Faith and Reasonable Expectation

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Spewer's picture
Faith and Reasonable Expectation

Many times I've been told by believers that I also have faith. For example, when I sit in a chair, I'm demonstrating faith that the chair will hold me. So there! See, I'm just like them after all. It's an attempt to portray that we're all on the same level ground, so I shouldn't criticize their faith.

I draw a distinction between faith and reasonable expectation. Reasonable expectation is a confidence based on evidence such as past behavior and experience, peer-reviewed knowledge, results that could be demonstrated experimentally, and the like. Faith, on the other hand, is pretty much entirely subjective.

Do I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow? OK, I know it doesn't actually rise, but work with me here... I'd argue that no, I have a reasonable expectation based on consistent experience of all known human history, knowledge of cosmology, lacking evidence of any cataclysm that would prevent it, and so on. We can conduct experiments on the rotation of the planet, on the orbit of the planet, on the relative position of the planet to the sun... The list could go on.

So could I have reasonable expectation for the existence of a deity described in holy texts? I suppose that depends on your threshold of 'reasonable,' but I don't see how I could. There is nary a shred of evidence that doesn't come down to "some guy said..." It's an appeal to authority with no basis on which to grant that authority - and a myriad of reasons *not* to. What experiments could we conduct? None. What about knowledge? Well, if we are limited to faith, that's pretty much ruled out. What about past experience? Sure, lots of folks have claimed experiences with gods. Trouble is, many are contradictory, and virtually all can be attributed to natural phenomena up to and including delusion.

So no, we're not on equal footing. Which brings me to a related rant:

How many times have you heard something like, "You know, it takes just as much faith to be an atheist as it does to be a believer!"

Well, it might if everything were of equal probability. Does it take as much faith to lack belief in leprechauns as it would to believe in them? No, and that's because the probability that leprechauns actually exist and the probability that they don't are not equal. If you're not already familiar with "Russell's Teapot," I urge you to take some time to research it.

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Zaphod's picture
I know exactly what your

I know exactly what your saying, because leprechauns exist, seen 'em with my own eyes and boy do they get angry if you call 'em on it. ;)

Alright, had ta, seriously though I get what your saying, but based on the definition of faith it is entirely possible to have faith in a chair. However your distinction when describing the difference between the possible types of faith one can have such as baseless faith and based faith, as you call reasonable expectation, will probably be lost on someone who would pose as dumb and argument as your faith in a the ability of a chair to hold you chair putting you on equal ground as their faith in a God. You must be willing to realize they are at such a point stabbing at straws and they get your argument but are unwilling to adhere to it. much like you would be unwilling to adhere to theirs without more to go on such as well based proof of a God.

mysticrose's picture
Faith is only given to

Faith is only given to something we can't see and we can't touch. When we love, we tend to have faith to the love of the person that we love.

Spewer's picture
I would argue that you can

I would argue that you can have reasonable expectations regarding the love of a person based on his or her observed actions and communications, combined with knowledge of past experience with trustworthiness of those attributes.

mysticrose's picture
Sometimes, even though we can

Sometimes, even though we can observe through actions of the people who love us that he/she will never betray us, if we show no faith, that person will tend to feel bad or if we expect too much we might as well be disappointed too.

efpierce's picture
For once I am not sure I

For once I am not sure I entirely agree with what you are posting, I believe that it is possible to give faith in things you can see and touch but simply can do nothing about.

SammyShazaam's picture
It's at times like this when

It's at times like this when I really feel like a dirty skeptic :/

I don't have faith in this construct of love, per se. When I love a person, I do not have faith that they will return the love. So many romantic stories of unrequited emotions show us that this is a dangerous, and in most cases unnecessarily foolish, assumption.

Here, as in so many other cases, I don't think I need faith. If I love a person, then I love them! It's as simple as that. My love is mine to give, and doesn't need to be mirrored or returned to be a valid feeling of *mine*. I do hope that I have the sense necessary to choose respectable people to love, and that they will return my good will out of respect for the gestures that I do out of that love, however that is not a given. I'd be unreasonable to expect to be able to rely on that as a constant variable in my life.

Another's love is impossible to prove. I don't need to try! Not only that, I don't need to question it (on the grand scale anyway) because there could never be a satisfactory answer, only circumstantial implications.

Zaphod's picture
Well you have a beautiful

Well you have a beautiful mind wish more people felt that way, I fell the same way about favors as well you do them be cause you do and because you want to.

Rob's picture
Come on, lets be realistic

Come on, lets be realistic about the way faith can be used for pretty much anything but it stops making sense if you have faith in things that you can some certainty about. It's just too general.

Unknowntyper's picture
Oh how I hate that word

Oh how I hate that word-twisting, definition-bending bullshit.

