Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Faith: An Excerpt from Peter Boghossian' Book

The following is an excerpt on faith from Peter Boghossian's book A Manual for Creating Atheists, which is available at Amazon.  I highly recommend it.  

As a Street Epistemologist, you’ll find subjects will attempt to evade your help by asserting that every definition of faith offered is incorrect and that you “just don’t understand” what faith really is. When pressed, the faithful will offer vague definitions that are merely transparent attempts to evade criticism, or simplistic definitions that intentionally muddy the meaning of “faith.”

More common still are what Horseman Daniel Dennett terms “deepities.” A deepity is a statement that looks profound but is not. Deepities appear true at one level, but on all other levels are meaningless. Here are some examples of deepities:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11: 1)

“Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (Alma 32: 21) 1

“Faith is the act in which reason reaches ecstatically beyond itself.” (Tillich, 1957, p. 87)

 “Faith is faith in the living God, and God is and remains a mystery beyond human comprehension. Although the ‘object’ of our faith, God never ceases to be ‘subject.’” (Migliore, 1991, p. 3)

“Making faith-sense tries to wed meaning and facts. You can start with either one, but it is important to include the claims of both.” (Kinast, 1999, p. 7)

“Having faith is really about seeking something beyond faith itself.” (McLaren, 1999, p. 3)

 … and additionally, virtually every statement made by Indian-American physician Deepak Chopra.

For example, Chopra’s tweets on February 7, 2013, read:

“The universe exists in awareness alone.” 

“God is the ground of awareness in which the universe arises & subsides”

 “All material objects are forms of awareness within awareness, sensations, images, feelings, thoughts”

 One could easily fill an entire tradition to employ deepities, used slippery definitions of faith, and hidden behind unclear language since at least the time of Augustine (354– 430).

 The word “faith” is a very slippery pig. We need to get our hands on it, pin it to the ground, and wrap a blanket around it so we can have something to latch onto before we finally and permanently subdue it. Malleable definitions allow faith to slip away from critique.

Faith—belief without evidence.

“My definition of faith is that it’s a leap over the probabilities. It fills in the gap between what is improbable to make something more probable than not without faith. As such, faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities.” —John W. Loftus, “Victor Reppert Now Says He Doesn’t Have Faith!” (Loftus, 2012)

Faith—pretending to know things you don’t know.

Not everything that’s a case of pretending to know things you don’t know is a case of faith, but cases of faith are instances of pretending to know something you don’t know. 

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