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Faith in God conflicts with reason – or so we are told. This chapter focuses on two arguments for this conclusion. After evaluating three criticisms of them, we identify an assumption they share, namely that faith in God requires belief that God exists. Whether the assumption is true depends on what faith is. We sketch a theory of faith that allows for both faith in God without belief that God exists, and faith in God while in belief-cancelling doubt regarding God’s existence. We then argue that our theory, unlike the theory of Thomas Aquinas, makes sense of four central items of faith-data: (i) pístis in the Synoptics, (ii) ʾemunāh in the Hebrew scriptures, (iii) exemplars of faith in God, including Abraham, Jesus, and Mother Teresa, and (iv) the widespread experience of people of faith today. We close by assessing revisions of the two arguments we began with, revisions that align with our theory of faith, and find them dubious, at best.
We assess John Bishop's theory of the nature of Christian faith in God, as most recently expressed in ‘Reasonable Faith and Reasonable Fideism’, although we dip into other writings as well. We explain several concerns we have about it. However, in the end, our reflections lead us to propose a modified theory, one that avoids our concerns while remaining consonant with some of his guiding thoughts about the nature of Christian faith in God. We also briefly examine three normative issues Bishop's views present.
How does trust relate to faith? We do not know of a theory-neutral way to answer our question. So, we begin with what we regard as a plausible theory of faith according to which, in slogan form, faith is resilient reliance. Next, we turn to contemporary theories of trust. They are not of one voice. Still, we can use them to indicate ways in which trust and faith might both differ from and resemble each other. This is what we do. Along the way, we evaluate substantive issues related to these possible differences and similarities.
What are faith and faithfulness, and how are they related? We consider two views that express very different answers to these questions. On our view, faith and faithfulness are distinct and yet complement each other. Faith is resilient reliance and faithfulness is resilient reliability, both of which involve conative and/or affective elements. In contrast, while Jonathan Kvanvig also holds that faith involves conative and/or affective elements, he identifies faith with a disposition to act in service of an ideal in the face of difficulty. However, this view of faith leads to some puzzling claims about how faith relates to faithfulness. We evaluate several claims suggested by what Kvanvig says, arguing both that his view loses sight of the distinctness of faith and faithfulness and that the inferences he wants to draw from faithfulness or faithful behaviour to faith are unjustified. Instead, we aim to show how the insights he calls to our attention can be better accommodated and explained by a more comprehensive, unified theory of faith and faithfulness and their relations.
What is faith? Lara Buchak has done as much as anyone recently to answer this question in a sensible and instructive fashion. As it turns out, her writings reveal two theories of faith, an early one and a later one – or two versions of the same one if you like. In what follows, we aim to assess those theories with an eye to highlighting both their good- and bad-making features, marking choice points for theorizing about faith along the way, and defending the choices we make. The result is an alternative theory of faith, one that we hope extends our common pursuit of understanding what faith is.
Disputes over the nature of faith, as understood in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, sometimes focus on whether it is to be identified exclusively with trust in God or with loyalty/fidelity to God. Drawing on recent work on the semantic range of the Hebrew ʾĕmûnâ and Greek pistis lexicons, we argue for a multidimensional account of what it is to be a person of faith that includes trust and loyalty in combination. The Trust-Loyalty account, we maintain, makes better sense of the faith of exemplars, including Abraham, and fits well with the biblical language of faith. Further, a normatively appropriate combination of trust and loyalty towards others is a recognizable social virtue, aimed at promoting flourishing relationships. Finally, we consider how to make sense of ancient and modern exemplars of faith who protest against God, such as Job and Elie Wiesel, and argue that the Trust-Loyalty view is uniquely well suited to accommodate them.
In conversation with Morgan (2015), I point out that the view of relational faith I have elsewhere defended (McKaughan 2013, 2016, 2017) fits rather well with the understanding of pistis that emerges from Morgan's careful reading of New Testament texts. Moreover, the fact that New Testament authors display little interest in examining interior aspects of faith makes it difficult to justify the claim that their understanding of the pistis lexicon requires believing in the modern sense as the attitude Christians must take towards relevant content, in contrast to various other positive but non-doxastic attitudes that philosophers recognize today. Such faith is of contemporary interest, given its congruity with early Christian tradition, the role it can play in helping relationships to persevere through various kinds of challenges (including doubts significant enough to preclude believing), and for the wide range of evidential circumstances in which it can be enacted with intellectual integrity.
Recent efforts to argue that nonepistemic values have a legitimate role to play in assessing scientific models, theories, and hypotheses typically either reject the distinction between epistemic and nonepistemic values or incorporate nonepistemic values only as a secondary consideration for resolving epistemic uncertainty. Given that scientific representations can legitimately be evaluated not only based on their fit with the world but also with respect to their fit with the needs of their users, we show in two case studies that nonepistemic values can play a legitimate role as factors that override epistemic considerations in assessing scientific representations for practical purposes.
One challenge to the rationality of religious commitment has it that faith is unreasonable because it involves believing on insufficient evidence. However, this challenge and influential attempts to reply depend on assumptions about what it is to have faith that are open to question. I distinguish between three conceptions of faith (faith as belief-plus, trusting acceptance, and hopeful affirmation) each of which can claim some plausible grounding in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Questions about the rationality or justification of religious commitment and the extent of compatibility with doubt look different on accounts of faith in which trust or hope, rather than belief, are the primary basis for the commitments. On such accounts, while the person of faith has a stake in the truth of the content (e.g. that God exists), practical as well as epistemic considerations can legitimately figure in normative appraisals. Trust and hope can be appropriate in situations of recognized risk, need not involve self-deception, and are compatible with the idea that one's purely epistemic opinions should be responsive only to evidence.
Philosophers of science readily acknowledge that nonepistemic values influence the discovery and pursuit of scientific theories, but many tend to regard these influences as epistemically uninteresting. The present paper challenges this position by identifying three avenues through which nonepistemic values associated with discovery and pursuit in contemporary pollution research influence theory appraisal: (1) by guiding the choice of questions and research projects, (2) by altering experimental design, and (3) by affecting the creation and further investigation of theories or hypotheses. This analysis indicates that the effects of these values are sufficiently complex and epistemically significant to merit further attention.
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