Never argue a point like that with anyone, it's painfully moronic and a waste of your valuable time. Faith has more than one definition, and also we have a vast set of colloquial uses for words in English. All you are getting there is a semantic argument where two differing definitions/uses of the word "faith" are being used in an attempt to confuse the issue.

Always force the theist to pre-define his or her terms and definitions before engaging them, lest you fall victim to these nose-bleed inducing bullshit arguments.

SammyShazaam's picture
Kind of like the arguments of

Kind of like the arguments of ethics and morality, where people use the two terms interchangeably. They are not synonymous!

a/theism aside, encouraging (or forcing, whatever the mood may be) your conversation partners to define their terms before embedding them into the argument is a good practice. Often times, it becomes apparent to them that they do *not* in fact have any idea what they are talking about, and can spare you from hours of insanity.

Zaphod's picture
What you guys are suggesting

What you guys are suggesting is harder to do in practice first you must usually recognize the potential for the possible uses of a a word that could be the root of their opinion. It's even harder when they don't in fact know what they are talking about and have made a totally new definition up and virtually nobody ask people to define the word they using going into discourse. But Just because something is hard does not mean you should not work at it.

SammyShazaam's picture
Which is exactly why the

Which is exactly why the conversing parties must agree on their definitions before the real conversation starts. Otherwise, it's just going to become a pile of inferences and semi-intentional misunderstandings (and other such low-down dirty tricks) with no real agreements ever reached and no true disagreements isolated.

Ever try to play a board game with a toddler who thinks it's awesome to make up their own rules mid game? That's what happens when speaking to someone who thinks they're too good to define their terms before hand.

Rob's picture
Starting with the completely

Starting with the completely ridiculous combination of faith and reason together.

ginamoon's picture
Faith is not only related to

Faith is not only related to religion. Maybe if that will be the thinking, you can use the word "faith" when believing on things such as waking up tomorrow, dreaming of your future, wanting to have something someday and even having faith in your ability to drive a car that you will not have an accident. :)

mysticrose's picture
Faith can also be related to

Faith can also be related to our belief on the things that we want to achieve like if we have a goal in life. We must have faith that we can achieve our goals in order to build positive responses in every effort that we exert.

Birdy's picture
The way I answer questions

The way I answer questions like that is to say there are two kinds of reality: faith-based reality, and evidence-based reality.

A chair, a jetliner, a modern building; these are examples of engineered products. They are designed based on materials science, using engineering principles. They aren't built on faith, but on evidence and analysis of evidence.

To manufacture and sell chairs without regard to materials science and engineering is to invite a product liability lawsuit. It's just bad business. Therefore, I have a reasonable expectation that the chair I sit on is built on evidence-based principles, not on some vague faith that it will hold me up.

Even things built before the development of science and engineering can be evaluated quickly based on evidence. Say I travel to Europe and walk into an eight-hundred year old stone building. Even though it was built before the age of materials science and engineering, the evidence is that the building hasn't caved in at any time in the past eight hundred years. Based on that evidence, I feel like it's a good bet that it won't fall on top of me if I walk inside today.

Zaphod's picture
I like how you laid out your

I like how you laid out your answer here be cuse you statment was well thought out, useful and pleasent to read, but really I liked it most because It gave me a new way of understanding misguided faith.

SammyShazaam's picture
I see this outline and find

I see this outline and find it valid, but I would like to point out that there is a little bit of an assumption being made here.

One of the reasons that we humans are able to easily put faith in human engineered products is because most of us in today's society have at least a general knowledge of how such engineering works. While we may be willing to let someone else focus and concern themselves withe the finer details, we get it on the large scale enough to trust that someone really could and would make sure a plane works before we climb in to fly.

Unfortunately, this is not true in all situations with all people. Consider the profound ignorance of the people who were first presented with religion, and used it to explain phenomena that they had almost no exposure to and no possible alternative way to explain. Today's reasonable, educated faith in our own human abilities wouldn't really be of use to them. If they were to do something wild like get into an airplane (or experience the time travel necessary to do so, lol) the faith that they'd need to trust the giant machine bird would be intense - something that might seem like sheer recklessness or idiocy were we ourselves faced with so alien a situation.

Zaphod's picture
I know this will be of little

I know this will be of little value to you guys, but I have faith in reason!

efpierce's picture
Ahh oui, foi dans la raison!

Ahh oui, foi dans la raison! I too have it and hope that one day, our minds will forgive us for it! :)

ginamoon's picture
I could agree on such faith

I could agree on such faith based and evidence based.
There are faith that are based on what is already explained or proven while there are also faith on things that does not even been seen or touched.

SammyShazaam's picture
There are plenty of things

There are plenty of things that have been proven that have never been seen or touched.

Case in point - the sun. We know exactly how far away it is from us, but we have never been there. Ancient cultures were quite accustomed to the idea of a round Earth and even knew exactly how big around it was, but they had never been all the way around it themselves.

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