Faith

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Mino da Fiesole, Faith (Armani).

Faith is confidence or trust in a person, thing, deity, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion or view (e.g. having strong political faith). The word faith is often used as a synonym for hope, trust or belief.

In religion, faith often involves accepting claims about the character of a deity, nature, or the universe. While some have argued that faith is opposed to reason, proponents of faith argue that the proper domain of faith concerns questions which cannot be settled by evidence.[citation needed]

Other examples of faith may include empircal reasoning, statisitics, past experience, and other more concreate factors, such as faith in an aircraft, bridge, spouse, or pet, and so on.

Etymology[edit]

The English word is thought to date from 1200–50, from the Middle English feith, via Anglo-French fed, Old French feid, feit from Latin fidem, accusative of fidēs (trust), akin to fīdere (to trust).[1]

Faith in world religions[edit]

Bahá'í Faith[edit]

In the Bahá'í Faith, faith is ultimately the acceptance of the divine authority of the Manifestations of God.[2] In the religion's view, faith and knowledge are both required for spiritual growth.[2] Faith involves more than outward obedience to this authority, but also must be based on a deep personal understanding of religious teachings.[2]

By faith is meant, first, conscious knowledge, and second, the practice of good deeds.[3]

Buddhism[edit]

Faith (Pali: Saddhā, Sanskrit: Śraddhā) is an important constituent element of the teachings of Gautama Buddha— in both the Theravada and the Mahayana traditions. The teachings of Buddha were originally recorded in the language Pali and the word saddhā is generally translated as "faith". In the teachings, saddhā is often described as:

While faith in Buddhism does not imply "blind faith", Buddhist practice nevertheless requires a degree of trust, primarily in the spiritual attainment of Gautama Buddha. Faith in Buddhism centers on the understanding that the Buddha is an Awakened being, on his superior role as teacher, in the truth of his Dharma (spiritual teachings), and in his Sangha (community of spiritually developed followers). Faith in Buddhism can be summarised as faith in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It is intended to lead to the goal of enlightenment, or bodhi, and Nirvana. Volitionally, faith implies a resolute and courageous act of will. It combines the steadfast resolution that one will do a thing with the self-confidence that one can do it.[4]

As a counter to any form of "blind faith", the Buddha's teachings included those included in the Kalama Sutra, exhorting his disciples to investigate any teaching and to live by what is learnt and accepted, rather than believing in something simply because it is taught.[5]

Christianity[edit]

Triumph of Faith over Idolatry by Jean-Baptiste Théodon (1646–1713)

Faith in Christianity is based on the work and teachings of Jesus Christ.[6] Christianity declares not to be distinguished by faith, but by the object of its faith. Rather than being passive, faith leads to an active life aligned with the ideals and the example of the life of Jesus. It sees the mystery of God and his grace and seeks to know and become obedient to God. To a Christian, faith is not static but causes one to learn more of God and grow, and has its origin in God.[7]

In Christianity, faith causes change as it seeks a greater understanding of God. Faith is not fideism or simple obedience to a set of rules or statements.[8] Before Christians have faith, they must understand in whom and in what they have faith. Without understanding, there cannot be true faith, and that understanding is built on the foundation of the community of believers, the scriptures and traditions and on the personal experiences of the believer.[9] In English translations of the New Testament, the word faith generally corresponds to the Greek noun πίστις (pistis) or the Greek verb πιστεύω (pisteuo), meaning "to trust, to have confidence, faithfulness, to be reliable, to assure".[10] The Bible says that faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."[11]

Hinduism[edit]

Islam[edit]

Thousands of Muslims congregated during a mass prayer in Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In Islam, faith (iman) is complete submission to the will of God, which includes belief, profession and the body's performance of deeds, consistent with the commission as vicegerent on Earth, all according to God's will[citation needed].

Iman has two aspects:

In the Qur'an, it is stated that (2:62): "Surely, those who believe, those who are Muslims, Jewish, the Christians, and the Sabians; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve."[12]

Judaism[edit]

Faith itself is not a religious concept in Judaism. The only one time faith in God is mentioned in the 24 books of the Jewish Bible, is in verse 10 of the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 43. In this verse, the commandment to know God is followed by the commandments to believe and to understand, thus denoting descending importance.[13]

However, Judaism does recognize the positive value of Emunah[14] (generally translated as faith, trust in God) and the negative status of the Apikorus (heretic), but faith is not as stressed or as central as it is in other religions, especially compared with Christianity and Islam. It could be a necessary means for being a practicing religious Jew, but the emphasis is placed on true knowledge, true prophecy and practice rather than on faith itself. Very rarely does it relate to any teaching that must be believed.[13][15] Judaism does not require one to explicitly identify God (a key tenet of Christian faith, which is called Avodah Zarah in Judaism, a minor form of idol worship, a big sin and stricktly forbidden to Jews). Rather, in Judaism, one is to honour a (personal) idea of God, supported by the many principles quoted in the Talmud to define Judaism, mostly by what it is not. Thus there is no established formulation of Jewish principles of faith which are mandatory for all (observant) Jews.

