The Instigator
MikeNH
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
rross
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points

Faith is a pathway to knowledge

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
rross
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/18/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,073 times Debate No: 40801
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)

 

MikeNH

Con

============DEFINITIONS==========

The definitions we will be using for this discusssing are as follows:

Faith
- the belief that a proposition is true without evidence
Knowledge - justified true belief (1)


===============================


=============
RULES==============

1) You MUST agree to all definitions. If you accept this debate and do not agree to these definitions you have subsequently forfeited.

2) Pro has the burden of proof to demonstrate that one can attain justified true belief through faith as defined.

3) In the first round, Pro must first state that they agree to these rules and then they are allowed to begin stating their case.

===============================


=============NOTE==============

To anyone who does not accept the definition provided for faith, just know that there are many people who DO believe that definition is an accurate representation of their faith and it is someone with that view that I am hoping to debate. I do not disagree that there are other valid definitions of faith (as with every other word) that others use to describe what they call their faith, but for the purpose of this debate the provided definition is what will be used.

===============================


============SOURCES============

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...;

===============================

rross

Pro

Thank you to MikeNH for this debate. I accept the rules and definitions of Round 1.

I add the following definitions:

belief: an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof (1)

true:
in accordance with fact or reality; accurate or exact (2)


The resolution is that faith is a pathway to knowledge. This means that faith can lead to knowledge in some circumstances. It is not the only pathway to knowledge, and faith does not always lead to knowledge.

However, faith is a very common pathway to knowledge. For example, when we are small, our parents tell us that medicine can make sick people better and we accept this on faith. Later, we watch people take medicine and get better, and believe the medicine is responsible (faith again, shaping our observations), and later, impressed by the power of medicine, we might study biochemistry and pharmacology to learn more about these amazing substances, at which point we study the evidence that they work, and faith is replaced by knowledge.

But the faith provided the motivation and the early framework for learning, and so faith was a pathway to knowledge.


(1) http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
(2) http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
Debate Round No. 1
MikeNH

Con

=====================Definitions======================

I will agree to use your definitions of belief and true.

I anticipate that semantics will be the major source of contention between us. Please indicate whether or not you agree with the following definitions.

pathway - a route to or way of access to; way of reaching or achieving something (1)
evidence - A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment (2)

===================================================



====================Contention #1======================

"For example, when we are small, our parents tell us that medicine can make sick people better and we accept this on faith."

The very fact that our parents are telling us this information is a form of evidence. It is quite debatable whether or not it could be considered reliable evidence, but collecting information from outside sources with experience IS evidence and therefore not faith.

====================================================


=====================Contention #2=====================

"Later, we watch people take medicine and get better, and believe the medicine is responsible (faith again, shaping our observations)..."

Reference contention #1. Witnessing cause and effect is a direct form of evidence, and therefore not faith.

====================================================


======================Contention #3======================

"...and later, impressed by the power of medicine, we might study biochemistry and pharmacology to learn more about these amazing substances, at which point we study the evidence that they work, and faith is replaced by knowledge."

I just demonstrated that a no point faith was involved in the process. Information from authorities (parents) is a form of evidence and witnessing cause and effect (seeing someone take medicine and subsequently get better) is a form of evidence. At no point was faith involved in that person holding that belief.

======================================================


======================Contention #4======================

"But the faith provided the motivation and the early framework for learning, and so faith was a pathway to knowledge.."

Even though I reject (and demonstrated why) the premise that faith was involved in the specific example provided, for the sake of argument I will consider the implications if it WERE the case. It seems to me as though you are arguing that simply because faith was involved in the initial process that it is to be considered as a "pathway". While I believe this is ultimately a semantics issue, I think it's clear that even if this was the case that belief without evidence ultimately lead to knowledge, that it wouldn't/shouldn't be considered an true pathway. I will demonstrate this by analogy:

I wake up in the morning, and smelling my fiancé's cooking makes me hungry, so I decide to go to McDonalds to get my breakfast. On the way there I hear a commercial on my car radio about night classes for medical school and decide that I will go and get my degree studying biochemistry and pharmacology, and I ultimately obtain a whole bunch of knowledge. Applying your argument to this scenario means that you would have to argue that the following are pathways to knowledge:

- Waking up in the morning
- Smelling my fiancé's cooking
- Getting hungry
- Driving to McDonalds
- Listening to the radio

All of these actions are directly responsible for my ultimately obtaining knowledge, but to argue that they should be considered "pathways to that knowledge" is absurd and demonstrates that the way you are using pathway is not a useful one for this conversation. I would argue, using your analogy, that the pathway to that specific chunk of knowledge was the forming of hypotheses from evidence (from authority and direct observation) and subsequent testing/studying in the realm of science. Nothing else in that process could reasonably be considered directly responsible for obtaining that knowledge, and therefore isn't reasonable to consider a pathway.

