Board index Faith and Knowledge

How do we know what we know, and what is faith all about

Faith vs. evidence

Postby Bryan NY » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:11 pm

For most things in life, we don't choose undying faith over facts and evidence. Why is belief in a God or a religious practice any different? Why does it objectively deserve our faith in it?

To give an example, if I told someone that I have an invisible time machine that can't be touched, can't be measured, and can't be used until after the potential user dies but that it definitely exists and all it requires for it to be used is faith, most people would think I'm either lying or crazy.

If I tried to sell someone the "perfect house" that had everything a homeowner could ever want, was in perfect condition (And would eternally be so), and was in the exact location they wanted it in but I had no papers, pictures, or firsthand accounts of anyone seeing this house and I told you that as a potential homeowner that you couldn't go and see the house but to simply trust me with the $5,000,000 payment for such a home, would you give me the money no questions asked? Probably not.

So why is it different for religion and God? Why can some groups make claims as large as "There's an infinitely powerful/all-knowing/omnipresent/all-good/eternal entity out there that made us all in its image and you have to follow these steps for the rest of your life in order to please this God" without having to back up these claims in a substantial way because the belief in these claims comes rather easily?

Is there something about your particular belief that you find to be good enough evidence? What makes it good evidence? Why do you think that your belief in God and/or religious practice is the objectively correct way to think and/or behave? Furthermore, if the evidence is so strong then why is there still so much debate over the smallest of details regarding God's existence and how we should worship such a God (Or even if we should worship such a God)?
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby jimwalton » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:14 pm

In the Bible, faith is evidentiary. I define Biblical faith as "making an assumption of truth based on enough evidence to make that assumption reasonable." In my opinion, belief is always a choice, and is always based on evidence. When you sit down in a chair, you didn’t think twice about sitting down. You believe that the chair will hold you. Faith? Yes. You've sat in chairs hundreds of times, but you can't be absolutely sure it will hold you this time. Things do break on occasion. But you make an assumption of truth based on enough evidence to make it reasonable for you to make that assumption, and you sit down. That's faith, and it was a conscious choice based on a reasonable body of evidence.

Almost all of life works this way because we can never know what lies ahead. Every time you turn a door knob you are expressing faith, because 10,000 times you've turned a door knob, and it opened the door. So you turn the knob and move forward. Does it always work that way? No. Sometimes you turn the knob and the door doesn't open. But you make an assumption of truth based on enough evidence to make it reasonable for you to make that assumption, and you walk forward in faith.

We know chairs hold people. That's past experience and learning. We know turning door knobs open doors. We know that when we turn a key a car starts. But every time we turn a car key, we do it because we believe it will start. The evidence is compelling, and it was a conscious choice. We don't know for sure that the car will start, and unfortunately sometimes it doesn't. Then we use our knowledge to try to figure out what to do about it. We dial our phone (as an act of faith, assuming it will work and help us reach another person), and try to get help.

You'll notice in the Bible that evidence precedes faith. There is no "close your eyes and jump off a cliff" and good luck to ya! God appears to Moses in a burning bush before He expects him to believe. He gave signs to take back to Pharaoh and the Israelite people, so they could see the signs before they were expected to believe. So also through the whole OT. In the NT, Jesus started off with turning water into wine, healing some people, casting out demons, and then he taught them about faith. And they couldn't possibly understand the resurrection until there was some evidence to go on. The whole Bible is God revealing himself to us all—and I mean actually, not through some exercise of faith.

My faith in God is a conscious choice because I find the evidence compelling. It's an assumption of truth based on enough evidence to make it reasonable for me to make that assumption. When you read the Bible, people came to Jesus to be healed because they had heard about other people who had been healed. They had seen other people whom Jesus had healed. People had heard him teach. Their faith was based on evidence. Jesus kept giving them new information, and they gained new knowledge from it. Based on that knowledge, they acted with more faith. People came to him to make requests. See how it works? My belief in God is based on my knowledge of the credibility of those writings, the logic of the teaching, and the historical evidence behind it all. The resurrection, for instance, has evidences that give it credibility that motivate me to believe in it. My faith in the resurrection is an assumption of truth based on enough evidence that makes it reasonable to hold that assumption. Jesus could have just ascended to heaven, the disciples figured out that he had prophesied it, and went around telling people He rose. But that's not what happened. He walked around and let them touch him, talk to him, eat with him, and THEN he said, "Believe that I have risen from the dead." The same is true for my belief in the existence of God, my belief that the Bible is God's word, and my understanding of how life works.

