Jul 8, 2010

Philosophical Phun - Faith As Trust :o)

The justifiability of belief that God exists is typically the focal issue in the Philosophy of Religion. Yet the theistic traditions always include a foundational claim about an authoritative source, or sources, of revealed truth. Religious theism is not just believing that God exists; it is believing that God exists and is revealed thus and so (in great historical acts, in prophets, in scriptures, in wisdom handed down, etc.). The reasonableness of theism is therefore as much a matter of the reasonableness of an epistemology of revelation as it is of a metaphysics of perfect being. A sticking point is that a loving God would make his existence clear—but this assumption is open to question. Perhaps God provides only, as it were, ‘secret’ evidence of his existence, purposely overturning the expectations of our ‘cognitive idolatry’ in order to transform our egocentric self-reliance ; or perhaps there may be significant constraints logically inherent in the very possibility of unambiguous divine revelation to finite minds.

It may thus be held that faith as accepting propositional truths as divinely revealed rests on believing in God—and it is this ‘believing in’ which is, fundamentally, the nature of faith. What more is there to believing in God beyond believing that God exists, on this non-reductive view?. To believe in God is to make a practical commitment—the kind involved in trusting God, or, trusting in God. (The root meaning of the Greek pistis, ‘faith’, is ‘trust’.) This, then, is a model of faith as trust—but of trust not simply in the sense of an affective state of confidence, but in the sense of an action. The fiducial model is widely identified as Protestant. Swinburne, for example, calls it the ‘Lutheran’ model, and defines it thus: ‘the person of faith does not merely believe that there is a God (and believe certain propositions about him)—he trusts Him and commits himself to Him’.

Trust involves a venture; so too—it is widely agreed—does faith. So, if faith is trust, the venture of faith might be presumed to be the type of venture implicated in trust. When we trust we commit ourselves to another's control, accepting—and, when necessary, co-operating as ‘patient’—with the decisions of the trustee. Venturing in trust is usually assumed to be essentially risky, making oneself vulnerable to adverse outcomes or betrayal. Accordingly, it seems sensible to hold that one should trust only with good reason. But if, as is plausible, good reason to trust requires sufficient evidence of the trustee's trustworthiness, reasonable trust appears both to have its venturesomeness diminished and, at the same time, to become more difficult to achieve than we normally suppose. If adequate evidence of trustworthiness is not required for reasonable trust, how is reasonable trust different from ‘blind’ trust?

Some philosophers have suggested that the challenges faced by accounts of faith as involving belief beyond the evidence may be avoided by construing theistic commitment as hope. They contrast hope with faith (understood as belief), arguing that a religion of hope is both epistemically and religiously superior to a religion of faith. Other philosophers identify faith with hoping that the claims of faith are true. Hope as such is an attitude rather than an active commitment: a model of faith as hope may thus, more strictly, take faith to be acting in, or from, hope.  I think that many cannot fathom the thought of there being nothing beyond our current existence, that there is no redemption from our daily sins.  My hope is that people will start to live their lives like they mean it, not relying on future forgiveness.



  1. I believe theism is a mental illness -- they share many characteristics.

  2. Faith to me is the belief that actions taken will result in a particular known consequence. Hope for me is when I take actions without consideration of any subsequent consequence.

    Whenever I think of those terms used in religion, I think that they also burden the faithfull with the guilt for things that presupposes one's own self worth as being guilty or 'born in sin'.

    'Living life as we mean it'. Makes me think back to when you wrote about determinism a while back... that is my ultimate goal, to live as I mean to life.

  3. To believe in God merely as an omnipotent entity capable of creating and preserving existence doesn not afford much for humans to relate to. Theists want to believe that God can affect changes in human life. But that implies some communication and thus prayer is used. But prayer, communication with God, means that God is more than just an entity, it is also a mind, an intelligence. Whether one is praying for something or praying to be forgiven something, the communication is always from man to God. Then the question arises, are prayers ever answered. If they are why are some prayers answered and others are not. Sacrifices are made to appease God's wrath or to please him by sending up a 'sweet savor" as scripture puts it. That necessarily makes God a whimsical, unpredictable mind, one that can be influenced by man. Such a mind is more human than divine. Thus are we not just praying to ourselves to affect a change in our own thinking and therefore in our circumstances?


  4. I do tend to think~ Opium of the masses, but I don't fault anyone else for their beliefs contrary to that.

    There are times I have tried to walk a bit down the spiritual path my mother did....but it never really rang true for me. ~Mary

  5. For me Faith and Hope are brought forward within the experience of God. My task is to manifest this experience into something tangible and real. I spent over 40 years as an agnostic but it wasn’t until I let go of my mind as master that it all made sense.


Tell Me What You Think, Don't Make me go Rogue on you :o)