======================================================


=====================Conclusion==========================

I have demonstrated that at no point in Pro's argument did he instance any acts of faith and therefore has not demonstrated that faith can be a pathway to knowledge, and I have also demonstrated that even if he were to come up with a different analogy in which faith was initially involved in some decision making process that spurred the action to attempt to gain said knowledge, that it would be absurd and unreasonable to consider that it it as a "pathway" to that knowledge.

In order for Pro to support his case I would ask that he demonstrate how accepting something is true without evidence (faith) resulting in the scientific study of that concept is a "pathway to knowledge" in a different way than hearing an ad for college night courses resulting in the same scientific study. If he cannot demonstrate that a distinction exists, he must either acknowledge his idea of a "pathway" is absurd in this context, or concede that any and every action that could be somehow linked in some sort of causal chain to the act of obtaining knowledge, should be considered a pathway to that knowledge. If he were to accept the second proposition then it's clear we are not debating the same subject.

======================================================


=====================Sources========================

(1) http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
(2) http://www.thefreedictionary.com...

===================================================
rross

Pro

evidence

Con argues that evidence is "a thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment". Any kind of information would be evidence, according to this definition, as well as your brain, any languages you speak, and your eyes etc. It is a very broad definition.

In Round 1, the definition of faith was presented. Acceptance of the debate was conditional on accepting this definition. it was non-negotiable.

Faith: the belief that a proposition is true without evidence

If we slip in the broad definition of evidence, it becomes:

Faith: the belief that a proposition is true without any kind of information, a brain, or language.

I suggest that faith is impossible, under these conditions. Yet Con adds, in Round 1, "just know that there are many people who DO believe that definition is an accurate representation of their faith". This statement doesn't make sense in the context of the definitions above. Since the definition of faith cannot be negotiated in this debate, we clearly need a tighter understanding of evidence.

In formal contexts, there are strict rules about what is evidence and what isn't. For example, in a courtroom, there are rules about what will be accepted as evidence and what won't be. Similarly, in a scientific setting, there are standards that must be met before information is considered to be scientific evidence or not.

Informally, there may not be codified rules of evidence, but people still make judgments to accept or reject information as evidence. For example, if a girlfriend says to me, "I know my boyfriend's cheating because I tossed a coin and it came down heads and heads is cheating." I would say, "that's not evidence of anything. That's unrelated."

The Oxford Dictionary defines it thus:

evidence: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid (1)

The important difference with Con's definition is the idea that the evidence must indicate that the proposition is true or valid.

How evidence is defined, then, will differ by context. For example, in a fundamental Christian community, the fact that something is stated in the Bible will be considered evidence that it is true. In contrast, a scientific community will not consider this to be evidence.

The same is true of knowledge, of course, which Con has defined as "justified true belief". Presumably, knowledge is a belief for which there is sufficient evidence for it to be accepted as true. Again, what is considered evidence, and sufficient evidence, for a belief to be knowledge will depend on the context.

Example 1: knowledge of medicine

Since context is all, let us examine my example from the previous round in a scientific context. We will only consider scientific facts and scientific evidence.

1. when we are small, our parents tell us that medicine can make sick people better and we accept this

Information from parents is not scientific evidence. They could be wrong, insane or lying for their own reasons.

2. we watch people take medicine and get better, and believe the medicine is responsible

This is not scientific evidence as observational studies do not measure cause and effect. The sick person might have recovered equally quickly without medicine, but we'll never know.

3. we conduct controlled, experimental studies with pharmacological substances and tabulate the results

Yes, finally we have scientific evidence about the effects of medicine.

So looking at this story within a scientific context we can see that the early faith about medicine was a pathway to knowledge.

But the scientific system is only one way to consider this idea. Let's think about a more informal system of faith and knowledge.

My friend is in love with a man, and she thinks he must love her too. There has been no evidence of this, but she wants him to so badly that she starts to believe that he does. She has faith in his love, according to Con's definition. This faith motivates her to go up to him at a party in the corridor and start kissing him. And he responds by pushing her away and shouting, "get off me! What's wrong with you, creepy?" Her faith has been a pathway to knowledge - in this case, rather sad knowledge.


pathway

I accept Con's definition:

pathway - a route to or way of access to; way of reaching or achieving something


However, I'm confused by his arguments relating to pathway. He says that it is "absurd" to consider actions that are "directly responsible" for obtaining knowledge as pathways to knowledge. And that to consider pathway in this way "is not a useful one for this conversation" and that it "isn't reasonable". And yet the definition he provided does seem to define pathway in this fashion.