In the Jewish scriptures trust in God - Emunah - refers to how God acts toward his people and how they are to respond to him; it is rooted in the everlasting covenant established in the Torah, notably[15] Deuteronomy 7:9 [16]

Know, therefore, that the Lord, your God He is God, the faithful God, Who keeps the covenant and loving kindness with those who love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations.

The specific tenets that compose required belief and their application to the times have been disputed throughout Jewish history. Today many, but not all, Orthodox Jews have accepted Maimonides' Thirteen Principles of Belief.[17][18]

A traditional example of Emunah as seen in the Jewish annals is found in the person of Abraham. On a number of occasions, Abraham both accepts statements from God that seem impossible and offers obedient actions in response to direction from God to do things that seem implausible (see Genesis 12-15).

"The Talmud describes how a thief also believes in G‑d: On the brink of his forced entry, as he is about to risk his life—and the life of his victim—he cries out with all sincerity, 'G‑d help me!' The thief has faith that there is a G‑d who hears his cries, yet it escapes him that this G‑d may be able to provide for him without requiring that he abrogate G‑d’s will by stealing from others. For emunah to affect him in this way he needs study and contemplation."[14]

Sikh[edit]

Sikhism, the fifth-largest organized religion in the world,[19] was founded in 15th-century Punjab on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev and ten successive Sikh gurus, the last one being the sacred text Guru Granth Sahib alongside the Guru Panth.[20] The core philosophy of the Sikh religion is described in the beginning hymn of the Guru Granth Sahib,

There is one supreme eternal reality; the truth; imminent in all things; creator of all things; immanent in creation. Without fear and without hatred; not subject to time; beyond birth and death; self-revealing. Known by the Guru's grace.[21]

Guru Nanak, the founder of the faith, summed up the basis of Sikh lifestyle in three requirements: Nām Japō (meditate on the holy name (Waheguru), Kirat karō (work diligently and honestly) and Vaṇḍ chakkō (donations to charity).[22]

Epistemological validity of faith[edit]

There is a wide spectrum of opinion with respect to the epistemological validity of faith. On one extreme is logical positivism, which denies the validity of any beliefs held by faith; on the other extreme is fideism, which holds that true belief can only arise from faith, because reason and physical evidence cannot lead to truth. Some foundationalists, such as St. Augustine of Hippo and Alvin Plantinga, hold that all of our beliefs rest ultimately on beliefs accepted by faith. Others, such as C.S. Lewis, hold that faith is merely the virtue by which we hold to our reasoned ideas, despite moods to the contrary.[23]

William James believed that the varieties of religious experiences should be sought by psychologists, because they represent the closest thing to a microscope of the mind—that is, they show us in drastically enlarged form the normal processes of things[citation needed]. For a useful interpretation of human reality, to share faith experience he said that we must each make certain "over-beliefs" in things which, while they cannot be proven on the basis of experience, help us to live fuller and better lives[citation needed].

Fideism[edit]

Fideism is not a synonym for religious belief, but describes a particular philosophical proposition in regard to the relationship between faith's appropriate jurisdiction at arriving at truths, contrasted against reason. It states that faith is needed to determine some philosophical and religious truths, and it questions the ability of reason to arrive at all truth. The word and concept had its origin in the mid- to late-19th century by way of Catholic thought, in a movement called Traditionalism. The Roman Catholic Magisterium has, however, repeatedly condemned fideism.[24]

Support[edit]

Religious epistemologists have formulated and defended reasons for the rationality of accepting belief in God without the support of an argument.[25] Some religious epistemologists hold that belief in God is more analogous to belief in a person than belief in a scientific hypothesis. Human relations demand trust and commitment. If belief in God is more like belief in other persons, then the trust that is appropriate to persons will be appropriate to God. American psychologist and philosopher William James offers a similar argument in his lecture The Will to Believe.[25][26] Foundationalism is a view about the structure of justification or knowledge.[27][27] Foundationalism holds that all knowledge and justified belief are ultimately based upon what are called properly basic beliefs. This position is intended to resolve the infinite regress problem in epistemology. According to foundationalism, a belief is epistemically justified only if it is justified by properly basic beliefs. One of the significant developments in foundationalism is the rise of reformed epistemology.[27]

Reformed epistemology is a view about the epistemology of religious belief, which holds that belief in God can be properly basic. Analytic philosophers Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff develop this view.[28] Plantinga holds that an individual may rationally believe in God even though the individual does not possess sufficient evidence to convince an agnostic. One difference between reformed epistemology and fideism is that the former requires defence against known objections, whereas the latter might dismiss such objections as irrelevant.[29] Plantinga has developed reformed epistemology in Warranted Christian Belief as a form of externalism that holds that the justification conferring factors for a belief may include external factors.[30] Some theistic philosophers have defended theism by granting evidentialism but supporting theism through deductive arguments whose premises are considered justifiable. Some of these arguments are probabilistic, either in the sense of having weight but being inconclusive, or in the sense of having a mathematical probability assigned to them.[25] Notable in this regard are the cumulative arguments presented by British philosopher Basil Mitchell and analytic philosopher Richard Swinburne, whose arguments are based on Bayesian probability.[31][32] In a notable exposition of his arguments, Swinburne appeals to an inference for the best explanation.[33][34]

Professor of Mathematics and philosopher of science at University of Oxford John Lennox has stated, "Faith is not a leap in the dark; it’s the exact opposite. It’s a commitment based on evidence… It is irrational to reduce all faith to blind faith and then subject it to ridicule. That provides a very anti-intellectual and convenient way of avoiding intelligent discussion.”

