The Instigator
Chaos_Evolved
Pro (for)
Winning
47 Points
The Contender
lorca
Con (against)
Losing
15 Points

Faith is irrational

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/26/2008 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,878 times Debate No: 4801
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (14)
Votes (18)

 

Chaos_Evolved

Pro

I define faith as belief without evidence.

We should not believe things on insufficient evidence. If you here of a surgery that has only worked twice out of 500, you would opt for a better surgery.

To teach faith is to teach the opposite of critical thinking. Not to mention that the claims of faith are usually the most radical of all; not only knowing the existence of god, but knowing its mind, knowing the origins of all things AND, as no scientist will ever say, with 100% certainty.
lorca

Con

Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this debate.

For the resolution, stating that "Faith is irrational", I contend the following points for this debate:

1) Faith is rational to the believer

2) Evidence can be provided in either qualitative of quantitative forms

3) Without sufficient quantitative evidence, qualitative evidence is logically used to show the rationality of a belief

4) New factual discoveries are founded in faith and supported by evidence

I offer an alternative definition of faith as a "Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing," as stated in the American Heritage dictionary.

Additionally, I would like to offer the definition of evidence as "A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment", again, from the American Heritage Dictionary.

First, I contend that most 5 year old children in western Christian culture believe in Santa Clause. They have faith that on Christmas Day, a man from the North Pole with a team of flying reindeer will come to their house to bring them presents to them and to all the good children in the world based upon two things; they're told that this effect will occur, then it happens. Their evidence that Santa exists is based upon their faith that an event would happen and then it actually did. For the 5 year old, this is a completely rational belief that would otherwise be debunked by other evidence later in life.

Perception is personal, commonly said to be from the "eye of the beholder". If a person sincerely feels that something is true, then they have faith in its existence. Commonly, however, this perception may be altered, but that does not change the fact that the believer truly has faith that something exists. A good example of this quandary is schizophrenia. A schizophrenic person honestly believes that they hear voices in their head. They have perceptual evidence (the fact that they believe they heard a sound) that someone was talking to them. Society claims these people as being irrational, since this cannot be backed up by additional evidence that can be shown to another person as being material. In other words, for something to be rational it must provide evidence to more than one person.

This leads me to my second point of contention that faith is rational. To provide this evidence to another person, it must be determined to be either qualitative of quantitative. In terms of hearing something; qualitative evidence would be the fact that something can be heard, quantitative evidence proves how loud, at what pitch, etc. Typically, quantitative evidence does, at the same time, provide for qualitative evidence. But without the presence of quantitative evidence, we are left only to qualitative evidence.

An example of this would be pills or medication in general. If I have a headache, I will go to my medicine cabinet and take a Tylenol. I have faith that Tylenol does in fact cause my body to stop feeling pain. Alternatively, an South American tribesman would not have faith in my Tylenol if he had a headache. Instead, he would go to his shaman and seek whatever treatment had previously alleviated his headache. The tribesman has faith in his shaman, as I have faith in my Tylenol. The difference lies in the fact that quantitative evidence can be given to support my confidence in Tylenol.

This is essentially the placebo effect, and anyone who's fallen victim of it, had faith that the sugar pill they had taken actually caused what the experimenter sought to study. Again, it is perception that a caused b gave enough cause for the person to have faith.

In the absence of quantitative evidence, we must rely on our perception (qualitative evidence) that something exists. I personally have never seen an atom through an electron microscope. However, I have faith in what I learned in my chemistry classes based upon the fact that all matter is made up of atoms that have specific properties. I have done scientific, quantitative experiments that are supported by my faith in chemistry and my belief in the atom. Prior to the electron microscope, many scientists had faith in the existence of an atom without ever actually visualizing one.

Throughout history, many things that people had faith in have stood as logical until proved otherwise. The fact that the earth is round was considered irrational until Christopher Columbus returned with substantial proof he went somewhere that possessed the same goods that could be found in Southeast Asia.

In refuting my opponent's arguments, I do not disagree that 2:500 odds would not be good by rational standards. However, the common appendectomy had to have been practiced with some failure before it was successful. The faith a person has that a surgery will work in completely dependent upon the consequences. If there alternatives, I would place my faith (and my life) in what was most commonly successful. However, if I had no other option and for whatever reason, this was the only surgery available, I would opt to have it done, since I value my own life.

Regarding teaching faith:

Every high school chemistry teacher first teaches with the belief that atoms exist. The teacher must instill faith in their students that if two chemicals are mixed together, a predictable result will happen. This is observable and measurable. However, faith must be instilled first, then it is supported by what happens.
Debate Round No. 1
Chaos_Evolved

Pro

Okay, in order, your four points.

