Conflating faith with confidence

after the pod-cast when Derik and I were just shooting the breeze I realized that there is another concept that has a different meaning between rationally minded people and what I have come to describe as the serious mono theists.

This concept is faith. The word faith however in English has two different meanings, that is it refers to two different concepts. The first is to belief in something in the absence of or counter to reason. This is also known as blind faith to separate if from the second kind. The second concept is what we also mean by the concept confidence. confidence is the trust we have in a reasoned conclusion. For example I have confidence that elevators are very reliable. There is a wealth of evidence in support of this and thus I have confidence based on the evidence that they are safe to use. Note that many mono theists will object to this definition I gave for the first concept instead offering the biblical definition of things hoped or wished for. They do this of course because they want to conflate the meaning of faith in the first instance with that of the second instance so as to piggy back on the second meaning and thus gain some intellectual legitimacy. Note the first kind, no evidence or counter to evidence, the second kind has evidence.

This dichotomy of blind faith vs confidence also bears on the earlier post on certainty. The certainty that many mono theists want, nay seem to have an emotional need for is absolute certainty beyond the possibility of doubt and that can only come by having blind faith in what you claim to have absolute epistemological certainty of. So I see blind faith and absolute epistemological certainty are corollaries. On the other hand confidence and certainty beyond reasonable doubt are corollaries.

Now many mono theists will criticize me and like minded people, saying that our world view is reduced to probabilities. This ignores yet another crucial distinction. When I speak of certainty I mean beyond reasonable doubt and or that any alternative is inconceivable. Since we base our conclusions on the evidence and what we do know and not on what we don’t know or our ignorance I can say within the context of my knowledge that I can be 100% certain of at least some things. What I can never be certain of even in principle is that something I previously did not know will not change a conclusion of mine. This is the big difference between my world view and that of the serious hard core mono theists of the judeo christian type. They are immune to learning or even considering anything that might modify their conclusions, and how could it? There conclusions are of the absolute epistemological type and their faith in them is of the blind faith type. They are rigid and inflexible in their thinking, bereft of any error correction, for them error is impossible. To doubt is a sin not a virtue. I strongly suspect that they are this way because they so strongly identify themselves with what they believe. This is obvious once you realize they see themselves as one of the elect, a gold ticket to ever lasting life in heaven… at gods feet… in short they are guanopsychotic.

I am not just being silly or rude with this assessment, I really think this is a bat shit crazy way of thinking. Any time you hear them talk about accounting for reason or logic or giving a damn about such things, what is really going is this. Since reason is not a standard or method of cognition for them when they hear us talk about them they interpret these as our shibboleths. The empty self identifying slogans of our tribe or in group. So given that they know they are important to us even tho they don’t know why they are important to us they attempt to co op them into their own lexicon of shibboleths. This is done in an attempt to induce us to join their in group. It amounts to see we include your gods too! Very similar to what early Christians did with regard to pagan holidays and personalities of note.

What is important to keep in mind is that the actual methods of logic are lost on them. For them it is all a matter of faith. Logic, reason, evidence, this are just words to them. If you point out flaws in their reasoning they simply either don’t understand or as more likely simply don’t care. These things are not important to them. However they are important to me.


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  1. #1 by John Forster on May 28, 2012 - 6:01 am

    On your first meaning: “belief in something in the absence of or counter to reason”.

    Following Van Til, I am thinking that all of us have difficulty identifying that starting foundation of our thinking where we are assuming something to be true. Just like in the “Big Bang” theory of the origin of the universe, you have to assume something is “there”, to start with “in the absence” of any prior cause. Another way of saying it would be: “there is no ‘reason’ the original ‘stuff’ would be there”.

    So if we all have to start with something we have to accept without proof, reason, cause, or evidence — how do we know the basis of our logical sequence is going to bring us out to the right destination? I think the key is in your phrase “any alternative is inconceivable”. Pick a starting point. Reason as logically as you can, see where you end up.

    If you end up in a contradiction of who you know yourself to be, or in contradiction to the universe as you observe it, you can try picking another starting point to your reasoning.

    One of the main things we rely on for our thinking, is Law. By “Law” I mean If/Then, or cause/consequence. We observe these causations and utilize them in what we call logical thinking, or Reason. We don’t know why matter tends to stay what it is unless it is acted on by an outside influence, but we give it a label [Conservation/Momentum] and consider it a Law, and it helps us think logically about everything else. If we find Matter can change into Energy (or back again), at least there is still something else still there.

    It is hard for me to think of the universe as we observe it, without believing something always existed (which is “against” reason, since all we observe is that “reason” means everything has a “reason” or cause), or, that something “became” existent at some point in time without “reason” or without a prior cause. [never mind that we have the problem of what caused the “time” we are assuming here].

    In other words, I cannot imagine how any of us can start our thinking about existence without being “unreasonable” or “irrational”, or beginning with your first definition of faith. Maybe we make a conscious choice about or faith-based reasoning, maybe we are totally unaware that we already believe something to begin reasoning “with”. But there it is.

    You can “own” that presuppostion once you are aware of it, or try to change it, if you don’t like where it forces you to end up, once you reason your way to a conclusion.

    Now if we assume impersonal existence at the beginning, how do you get to the “higher” state of human personality, without a reason, without a cause? Random chance occurences among uncaused particles of matter? But if you read the impersonal philosophers, you keep finding personality creeping into their discussions of materialistic evolution and origins. The best of them agree that it has to be a Determined universe. Determined by whom?

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