Con argues adopting his own definition of pathway would mean that any and every action could be somehow linked to the act of obtaining knowledge. This is possibly true. Knowledge is broad and we're adding to our knowledge every day. However this is not the topic for this debate, although it might be interesting to discuss some other time.

The topic for this debate is whether faith is a pathway to knowledge. And as I've shown it can be. It often is.

(1) http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...
Debate Round No. 2
MikeNH

Con

==================Definitions===================

"Faith: the belief that a proposition is true without any kind of information, a brain, or language.

I suggest that faith is impossible, under these conditions. Yet Con adds, in Round 1, "just know that there are many people who DO believe that definition is an accurate representation of their faith". This statement doesn't make sense in the context of the definitions above. Since the definition of faith cannot be negotiated in this debate, we clearly need a tighter understanding ofevidence."

I agree that the above definition is nonsensical, and agree with the overall idea that different claims require different amounts/kinds of evidence. The following definition that you provided for evidence is acceptable to me in this discussion:

"the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid"

I would add one caveat, that I would hope you could agree with. This definition uses the phrase "the available body of facts" and I would like to say that evidence as we will be using it can and always is a subset of the entire available body of evidence. When I claim I have evidence for a proposition, I'm claiming that I have some amount of evidence indicating that then proposition is true, rather than fact and every piece of information that can or could indicate its true. I think that's a straightforward distinction, but needs to be made.

=============================================


==================Contention #1=================

"Presumably, knowledge is a belief for which there is sufficient evidence for it to be accepted as true. Again, what is considered evidence, and sufficient evidence, for a belief to be knowledge will depend on the context... ...Since context is all, let us examine my example from the previous round in a scientific context. We will only consider scientific facts and scientific evidence."

I agreed it would be helpful to adopt a more specific definition of evidence, but not so string a definition as to require that every single piece of valid evidence therefore need be scientific. To now say that we can only consider "scientific" facts and evidence as valid forms of evidence in the greater context, namely when we are children listening to what our parents say" is moving the goal post as well as a red herring. (1)(2)

Using the above definition whereby evidence is a piece of the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief is true or valid, having some authority provide you with information, such as your parents telling you some fact IS EVIDENCE. There are many things that vary the strength of this particular kind of evidence - for example - if your parent happens to be a world renowned physician, the evidence is definitely stronger, all other things being equal, than if your parent has some serious mental condition whereby they have delusions and otherwise tend to be delusional. These are clearly opposites on some spectrum, but the fact of the matter is that in most cases it is at least a fairly reasonable initial piece of evidence from which to start.

The fact that the evidence, information from a parent, on its own isn't particularly reliable and or sufficient to concretely justify the belief, is irrelevant to the underlying fact that it is a form of evidence that is a starting point from which to begin building from the body of facts and information as a whole. When our parents tell us that piece of information, this evidence is not intended to prove or provide strong justification for the belief, but rather as I said a first step.

The important part is that this IS STILL EVIDENCE, and not every single piece of evidence MUST BE scientific evidence when talking about all types of claims.

=============================================



==================Contention #2=================

"Information from parents is not scientific evidence. They could be wrong, insane or lying for their own reasons."

As I said, this moving the goalpost. The fact that its not "scientific evidence" is irrelevant. Whether they are wrong, insane, lying, or simply don't know what they are talking about is completely irrelevant to the point that it is evidence. When examining propositions to determine their truth, every single piece of information/evidence has the potential of being WRONG, just because you can imagine situations in which this piece of evidence could be unreliable, doesn't discount it as evidence to begin with.

Just like in a courtroom, which you mentioned, eye-witness testimony is a valid form of evidence in many cases, but it is not some form of rigorous empirical science, which you are unfairly requiring. It does not, on its own, necessarily prove some claim, and is not immune to doubt or disproof, but once again it is evidence that needs to be accepted into the greater body of evidence for examination.

=============================================



==================Contention #3=================

"This is not scientific evidence as observational studies do not measure cause and effect. The sick person might have recovered equally quickly without medicine, but we'll never know."

As demonstrated, this is again moving the goalpost, and it is rapidly approaching an equivocation fallacy. Consider the following, in light of the requirements you are claiming for evidence:

When you come in to the doctor's office with a sore throat, a cough, and some other symptoms, and the doctor listens to all your symptoms and looks at your long history of strep throat, he might conclude based on this preliminary evidence that you have strep throat. He has not done any actual tests on you to determine if this is true, and he hasn't claimed it is true or claims to have proven it is true, but he nonetheless accepts your testimony of your symptoms and your health history as EVIDENCE that leads him to believe you do have strep, and then decides because of this to conduct a strep test on you.

