What is meant by faith

A comment to May 11 “The need for faith”: In the west faith primarily means insisting on or maintaining a mental position that something is true even though there is no solid evidence for it. Although you wrote that faith is consistent with critical thinking the primary definition in the west is that faith is NOT subject to critical inquiry and in many cases faith is seen as being entirely contrary to reason and rationality… (Dale)

Aryeh’s response: Thank you for your comment, Dale. You expressed well several difficulties with the notion of faith. I’ll try to clarify what I had in mind and to show how it avoids those difficulties.

Meanings, values and purposes are not the sort of things that can be measured by scientific instruments. How can we know that our pursuits are worthwhile? How can we discern the meaning presented to us by our situations in life? These are difficult questions to answer fully. However, I believe that sincere introspection regarding meanings, etc. leads us to conclusions that we cannot honestly deny. Faith consists first in the acceptance of the possibility of arriving at objective truth through this subjective approach, and furthermore the conviction in the particular truths “revealed” to us.

In order for the introspection to be “sincere”, I’ve got to develop a sensitivity to when I’m just convincing myself out of a need for golf balls (to continue that example) or some ulterior motive other than confronting the truth. I’ve also got to use my critical mind to watch out for tricksters that may be out to manipulate because of their agendas. There’s no simple formula for knowing the truth in these matters, but honesty and humility seems like a good place to start – and these qualities can (and should) be tested (at least in part) by critical thought.

By the way, faith in religious authority (scripture, tradition, holy teachers) may be a particular case of what I had in mind, but it is certainly possible for people who have no such faith to be able to recognize meanings in their lives. Submitted by Aryeh)

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