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Shaker

Faith as a gift from God

Inspired by a current discussion on a favourite website of mine:

I've often heard theists say that faith (in this context, faith in God) is a gift from God. But this is surely monumental question-begging of the first water, assuming the prior truth of something still to be demonstrated. In other words, to say that faith in God is a gift from God is simply to assume, without demonstration, the existence of a God who dispenses faith in the first place - faith in him/itself. This seems to be two logical fallacies in one: petitio principii (question-begging; assuming to be true what hasn't be demonstrated to be true) and circular reasoning. Surely nobody thinks that faith in God is a gift from God unless they already believe that there's a God who can dispense faith - in God.

The second major issue is why, on this view, the 'gift' is bestowed on some people and not on others. This ties in with the argument from nonbelief of philosophers such as J.L. Schellenberg and Theodore Drange. In simple terms:

Quote:
The premise of the argument is that if God existed (and wanted humanity to know it), he would have brought about a situation in which every reasonable person believed in him; however, there are reasonable unbelievers, and therefore, this weighs against God's existence.

1. If God exists, God:
(a) wants all humans to believe God exists before they die;
(b) can bring about a situation in which all humans believe God exists before they die;
(c) does not want anything that would conflict with and be at least as important as its desire for all humans to believe God exists before they die; and
(d)always acts in accordance with what it most wants.
2. If God exists, all humans would believe so before they die (from 1).
3. But not all humans believe God exists before they die.
4. Therefore, God does not exist (from 2 and 3).


This seems to be to be just two major strikes against theism - not as though there aren't many more! All thoughts welcome
Lexilogio

Hmm. We had a sermon this week on something similar - but it wasn't termed a "gift".

Faith is what supports belief. Faith is many things - and probably subtly different in different people. It is a complex psychological point - so if we were to help someone come to faith, the approach would be different in different people. For some, faith requires humility, a putting ones faith in something else, apart from their reality mindset that everything can be explained. Faith requires trust, the ability to step into something you cannot see, or touch.
Shaker

Lexilogio wrote:
Faith is what supports belief.

OK, so already this implies that faith and belief are actually two different, discrete things - with faith being the more fundamental, and belief overlying it. Would that be correct according to how you see it?
Ketty

Shaker wrote:

OK, so already this implies that faith and belief are actually two different, discrete things - with faith being the more fundamental, and belief overlying it. Would that be correct according to how you see it?


I think from my own experience, that's a fair description: I didn't believe until I had faith.  But having come to faith, now, the two are so closely intertwined it would be difficult to separate them.

"... faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see ..."


I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!
Shaker

How are faith and belief different? Especially given that so many people (not just atheists, either!) seem to conflate them.
Lexilogio

Shaker wrote:
Lexilogio wrote:
Faith is what supports belief.

OK, so already this implies that faith and belief are actually two different, discrete things - with faith being the more fundamental, and belief overlying it. Would that be correct according to how you see it?


Faith is how you reach belief. But they are closely entwined. You can have faith in things without belief, and we all do. I have faith that scientists are correct and the sun will continue to rise. I may choose to look at the science and check its veracity, but largely I rely on faith. I don't have time to check the veracity of all facts. With belief, you can check evidence of a form, you can read the Bible, for example, but there isn't a full array of facts available.

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