Can any believer make a case for the superiority of faith over knowledge?

by Half banana 33 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • cofty
    you might assume that few have exposure to mainstream philology and basic exegetical theory

    Yes you might indeed.

    It's all just window dressing. To millions of christians - the VAST majority - faith is about accepting improbable propositions in the face of all evidence to the contrary. These are not the "misconceptions of a few".

    The bible IS full of significant errors and disgusting moral edicts. No amount of sophisticated theology and nuanced interpretation will change that fact.

    If somebody can reconcile faith with reality good luck to them. John Shelby Spong is of that sort.

  • DogGone

    David Jay, I'm sorry to admit, you confused me. I read you as saying that taking on contextual criticism of normative Christianity would be more effective than attacking an understanding of faith which does not adhere to basic exegetical theory. But, you then acknowledge that many (most?) believers entertain exactly such an understanding. Why would it be more effective to take on the understanding of the few than the many?

  • StarTrekAngel

    No. If we try to stay within the boundaries posed by the question then the answer, in my view, is no. A believer can not make such a case. Please lets not forget the key word here is "superiority". Is faith superior to knowledge? No. Is knowledge superior to faith? In my view, that depends...

    In view of providing logical answers to everyday things, like science can answer the questions of evolution, then knowledge is a great thing and is superior to the current definition of faith. At this level, faith, in its existing definition, can not be compared because faith has gone from an expression of belief to a tool of manipulation. It has been redefined and we have taken this definition for so long that it is hard to go back. Since science has come to disprove many of the old beliefs, then faith has fought back because "faith" as a means to explain everything is much, much older than science. Faith is trying to hold its ground as the wild card of existence. In this aspect, knowledge is superior in which by nature, it questions itself constantly.

    In view of the real definition of faith then things change. Sure, the bible may say that without faith is impossible to please God because you must believe. But that is just one paragraph. I am not defending the bible, I am just saying that we can not define an entire religion as good or bad with just one paragraph of such huge book. In doing so, we would not be any different than them. The truth is the bible is plastered with people of "great faith" who did nothing but demand proof of everything. Even Abraham himself demanded proof. The reliance of faith comes down to levels of impossibility. Especially if we base it in the examples we had from such an old book, when knowledge was not that great. Today, burning a calf on an altar after a voice from the skies orders you to do it may not go too far to convince people God exists. Sure some would but there is technology available that could make this happen without divine intervention. If people of those days saw such a thing, they would have immediately accepted that a power bigger than them has cause this. But there was things that were not so conclusive, even back on those days. When God asked Moises to go to Egypt, he asked God.. how would they know you sent me? He gave them signs. More than one actually. I remember the days in my old book studies when we often would pose either the questions or the affirmation... why would they have such a hard time having faith in God when they had seen so many miracles? ... if I had seen such things happen in front of me I would not have a bit of a doubt. I would not have lost my faith. Not true, as I have come to conclude.

    Then there is also competition. Competition with the claim that other Gods could do the same. The bible mentions that some of the priests of Egypt could replicate some of the things Moises did in front of them. It did not come down to just wether God existed or not, it also came down to wether other Gods existed and which one was more powerful. With that said, faith came down to test you in each different situation. You had seen God do some things but since you are coming to know this God, how do you know how far his power goes? If he did a small things in front of you and then told you he was the only one and the most powerful one, would it be easy for you to stand in front of the Red Sea, with the Egyptian army on your butt and just a couple of reassuring words to go with?. It would be natural that they would lose faith. Therefore, faith is almost like a credit report you hold of your God. You have experience his abilities time after time and therefore you would eventually conclude that there is nothing you can fear. That is when faith has reached a pinnacle in your life. Not going to say it has happened to me but I am open to the possibility. I am just waiting for that God to reveal himself to me.

    Meanwhile, science and knowledge have sure built a very good foundation based on the evidence it has presented. Science is not a God or my God for that matter, but sure I can expect that if science says that certain thing is going to happen, there is little doubt in my mind that it will happen. I have "faith" it will happen. Sure science has failed in the past. Up until the 70's homosexuality was classified as a decease and they had an ICD code for it, just like the flu. I keep saying that back then, just like the WT, we were convinced science had it figured it out. Many have claimed that back then they were just ignorant. Sure thing they were, but the science was contemplated as solid enough to add an ICD code. Put yourself in those days and you would have defended that science against any faith that would have said otherwise. It just so happened that at that time science and faith agreed.

