The Inseparability of Faith and World-View

Because of the extended conversation sparked from my last post (See the comment section), I thought I would respond here as to the last two comments from my intrepid interlocutor where he brings up the idea of “world-view.”

First of all, let me speak to some specifics as to the last two comments in the post “The Faith of Science”: I admit to nothing “irrational” as to any claim regarding faith (properly understood) nor do I claim to have “freely” admitted “irrational” views regarding faith. That both the theist and atheist proceed by faith has nothing to do with “rationality”; it has to do with reality and the simple fact there is no other way to proceed. Rationality is the tool wielded by faith. Faith is the whole man; reason is simply one of the many tools employed by man. It is no more employed by an atheist than a theist. Both employ reason; they arrive at different conclusions because of their faith.

Now, on to the idea of world-view. World-view and faith are two sides to the same coin and inseparable. I frankly don’t care which term is used, although I think Jamie Smith has given us a better way to think about world-view by talking about our loves and desires. Here is a good review of his book, Desiring the Kingdom, which basically states that we are what we love and desire and those twin edifices are what color our beliefs and create our view of the world.

One of the better explications of the relationship between world-view and faith can be found here by James H. Olthius. Here are some good quotes:

A worldview (or vision of life) is a framework or set of fundamental beliefs through which we view the world and our calling and future in it. This vision may be so internalized that it goes largely unquestioned; it may be greatly refined through cultural-historical development; it may not be explicitly developed into a systematic conception of life; it may not be theoretically deepened into a philosophy; it may not even be codified into credal form. Nevertheless, this vision is a channel for the ultimate beliefs which give direction and meaning to life. It is the integrative and interpretative framework by which order and disorder are judged, the standard by which reality is managed and pursued. It is the set of hinges6 on which all our everyday thinking and doing turns.

For each adherent, a worldview gives reasons and impetus for deciding what is true and what really matters in our experience. In other words, a worldview functions both descriptively and normatively. It has what Clifford Geertz calls a dual focus:7 it both tells us what is the case (and what is not the case) and tells us what ought (and ought not) to be the case. A worldview is both a sketch of and a blueprint for reality; it both describes what we, see and stipulates what we should see.

To put it another way, a vision “of” life and the world is simultaneously a vision “for” life and the world. The “of” and “for” capture the dual focus. Visions are descriptive models which shape themselves to our experience. Our lives are defined and described in terms of our worldview: “this is the way life and the world are.” At the same time, visions are normative models “for” life and the world, models which shape life and the world to themselves. Our lives are formed and led onward by the worldview: “this is the way life and the world ought to be.”

In both moments of its dual focus, a worldview purports to give the true picture of reality. For its adherents, their worldview is the truth about history, life, and existence, and it reveals the way to salvation and healing. These claims to ultimacy, I suggest, point to the rootedness of worldviews in faith, in matters of “ultimate concern,” as Tillich would have it.

At the same time there is much more motivating a worldview. As we have already noted, Marx, Freud and Nietzsche have unmasked for all of us the role that socioeconomic interests, rationalizations, personality types, and the unconscious play in worldview formation. Worldviews – it seems undeniable – depend for validation and correction on both the commitment of faith and all the other modes of human experience.

How can worldviews claim ultimacy and at the same time reflect their historical-intellectual, psychosocial contexts? Here my model of worldviews suggests itself. I believe that a worldview functions as a vehicle of mediation and integration in a two-way movement between faith commitment and all the other modes of human existence. It is a medium through which the ultimate commitment of faith plays out its leading and integrating role in daily life. Simultaneously, a world-view is a medium by which daily life experiences can either call faith into question or confirm it.

Having faith, living for something, belonging somewhere, searching for final meaning and permanent bliss – this is essential to human existence.8 Believing in, entrusting, committing oneself – to have faith – is to give self, to put for safety, to give in charge, to give over, to let go” to God (or a pseudo-god). For Christians, faith is an entrusting of self to God in which we receive certainty, connection, and ground for our existence, an entrusting in which we meet God in ourselves and in creation even as God meets us. We are graciously renewed, experiencing connection with self, others, creation, and God. Henceforth God is the healing power and sustaining ground of our lives, the final ground and ultimate power of and for all other grounds and powers.

