Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On Different Kinds of Faith

Most reasonable people are reluctant to classify themselves as someone who "has faith." In a lot of contexts, especially with the rise of secularist values in education, to have faith means believing something for no good reason. As Matt Dillahunty always says: "Faith is gullibility."

I do think it is necessary to split faith into two sections. In one section, we have religious faith. This kind of faith rests upon the conviction that there is no scientific explanation for a phenomenon. It is usually maintained by the claim that there is a "spiritual" dimension of experience. Faith, defined in this way, is based entirely on the subject's resignation of reasonable faculties in order to include the spiritual experience.

On the other side of the divide, there is another kind of faith: practical faith. This, in my view, is the faith that is involved in scientific endeavors as well as everyday life. In science, for example, the scientist relies on practical faith to assume that the tools they use will adequately solve the inquiry. The microscope will serve its purpose; based on this calculation, we can assume that there are limits to the dimensions of this object. In this way, practical faith can be mathematical. For everyday life, we use practical faith as well. When going to the grocery store, customers have faith that they will stock certain goods available for purchase.

One could object and say that practical faith is based entirely on perfected reason. I do not think this is always the case. In the grocery store example, I think there is a sort of desire for the availability of the goods intended to purchase. In a sense, our intentions blind us from the possibility that our groceries are unavailable. It could be the case, though, that the particular store doesn't carry the desired good. So, in this sense, there is a certain risk involved when evaluating our faith-based motives. I think this runs contrary to many proclamations that say reason is totally without risk and potential error. 

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