Criticism[edit]

Bertrand Russell opined, "Where there is evidence, no one speaks of 'faith'. We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence."[35]

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins criticizes all faith by generalizing from specific faith in propositions that conflict directly with scientific evidence.[36] He describes faith as mere belief without evidence; a process of active non-thinking. He states that it is a practice that only degrades our understanding of the natural world by allowing anyone to make a claim about nature that is based solely on their personal thoughts, and possibly distorted perceptions, that does not require testing against nature, has no ability to make reliable and consistent predictions, and is not subject to peer review.[37]

See also[edit]

Shinto faith.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith
  2. ^ a b c Smith, P. (1999). A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications. p. 155. ISBN 1-85168-184-1. 
  3. ^ Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 383
  4. ^ The Way of Wisdom The Five Spiritual Faculties by Edward Conze, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/conze/wheel065.html
  5. ^ "Kalama Sutta, The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry" by Soma Thera
  6. ^ Benedict, Benedict X.V.I. (2004). Introduction to Christianity. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-58617-029-5. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 
  7. ^ Wuerl, By Donald W. (2004). The Teaching of Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults, Edition: 5, revised. Huntingdon, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Pub. Division. p. 238. ISBN 1-59276-094-5. Retrieved 21 April 2009. 
  8. ^ Migliore, Daniel L. 2004. Faith seeking understanding: an introduction to Christian theology. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans. pp. 3-8.
  9. ^ Inbody, Tyron. 2005. The faith of the Christian church: an introduction to theology. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub. pp. 1-10
  10. ^ Thomas, Robert L.; Editor, General (1981). New American standard exhaustive concordance of the Bible:. Nashville, Tenn.: A.J. Holman. pp. 1674–75. ISBN 0-87981-197-8. 
  11. ^ Hebrews 11
  12. ^ Islam (Submission). Your best source for Islam on the Internet. Happiness is submission to God.-Islam-Submission-Introduction,definition, discussion, debate, laws, justice, hum...
  13. ^ a b Mizrachi, Yosef. "Who God Is". Audios English 5min:40sec-9min:02sec. DivineInformation.com. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Emunah
  15. ^ a b Brueggemann, Walter (2002). Reverberations of faith: a theological handbook of Old Testament themes. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 76–78. ISBN 0-664-22231-5. 
  16. ^ (The Torah - A Modern Commentary; Union of American Hebrew Congregations, NY 1981 by W. G. Plaut)
  17. ^ The 13 Principles and the Resurrection of the Dead from The Wolf Shall Lie With the Lamb, Rabbi Shmuel Boteach (Oxford University)
  18. ^ For a wide history of this dispute see: Shapiro, Marc: The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraised (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization (Series).)
  19. ^ Adherents.com. "Religions by adherents" (PHP). Retrieved 9 February 2007. 
  20. ^ Singh, Teja (2006). A Short History of the Sikhs: Volume One. Patiala: Punjabi University. p. 107. ISBN 8173800073. 
  21. ^ "Sikhism – MSN Encarta". Retrieved 4 April 2008. 
  22. ^ "Concepts of Seva and Simran". Retrieved 4 April 2008. 
  23. ^ Lewis, C.S. (2001). Mere Christianity: a revised and amplified edition, with a new introduction, of the three books, Broadcast talks, Christian behaviour, and Beyond personality. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-065292-6. 
  24. ^ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/fideism/
  25. ^ a b c Clark, Kelly James (2 October 2004). "Religious Epistemology". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  26. ^ James, William. "1896". New World 5: 327–347. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  27. ^ a b c Poston, Ted (10 June 2010). "Foundationalism". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  28. ^ Plantinga, Alvin; Nicholas Wolterstorff (1983). Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 0-268-00964-3. 
  29. ^ Forrest, Peter (11 March 2009). "The Epistemology of Religion". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 23 October 2011. 
  30. ^ Plantinga, Alvin (2000). Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513192-4. 
  31. ^ Basic, Mitchell. The Justification of Religious Belief. London: Macmillan. 
  32. ^ Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
  33. ^ Forrest, Peter. God without the Supernatural. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 
  34. ^ Swinburne, Richard. Is there a God?. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  35. ^ Russell, Bertrand. "Will Religious Faith Cure Our Troubles?". Human Society in Ethics and Politics. Ch 7. Pt 2. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  36. ^ Dawkins, Richard (2006). The God Delusion. Bantam Books. 
  37. ^ Dawkins, Richard (January/February 1997). "Is Science a Religion?". American Humanist Association. Retrieved 15 March 2008. 

Further reading[edit]

Classic reflections on the nature of faith[edit]

The Reformation view of faith[edit]

External links[edit]