The risk of faith is unavoidable; it is also existentially terrifying. For if faith proves futile, life falls apart. “Our ultimate concern can destroy us as it can heal us. But we can never be without it.” 10
The faith mode of being in the world “can be phenomenologically described as an ultimate or grounding dimension or horizon to all meaningful activities.”11 It is through faith that we explicitly affirm (or deny) our relation to the Ultimate. 12

The key point here is that what Olthius is describing is true of all world-views. And, in a way, that was what Davies was pointing toward as well. So we come full circle. Whether we want to call it “world-view” or “faith” it is that thing which is intrinsic to the human person and is the very condition for the possibility of knowing.

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18 Responses to The Inseparability of Faith and World-View

  1. frthomas says:

    Darrell,

    Precisely… Bravo.

    The scientist or any human being in any enterprise who will not admit to “faith” of some kind and depth as the basis of all that he or she “knows” is being disingenuous.

    Let us rejoice in faith as the basis of real knowledge and embrace reason as the wonderful and essential spouse of faith.

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  2. Burk Braun says:

    Hi

    Good thing that is all solved. So everyone has equal faith, whether saints, sinners, gamblers, nazis, and whatever other riffraff we can mention. They are just “different”, that's all. Your relativism is touching.

    But while it is far from my area of expertise, I think there is something about religion that concerns faith. Call me a hair-splitter! Every religion seems to be marked by a commitment to beliefs that are not of the common run. One doesn't make a religion of believing that stones fall to the ground, or that plants are green.

    Religions are built on propositions that require beliefs that make no sense, but which bond the believers together and give them meaning. These bonding beliefs are those that require something beyond probabilistic weighing of evidence. Indeed, they militate against such mundane sacrilege, which would make membership in the group literally meaningless. And that something is faith.

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  3. Darrell says:

    Hi Burk,

    First, you are confusing conclusions with sources. Second, you are again speaking as if you think “faith” is fideism. That all world-views are faith based doesn’t relativize conclusions. In fact, it is the only thing that makes conclusions meaningful. What makes all world-views relative is nihilism, which is the logical conclusion of atheism.

    It is not that there is something about “religion” that concerns faith, but that all world-views, including yours- philosophical naturalism, concern faith. I notice you do not address this fact-which was the point of the entire conversation- or anything substantive in the post. I wonder why. Further, when you speak of beliefs that are not of the “common” run, are you speaking of atheism? Atheism has always been a minority and extremely uncommon belief. When you speak, again, of weighing “evidence” you are again missing the point that this has nothing to do with evidence but the interpretation of the totality of reality—which is the evidence.

    At first glance, reading the above response could lead many to the conclusion that none of what has been said here has been understood. I think the more likely conclusion is this one: You hope against hope that your world-view is somehow based in something other than faith. What you are probably beginning to realize is that it isn’t. This is no doubt disconcerting to you and thus the tone. I would say such is a good thing however because it helps to bump up against reality sometimes.

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  4. Burk Braun says:

    Hi

    I have to say that is rather odd to hear a person of putative faith making these arguments, which essentially denigrate that faith. (But more probably is aimed at denigrating all worldviews, willy-nilly.)

    I have no basic problem with your evocation of world views, and their often irrational, not to say unknown sources/bases. That was what Freud was all about, after all. We all labor under assumptions and automatic desires from the first minute, some better than others. The idea that all this mishmash can somehow be termed “faith” against the will of those who, in all honesty and accuracy, have no faith, is just willful spin-doctoring. (And in your best bullying tradition, indeed!)

    Insofar as our assumptions/worldviews lead to bad conclusions, they can hopefully be detected and corrected. This is different from faith, which is not betrayed by simply non-answering of prayers and the like, but as in your case, appears to be impervious to any and all evidence and lack of confirmation. Which is in part its point, as I mentioned above.

    That is one area where faith differs from worldview, which is to say that worldviews change in natural (even unconscious) response to new knowledge and altered affairs, while faith tries its best to not change- to remain dogma. Your pride in the imperviousness of the Nicene creed is one small example that quite explicitly differentiates faith from worldview.

    If you like, we could dissect that creed in some detail to make this clear.

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  5. Darrell says:

    Burk,

    I'm sorry you feel that way. No “bullying” was intended and I apologize if it came across that way. I'm happy to use the term “world-view.” But frankly that doesn't change anything as to their formation or the posts under discussion; we can use any term you wish. But unless you can tell us how your “world-view” is based or formed in some other fashion than explicated by Olthius or myself, taking in all the issues that have been raised, it becomes rather moot as to what term we want to call the final product. I would think such would be rather clear at this point. Tell us, where is Olthius, Smith, or myself wrong? Instead of throwing the word “evidence” around, tell us about the interpretation of evidence in a totalized sense.

