Faith Notes - Theory of Knowledge

Faith Quotes

  • “Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.” (Voltaire)
  • “Faith means believing the unbelievable.” (Anonymous)
  • "Some, indeed, demand to have the law proved, but this is because they lack education; for it shows lack of education not to know of what we should require proof, and of what we should not. For it is quite impossible that everything should have a proof; the process would go on to infinity, so there would be no proof... “ (Aristotle, Metaphysics)
  • “Faith is a passionate intuition.” (William Wordsworth)
  • “Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.” (St Augustine)

Faith Definitions

  • "Strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof." (Oxford)
  • "Firm belief in something for which there is no proof." (Merriam Webster) 

The insights of faith 

  • Faith is capable of providing important insights to believers. Some might not see this as a strength, but for believers faith can serve a purpose, helping the person to learn and grow.  
  • William James argued that some types of decisions could not be decided on intellectual grounds and that religious decisions were of this type. He argued that faith is justified because it allows the evidence (the insights of faith) to come. "Access to the evidence for whether or not certain beliefs are true depends crucially upon first adopting those beliefs without evidence" (The Will To Believe). If we accept this argument, then we also need to accept the idea that believers are getting access to insights that non-believers are not. 
  • Faith can provide considerable certainty in areas, such as fundamental moral truths, which other domains may not be able to. 

The limits of faith 

  • The Christian Bible discusses faith as "... the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). This idea of faith serving as evidence can be risky, because not all beliefs are true. If someone has a great deal of faith in something which is untrue, it could be very hard for them to realise this because they would never be expected to justify their faith. Therefore, it can be difficult to know which things to believe, as the usual tests (i.e. critical thinking) cannot be applied. It is also normally considered socially inappropriate to criticize people's faith, which can further entrench wrong beliefs.
  • Insights of faith can work to exclude the insights of other aspects. For example, it can seem difficult to hold on to faith while also developing one's critical thinking skills or becoming an expert in a natural science.

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