dan9el wrote:
> 
> Tom Caylor wrote:
>> 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.
>> 
>> Tom

I agree that action is the measure of belief (recognizing that speech is also a 
form of action).  I didn't say that evidence was of the essence of belief.  I 
just observed that belief without any evidence at all is very rare.  Even 
people who hold completely crazy beliefs, like their toaster gives them orders 
they must obey, can usually give reasons for their belief.  It's just a matter 
of scope and relevance of evidence.

Brent Meeker


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