What you are ultimately doing is saying that he conducts that test because he has faith that you have strep, which is absurd. People can be wrong, insane, or lying about their symptoms, so using your logic means that patients reported symptoms are in no way evidence ultimately supporting any of their medical decisions.

NOTE: Don't fall into the trap of saying that because he is a doctor in this type of setting that somehow it changes the evidence to "scientific", because ultimately it comes down to evidence reported by one person to another to be examined in just the same way that a parent tells a child a piece of information and that is a form of evidence that can be examined.

==============================================


==================Contention #3=================

"So looking at this story within a scientific context we can see that the early faith about medicine was a pathway to knowledge."

I have demonstrated that no faith was required, and the entire process involved at least SOME form of evidence.

==============================================


==================Contention #4=================

"My friend is in love with a man, and she thinks he must love her too. There has been no evidence of this, but she wants him to so badly that she starts to believe that he does. She has faith in his love, according to Con's definition. This faith motivates her to go up to him at a party in the corridor and start kissing him. And he responds by pushing her away and shouting, "get off me! What's wrong with you, creepy?" Her faith has been a pathway to knowledge - in this case, rather sad knowledge."

This metaphor is nonsensical and I once again point you to my aforementioned example involving the radio advertisement. To claim that faith is a pathway to knowledge, in this sense, is to also accept that waking up or my desire for a McDonalds breakfast is a pathway to knowledge. If you accept this concept of a pathway to knowledge, I contend that it is fatuous one, and would leave it up to the safe keeping of the audience be the judge of this in voting.

Improving on your metaphor a bit, if the woman in this story was told by a very trusted friend, one that has shown to be reliable in the past and one that has no evidence motivation to lie, that she was told directly by that man that he is in fact in love with her too, THAT WOULD BE EVIDENCE and therefore NO FAITH WAS REQUIRED.

What she did was essentially a test of a hypothesis. In both cases, the actual pathway to knowledge was the action and subsequent experience of rejection, the test and result, that leads the woman to obtain the knowledge that the object of her love does not reciprocate. Just as I do not contend the evidence she had was the actual pathway to this knowledge in my example, its absurd for you to claim her lack of evidence was the pathway in your example.

==============================================


====================Definitions==================

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org...
=============================================
rross

Pro

evidence and truth

Con has misunderstood my example about scientific evidence. I am not trying to argue that all evidence should be assessed against scientific criteria. On the contrary, I was trying to demonstrate that there are different perceptions about the link between information and truth. To a child, information from a trusted parent is evidence of truth; however, this is not the case for a scientific observer.

In my story, the child's faith in medicine was justified later by scientific evidence and this might have made it confusing. Let me separate faith and knowledge with a story where the evidence is more obviously false:

****************

A man is sick, and his daughter comes to the hospital to visit him, bringing her new Dr Barbie. A passing nurse says to her, "Dr Barbie! Is she going to make your Dad well? That's good that you brought her, isn't it!"

The girl takes this statement from authority as evidence that Dr Barbie has healing powers. She takes care to hide her Barbie in her Dad's bed every night and, sure enough, he recovers quickly. She accepts this as further evidence.

In later years, she goes on to become a world expert on Barbies. Her early faith in Barbie's healing power shapes her interests and is a pathway to knowledge.

****************

The nurse's comment and her father's recovery are information, but are they evidence? This is important because in this debate we are defining faith as belief without evidence.

Con has agreed that evidence is information that indicates whether a belief is true. I suggest that the nurse's comment was not information that indicated that Barbie has healing powers, although the girl interpreted it that way. I think it was meant more as an encouraging pleasantry. Similarly, her father's recovery was not due to Barbie's presence but to other reasons. I think he would have recovered even if Barbie wasn't hidden in his bedroom.

The girl thought she had evidence of Barbie's power, but she did not. Hers was a belief without evidence: it was faith in Barbie. And that faith fueled her interest in dolls and an accumulation of knowledge that led her finally to becoming a leading planganologist. Her faith was a pathway to knowledge.


What is faith?

Faith is, according to Round 1, belief without evidence. Faith exists.

Yet, whenever I have tried to present an example of faith, Con has tried to discredit it. Either he argues that it is a belief with evidence (and so not faith) or that there is no evidence, but it's not really a belief.

Take the example of my unfortunate friend who believed a man was in love with her, tried to kiss him, was rejected and therefore gained knowledge through faith.

Con has tried to discredit this example on the two grounds mentioned. First, he argued that she did have evidence he was interested in her. Con took it upon himself to add an extra character to the story: a friend who told her that the man liked her. Sorry, but that didn't happen. The only "evidence" she had was the strength of her own feelings. Her crush on him was so enveloping that she believed it must be mutual.

