Can any believer make a case for the superiority of faith over knowledge?
- Creation, evolution, a big bang ? These things are all theories. None are defined as facts, so why would anyone expect all people to acknowledge these things as facts?
Here's a short list of a few folks who started their investigation of the bible to disprove it and became Christian believers.
I myself became a Christian in no small part by studying atheist accusations on this very discussion board. Fond memories.
Hi Perry, would you describe yourself as a fedeist?
Your post indicates you can or even should come to faith by studying and learning. Just wondering if that is the case and you are more along the lines of Calvinist thought that reason, rightly used, leads to faith or more along the Kierkegaard or Liberation Theology line?
If you reject such labels, I do understand.
The problem could lie more in the fact that people on both sides of the issue, religious people included, are highly ignorant of Scripture and the words often rendered as "faith."
"Enumah" is the Hebrew word, and "pistis" is the Greek word. While most often rendered as "faith" or "belief," neither word actually means that.
Many religious people equate "belief" or "faith" to be little more than a mental acknowledgment that something is so, such as the existence of God. But the words used in Scripture never refer to a simple credulous mental exercise of that type.
The words in Hebrew and Greek mean "to be/act faithfully" or "to employ trust." They never mean to "just believe" as if mentally accepting the existence of God is all that is implied.
It is even unscriptural to have such a "faith" in God. James 2:18 states: "You believe in the one God, do you? Well and good. But so do the demons, and for them it is a cause to tremble in fear." Mere mental acknowledgment that God is real or exists is never meritorious on its own, the text explains, as demons have met and seen God yet their knowledge of his existence doesn't bring them salvation or change their fate.
Such credulity is never advertised in Scripture as a substitute for learning or study, but you will often find religious people claiming it is.
And faith in Scripture is not a requisite for salvation either. Abraham did not have the Scriptures to follow, nor Isaac or Jacob. Yet God claims to be their God, speaking as if they are alive or "saved." (Matthew 22:31, 32) They never had the Bible for a single day to put faith in or follow.
Unbelievers are also spoken of in Scripture as being excused from their sins on Judgment Day merely because they follow the law of their own conscience at Romans 2:14-16. Others are condemned for worshipping false gods due to ignoring not Scripture but failing to study the truths found in nature that argue against the existence of elemental deities. (Romans 1:19-23) Faith is not the option offered or requisite for these persons. Instead learning about the world around us and being faithful to one's own conscience is the alternative to falling to "the wrath of God" in these texts.
The over simplification of "faith" is often a reason many atheists reject the arguments of many religious people. It isn't a bad idea either to do so becuase the idea that faith somehow replaces knowledge is nowhere found in Scripture and absent from Judaism, Catholicism and Orthodoxy which reject such views.
- What is the difference between faith and inductive logic or beliefs based on inference?
Many religious people equate "belief" or "faith" to be little more than a mental acknowledgment that something is so, such as the existence of God. But the words used in Scripture never refer to a simple credulous mental exercise of that type - DJ
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists - Heb.11:6
@Dog gone, of course I am begging the question but I sincerely hope for an insight into faith nevertheless! Even as a JW I didn’t have much faith, just a stupid trust in what others were believing to be true. “Brand loyalty” I think described it better than faith.
Your comparison with the popular story narrative is interesting because it reflects a particular aspect of the human psyche; the wish for “love” to triumph. No decent human would deny the sentiment. Humans want love... and religion can supply a simulacrum of it.
To relocate the idea and place human love for a sprit father and son, is an abstraction of familial love and yet historically it has been socially accepted as honourable and desirable. I suggest this is the very mistake which needs to be understood. We are capable of falling “in love” which is very healthy in most families but to apply the same psychological triggers to an invisible putative “saviour” and be loved in return; is a delusion. By this I mean there is no evidence outside our mind (or collective minds) that we are loving or are being loved by a spirit being. We may be talking love with our fellow believers and we might feel it very strongly and enjoy the feeling. But whatever you do don’t bring reason or logic to the party as the drug will soon wear off.
The time has come to put away these childish things as one writer said.
@David Jay, yes belief and worship has been whittled down to an expedient called “faith” since the texts as you say, don’t encourage blind faith as a religious act.
You also give an example of the faith which Abraham had without scripture. This is another example of the utter incoherence of the Bible since religion in patriarchal times had an entirely different and polytheistic approach whereby a man might acceptably talk and argue with a god. If such a man was a patriarch or culture hero, it would be an object lesson for the listeners to the story.
So you are saying that whereas faith is not the goal scripturally speaking; it has taken on a life of its own and become perhaps the identifier for modern Christianity?
@Perry science only means knowledge, it is nothing special and human knowledge as yet cannot describe with the needed evidence the precise origin of life. This by no means invalidates scientific methods, it simply exemplifies our present limits. Scientific methods are only four hundred years old after all. This is no argument here which says that faith is superior to science.
A good question Luther b, but as Bertie Russell said; philosophy lies somewhere between science and religion. Do you have a good reply to your own question?
Sounds like you got what I was saying, except that the "faith" being argued here is actually limited to the minority of Christian groups. It has no equal in the traditional religions like Catholicism or Judaism.
Religions linked with America's Second Great Awakening era, however, have this "faith" as a counter not merely to knowledge of secular things but to their religious history as well.
One thing more.
It is not necessarily "impossible" to get a logical explanation of the Bible. It is that most people, including many in the religion's pews, either never study it or expose themselves to it.
Crack open the Oxford study edition of the NRSV or the newly released Catholic NABRE published by the USCCB, and you will find introductory notes and a complex footnote apparatus so foreign to what you usually read on this site (in the arguments of religious vs atheist persons) that you might wonder if believer's of the Bible really ever read their Bibles.
The arguments from both sides that I often (but not always) see here are usually so far removed from what is taught in these volumes, you might assume that few have exposure to mainstream philology and basic exegetical theory.
Many here have a very good grasp of these issues, but maybe just as many, both atheist and theist, are arguing issues that are so ignorant of real theological concepts that they just don't matter. Neither party's arguments are based on an educated approach, neither side comes to the argument with their homework done, and almost none of their arguments have any practical value outside of this forum where the majority of religious people don't even have the views that are illogically being argued over here in some threads.
But it has to be admitted that these same critical approaches to Scripture, the same that offer a very coherent and logical explanation to the Bible, shared by the majority of Judeo-Christian movements, do not claim "faith" is superior to knowledge.
Shouldn't those who wish to argue against the value of Scripture and religion be more effective in their fight if they concentrated on arguing against the critical analysis of, say like what is found in the NABRE's footnotes, than the misconceptions of a few? If Scripture is wrong, then concentrate on ripping the NABRE, the Jewish Annotated New Tetsament, and Oxford's study volume of NRSV to shreds. It's easy to go after the other stuff.
If you can't topple the critical approaches, the other views of the minority matter little. And getting angry or insulting or attacking those who suggest that won't disprove those academics of the critical method that keep the majority of the world believing in the Bible.