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Christian Tractatus

(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)


Christianity cannot & should not be defended solely on the basis of faith.

  1. Faith is a critical item in the evaluation of a reasoned response to the postulates of Christianity.
  2. Faith and belief are not necessarily equivalent. Beliefs, whether considered or casually acquired, are optional. Faith has an element of inner compulsion about it (most Christians would say it was a gift of the Holy Spirit) and is closely related to trust.
  3. It should be noted, however, that the New Testament vocabulary does not distinguish between "faith" and "belief" (both terms being covered by pistis), presumably because it has no time for the dispassionate holding of views. However, I will try to preserve the distinction between these two expressions in what follows.
  4. Faith should not be a blind leap1 in the dark. In particular, though it may go beyond the evidence, it should not go against it.
  5. Another way of looking at faith is to invoke the probabilities2 discussed earlier in this paper. There, we stated that no knowledge is certain, but only has a certain probability of being true. One could define a reasonable belief (expressed by proposition p, probability of truth p) as one with p > 0.5, so that it is more rational to believe the proposition than its negation (not-p, probability 1-p).
  6. There is an element of similarity between this understanding of faith and the classic New Testament definition in Hebrews 11:1, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen".
  7. A convincing reason3 needs to be sought for why Christian belief has to be built on faith (contrasted with sight rather than with deeds).
  8. The common assumption that all beliefs are held by faith (ie. are uncertain, though not necessarily with probability of truth < 0.5), and therefore that those who exercise faith cannot be criticised for irrationality4, ignores the probabilities.
  9. I have sought to demonstrate that the objections facing traditional Christianity are many and cogent. Hence, its probability as a world view is very low5 and the amount of faith required to sustain it is very high.
  10. The New Testament speaks of faith as a gift of God, the work of the Holy Spirit6, and so on. How are we to deal with the view that the Holy Spirit confirms the truth of Christianity in the hearts of believers and that this conviction is of more significance than any external evidence that might be adduced pro or con ?




Note last updated Reference for this Topic Parent Topic
12/08/2007 10:17:46 188 (Faith) CT Introduction

Summary of Note Links from this Page

Faith - Amount Faith - Holy Spirit Faith - Irrational Faith - Leap Faith - Probability
Faith - Reasons        

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Summary of Note Links to this Page

CT Introduction Faith. T1      

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