Next, Con tries to argue that she didn't really believe in his attraction to her, that it was only a hypothesis that she tested out. Hardly. She's not nearly confident enough for that and after the rejection she spent the rest of the party in the upstairs bathroom crying and eating chocolate biscuits. She really believed he liked her, and was devastated to learn the truth.

If Con continues to claim that one person's feeling can be evidence of another person's state of mind, then I challenge him to provide an example of faith. In Round 1 he said that there are "many people who DO believe that definition is an accurate representation of their faith," and so he should have no trouble providing us with several instances of faith, maybe from his own experience.


the pathway to knowledge

Con defined pathway thus:

pathway - a route to or way of access to; way of reaching or achieving something

But subsequently he has put forward an argument that there is a difference between a "true pathway" and other pathways. Some actions are directly responsible for knowledge, but it is "absurd" to call them pathways, according to Con. He argues that there needs to be "forming of hypotheses from evidence" for something to be considered a pathway. This is outrageous. There is nothing of this in his definition that includes hypothesis testing.

It also goes against our common understanding of knowledge. Some knowledge is formed through hypothesis testing, but there are lots of other ways. For example, when we crush a particular type of herb for the first time and smell it, then we have knowledge of what it smells like. This has nothing to do with hypotheses.

But Con claims it is "fatuous" to say that events that lead to knowledge are pathways, unless they accord to his hypothesis structure, and that he will leave it to readers to decide. This isn't good enough at all. Con has created a debate in which he placed a great deal of emphasis on definitions. He himself set up the definition for "pathway" and now he is complaining when my examples conform to this definition.

If there are events and actions that lead to knowledge then they are pathways to knowledge unless Con can prove otherwise, which he has not done so far.


learning from the radio

Con provided a story from his own life to illustrate his (false) idea that events and actions can lead to knowledge without being pathways to knowledge.

In the story, his fiancée is cooking and yet he leaves the house and goes to McDonald's for food. These events are not explained, but one can only assume his fiancee's cooking is so bad he would rather insult her than try eat it or that his fiancée doesn't like to share with him. Either way, he is possibly in a disturbed state of mind when he hears the advertisement for medical school night classes on the radio. He is influenced by the ad, decides to enrol and subsequently gains a great deal of knowledge about medicine.

I suppose if he hadn't woken up, he wouldn't have heard the advertisement, and if his domestic arrangements were such that he could have eaten breakfast at home, he wouldn't have heard it either. He might never have had the idea to study medicine in the evenings. Therefore, waking up and going to McDonald's in the car are part of his pathway to knowledge. I also think his state of mind and domestic situation must have been such that he was receptive to the advertisement, but Con doesn't really elaborate on this aspect of the story.

Con claims that it is "absurd" to say that the story describes a pathway to knowledge, because he's tried to present the example in as trivial a way as possible. But consider. Humans are driven by circadian rhythms. We fall asleep and wake up according to a pattern and this drives our lives. We need sustenance. We are motivated to seek food when hungry and we must all negotiate loving-but-problematic personal relationships. We hear advertisements and messages all the time, some affect us more than others, depending on our state of mind, mood, memory, and circumstances. There is nothing "absurd" about any of this. And all the time we act within our human instincts, we are gaining knowledge.

Humans gain knowledge all the time and everywhere. It's not just through formal study. We grow in knowledge by talking to people, experiencing nature, listening to the radio...there are countless pathways to knowledge. Some of them are surprising. We gain knowledge through relationships - good and bad - and through making mistakes. We gain knowledge though anger, through love and through faith.

Con has taken on the burden of proving that faith cannot be a pathway to knowledge. It's an ambitious and extraordinary claim, given the variety and scope of knowledge pathways. I still don't understand why he has chosen faith of all things as not leading to knowledge when it so clearly does.
Debate Round No. 3
MikeNH

Con

====================Contention #1==================

"The girl thought she had evidence of Barbie's power, but she did not. Hers was a belief without evidence: it was faith in Barbie. And that faith fueled her interest in dolls and an accumulation of knowledge that led her finally to becoming a leading planganologist. Her faith was a pathway to knowledge."

You are committing the equivocation fallacy. Evidence, as you agreed, is information that indicates whether a belief is true or not, but you are fallaciously saying that the evidence AND the object of the belief must actually be a true causal link, which is just a misrepresentation of terms. Evidence and belief are not contingent upon the proposition being true.

This can easily be demonstrated:

1. I am cooking dinner in the oven.
2. While sitting on the couch with a friend watching TV I smell something burning and see smoke.
3. My friend says that they think I'm burning dinner.
3. The smoke and burning smell is very good evidence that this is true.
4. I run to the kitchen to check only to find the food is not burning.
5. I later find out my washing machine's motor burned out and that is what causes the smell and smoke.

