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March 10, 2016


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Of course they are different, but not to the extent you described. It is more a matter of differences in "degree" rather than "kind." We have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow because of empirical observation: it rose yesterday, and the day before, and the preceding x amount of days that we know about. That doesn't guarantee it will rise tomorrow, only that it is more likely than not.

Believing in Jesus is of a different "degree" of faith but ultimately of the same kind. One believes the historical evidence (Gospels, the historian Josephus, several Greek writers) for his existence, believes he was telling the truth, etc. Obviously, this requires some amount of faith: there is no guarantee he did anything of the things we read about.

The distinction then is one of degree--that is, how much faith is required to hold the belief. Clearly, it takes more faith to believe in Jesus than to believe the sun will rise. But ultimately both are beliefs, situated in a larger system of beliefs. Most scientific claims depend on the belief in the "uniformity of nature" to make sense. We must assume that the way things have worked in the past (the sun rising) will hold for the future (the sun will always rise). Bertrand Russell, not a theist by any means, sums this up.

"Thus all knowledge which, on a basis of experience tells us something about what is not experienced, is based upon a belief which experience can neither confirm nor confute."

My thanks again Brian. Linguistics forms a key aspect of your response. I enjoyed the article.

After reading it, however, I didn't make the connection with my question about self-discoveries/objective analysis and their potential influence on faith. I read a lot about contextual differences resident in use of the word "faith" and I appreciate that. I have faith that I understand your faithful interpretation of the linguistic nuance of the word!

Science is wonderful...many of us owe our lives to it. Science provides empirical evidence for theories we can't see and context for things we don't understand. It (science) explains why things happen and is often capable of predicting when, how and why they will happen again. (except weather in the Pacific Northwest)

There is great comfort in knowing that science and the scientific method (as well as mathematics, chemistry, physics, mechanics etc.) will instill in us confidence to know (or think we can know) the unknown. Yes, I have faith in science just as I have faith in the doctor who opens my chest cavity and the pilot who flies me across the country at 650 miles an hour at an altitude of 6 miles above the Earth. Without faith, we would neither lie on an operating table nor fasten our seat belts.

We place our faith in these people without asking to read their medical or flight school transcripts or ask them if they had a good nights' sleep last night. We place our faith in a quality and capability and level of skill we can never fully understand or fully appreciate. Yes, we have faith in them without empirical proof of their competence. Is it because we presume the know what they are doing? I think it's because we have simple faith in them as another human being. We trust them because we have faith in them. Scary. (I'm always reminded, though, that 50% of all doctors finished in the bottom half of their med school class).

One more question, Brian, if I may: Does the concept of "hope" reside in your world view? Not as in "I hope the Seahawks win the Super Bowl" or "I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow." I mean real, human hope....the kind that encompasses more than personal desire or wishful thinking. Real H-O-P-E.

I hope you do.

Perhaps there is an article about that waiting just beyond the search bar on Google.

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