[EDIT] Faith is not usually invoked in justifying detailed accounts!

To see what I mean, take the following statements:

  1. "I have faith in the determination of our players that I think they'll win the match."

  2. "I have faith in the determination of our players that I know that they'll win by 4:2 goals, and that such and such player will score the first, second, ...,fourth goals respectively, at such and such,...., moments of time of the game, respectively; the first and second goals will be scored in the lower left corner of the goal, the third and fourth on the opposite corner,..."

Now, obviously the second statement is not reasonable, since it is not expected from having faith to account for such a detailed claim, for such a detailed claim one is demanded to supply evidence, not faith. On the other hand, the first statement is a perfectly reasonable one, for that's the exact role that faith is supposed to have!

Now the major Monotheistic world Religions has Books that they believe are the collection of the words of God. Now the Bible has around 783,137 words (King James version), The Quran has 77,449 words. Now this is a very big amount of words to be attributed to God, and all of that is based on just faith!?

How much its reasonable to say that I know that all of those words reflect God's will and that they are all his words just depending on faith alone?

closed as too broad by Bread, virmaior, Jishin Noben, Mark Andrews, Geoffrey Thomas Feb 17 at 0:23

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    Why do you think that "one can only invoke faith in believing some particular line of answering those questions" which science cannot answer? Possibly no one can answer these questions today. Not every question must have an answer. – Jo Wehler Feb 15 at 17:37
  • Religions present themselves as giving answers to these questions. I don't think science today can answer whether God(s) exist or not, and what is going on in the head of those Gods, etc... – Zuhair Feb 15 at 17:41
  • If religions present an answer to those questions, then one has to check the validity of their answers. A successful check either confirms the answer, or rebuts the answer or leaves the question undecidable. Why should one invoke faith when the question is undecidable? – Jo Wehler Feb 15 at 17:48
  • Well that's my question in the first place? when we are ought to invoke faith? and if we are justified in doing so, then to what extent? so you are actually repeating my question. It appears to me that your answer is that there is no place for faith at all, if it is undecided then let it me, I mean that's what I can conclude from your remarks. However, many people won't agree, since these matters are important to their morals, emotions, etc.. that's why they seek answers through faith, I assume. – Zuhair Feb 15 at 18:04
  • You are right concerning my view: IMO there is no place for faith if checking the answers resulted in "The question is undecidable". – Jo Wehler Feb 15 at 18:28

Q: Can we count on faith in believing serious detailed claims?

First, it is not unreasonable for a Religion or other group to propose a large, detailed body of beliefs. The problems of life are many and complex, and any philosophy that purports to explain, much less solve them, will have to be complex. If there is a God that intends to help people, that God must communicate a large set of beliefs to guide his followers.

Second, not all religions are the same in regard to how they view the proper role of human reason in the life of their followers. For example, according to the Bible:

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18 KJV)

Given this and other statements, both Judaism and Christianity accord ample space for the exercise of reason in the life of the believer in grappling with God's words and trying to understand, defend and apply them. It is not faith, but faith plus reason, that guides our life. Another verse is:

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. (Psalm 34:8 KJV)

The above quote suggest a third point. A person is not faulted for initially being skeptical of some of the religion's claims if they make a good faith effort to test them. The Bible teaches that if you follow its teachings, certain benefits will accrue, not as a law that is always applied woodenly (see the Book of Job, for example where a good man is in distress because he suffered grievous hardship despite his good conduct) but as a principle that more often than not will be proven out. Thus over time, you attempt to live out part of what the religion teaches, see benefits, then take on more of its requirements over time. Eventually, with sufficient evidence - not proof - such a person decides to trust all the rest on faith. This is like opening an egg carton at the store and picking up two eggs to see if they are cracked. If they aren't you assume all the others are good. Mathematically, such partial testing can be very accurate if you perform enough tests.

Fourth, we do not have direct access to the experiences of people who lived long ago. This means that there will always be statements based on historical events that cannot be verified. Archeology can rule out some as unsupported or contradicted and make others plausible, but that is all. Must God repeat His miracles for each new generation? In Deuteronomy, it says:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

We do not expect our children to understand physics and chemistry when we tell them not to touch the fire. Likewise, there is the recognition that each generation must teach the next. This is true of our science as well as our religion.

Q: To what extent a claim can be extensive in order for us to be justified in counting on faith in believing it?

Fifth, we can ask if the intrusiveness, size, or other measure of the importance of a claim is backed up by events that certify its authority. Not that we can prove that those authoritative events happened (because of point four) but can we at least say that IF those events happened, that would be enough to "prove" the legitimacy of the claim? The flood of Noah, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the parting of the Red Sea, the exile and return, the raising of the dead, prophecies of the future - these are all spectacular events, all connected with changes in covenants, new teachings etc. If they happened, would that be sufficient evidence to make belief reasonable to those who witnessed those events? If so, then each of the pieces of the religion as they were added had substantiation and authority. It is only the trustworthiness of generations of believers in that faith accurately passing down those teachings that is the subject of faith, not the original commands themselves. We know with certainty that some cultures lied when they wrote their histories, because we have the evidence. The question then becomes, have the people of any cultures or religions recorded and transmitted the truth?

Nevertheless, a large demonstration of God's power is sufficient to justify God's requiring us to listen to and follow his words.

Q: What common examples of those are present in ordinary daily life?

To conclude, I will share a personal experience. There is no way you can verify whether what I am saying is true; it is an experience that can serve as a valid data point to me - a fraction of a "proof" - but will not be useable as part of any logical defense of Christianity to be shared with other people. Nevertheless, it points to an approach to religion that can become a proof for the individual who practices it.