The smoke was an indication that my dinner might be burning, but it simply turned out to be false. In this case, it was incorrect evidence, or evidence with a false causal connection, but it was evidence. What you are doing is saying that I had faith that my dinner was burning, which is untrue. The belief was false, the evidence was false, but I still had evidence and therefore it was still not faith, whether it was true or not.

================================================


====================Contention #2==================

"The girl thought she had evidence of Barbie's power, but she did not. Hers was a belief without evidence: it was faith in Barbie. And that faith fueled her interest in dolls and an accumulation of knowledge that led her finally to becoming a leading planganologist. Her faith was a pathway to knowledge."

With my previous contention in mind, this is easily demonstrated false. She DID have evidence, but it was silly and incorrect and naive evidence with no real actual causal connection to her belief - but that doesn't make it not evidence. In this context, though I am arguing that she did have some form evidence, this evidence was NOT a pathway to knowledge simply because it was a motivating factor to her becoming a plaganologist. She obtained knowledge later on from some other means unstated in your story.

In this case, her silly belief about barbie's healing power was poor evidence, but was evidence nonetheless, and irrespective of this it was not a true pathway to her real knowledge that she obtained later simply because it motivated her.

================================================


====================Contention #3==================

"Con has tried to discredit this example on the two grounds mentioned. First, he argued that she did have evidence he was interested in her. Con took it upon himself to add an extra character to the story: a friend who told her that the man liked her. Sorry, but that didn't happen. The only "evidence" she had was the strength of her own feelings. Her crush on him was so enveloping that she believed it must be mutual. "

The reason why I added the extra character to the story was to provide another example using the same context to make my point more obvious. My ENTIRE point in response to your story about your friend was to demonstrate that EVEN IF the person acted on their belief that was based on no evidence, that it wasn't the true cause of someone obtaining that knowledge.

THIS was the only example you gave of someone truly acting on faith, because it seems that she did not have any evidence at all for her belief, but I have demonstrated that saying this was somehow a true pathway to knowledge is absurd, and my response in contention #5 reiterates this.

================================================


====================Contention #4==================

"Next, Con tries to argue that she didn't really believe in his attraction to her, that it was only a hypothesis that she tested out. Hardly. She's not nearly confident enough for that and after the rejection she spent the rest of the party in the upstairs bathroom crying and eating chocolate biscuits. She really believed he liked her, and was devastated to learn the truth."

I never made such a claim - this is a misrepresentation. Quote where I said that she didn't belief it if you want to claim I said it. I said it was a belief AND a hypothesis that she tested out, they are not mutually exclusive. Every hypothesis we have is some preliminary belief with a nominal amount of evidence.

================================================


====================Contention #5==================

"Therefore, waking up and going to McDonald's in the car are part of his pathway to knowledge."

My argument involving the car ad/medical school story was made with the sole purpose of forcing you to accept the proposition that you just accepted. I commend you for being logically consistent in this respect, but also MUST point out that if THIS is what you mean by something being a pathway to knowledge, it is silly and ridiculous. If you accept the above two things as pathways to knowledge, we are definitively discussing different concepts.

================================================


====================Contention #6==================

"Humans gain knowledge all the time and everywhere. It's not just through formal study. We grow in knowledge by talking to people, experiencing nature, listening to the radio...there are countless pathways to knowledge. Some of them are surprising. We gain knowledge through relationships - good and bad - and through making mistakes. We gain knowledge though anger, through love and through faith."

We don't gain knowledge through anger, love, or faith. None of those concepts cause us to have knowledge in any meaningful way. These emotions are caused by experience and evidence, and they might cause us to act whereby we have more experiences and gain more evidence, and it is all that evidence we get along the way that is the real cause of all the knowledge we have. We have beliefs, and they may or may not be true, but until they are justified in some way with evidence, we have not gained knowledge. To say those emotions are pathways is silly, and my previous contention showed this.

================================================


====================Conclusion=====================

"Con has taken on the burden of proving that faith cannot be a pathway to knowledge. It's an ambitious and extraordinary claim, given the variety and scope of knowledge pathways. I still don't understand why he has chosen faith of all things as not leading to knowledge when it so clearly does."

I have chosen faith, of all things, because people claim all the time that they have faith, and it is clear to me that faith cannot tell you anything about the universe. Faith has no explanatory power and has no grounds in reality and therefore is useless. That is why I chose to talk about faith.

It is clear that definitions and phrasing has lead to this debate being muddled and silly. If it has come down to arguing over something being a pathway to knowledge or not, and other pathways to knowledge include waking up and driving to McDonalds, we are clearly not discussing the right thing.