    Part of the problem is, I think, you have a negative view of the word “faith” (of which said negativity might be produced by a certain “world-view”!), and don’t understand how it is being used in a philosophical discussion, but that is fine, we can use “world-view,” it just doesn’t get us past any of the issues raised. Have you considered this possibility?

    Here is a case in point: as to your suggestion regarding the Creed, unless you can get past this issue of what forms and shapes a “world-view,” then it becomes rather pointless to dissect the Nicene Creed or philosophical naturalism, or any other set of world-view beliefs, as all “world-views” have creeds, such as, “I believe there is no God; in the beginning was only the material…” No bullying meant here, but all irony is intended.

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  6. Burk Braun says:

    Hi

    My view of faith isn't really the issue here, but the definition of faith vs other words in English. And the question of how much faith to put in faith, as it were, vs other modes of dealing with reality and the questions it raises for us.

    To just blanket the landscape with “everyone operates by faith, so my groundless (er- 'reasonable') faith is just as good as any other” seriously misrepresents the distinctions available for our intellectual approach to reality. It is similar to the gambit you were fond of with ID, where you claimed to know all the same evidence, just interpret it differently, so even-steven and no fundamental intellectual problem. But there was a problem.

    In both cases, there exist critical distinctions that you made a project of dissolving, for the convenience of making false equivalences for the benefit of what are, to me, bankrupt ideas. The question to me is whether this bankruptcy is true in any rational way, and if so, how that status can be communicated to those trapped in particularly wayward worldviews.

    OK- that lays the groundwork. I'll take some quoted from Olthius.

    “Now, one could press the claims of faith or thought or socioeconomy or passion as the prime determinant in worldview formation.”

    and also..

    “Worldviews, I am emphasizing, are always informed not only by the commitment of faith, but also by tradition, socioeconomic conditions, societal institutions, authorities, science and schooling, mores, family and friends, memory, emotional experience, physio-organic health, intellectual development, volitional temperament, sexuality, etc. All the realities which belong to the social and personal matrix of its confessors nourish and justify a vision of life.”

    and also …

    “For, as we have noted, although commitment of faith is not exhausted in nor identified with the worldview which gives expression to it, the surrender in faith is concretely embodied in that vision of life.”

    Here, your citee makes just this distinction.. that a worldview is a whole, while faith is one of many determinants and modes of getting there. I would venture that by his lights faith may be entirely absent for some people as such a determinant (but see below).

    “These claims to ultimacy, I suggest, point to the rootedness of worldviews in faith, in matters of “ultimate concern,” as Tillich would have it. .. At the same time there is much more motivating a worldview. … Worldviews – it seems undeniable – depend for validation and correction on both the commitment of faith and all the other modes of human experience.”

    Ditto- I could not say it better myself. Except that he is clearly speaking from within faith traditions, and is not giving particular mind to those not so rooted. He uses the word faith in the conventional way I do.

    “Simultaneously, a world-view is a medium by which daily life experiences can either call faith into question or confirm it.”

    And here we get to the payoff, where the worldview operates on one's faith, hopefully testing its validity in view of- yes- evidence!

    ..cont..

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  7. Burk Braun says:

    “Having faith, living for something, belonging somewhere, searching for final meaning and permanent bliss – this is essential to human existence.”

    Here we begin to disagree, with Olthius speaking with unfounded broadness of everyone everywhere. Where before he used the word faith one way, now he uses it as a synonym for “belonging somewhere”- an even bigger stretch than your use of it for worldview as a whole. I would write this off as typically religious sentiment, not thinking too hard about those outside the fold.

    It may indeed be possible that one's faith is so comprehensive, detailed, and thorough-going that it amounts to a full worldview. That is apparently the ambition of Islam, which puts itself forward as the template for all aspects of life- political, personal, spiritual, etc. But obviously, that is not a universal condition. There are others to whom whatever faith they have is a minor part of their worldview, possibly even none. And it would take more than assertions/misrepresentations on your or Olthius's part to erase such distinctions.

    “All such ultimate questions and their answers about life and death, sin and suffering, hope and healing, finally elude our intellectual grasp and strict logical proof. In the end we say simply … “

    Well just so, and why? By my theory that there is no answer because there is no external purpose. Here is that much-prized commodity- evidence- for a very simple hypothesis.

