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Author Topic:   Why is Faith a Virtue?
Chief Infidel
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 294 (334363)
07-22-2006 6:53 PM


Why should we respect people’s faith when they have no evidence or proof?
Where else in our discourse do we encounter this? When was the last time that someone was admonished to respect someone else’s beliefs in history, physics, or mathematics?

If I told you I believe there was a diamond buried in my backyard that is the size of a refrigerator, it might occur for you to ask me why.*

What if in response I gave you the kind of answers that you hear from religious moderates, answers that describe the good effects of believing as I do?

“Believing that there is a diamond in my back yard gives my life a lot of meaning.”

“I wouldn’t want to live in a universe where there wasn’t a diamond buried in my backyard the size of a refrigerator.”

Others will tell you that “Medical studies have shown that people who believe that there is a diamond the size of a refrigerator buried in their backyard live longer, happier lives.”

It’s pretty clear that responses of this sort are deeply inadequate. Why don’t we apply this same demand for proof to religious faith?

Now watch this 2 minute video on teapot atheists!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVQoxrrMftA
(If you do not watch this video, do not bother responding.)

Why do religious beliefs, or faith, get a pass when everything else in life is held to a higher standard?

Why is faith a virtue?
Why are faith-based beliefs even more of a virtue when held despite evidence to the contrary?

*Diamond analogy borrowed from Sam Harris, The End Of Faith, Chapter 1.


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by jar, posted 07-22-2006 8:45 PM Chief Infidel has responded
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 Message 5 by ringo, posted 07-22-2006 9:31 PM Chief Infidel has not yet responded
 Message 6 by iano, posted 07-22-2006 9:48 PM Chief Infidel has responded
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 Message 36 by macaroniandcheese, posted 07-23-2006 3:31 PM Chief Infidel has not yet responded
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AdminFaith
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 294 (334394)
07-22-2006 8:21 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
jar
Member
Posts: 30941
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 3 of 294 (334401)
07-22-2006 8:45 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Chief Infidel
07-22-2006 6:53 PM


Why do you think anyone believes Faith is a Virtue?

Why do you believe that "faith-based beliefs even more of a virtue when held despite evidence to the contrary?"


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Chief Infidel, posted 07-22-2006 6:53 PM Chief Infidel has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Chief Infidel, posted 07-22-2006 9:49 PM jar has responded

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 4 of 294 (334411)
07-22-2006 9:03 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Chief Infidel
07-22-2006 6:53 PM


Why are faith-based beliefs even more of a virtue when held despite evidence to the contrary?

I can give you two examples of faith-based beliefs that were held contrary to the evidence:
The People's Temple (rev. Jim Jones)
Heaven's Gate

Sorry, but I don't see any virtue in these examples (nor in the folly of Young Earth Creationism).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Chief Infidel, posted 07-22-2006 6:53 PM Chief Infidel has not yet responded

  
ringo
Member
Posts: 16464
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 5 of 294 (334416)
07-22-2006 9:31 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Chief Infidel
07-22-2006 6:53 PM


Unfortunately, many people who trumpet about "faith" have no idea what faith is.

quote:
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, things that have not happened yet. When something does happen - i.e. there is evidence that it happened - then faith becomes obsolete.

Faith is not an excuse for hand-waving away what has happened or has not happened (e.g. the "flood").

Faith is the evidence of things not seen. It's a backup plan. If you don't see it yet, you can still have faith that it will happen.

Faith is not closing your eyes and saying, "I do, I do, I do believe in spooks!" when you know bloody well there are no spooks.

Faith is not a virtue. It's just the best we can do in some circumstances.

Edited by Ringo, : Punctuation?

Edited by Ringo, : Shpelling.


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This message is a reply to:
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iano
Member (Idle past 79 days)
Posts: 6165
From: Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Joined: 07-27-2005


Message 6 of 294 (334418)
07-22-2006 9:48 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Chief Infidel
07-22-2006 6:53 PM


(If you do not watch this video, do not bother responding.)