I started this debate, using the phrase "pathway to knowledge" specifically because I heard a long debate between two people on this same subject, and that phrase was used multiple times so it stuck in my head. It seems obvious to me that this debate has come down to semantics and the ultimately frailty of operating using loose definitions/phrases like "pathway". After this debate and others that I've had recently, I would much rather have changed the concept of "pathway" to "cause" to make things more clear and demonstrable, and to actually demonstrate that faith could not the cause, both a necessary AND sufficient condition, of knowledge. That would be something worth debating.

I wouldn't be opposed to doing this debate over changing some definitions/phrases in order to make it clearer for both of us.

================================================
rross

Pro

evidence and belief.

A little girl believes Barbie cured her father because of a passing comment by a nurse and because her father recovered when Barbie was hidden in his bed. Most adults would not take these events as evidence of Barbie's healing powers, but Con argues that they are indeed evidence, the little girl accepted them as such and so she does not have faith in Barbie but justified belief.

In Round 2 I told the story of the friend who believes her boyfriend is cheating because a coin toss came down heads and heads means cheating, according to her.

If we accept the coin toss as evidence, then what my friend is experiencing is not faith but justified belief as well. But what about her faith in the coin toss? Does she have any evidence that a coin toss is a good way to test fidelity? It seems unlikely.

Similarly, the little girl has faith in what she sees as her evidence regarding Barbie's powers. But is her faith in the evidence justified? Does she have enough evidence to conclude that it was Barbie's presence in her father's bed that cured him? Let's say that she doesn't. That would mean that faith in a process led to belief in Barbie's powers which led to knowledge. So faith would still be a pathway to knowledge.


Con claims that the presence of smoke is good evidence that dinner is burning. I don't think so. Smoke is good evidence that something is burning. If Con is in the habit of burning dinner, then it's natural he would leap to a conclusion that it is dinner, rather than anything else, that is burning. But this is based on memory-based schemas and mental associations, not on actual physical evidence. Thus he had knowledge that something was burning, but no evidence as to what was burning. If he really believed that it was his dinner burning before he ran and checked then this would be faith, according to Con's very specific definitions in Round 1.


a pathway to knowledge vs a "true pathway" to knowledge


Con talks about pathways to knowledge and "true pathways" to knowledge, but not only are "true pathways" not mentioned in the resolution or in the definitions, but it's unclear what the difference is.

For example, Con argues that something that motivates you to gain knowledge is not a "true pathway" to knowledge.

But let's look at his own definition of pathway:

pathway - a route to or way of access to; way of reaching or achieving something

So yes, according to this definition, if your faith drives you to gain knowledge, then it's a pathway to knowledge.

Con has implied that I'm arguing on semantics. He has stated that my conclusions about pathways are "absurd" and "silly and ridiculous", He complains that we are "definitely discussing different concepts".

This is unfair because I have been arguing according to definitions that he himself provided, and nowhere has he defined or clearly explained what a "true pathway" might be and how it differs from pathways in general.


knowledge and emotions


Con argues that anger, love and faith cannot lead to knowledge "in any meaningful way". I think this is quite untrue. When we love someone, we are hyperaware and interested in everything about them, how they feel, what they say, their physical appearance, and all kinds of other details. The state of love structures our brains in a specific way to gather knowledge about the object of our love. Love is definitely a pathway to knowledge in this sense, and I don't think it's trivial to say so.

At the very least, emotions influence our thoughts and behaviors in particular ways and by observing this process we gain knowledge about ourselves and the way we interact with the world.

faith is a pathway to knowledge

Of course faith leads to knowledge. Humans are gaining knowledge continuously. There are many, many pathways to knowledge, and faith is one of them.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by rross 3 years ago
rross
Thanks for the debate, MikeNH.

I would still disagree even if all the definitions were changed, and that's because I don't think human knowledge is formed in the way you describe. Knowledge isn't formed as a passive response to objective information. Humans gather knowledge in an interactive way. Prior beliefs and faith shape what we notice, how we remember and any kind of meaning that we derive from the external environment. To such an extent that I think separating knowledge and faith is very artificial. I don't think you can do it in any real sense.

This is irrelevant to the current debate, of course. I'm just saying. :)
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
ah, yes, I agree with your outlook. Yeah, my experience debating here is that crafting the resolution tends to be the tricky part, lol.