I would contend that faith is never blind. It's never a matter of "faith over facts and evidence."
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby Squeaky » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:10 pm

> faith is evidentiary

You can't just go making up your own definitions for words. Your whole argument hinges on this and you don't have an argument.
Just because you have faith doesn't make it evidence.
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby jimwalton » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:10 pm

But I am allowed to use the definition that the Bible uses for it, which is what I'm doing. Faith is a multi-faceted word, like love, so it can mean different things in various settings. The Bible uses faith as evidentiary, as I substantiated from my post.

Hebrews 11.1 tells us that faith is the certainty about what we hope for and the evidence of what we can't see. The Greek words are ὑπόστασις, the assurance of actuality, reality in contrast to what merely seems to be; and ἔλεγχος, "Proof; evidence; certainty."

John 17.8 says the disciples the disciples knew with certainty. This was no blind trust, but a knowledge based on evidence. The Greek words are ἔγνωσαν ἀληθῶς: to know fully and truly. Faith is a judgment of certainty based on evidence.

In John 14.11 Jesus says he expects his disciples to believe on the weight of evidence.

And then there's every other example I already gave in the post: Moses, Pharaoh, Jesus—and I could give dozens of others. Therefore I do have an argument, and a quite good one. The Bible defines faith as evidentiary, and so that's what we go by. You may define it differently in your writings, and that's your prerogative, but since we're evaluating the Bible, we'll stick with the Bible's definition. Faith is making an assumption of truth based on enough evidence to make that assumption reasonable.
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby Indubitably » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:48 pm

> because I find the evidence compelling

Care to share this evidence? That anything in the bible is true?
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby jimwalton » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:49 pm

Oh my. First of all, there are many reasonable arguments for the existence of God that together present a formidable case for his existence, and a far stronger case than anything an atheist has been able to argue.

That anything in the Bible is true? Of course.

    * King Hezekiah
    * The Assyrian Empire
    * Sennacherib, Shalmaneser, Tiglath-Pilezer, Sargon II, Esarhaddon
    * Ashurbanipal
    * Ramesses and Pithom being built by slave populations
    * The Davidic Dynasty
    * The Pool of Bethesda
    * Jesus's crucifixion
    * the town of Nazareth
    * the book of Acts contains dozens of names of people and places around the Roman Empire that we know of from non-Christian sources
    * 23 political figures the NT mentions have been confirmed
    * Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC
    * The existence of the people groups the OT names: Jebusites, Amorites, Hittites, etc.
    * Many archaeological references to the kings of Israel and Judah: Omri, Ahab, Jehu, Josh, Jeroboam II, Menachem, Pekah, Hoshea, Uzziah, Ahaz, Manasseh, Azariah, and a bunch of others
    * Various Pharaohs of Egypt: Necho, Shishak, So, Tirhakah, and Hophra
    * Mesha, king of Moab
    * 5 kings of Aram: Hadadezer, Ben-hadad, Hazael, Rezin, and another Ben-hadad
    * About 6 kings of Babylon
    * Kings of Persia

And this is just a very short list. So, maybe you're actually kidding that there isn't "anything in the Bible that's true".
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby Ella Real » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:10 pm

Belief is the base of all religions. But belief is not a fact, religions were born from superstition and ignorance. Through out ages superstition and ignorance was used by shamans, priests and rulers to control people. Did you know that rulers forcefully Christianized there subjects to brain wash them into submission? I suggest you to read " Religion, Politics, And The Abuse of Power by Ella Prvi" e-book. I would really like to hear your opinion.
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby jimwalton » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:10 pm

> Belief is the base of all religions

Yes, but Christianity is a historical religion. It sets it apart from the others.

> But belief is not a fact

Belief in the Bible is making an assumption of truth based on enough evidence to make that assumption reasonable, as I substantiated in my previous post (to which you are responding). I also showed how belief is a normal part of life (chair, doorknobs, etc.). So I very much disagree with your premise here, as I have shown otherwise.

> religions were born from superstition and ignorance.