    “But on the ultimate level of faith, reason is impotent to determine what is true. At that level all the options are ultimates and there is no further standard or norm by which they can be assessed. There is no logical move that we can make to achieve an ultimate premise beyond doubt.”

    Ditto, and likewise again. But he makes the mistake of assuming, as your shared worldview leads you to do as well, that there is truth to be gotten, and that just exercising your faith somehow furnishes that truth. Nothing could be further from the truth in my view, and the contortions required to believe in such things is ample evidence for their vacuity.

    And firstly, the whole idea that faith is an “ultimate” level is incorrect, as he alluded to above. It surely claims to be, but then is tested by our interactions with reality, where some people find the common faiths sorely lacking, and leave them behind entirely. Is there some kind of generic faith that is distinct from worldview and is common to everyone in some form? No, I don't think so, as we have been through.

    “Tacitly assumed in faith rather than deliberately produced through rational inquiry, ultimate answers lie behind all our creative living and thinking. …. Consequently, no vision is in its fundamental perceptions subject to proof in the sense that one could discern its basic or ultimate beliefs from a process of thought prior to them.”

    Wow- this is great. Sorry to have not read this in detail previously. He is demonstrating my case by the line here. It is indeed in/by faith that these ultimate answers are assumed. But the key is that there are some who do not assume them! He and you are speaking way too broadly.

    “Thus, worldviews can and ought to be argued to, even though, as previously noted, since a worldview is rooted in faith, it is in the end argued from rather than argued to.”

    Hey, I'm just helping out here, on the “to” end! And on the faith side, he is speaking for himself, not for non-faith-ists.

    .. cont ..

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  8. Burk Braun says:

    “Moreover, as we noticed much earlier, adopting a vision of life involves committing oneself to the ultimate (or at least what is taken to be ultimate) as the unconditional ground of existence.”

    Here I differ, of course, since some visions don't require such grandiloquent assumptions. What is the ultimate? Is there such a thing? The history of philosophy is about considering such questions and often denying them, not committing one's self to them.

    “In short, rather than facing and dealing with our personal anxieties and societal dislocations, we tend to rationalize and project, hiding from ourselves the reality of the situation.”

    Ah- here we get to the nub. What is reality? Who is projecting? Why is faith not enough? Is this evidence that Olthius is implicitly referring to as the criterion for deciding these issues? He refers to the testing of faith commitments and other worldview ingredients against daily life and other real-world interactions. It sounds like evidence and empiricism to me, broadened to other areas of life, and perhaps even recognizing eventually that some of the questions and fixations one's world view focuses on are invalid or without any reality at all … an existential crisis.

    So, there we are. Faith is not the same as worldview, and is less deep-seated, depending on one's involvement with faith-y activities and traditions, if I may put it that way. Worldviews are subject to change through interaction with reality. Faiths, on the other hand, in Olthius's view, interact intimately with worldviews, and in my view tend to be less flexible due to their dogmatic source, construction, and role.

    “Not allowing reality to question or correct one's views, not modifying one's views to meet changing reality, is to isolate oneself and one's views more and more from the reality of life.”

    Precisely! So we are back to comparing worldviews and faith vs evidence. Does reality support prayers, covenants, god-become-man, salvation, the second coming, etc… or even the idea that human life has any externally supplied, non-Darwinian purpose? There is no reality-based way to support these ideas.

    “Visions of life need to be judged in that light: are they life-affirming rather than life-destroying?”

    That seems a low bar to set- a bare Darwinian standard, indeed. Perhaps truth could play a role in these choices as well?

    “As integrator between faith and way of life, a worldview
    – grounds life in the confessed ultimate certainty”

    And here we have it.. the nature of faith, not worldview, as an artificial confession that constructs certainty out of dogma, where the actual materials of life and reality supply only ambiguity and uncertainty, if not clear refutations of this confessed certainty. Hold such a faith and associated worldview if you like, but don't be surprised if others do not conflate their worldviews with this or any other kind of faith, or if they regard your faith as an utterly unfounded and unreal confession.

    (the end)

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  9. Darrell says:

    Wow. I have rarely seen an instance of completely misreading or misinterpreting a paper, as you do with Olthius. You may have just made the very points in question! Before I get to that though, just let me deal with your preamble.

