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ETpro's avatar

What does faith mean when used as in faith in a deity and that deity's teachings?

Asked by ETpro (34394points) January 19th, 2014

This Sunday’s question: what does faith mean when it is applied to a deity? At first blush, it seems that should be easy to answer. After all, the word is in every decent dictionary.


1.   complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
        “this restores one’s faith in politicians”
        synonyms: trust, belief, confidence, conviction; More
        antonyms: mistrust
        example: Our faith in the government has been badly
        shaken by the recent scandals.

2.   strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion,
        based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
        synonyms: acceptance, certinty, surety, certitude
        assent, credulity
        antonyms: disbelief, agnosticism, skepticism, unbelief
        example: No evidence could shake her faith in God.

3.   (religious) persuasion, (religious) belief, ideology,
        creed, teaching, doctrine
        synonyms: religion, church, sect, denomination
        example: Muslims are reluctant to switch faiths
        because Sharia Law requires death for apostasy.

Yet even though we have a pretty succinct dictionary definition of the word, its meaning can prove terribly difficult to pin down. First, there are several completely separate meanings that apply to different contexts. It doesn’t help that religious apologists from various faith-based religions have worked tirelessly trying to obfuscate the meaning of the word, and conflate it with things it is not. Such apologists’ efforts to confuse and conflate the meaning of the word “faith” as applied to their chosen deity have likely been the source of more deepities than any other epistemological pursuit on Earth, philosophy included. That is not helpful in pinning down the word’s meaning. So as we approach a definition of the word, faith, let’s note each deepity when it’s offered and dismiss it as not helpful in providing a definition we can understand.

I don’t want to say more than that in the question details, because I am interested in seeing what my fellow Jellies have to say about the difference in the word’s multiple meanings and the specifics of its meaning relating to acceptance of a deity or deities. It may prove similar to nailing Jell-O to the wall, but let’s have at it and see where the discussion leads. What does faith mean when used in reference to the belief in god/s?

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6 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Faith, to me, happens to be a belief system arising from anecdotal evidence, rather than objective determinate evidence, followed by extrapolating that such belief system can be applied to a cosmological belief system.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Faith means trusting what you are told and not asking too many questions. Accepting that there is either proof or truth of something without actually witnessing or checking evidence. This applies to many other things other than religion. I don’t like faith, I’m very much a “trust but verify” type. Because of this over time I find I don’t trust too much.

RockerChick14's avatar

To me it means trusting someone even though you don’t know what they are going to do.

Blondesjon's avatar

I reckon that, like many things esoteric in nature, it can mean whatever a feller wants it to mean.

flutherother's avatar

Faith to me means trusting that the higher power that governs the universe is on our side or at least is not against us.

kritiper's avatar

I doubt if the exact definition means much. Like the exact meaning of Atheist where some people examine the “A” and the “theist” and not what the dictionary actually defines beyond it’s spelling. Faith is what you want it to be and that could mean 1000 different things to 1000 different people.

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