    Faith has been redefined as blind belief for the purpose of manipulating the masses. Faith and science should, in my view, never be considered superior to one another, so long that you don't do so within your own realm of definition. They should stay apart. Science can answer the physical world while faith can answer our own emotional and spiritual questions. After all, faith is not a modern invention. It is just as ingrained on us as many of the other things our ancestors gave us. It just need to be put back in its rightful place.

  • galaxie
    @star trek ingrained on us by our ancestors !!?? You definitely need faith to believe that.... hereditary faith !! Sacre bleu !!
  • freemindfade

    short answer

    most people don't really want the truth, they just want reassurance that what they believe is the truth

  • done4good

    Faith, (or belief in the more general sense), is an artifact of survival instincts, (fight or flight instincts), that are millions of years old, (an extension of cognitive functions beyond what our five senses can provide). Belief is an example of what happens when those survival instincts cross with human conscious awareness. As others have mentioned, that crossing leads to cognitive errors, (such as confirmation biases; intellectual laziness; etc.).

    Faith is not trust. Trust is based on previous positive experience, (however anecdotal). Faith requires no such experience, let alone empirical evidence. All that is needed is cognitive acceptance of what one considers "real".

    The etymological definition of belief is closer to that of "to care, love, desire", etc. Not that any of that is bad, however none of those instincts are based on fact.


  • Giordano
    Faith is a crutch they get so used to it that they can no longer walk on two healthy legs.
  • David_Jay


    My apologies where my lack of abilities in writing have caused you confusion. Note that in my comments, while I make reference to the type of "faith" generally being argued against here, I also state that the majority of religious people in the Judeo-Christian tradition, namely the Orthodox-Catholics, do not employ such a view. These are the same which adhere to a very strict practice of reading Scripture in light of critical analysis. "Many" have the views we argue against here, but they are outnumbered by a far larger and better-equipped majority.

    No one wins a game of chess by merely knocking over the opponent's pawns. Those are the little guys. They don't carry the power. If our skills at chess allow us to always knock over the pawns but little more, we can't say we are effective at playing chess.

    The same is true when it comes to attacking the "faith" of Christians. We might have very good arguments for knocking down the beliefs of the "little guys," and if you read through this and many other threads on this site I admit that they are very good. We have very, very good thinkers on this forum.

    But we kid ourselves if we think this does anything at making us successful against the views of Christianity.

    The recently released (2011) NABRE is one of the most respected Bibles in academia today. It is not only the official Catholic Bible used in the USA, it also contains one of the most critical apparatuses found in a modern Bible version. Agreed, it is not at a level that a Jehovah's Witness could understand, but if we are to be successful at our arguments against faith, religion, and the Bible, we need to go after the big guys on the board, not the pawns.

    Our arguments need to be effective enough to argue against what you read in the many lengthy introductions and footnotes throughout. The entire work is freely available on the web. Just go through two of the books, namely Genesis and Daniel and read the many explanatory footnotes to the various verses throughout in each chapter. Believe me, you can't do it in just a few hours. Their arguments and views are highly complex. That is the arsenal in the deposit of the big players on the board.

    And that's just two of their Bible books, only what is found in the basic text of the NABRE, and that does not mention the study notes that come with the newly released Oxford Study edition of this translation, or the Little Rock edition. Not to mention other translations used by this denomination, such as the NRSV, it's Oxford study edition, and the New Jerusalem Bible (editions with full translator's footnotes). This is just some of the English language versions in one religion. They don't even pay attention with what the little guys on the board believe, so our best arguments here don't even register.

    A war is not one when all you have is matches when the other guy has WMDs in its pockets. Our arguments are nothing if they don't compete with the big dogs. Running with the pups doesn't count. For us to be a success at taking down the beliefs of religion, we have to run at the speed of their top players, know their strengths inside and out, and take down their views and arguments. Otherwise, we've done nothing but take out the little guys who will just run for protection from the big guns who we have left standing.

    "Faith" as we are arguing here, may be a crutch for many. But so is believing we have accomplished something by disproving arguments for religion that in the end don't really matter. Anyone can knock over a pawn. You are only successful when you can knock down the big guys. That's what it will take if we want to be successful at this argument.

  • cofty

    When I was a christian I immersed myself in studying systematic theologies and serious verse-by-verse bible commentaries.

    In retrospect it was much ado about nothing.

  • David_Jay

    Your personal conclusions notwithstanding, Cofty, worthy as they are, will just be looked as a failure to supply a response.

    That doesn't mean you don't have a response or a solution that works. But if we demand an answer in full from others, we must supply ours as well, in full. Silence will belie our claim to have arguments that work and disprove even the best analytic views they have.

    And it must be more than a mere claim. If we have it, we should be able to show it instantly upon demand. We expect nothing less of others who claim opposing views we do not agree with.

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