    The “definition” of faith we have been talking about was laid out by Olthius and it is not “faith-in-faith” as you put it, which is fideism, but is explained here:

    “Having faith, living for something, belonging somewhere, searching for final meaning and permanent bliss – this is essential to human existence.8 Believing in, entrusting, committing oneself – to have faith – is to give self, to put for safety, to give in charge, to give over, to let go” to God (or a pseudo-god)… The risk of faith is unavoidable…The faith mode of being in the world “can be phenomenologically described as an ultimate or grounding dimension or horizon to all meaningful activities.”11 It is through faith that we explicitly affirm (or deny) our relation to the Ultimate.” l2

    If you can’t distinguish fideism from faith, you will never understand what is being talked about here.

    Further, again your throw around the words “reasonable” and “evidence” and therefore completely bypass the very issue under discussion which is that faith/world-view guide and employ our reason and how we interpret evidence. How is this point missed?

    And, one of the very reasons for Olthius’s paper, which he states in the section, “World-views: Shaped by Life Experience” is to note:

    “This paradox (the faith and psychosocial context relationship) needs to be honored. I suggest honoring it opens up a path which allows us to slip through the either-or, “fideist”-“evidentialist” dilemma.”

    This is the very “either-or” you refuse to see. You are the evidentialist and the fideist is the other side of that same extreme coin. Both sides get it wrong. This quote will also speak to the other areas where you hope Olthius is suggesting evidentialism or empiricism. He is not. One only need be familiar with his works over all to know this but it should be clear from this paper as well. (Continued)

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  10. Darrell says:

    (Continuing): Olthius is, of course, saying that ALL people have this faith as when he notes that faith is “essential to human existence.” Last time I checked, that would include atheists too. No atheist who understands how he is using the term “faith” should really have a problem with that.

    “These claims to ultimacy, I suggest, point to the rootedness of worldviews in faith, in matters of “ultimate concern,” as Tillich would have it. .. At the same time there is much more motivating a worldview. … Worldviews – it seems undeniable – depend for validation and correction on both the commitment of faith and all the other modes of human experience.”(Olthius)

    “Ditto- I could not say it better myself. Except that he is clearly speaking from within faith traditions, and is not giving particular mind to those not so rooted. He uses the word faith in the conventional way I do.” (You)

    This is just wrong. He is not using the word like you do, which is to equate it with fideism. He is using it as I’ve already noted above. Second, he is not speaking as if this is true only within faith traditions. He is speaking this as true for all humans. What is true is that both factors are working, both faith and human experience, which is only to note the postmodern turn. Plus, are you missing where he notes that world-view is “rooted” in faith?

    “Simultaneously, a world-view is a medium by which daily life experiences can either call faith into question or confirm it.” (Olthius)

    “And here we get to the payoff, where the worldview operates on one's faith, hopefully testing its validity in view of- yes- evidence!” (You)

    Of course this is true but it is true for the atheist too! Further, as noted above, he would not talk about this as an evidentialist because he has already noted that this is one extreme he wants to avoid. (Continued)

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  11. Darrell says:

    (Continuing) “Not allowing reality to question or correct one's views, not modifying one's views to meet changing reality, is to isolate oneself and one's views more and more from the reality of life.” (Olthius)

    “Precisely! So we are back to comparing worldviews and faith vs evidence. Does reality support prayers, covenants, god-become-man, salvation, the second coming, etc… or even the idea that human life has any externally supplied, non-Darwinian purpose? There is no reality-based way to support these ideas.” (You)

    First of all, we have already established that Olthius is not an evidentialist and is writing partly to counter that extreme. Second, he is saying this regarding all world-views- including yours! He would say that the atheist also needs to allow reality to question or correct his view. That there is interplay between our life experiences, culture, economics, education, and a host of other areas and faith is the postmodern point. We are not the objective neutral observers who just look at the facts and evidence as imagined in the “Enlightenment.”

    I will grant you that Olthius takes a more comprehensive view here of what is going on with World-view, but any reasonable person, taking his paper as a whole, would conclude that he is making much of the same point as I do when I say that faith and world-view are inseparable. And the point he makes regarding those other factors is simply to bring home the postmodern turn in philosophy.

    I will close with another Olthius quote:

    “In conclusion, three matters seem worth repeating…Third, although a worldview is open to justification, challenge, modification, and change, it receives its culminating validation in the entrustment of faith.”

