can tenuously control.

 

Sorry, I don't understand what you're trying to say. It looks like you just threw a bunch of big words together to me. Hopefully someone else understands it though...

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Faith, as in the aforementioned entailments, and faith in that which is wildly improbable and even has evidence against it are two entirely different things. Religionists have confused faith with gullibility if not willful ignorance.

This is very true. Willful ignorance is not an act of faith. It is the exact opposite of faith. Faith embraces knowledge.

 

What?!

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Faith, as in the aforementioned entailments, and faith in that which is wildly improbable and even has evidence against it are two entirely different things. Religionists have confused faith with gullibility if not willful ignorance.

This is very true. Willful ignorance is not an act of faith. It is the exact opposite of faith. Faith embraces knowledge.

 

What?!

Read on... posts number 15 and 18

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