1) Faith is rational to the believer

^This is my point, it being rational to the believer has no weight whatsoever. Christians regularly tell me that they need no evidence, just faith. The problem with that is that you can have faith that anything is true. Can you IMAGINE someone saying "it is my belief that doing this and this will rid this person of cancer." Then the other doctor does it and ends up killing the patient. It being rational to ONE PERSON means nothing. This was my point in the beginning, faith is opposite to science.

How do we know that dinos died millions of years ago? Cause one guy can test the bones, write down how he did it, send the bones to another country to be tested, and they get the same results. Now ask a geologist what transpired around the same date and you'll hear of a cataclysmic event. Now go ask the chemist, and you see the beauty of science; independent results all match.

So when you say its rational to the believer, I can see already you should have taken more time to reflect on this idea.

2) Evidence can be provided in either qualitative of quantitative forms

Let's say this is true for the sake of the debate.

I agree with you on point 3

And for 4, I would direct you to the scientific method. As in

Fact -> Hypothesis -> Test -> Theory

Do not call the hypothesis part faith. They test and discard this based on evidence.

And do not render the word faith as a hopeful future. Faith in this debate, is the religious faith

Now, you're santa analogy is really far off, again, showing a lack of understand in the scientific method.

Let us see then, if the child can describe santa's arrival, and then mail it off to people everywhere of all ages and sex, and see if we all confirm this. We don't, you say? Hypothesis discarded. But wait, he still believes because it has happened for him? Ah, delusion it is, persistence of a belief despite the current evidence, much like faith.

Perception is as you say, personal, but not the way you think it is. This is about what's now been coined as "Middle World". Why do we think our keyboards are solid? Because our hands cannot go through them, it is therefore useful, evolutionary-wise, for our brains to create a notion of solidity. If we would live in an atom-sized reality, we would not call these things solid. If we would have a universe where we regularly go close to C, as in the speed of light, we would all understand Relativity a little better. So you see how you should be thinking now? When someone gives the analogy of finding a watch on the beach, you see where it comes from? The human perception that all needs a first cause, that complex things are always designed, that keyboards are solid, all the same, same with belief in god.

Now, you're comparison to the shaman is where I noticed that you're one of those people who would call a science a faith. Again, failing to realize the scientific method, you say that the tribesman won't have faith that you pill works. Well this is the point! Demonstrate it, and if it works, over and over again, it will be accepted! But don't you go and tell him that he needs to BELIEVE IT ON faith.

No, you do not have 'faith' in your tylenol, you are, over and over again, missing the point. When the pill has repeatedly worked, for thousands of people, it's not faith that you have when you say, try this, it will work.

When the theory of gravity is thought of, do not be one of those people who tell me that I have faith that the theory of gravity will work once I throw the apple up in the air again.

You repeatedly use faith as a word to replace hypothesis. I won't address your claims about the atom, anyone can look up the history of atomic theory and see that it wasn't needed that human eyes see through a lens what we thought was there. Either way, you're not showing how faith is rational.

It was not rational for the scientist to assume fairies were holding to world together. They theorized something called ATOMS, so it wasn't FAITH that brought them there, faith would have been a whole world of things, what they realized was what the evidence was beginning to point at, and THAT isn't faith.

ON TO MY OWN ARGUMENT FOR THIS ROUND

Well, seeing as how all that proved far less challenging then what I had expected after my first debate, I'll move on to my own point now, and my final one.

If I tell you that we are now in an alien time flow that is undetectable to us. If you are rational, you'd think this is nuts, as well you should. Because if I say here is X, but you cannot prove X that is what is classically known as "Unfalsifiability". And contrary to intuition, it is the sign of an extreme weakness in an argument. Another word for it is untestability, or something that cannot be tested. Now this is exactly what for example, god is, and faith is. The cleverest theologian, and there have been some, has never been able to demonstrated the existence of a DEISTIC god. Let alone the theistic one. Now the deistic god requires faith, but the theistic god requires in fact so much faith, not only to say I know a god did the beginning, but to say I know what he wants you to do, but I cannot show you how I know, or how you can test him too. That is faith.

To be a fundamentalist you must assert that something can be forwarded by faith alone. That is irrational.

The fact is, rationalism demands evidence-based reasoning.

Faith is evidence-stripped reasoning. Going on and rambling without any data. I'll give you just one example. When the catholic church debated the existence of limbo, can you imagine this debate? Is there ANY chance that anybody in the room would bring in hard evidence, something testable? No, but they ruled on it, limbo was gone. How did they know? Let's just say it wasn't by applying the scientific method.

Faith is irrational.
lorca

Con

My apologizes for a late reply.