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  12. Burk Braun says:

    Hopefully it was clear that I was not buying everything Olthius was selling, but used his internal contradictions to highlight why some of his thinking works, and how other parts don't. Some of it worked very well.

    I do indeed find it very difficult to distinguish fideism from faith, since what makes faith different from “understanding” is precisely a commitment (confession) that is not evidence-based, i.e. fideism. I don't know how you can get around that, and Olthius certainly doesn't do so successfully, but tries to assert his way around it. He was indeed trying to “slip” between fideism and evidentialism. Does he get there?

    “I believe that a worldview functions as a vehicle of mediation and integration in a two-way movement between faith commitment and all the other modes of human existence. It is a medium through which the ultimate commitment of faith plays out its leading and integrating role in daily life.”

    That is very well, but is there a reason to take this postion as true- anything other than his personal belief? Not really. He asserts it, but doesn't bring up the least evidence for it, or even show its coherence for those not based in faith. What he does is a huge amount of dancing around his own beliefs, which is great, and very blog-worthy, but not compelling to other positions unless he first shows the nature of the faith of those with no confession whatsoever.

    “Believing in, entrusting, committing oneself – to have faith – is to give self, to put for safety, to give in charge, to give over, to let go” to God (or a pseudo-god).

    The risk of faith is unavoidable; it is also existentially terrifying. For if faith proves futile, life falls apart. “Our ultimate concern can destroy us as it can heal us. But we can never be without it.”

    This could make faith seem quite mundane- to commit one's self to an NBA basketball team might rise to such commitment, no? Are we devastated when they lose? All this is left ambiguous. Therefore I would assume conventional meanings for conventional words, such as faith. If you would like to take up the discussion on this point and define it in more detail, that might be interesting.

    “And a variety of worldviews have likewise emerged in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, as well as in secular faiths such as Marxism.”

    I agree that Marxism constitutes a faith of its own. But why not generic life or atheism, or secularism? If he were thinking in such a comprehensive direction, he would have mentioned it, or given better examples. It is a (negative) sign that despite his universalistic assertions, he was speaking very much about/from a faith-based perspective of a traditional sort. As are his peans to god and the like later on.

    “It is not that such ultimate answers lack cognitive content. But on the ultimate level of faith, reason is impotent to determine what is true.”

    Firstly, these ultimate answers do lack cognitive content. Otherwise, they could be communicated, shared, demonstrated, and otherwise set down in commonly and explicitly understandable ways, as the answer of Darwinism has been. Secondly, once you posit the impotence of reason, you are in the realm of fideism- simple at that. Many things are hard to reason about, worldviews being one for sure. But once you give up entirely, then you have surely crossed to the other side from evidentialism.

    In the end, I agree with you on the world-view front, that they are complex and hard to verfy in an evidentialist way. But I think we still can and should do so despite the difficulties, while the hope (faith) that you appear to have is that your presupposed faith is correct and will eventually be vindicated/justified despite the voluminous negative evidence / reasons. All the while asserting, for reasons of PR, self-image, etc., that in actuality, your faith is being critically tested. In other words, fideism.

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  13. Darrell says:

    “…while the hope (faith) that you appear to have is that your presupposed faith is correct and will eventually be vindicated/justified despite the voluminous negative evidence / reasons…”

    Don't you see this gets us no where? I could write the same very thing regarding your atheistic faith.

    Second, there is a recognized difference in the literature, both definition wise and in philosophical usage, between fideism and faith–are you simply going to disregard that fact because you don't understand the difference? I think that is a very convenient misunderstanding.

    Finally, let me point out again as already noted: …again your throw around the words “reasonable” and “evidence” and therefore completely bypass the very issue under discussion which is that faith/world-view guide and employ our reason and how we interpret evidence. How is this point missed?

    You keep asserting without dealing with this point, why?

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  14. Burk Braun says:

    Here is the wiki entry on fideism on the faith page:

    “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 reasons. 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 nineteenth century by way of Roman Catholic thought, in a movement called traditionalism. The Roman Catholic Magisterium has repeatedly condemned the fideism though.”

    So, as I said, once you give up on reasons as a way to get to truths, then you are entering fideism. I really don't know why the Catholic church is against it, seeing as it expresses exactly their position. (If one discounts the baseless assertions of Aquinas that faith is reasonable after all- another classic Orwellian project).