About fifteen years ago, I lost all hearing in one ear. (Talk to my ear doctor and you could verify this claim.) After a month of treatment and several trips to the specialists, I still had no hearing in my left ear. The doctor told me that he did not know the reason I had lost my hearing. The doctor told me that since two courses of steroids had done nothing, I was unlikely to hear again. While he checked his schedule to make a follow-up apointment, I retired to the waiting room. Having a Bible with me and a brochure that tells you what passage to read each day of the year (meaning it was not my choice which pages I read), I opened to Exodus 4 and found Moses arguing with God:

10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

11 The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

As far as I can tell, this is the only place in the whole Bible that directly says that God makes people deaf. As I read this passage, I understood that though the doctors did not know why I was deaf, God knew. More importantly, I knew that God understood my distress and by this "coincidence" proved to me that he was there with me. I left the doctor's office in peace. I did not take it as a promise that God would miraculously heal me. I did take it as a sign that he was real and he loved me.

Two days later, my hearing returned. Was it a miracle? Did my body naturally heal itself? Did the medicine take longer to work than expected? I can't answer those questions. All I know is that I believe that God hears our prayers and speaks to us in mysterious ways. I had two days of peace due to my faith that I would not have had if I merely waited those two days in fear and then got my hearing back. That IS a miracle.

What is the point of this story? Over the course of three decades as a Christian, I have amassed hundreds of small "coincidences" as well as more convincing experiences that reinforce my belief. I had none of these when I became a Christian, but have acquired them in the years since. My faith is logical, because to attribute a few of these happenings to chance is reasonable but to do so for all of them is unreasonable. It is more logical to believe that God exists. And because these happenings are so intertwined with the specific words in the Bible, each event expands the number of books or chapters in the Bible for which I have personal confirmation. That is because I believe that its words are both true and powerful - and that the power would not be there without the truth.

In the same way that my good experiences confirm the general truth of the Bible, my bad experiences have often exposed my misunderstanding of some of what it teaches. It goes both ways. Not every belief that I have is correct, and over time I replace the faulty ones that cause problems in my relatioships or other areas of life with better ones.

  • I don't think this answers this question. Or let me say it is only subjective and too personal and limited answer. I of course value this experience of yours, and also value your feelings and experiences. All of what you said only answers to the existence of a super-natural helper or otherwise something natural that we can't understand. But this is not what Judeo-Christian religion is all about. How do you justify for example stoning of a bull if he stabs a man with his horns. This is in the bible, isn't it. – Zuhair Feb 15 at 19:24
  • Fair. I will connect the parts of my answer with your question shortly. – Paul Chernoch Feb 15 at 20:30
  • The problem with your account is that everything is personal, if so then why religious claims extend beyond personal matters? Religion is definitely not just about personal beliefs and experiences. It way beyond them. The other point in your account is that you are applying inductive methodology of science to Religious subjects (like of the example of the eggs you've given), matters do differ at Religious level. So you have experiences her and there and you think that those justify the WHOLE teaching of the bible or whatever book you believe, this is unbaked generalization. – Zuhair Feb 16 at 13:52
  • continuation...,there might be some supernatural (or even natural) agency that helped you through your experiences, that doesn't entail that it is what you think it is! That agency might have simply helped you relative to what you know. Similar experiences I already saw with Muslims, Hindus, and even I myself had some of these experiences. However I learned with time how to remove the false generalization I used to associate with those experiences. So no, as far as I can see, the trust you are speaking about has no clear backing. It might as well – Zuhair Feb 16 at 14:22
  • continuation...be a false generalization from prior religious thought. All in all, your argument is at best too personal to account for such extensive teaching threading throughout almost every area of life. One must not count on those, for although the experience is there, still its interpretation is open ended, and the personal interpretation of it might be quite mislead. – Zuhair Feb 16 at 14:23

People are our most immediate experience with faith. The bus driver, the policeman, the civil engineer, the shopkeeper... we make decisions in our daily lives that make us more or less vulnerable to the way these people handle their authority.

How vulnerable are you willing to be? It's based on how much you trust that person. If you trust the shopkeeper, you will go back and buy more stuff from him or her. I would say that you have faith that the good shopkeeper will treat you fairly next time.

  • No, those are not detailed claims, so I think this is not an answer. – Zuhair Feb 15 at 19:18
  • @Zuhair, I think that you are forgetting that people in your life make specific detailed claims toward you that you are free to accept or reject for subjective reasons. The bus driver (and the public transit agency) make the claim that the bus will go where you think it will go, safely. By getting on the bus, you express faith in those claims. If nobody trusted the buses to run on time (or on their lines!) then nobody would step on the bus. There is absolutely no proof that "in ten minutes, this bus will have gotten to where you need to go, safely." – elliot svensson Feb 15 at 19:21
  • well actually it is not just about safety as you think, it is more about reaching to where you want, if you don't have any other alternative, then you must pursue it. You can live in a place where there is no safety at all with all of those, and still life must go on.. anyhow, all of those events you are speaking about do have a proof, which is experience with them, but with Religion you don't have this kind of experiential evidence, so I believe it is not an answer to this kind of question. – Zuhair Feb 15 at 19:31
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    @Zuhair, do you spend effort to make plans that depend on the continuation of the universe's existence? Because if you didn't have confidence that the universe would continue to exist, then planning ahead would be a waste of your energy... you should be drinking right now. – elliot svensson Feb 15 at 21:22
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    @Zuhair, we do not have a scientific basis for believing that we will go on existing for another five minutes. So any effort we spend now in thinking ahead, instead of shameless selfishness, can only be based on some kind of faith. – elliot svensson Feb 15 at 21:29

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