First off. This debate is not limited to the definition of faith equaling religion. The resolution states "Faith is irrational", not the belief in God is irrational. I will show that to have faith by my definition is rational. I will also show that the pro's definition of faith as belief without evidence also is rational.

To rebut my first point: Faith is rational to the believer. First, we have to start with the concept that reality only exists in the mind. This is a long standing philosophical argument, however no one can concretely prove that anything can truly exists except for the fact their perceptions (5 senses plus the interpretation of them) make us believe that they exist.

In order for the pro to win this point, he must prove that something exists outside of our perception and consciousness. Otherwise, what is rational can only be held to the believer. My argument about a schizophrenic person is my proof to this. They honestly feel something they see, hear, or anything else is real. As long as someone else agrees that what they perceive is real, it could be held as a rational thought until other proof debunks this. I do not feel that the pro has thought full about this point.

Hypothesis do count for this debate. All a hyphothesis is someone saying "I'm going to prove that something I believe that does not have other proof is true." This is in a nutshell the pro's definition, "believe without evidence" They are saying, I don't have evidence, but I have faith it is, WITHOUT EVIDENCE, so I'm going to prove it.

Since I'm running short on time, bottom line, Faith is rational. Faith defined as "Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing" is rational. Every hypothesis is someone having faith in something without having evidence.

This is why Faith is Rational
Debate Round No. 2
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Chaos_Evolved 8 years ago
Chaos_Evolved
I don't get a reply to lorca anymore, but if I did, you summed up what I would say, Serene_Thinker.
Posted by lorca 8 years ago
lorca
Puck, please notice that the definitions used on the last line of the debate are exactly the same ones offered in the first round of a debate. Summarizing points of difference in a debate is not disingenuous.
Posted by Puck 8 years ago
Puck
"First, we have to start with the concept that reality only exists in the mind."

Solipsists really make laugh. What rubbish. Our perception of reality is based in the mind, not reality itself. If reality only existed in the mind then we would have nothing for our senses to act upon, hence no perception either - you have just created non existence.

Pro you failed to challenge, Con R1 definition, Con you can't use a definition on the final line of the debate to support your argument. That is disingenuous.
Posted by Serene_Thinker 8 years ago
Serene_Thinker
I think con is way over his head in the last argument, how can you relate any science to any form of faith or religion?

Hypothesis: a proposal intended to explain certain facts or observations

Hypothesis: A tentative statement or supposition, which may then be tested through research.

Can you do that with faith? No, christians maintain their belief with or without evidence, hence, I think anyone who objectively looks over con's argument will find pro is right.
Posted by Veritas_LDer 8 years ago
Veritas_LDer
Hm, interesting debate, but I think that in setting up such a narrow definition of faith, the Pro side almost invites the Con to challenge the definition and you'll never be able to get anywhere unless you choose the Con definition, which blows out all Pro arguments. No offense, but it seems like rather a badly worded resolution if one definition wins or loses the debate. It's like debating the statement "Murder is wrong". Unless we come into this with an agreed upon definition of "murder" (and "wrong", for that matter!), the debate rests upon it. Instead, definitions should the givens in the debate and the arguments should be the only things different between th two sides.
Posted by CiRrO 8 years ago
CiRrO
Very interesting debate so far. Good job both of you.^^
Posted by LDT 8 years ago
LDT
Wow lorca, your arguments are fall both in debate and comment sections.
Posted by Puck 8 years ago
Puck
"I would have thought that your idea of reality would have some foundation in the fact that reality is based upon perception."

Objectivism states no such thing. Reality exists independant of the observer. Perception is the product of consciousness and sensation, it can not create reality, it is a tool through which you understand it.

"You beleive all of your perceptions are in fact true, which gives you faith that your keyboard does in fact exist. Objects don't exist in reaity, we perceive them, our perception in our evidence that it exists."

Again false. Sensations are true, perceptions are falliable. It is up to the mind of the individual to rationalise their perceptions. Stating objectivists believe objects do not exist in reality, shows a deep misunderstanding of objectivist philosophy.
Posted by lorca 8 years ago
lorca
Puck, as an objectivist, I would have thought that your idea of reality would have some foundation in the fact that reality is based upon perception. You perceive that your keyboard is infront of you because you can see it, touch it, maybe even smell it? You beleive all of your perceptions are in fact true, which gives you faith that your keyboard does in fact exist. Objects don't exist in reaity, we perceive them, our perception in our evidence that it exists.
Posted by Chaos_Evolved 8 years ago
Chaos_Evolved
Thanks a lot I'm used to debating in person more, but now that I get how it works around here I'll make sure I won't let a single false claim slide by.
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