You could have told us it was just another dodgy televangelist...


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Chief Infidel, posted 07-22-2006 6:53 PM Chief Infidel has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by Chief Infidel, posted 07-22-2006 10:00 PM iano has responded
 Message 21 by ramoss, posted 07-23-2006 12:03 AM iano has responded

  
Chief Infidel
Inactive Member


Message 7 of 294 (334419)
07-22-2006 9:49 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by jar
07-22-2006 8:45 PM


Why do you think anyone believes Faith is a Virtue?

Good question. Let's define the terms.

I'm using faith as in a belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

A virtue is a character trait valued as being good. Faith may not fall under the four western cardinal virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice, but is still seen as good to christians based on my experience and the following passages:

"Without faith, it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6)

"Jesus said to him, 'Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed.'" (John 20:29)

"Now abide, faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is Love." (I Corinthians 13:13)

"For we are living a life of faith, and not one of sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Aquinas believed that (living) faith is a virtue:

"The will can not strive after God in perfect love unless the intellect have true faith toward him."

"It is by human virtue that human acts are rendered good; hence, any habit that is always the principle of a good act, may be called a human virtue. Such a habit is living faith. For since to believe is an act of the intellect assenting to the truth at the command of the will, two things are required that this act may be perfect: one of which is that the intellect should infallibly tend to its object, which is the true; while the other is that the will should be infallibly directed to the last end, on account of which it assents to the true: and both of these are to be found in the act of living faith. For it belongs to the very essence of faith that the intellect should ever tend to the true, since nothing false can be the object of faith, as proved above (1, 3): while the effect of charity, which is the form of faith, is that the soul ever has its will directed to a good end. Therefore living faith is a virtue."

"The faith of which we are speaking is based on the Divine Truth, which is infallible, and consequently its object cannot be anything false; so that faith of this kind can be a virtue."

-Summa Theologica http://www.newadvent.org/summa/

"Faith is the highest passion in a human being. Many in every generation may not come that far, but none comes further."
- Soren Kierkegaard, Summa summarum

Why do you believe that "faith-based beliefs even more of a virtue when held despite evidence to the contrary?"

This one is harder to answer. It is what I have seen.

Let's put it another way. Can faith be strong or weak? I think that it can. One can have stronger faith or convictions than another. A particular individual's faith can be shaken or destroyed after reading a book or listening to a lecture, while another believer, whose faith is stronger, will not be swayed by the literature or lecture.

I'm saying that to believers, faith, despite evidence, or in spite of evidence to the contrary, is stronger than faith which has not been tested.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by jar, posted 07-22-2006 8:45 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Faith, posted 07-22-2006 10:00 PM Chief Infidel has responded
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Faith
Member
Posts: 31317
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 8 of 294 (334421)
07-22-2006 10:00 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Chief Infidel
07-22-2006 9:49 PM


I'm saying that to believers, faith, despite evidence, or in spite of evidence to the contrary, is stronger than faith which has not been tested.

The supposed "evidence to the contrary" here is not convicting evidence to the contrary despite your conviction that it is. What so many here regard as incontrovertible proof, though they dislike that term, as for instance against the flood, simply is not. It's all speculation.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Chief Infidel, posted 07-22-2006 9:49 PM Chief Infidel has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by Chief Infidel, posted 07-22-2006 10:08 PM Faith has responded

    
Chief Infidel
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 294 (334422)
07-22-2006 10:00 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by iano
07-22-2006 9:48 PM


You could have told us it was just another dodgy televangelist...

I could have also told you that it was proof of the flying speghetti monster but that would not have been true either.

Do you have anything to add to the conversation?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by iano, posted 07-22-2006 9:48 PM iano has responded

Replies to this message:
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jar
Member
Posts: 30941
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 10 of 294 (334423)
07-22-2006 10:01 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Chief Infidel
07-22-2006 9:49 PM


Huh?
I'm saying that to believers, faith, despite evidence, or in spite of evidence to the contrary, is stronger than faith which has not been tested.

