Brent Meeker wrote:
> Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> >
> > Brent Meeker writes:
> >
> >>> This cannot be explained away by
> >>> "faith" in the sense that one can have faith in the gravity god or a
> >>> deist god (because no empirical finding counts for or against such
> >>> beliefs): rather, it comes down to a matter of simultaneously
> >>> believing x and not-x.
> >>>
> >> Seems like "faith" to me - belief without or contrary to evidence.  What 
> >> is the "x" you refer to?
> >
> > There is a subtle difference. It is possible to have faith in something 
> > stupid
> > and still be consistent. For example, I could say that I have faith that God
> > will answer my prayers regardless of whether he has ever answered any
> > prayers before in the history of the world. However, I think most religious
> > people would say that they have "faith" that God will answer their prayers
> > because that it what God does and has done in the past. In so saying, they
> > are making an empirically verifiable claim, at least in theory. They can be 
> > invited
> > to come up with a test to support their belief, which can be as stringent 
> > as they
> > like; for example, they might allow only historical analysis because God 
> > would
> > not comply with any experiment designed to test him. I suspect that no such
> > test would have any impact on their beliefs because at bottom they are just
> > based on blind faith, but given that they do not volunteer this to begin 
> > with, it
> > shows them up as inconsistent and hypocritical.
> >
> > Stathis Papaioannou
> OK.  But I'd say that in fact almost no one believes something without any 
> evidence, i.e. on *blind* faith.  Religious faith is usually belief based on 
> *selected* evidence; it is "faith" because it is contrary to the total 
> evidence.  Bruno seems to use "faith" somewhat differently: to mean what I 
> would call a working hypothesis.
> Brent Meeker

This gets us to the question that has been pondered here before, a
question that is more appropriate to the general
metaphysical/epistemological thoughts of this List: What does it mean
to believe something?  I'd say that you can't really know if you or
someone else really believes something unless you/they act on it.  An
act could simply be investing some of our precious limited time to look
at its consequences.  I'd say that for that non-trivial period of time
in your life, you had at least somewhat of a belief in it.  It is not a
trivial thing to use up some of your life doing something (at least in
my worldview).  I think this shows how Bruno's "belief" can be brought
equal in essence (if not necessarily the quantity of investment) to any
other belief.  Evidence is relative, and I think is important in
practical terms, but it is not essential to the definition of belief.


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