I'm sure some were, but you certainly can't substantiate that all were. It's very possible that God exists and that one religion is true. Perhaps, just perhaps, God exists, and the real religion was born from evidence and intelligence.

> Through out ages superstition and ignorance was used by shamans, priests and rulers to control people.

Of course in some cases this is true. But you can't begin to substantiate that it's true in every case.

> Did you know that rulers forcefully Christianized there subjects to brain wash them into submission?

In the Middle Ages, sure. There's no evidence of that in the B.C.E. era, or in the time of the New Testament, or in era of the early church. That kind of monkey business didn't start until way after Christianity began, so it's certainly not part of what the Bible means by belief, and it's no commentary on how or why Christianity began.

> I suggest you to read " Religion, Politics, And The Abuse of Power by Ella Prvi" e-book. I would really like to hear your opinion.

Thank you. It seems you've written a book! I appreciate the reference, but I can't begin to read a whole book to answer a question. While it's unarguable that some religions are political and some are responsible for the abuse of power (even Christianity at some regrettable parts of its history), this is not the foundation on which Judaism or Christianity rest.
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby You Are Wrong » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:29 pm

> In the Bible, faith is evidentiary.

It is? Where in the Bible does it say that?

> Unlike chairs, keys, and doorknobs, you have no prior experiences of the thing you have faith in.
> It's an assumption of truth based on enough evidence to make it reasonable for me to make that assumption.

What is that evidence?

> When you read the Bible...

Here you assumed your conclusion. Unless you want to argue that you have some independent evidence that the Bible is true?

> My belief in God is based on my knowledge of the credibility of those writings,

You have knowledge that the gospels are true? Where did you get it? You have knowledge that their authors are credible? Who wrote them?

> The resurrection, for instance, has evidences that give it credibility that motivate me to believe in it.

It does? That's a shocker. I think you'll agree you'd want some good solid evidence to believe that a dead person came back to life and floated up to heaven. What is this evidence?
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Re: Faith vs. evidence

Postby jimwalton » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:29 pm

> It is? Where in the Bible does it say that?

Hebrews 11.1 tells us that faith is the certainty about what we hope for and the evidence of what we can't see. The Greek words are ὑπόστασις, the assurance of actuality, reality in contrast to what merely seems to be; and ἔλεγχος, "Proof; evidence; certainty."

John 17.8 says the disciples the disciples knew with certainty. This was no blind trust, but a knowledge based on evidence. The Greek words are ἔγνωσαν ἀληθῶς: to know fully and truly. Faith is a judgment of certainty based on evidence.

In John 14.11 Jesus says he expects his disciples to believe on the weight of evidence.

And then there's every other example I already gave in the post: Moses, Pharaoh, Jesus—and I could give dozens of others. In the Bible faith is defined as evidentiary and illustrated as evidentiary.

> Unlike chairs, keys, and doorknobs, you have no prior experiences of the thing you have faith in.

Of course I do.

> Unless you want to argue that you have some independent evidence that the Bible is true?

There are many reasons I consider the Bible to be true.

* historical accuracy via corroboration
* geographical accuracy via corroboration
* cultural accuracy via corroboration
* The Bible is true to life. The things it speaks of are what life is actually like: the reality of evil, both the nobility and cruelty of humans, purpose, the beauty of love, the depth of grief, and a hundred other things. It speaks accurately of the human condition.
* The Bible has value for life. It teaches ways of goodness, healthy, healthy relationships, caring for others, justice, morality, responsibility, accountability
* Its life-changing power
* I find that the Bible speaks accurately about spiritual matters as well.

> You have knowledge that the gospels are true? Where did you get it?

There's no way to prove the content of Jesus's actions and speech since there is no corroboration of them. The Gospels were written as historiography, and the historical elements they contain that can be confirmed are solid (except for about 2 which are still debated). I find that the evidence is substantial that the authors were writing accurate history.

> "Gospels" You have knowledge that their authors are credible? Who wrote them?

The arguments about the authors of the Gospels are long and involved. I have studied those arguments and have concluded that the weight of evidence is in favor of the traditional authors, but it's a question of plausible arguments, not deductive ones.

> "Resurrection" It does? That's a shocker.

It shouldn't be a shocker. Many many scholarly works have been written on the subject. The evidences are there, and so are the counterarguments.
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