I know you are saying that, I'm just not sure what that means?


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
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AnswersInGenitals
Member
Posts: 509
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 11 of 294 (334424)
07-22-2006 10:03 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by ringo
07-22-2006 9:31 PM


Ringo informs us:
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, things that have not happened yet.

But I believe faith refers to more than this and often describes beliefs held in the absence of complete knowledge. You have several ways to get to work, and you really don't know if your usual way is block by road construction, but you have faith that it is your best choice. So faith can apply to decisions about both beliefs to hold and to actions to take when you don't have all the knowledge you need to unequivocally force a single correct choice. I. e., you just don't know what the hell is going on.

Another interesting aspect is that many religious people speak of a certain person as being a "man or woman of faith", and consider this a complement. Hitler was a man of faith.

----------------------
Ignorance is not bliss. It is just ignorance.


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Chief Infidel
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 294 (334425)
07-22-2006 10:08 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Faith
07-22-2006 10:00 PM


The supposed "evidence to the contrary" here is not convicting evidence to the contrary despite your conviction that it is. What so many here regard as incontrovertible proof, though they dislike that term, as for instance against the flood, simply is not. It's all speculation.

This is not the place to discuss the merits of the evidence on either side of the argument. But I hope we can agree that evidence exists on both sides.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Faith, posted 07-22-2006 10:00 PM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by Faith, posted 07-22-2006 10:22 PM Chief Infidel has responded

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 31317
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 13 of 294 (334428)
07-22-2006 10:22 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Chief Infidel
07-22-2006 10:08 PM


This is not the place to discuss the merits of the evidence on either side of the argument. But I hope we can agree that evidence exists on both sides.

OK. That's an amazing concession as a matter of fact. A first I think. At least I can't think of anybody else on the opposing side who has ever acknowledged that there is evidence on the creationist side.

But it does make a difference to the discussion of faith as a virtue whether the evidence really is incontrovertible or not. TRULY incontrovertible evidence should call for a rethinking of the basis of one's faith and there would be no virtue in clinging to faith under such circumstances. But not the kind of evidence that is just speculative. The problem is that many THINK there is incontrovertible evidence when it really isn't.

But perhaps that does take us off topic.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Chief Infidel, posted 07-22-2006 10:08 PM Chief Infidel has responded

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iano
Member (Idle past 79 days)
Posts: 6165
From: Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Joined: 07-27-2005


Message 14 of 294 (334430)
07-22-2006 10:26 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Chief Infidel
07-22-2006 10:00 PM


Dunkin' Dawkins
Do you have anything to add to the conversation?

Sorry about the Dawkins jibe but he is the medias athiest-in-waiting. Anything to add, sure - but its late. This one springs to mind though.

Why should we respect people’s faith when they have no evidence or proof?

For my own part I can't remember asking anybody to respect my faith here or anywhere else. I don't mind if they do or don't - that's their affair. I imagine the 'respect' a Faith ( Christianity in my case) attracts is a function of the number and influence of believers adhering to whatever belief system you care to mention.

As for proof and evidence. It depends on what you mean by that. If you mean measurable in test tubes and the like - then no, I have none of that type (at least of the type that might satisfy some). But that is not to say empirical evidence is the only evidence of things in which one can have faith. Empiricism only applies to certain branches of knowledge and there is no reason (empirical or otherwise) to suggest that anything that doesn't lend itself to empiricism falls into the strawteapot that Dawkins attempts to bring to the boil. In sealing himself into the teabag of empiricism-uber-alles, Dawkins tells us more about his own faith system than he does about anyone elses brew.

Edited by iano, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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Faith
Member
Posts: 31317
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 15 of 294 (334431)
07-22-2006 10:31 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Chief Infidel
07-22-2006 6:53 PM


I want to echo Iano's statement that nobody has asked that faith be respected by anybody. Within the Christian frame of reference, the tougher the faith in the face of adversity the more admirable, but that's for Christians to appreciate, not unbelievers.

Dawkins gave a straw man picture of faith based on blind tradition. Silly really.


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