This was the OP question:Morley wrote: ↑Sat Mar 04, 2023 9:23 amI went back and persued the OP a couple of times, and maybe I'm missing something--but how does religious faith necessarily involve risk-taking, let alone be seen as an example of risk-taking? A woman is born into a faith and stays in that faith--I'm not seeing the example of risk-taking. Maybe if she'd married a one-armed drummer with a cocaine habit--that would serve as a better example of risk-taking.
If acting on insufficient information isn't your definition of risk-taking, then how do you define risk-taking?Nimrod wrote: ↑Thu Mar 02, 2023 7:58 pmWhy does god favor those that will act on 'a fair amount of uncertainty' than those who want proof? Why does god value those who act on 'a fair amount of uncertainty' over those that require higher degrees of assurety from facts and evidence? What is inherently better about those that act on less information than those that require more information?
Except perhaps for rare psychological cases, soldiers who volunteer for hazardous missions do think they are going to survive. They generally know that they might not, and will even make some preparations for that possibility, like writing a last letter home. By the time they're actually on the mission, though, they are not devoting mental energy to every alternative in proportion to its likelihood. They are focused on the upside: they're going to achieve the mission and make it back, damn right. That is how people take risks. It's not some mysterious ability to enjoy the anticipation of painful outcomes.
I guess there may be two shades of meaning in the term "faith", where it can mean either faith in some specific thing, or the general ability to have faith in things. I'm pretty sure that Darth Vader was disturbed by a lack of faith in the Force, specifically, not by a lack of the general ability to have faith in anything. On the other hand, your own construction "ability to exercise faith" implies that faith is something which can be exercised—in other words, that faith itself is an ability.How the hell is faith, by definition, a virtue? Faith seems to be something that can be either good or bad. I will grant that possessing the ability to exercise faith can be a virtue.
At any rate, when I say that "faith is a virtue" I do mean that the ability to act firmly in spite of uncertainty is a virtue, although faith in any specific thing can be misplaced. I don't believe that's any new interpretation on my part. It's what I have always understood the old medieval "theological virtue" of faith to mean. Maybe I've misread it. Perhaps one of our historians could advise us on the medieval Christian theory of virtues?
And now having said all that, I have to admit that Morley and Gadianton have a point when they say that soldiers and entrepreneurs aren't the people who spring to mind when they think of faith. The person who gets cited as a great example of faith is more likely to be someone who just never questions the beliefs into which they were born. I don't think that that really is a good example of faith, but it's not a straw man. People really often do mean just that, when they talk about faith.
So, hmm. I have an idea that a lot of virtues have evil twin vices. Impatience pretends to be courage; cowardice pretends to be patience. Faith is a virtue that sometimes works as courage, and sometimes as patience. There's probably a vice form of faith, that can work as impatience or cowardice. Are these evil twin vices really different things from the virtues, tares that look like wheat until it actually counts? Or are they really the same things as the virtues, which can end up being good or bad, right or wrong, depending on circumstances? I don't know. I'm not even sure whether those are different alternatives, or just different ways of labelling things.
At any rate, if I'm defending faith, I don't mean to defend simply sticking to the rut into which you were born. Yes, people do include that under the label of faith. What I mean to say is that there's also more than that, under that label.
No, it doesn't, and I think that's important. By all means abandon religious faith, if that's the call you see to make, but it would be a mistake to conclude that faith in general is inherently bad, just for fear of conceding something to religious believers. Our faith may be misplaced, but not all faith has to be. We might be overvaluing faith in general, but it shouldn't be undervalued, either.Even with all of the above, using the word faith does not imply religious faith, nor any of dimensions unique to that concept.
It's not clear to me that God is especially keen on religious faith. I do find it natural, though, for God to want humans to have enough faith in some higher purpose to do what they can for it. Perhaps the killer application of faith is when agents with less information exercise faith to follow plans made with more information than they have. Soldiers have faith in their leaders, children have faith in their parents—and there's no other way, because children can't understand what their parents know. An ultimate being would surely be to us like a parent in that way.