Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Why does God value faith 2: Moral faith versus religious faith

Part 1, part 3.

'Faith' has gotten a bad reputation in recent times because of its connection to religion. A lot of people do really bad things because they have some kind of faith that leads them to do evil. For some, faith is a bad thing not because it can sometimes cause people to do wrong, but because it's seen as irrational.

I think it's interesting that 'faith' is used so often regarding religion, but it's used less regarding morality. I think that the concept of 'faith' can have just as much connection to morality as to religion. I'll give you an example:

Take a case frequently occurring, where someone does something really awful to someone else. Would it be easier to seek justice or revenge, or to forgive the wrongdoer? It would be much harder to forgive. Way, way harder.

To forgive someone for a reasonably big slight goes against our natural instincts. It goes against the demand either for justice or revenge (which one it is depends on whether the wrong is really wrong).

When someone does forgive a serious wrong, then it would be fair to say that they are acting against their own human nature, which seeks recompense. So how does one find the ability to act against one's own human nature?

Unless it's beneficial to forgive others, then forgiveness can only happen through some kind of faith: either faith in God/Karma, or faith in the idea of forgiveness itself.

Let's say that the person doing the forgiving doesn't have a religious bone in their body. It seems that such a person would need to have faith in the idea of forgiveness, because otherwise it wouldn't be likely to happen.

Now, the point here is that such people are thought to be very nice. People wouldn't necessarily think they should do the same thing, but they would say 'That person is very nice' (I'm talking about wrongs against the forgiver, not wrongs against others/the community. It could depending on the situation be immoral not to take steps to protect others/the community).

So faith in good intentions (in this case forgiveness) is associated with kindness.

People being nice is a good thing... so this kind of 'faith' can be argued to be a good thing as well. You could call it 'faith in trying to have good intentions' or 'moral faith'.

Why does 'moral faith' involve faith? Well, it's not like you can rationally persuade people to be good, like Socrates tried to do. If you could, then no one who could reason would be bad. People are bad because being good is often non-rational. So 'moral faith' involves the irrational... it involves taking a 'blind leap', where a person chooses to have good intentions to a non-rational degree.

So actually, regardless of your position on religion, it seems that faith in some situations is definitely a good thing.

Continued here...

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