    Now I wouldn't accuse people of faith of not using reason at all, which may be what some meanings of fideism imply. Not at all. But this definition is not so broad, so it includes any instance, as explicitly stated by Olthius, where one puts up one's hands and says that reason will not get you to something you take to be true anyhow .. which is what faith seems to be as well, aside from the mundane meaning of trust in anything you have reason to trust, perhaps implicitly, perhaps falsely.

    Now, as to the reason and evidence issue, I would be happy to delve into that in more detail. The devil is entirely in the details, as it was in ID as well. Each individual point of dogma / religious belief is a matter of individual evaluation and interpretation. Is it true, or not? On any of these issues we can go toe to toe, and while I am sure we disagree, and you may wish to appeal to an entirely different definition of truth than the conventional correspondence theory, the evidence for the various claims is quite lacking, which makes them claims of faith through and through.

    Take life after death- a classic example. Not an iota of evidence for it, other than pure, unadulterated hope. Plenty of psychics prey on the hopeful, but none do what they claim, as you probably are well aware.

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  15. Darrell says:

    First, to deal with some earlier comments:

    “Hopefully it was clear that I was not buying everything Olthius was selling, but used his internal contradictions to highlight why some of his thinking works, and how other parts don't. Some of it worked very well.”

    There are no internal contradictions unless everywhere Olthius uses the word ‘faith’ you interpret it as fideism. If the parts that didn’t work well are due to your misunderstandings of his use of the term faith, and the other parts did work well for you, then it is you who needs to rethink his paper. The entire paper is coherent if the term faith is understood properly.

    “I do indeed find it very difficult to distinguish fideism from faith, since what makes faith different from “understanding” is precisely a commitment (confession) that is not evidence-based, i.e. fideism. I don't know how you can get around that…”

    Very easily, it has to do with the INTERPRETATION of evidence, not that it is without evidence. And that you find it hard to distinguish fideism from faith is not Olthius’ fault as he notes what he is talking about very clearly.

    “That is very well, but is there a reason to take this postion as true- anything other than his personal belief? Not really. He asserts it, but doesn't bring up the least evidence for it…”

    He is talking about his INTERPRETATION of the evidence, which is the totality of existence in all its components.

    “I agree that Marxism constitutes a faith of its own. But why not generic life or atheism, or secularism? If he were thinking in such a comprehensive direction, he would have mentioned it, or given better examples. It is a (negative) sign that despite his universalistic assertions, he was speaking very much about/from a faith-based perspective of a traditional sort. As are his peans to god and the like later on.”

    This is a complete misunderstanding. He does include generic life and atheism when he says that faith and world-views are intrinsic to being human. He is speaking of everyone, not just of “religious” people or people with confessions. (Continued)

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  16. Darrell says:

    (Continuing) “Here is the wiki entry on fideism on the faith page…”

    I am happy with the Stanford link I sent previously and will take it over “wiki.”

    “Now, as to the reason and evidence issue, I would be happy to delve into that in more detail. The devil is entirely in the details…”

    What are you talking about? We have been delving into it in this entire conversation.
    Reason is employed always and already by faith/world-view and evidence is always INTERPRETED evidence. Again, how is this missed? It is the reason you have made no headway in addressing Davies' paper, my two posts, and Olthius. I've noted it at each point with no answer.

    And so we come full circle.

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  17. Burk Braun says:

    So it seems as though you believe that natural theology, which seems to be the other interpretation of faith vs fideism, actully works? Please explain. Do the proofs of Anselm or Aquinas work for you? They don't seem to work for anyone else these days. And you have admitted that reason doesn't get a person to religious faith. So it seems to me that your true position is fideism. If not, the Stanford site, which is on fideism, does not really explain your position. Or are you for rational fideism- a contradiction in terms?

    At any rate, your protestations of interpretation ring a bit hollow, because in our discussion, you are not actually doing any interpretation. You refer to nebulous totalities to hide the lack of connection between your premises and conclusions. Or does interpretation not have to be logical or analytical- i.e. adherent to reason? One is then right back in the realm of fideism, not to say emotionalism.

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  18. Burk Braun says:

    If I may add, referring to one's world view may retrospectively explain unconscious biases and presuppositions. It would not justify rational conclusions or faith.

    World views don't justify anything, but provide insight once they are recognized and either supported or refuted analytically. If they reflect subjective choices, then there is no analytical problem, but also no analytical power.

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