Cheers. =)
Posted by MikeNH 3 years ago
MikeNH
wrichcirw, thanks for the feedback! The usage of 'pathway' was, in hindsight, an awful choice. Basically, what I was trying to argue was that faith doesn't provide us any data, it doesn't have really any use, and it's in no way a reliable source of information. Sure, you can believe something on faith, and then because of that belief you start some chain of events that could ultimately lead to knowledge, but it's such an arbitrary step along the way that to credit you gaining that knowledge on your initial faith would be pretty ridiculous - it was something else that caused you to have that knowledge -> observation, testing, experience, etc., which is basically "evidence" in the context of what I was arguing. Those things are really what is responsible for you gaining knowledge, not faith.

Anyway, thanks for your input!!
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
11) PRO: "I suggest that the nurse's comment was not information that indicated that Barbie has healing powers, although the girl interpreted it that way. I think it was meant more as an encouraging pleasantry."

You're free to your opinion, but IMHO the little girl and CON conform to the parameters of this debate, lol.

12) PRO: "Hers was a belief without evidence: it was faith in Barbie. "

Actually, I do think it was a belief in Barbie, but not faith.

13) PRO: "The only "evidence" she had was the strength of her own feelings."

A dangerous statement for PRO to make. I had been under the assumption that was not evidence.

14) PRO: "If Con continues to claim that one person's feeling can be evidence"

CON never made this claim?

15) CON: "You are committing the equivocation fallacy."

Yep

16) CON: "Faith has no explanatory power and has no grounds in reality and therefore is useless. "

While I agree about explanatory power and reality, I do not think it is useless...it is a pathway to knowledge, lol...just not necessarily the knowledge you were looking for.

I am close to full agreement with the notion that "pathway" is exceptionally broad.

---

CONCLUSION

Wow...I made it through this somewhat tedious semantics debate.

Both parties did really well, I thought. CON's initial definition of evidence was rather broad, but it turned out to be practical as well. PRO brought out numerous examples, most of them falling to CON's various approaches...one did survive though, the girlfriend who acted on nothing but her own belief that her boyfriend loved her. From what I can tell, this is faith-based conviction. Love dies hard.

As it is, I applaud CON in that he did successfully dismantle most of PRO's case. However, I do recognize PRO meeting burden of proof. Arguments PRO, S&G CON, only because this got pretty close...S&G on both sides was exceptional.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
1) CON: "The very fact that our parents are telling us this information is a form of evidence. "

This is difficult to accept. When I first read the resolution, I thought it was going to be a religious debate...had that been the case, then the Bible would be a form of evidence.

2) CON: "Witnessing cause and effect is a direct form of evidence, and therefore not faith."

Ok.

3) CON: "All of these actions are ...absurd "

I didn't get this from PRO...for me, the parents telling the child, and the child eating the medicine by faith, forms a pathway to knowledge that the medicine cured the ailment.

4) PRO: "...we clearly need a tighter understanding of evidence."

Well-argued. That would explain why PRO's arguments didn't make sense.

5) PRO: "...observational studies do not measure cause and effect."

Interesting.

6) PRO: "Her faith has been a pathway to knowledge..."

LOL, true unfortunately. This would conform to both PRO/CON's views on the resolution.

7) CON: "Using the above definition... having some authority... telling you some fact IS EVIDENCE"

I suppose it is. PRO did not directly argue against this, as I agree with CON that scientific evidence may be too stringent a standard. Still, PRO's girlfriend example still fully applies...

8) CON: "This metaphor is nonsensical ...To claim that faith is a pathway to knowledge, in this sense, is to also accept that waking up or my desire for a McDonalds breakfast is a pathway to knowledge. "

I don't see the connection.

9) CON: "Improving on your metaphor a bit...THAT WOULD BE EVIDENCE "

True, but you materially changed the scenario. PRO's scenario still stands.

10) CON: "What she did was essentially a test of a hypothesis... the actual pathway to knowledge was the action"

It's clear in PRO's example that before she acted, or "tested" her hypothesis, she already believed it to be true. Her belief led her onto the path to knowledge.
Posted by hotepsta 3 years ago
hotepsta
I am willing to join your debate, but before I would like you to define "evidence", please. I have a sketch of the concept of evidence in my mind, but I want to confirm that this concept is shared by you as well.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by supershamu 3 years ago
supershamu
MikeNHrrossTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I really didn't see how this argument would be possible with Con's definition of "faith." Pro really critically thought her way through this though and came up with something I though was incredibly compelling in spite of the gargantuan wall that Con threw down with the definition of faith. However Con was excellent at shooting down many of the scenarios presented by Pro. I felt two stuck though which in the end made a stronger argument. Needless to say my brain hurts now and I must sit down but a very excellent and hard fought debate by the both of you!
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
MikeNHrrossTied
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Reasons for voting decision: see comments. A well articulated, if somewhat tedious, semantics debate. I was impressed that this kind of debate could be interesting without significant religious references.