Faith: Philosophy of Religion. J. Frye's notes

To go with notes on Reason, Faith and Belief.

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  • Created on: 14-06-10 10:18

Faith is....

...Believing that a proposition is true, when the believer cannot have absolute certainty, based on reason or empirical evidence. that the proposition is true... is also the position you adopt in order to show that your beliefs are true; e.g. Christians act in the way Christians are supposed to act, since they believe that when they die, God will resurrect them.

Clearly all religions are based on Faith, since they cannot have the rational proof of mathematics to support them.

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Strong Rationalist View of Faith

SR's show that their beliefs are true by backing them up with reasoned arguments e.g. Plato, Aquinas.

SR's such as Aquinas admit that their reason is limited:

- Some lack reasoning power - or are idle and preoccupied.

God is too complex to be known fully

Reason itself can be faulty, and we are oblivious to the fact that we are suffering from the fault

Therefore Aquinas believed that reason had to be supported by revelation -e.g. abot the incarnation of Jesus and the nature of the trinity and so on.

So clearly SR can't convince atheists or agnostics; they will accept faith in revelation, and they will not accept using reason to get to got- think of the problems for the argument for the existence of God.

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- Fideists hold that their belief system doesn't need supporting evidence outside itself

- Think of the anti-realist, or coherence view of truth: beliefs are true within the believing community.


Rational searching for proof and God's existence is a waste of time.

Person truely concerned about his soul realises that every moment is wasted in which he does not have a god.

If you could prove god's existence through rational enquiry then the point of faith would be lost. i.e. you would have faith because you know it's true and not through choice.

If this is the case, and forming rational arguments in support of God's existence is pointless, then how do we come to have belief in the first place?

You adopt a position of a leap of faith; without or not wanting to show that you beliefs are true.

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Pascal's Wager

1) God does not exist. You live a selfish life, and when you die, you've achieved only hollow things- a poor bet

2) God does exist. You live a selfish life and are sent to hell- a 'damned' (literally!) bet.

3) God does not exist. You love a virtuous and fulfilled life. When yo die, you hav lost nothing, and do not eve know that you lost the wager, so the bet has left you worse off

4) God does exist. You lead a virtuous and fulfilled life. After death you receieve eternal fulfilment and reward. By taking this wager, you cannot lose.

The loss of pleasure is FINITE loss.

The possibility of eternal punishment is an INFINITE puishment.

So not taking the wager makes little sense.

Kierkegaard- Seeking rational proof is self-contradictory

Pascal's wager: it is lack of faith hat is irrational.

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- It all seems intuitively appealing but:

- Faith for Kierkegaard is a leap, but how do you decide which faith to jump for? What if you're torn between Roman Catholicism and some obscure cult?

- To go to extremes of Pascal's wager seems nauseating. God may Value faith, but it is difficult to see God Valuing Pascal's hypocrisy.

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