Author Topic: What proof is there for faith?  (Read 914 times)

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #30 on: December 04, 2018, 08:40:13 PM »
Not sure they all say one comes "face-to-face" with the living God.

Right: the content of the illumination differs, but the way by which one arrives at it is said to be the same: a mystical apprehension.  At this point, we are left with competing claims as to whose mystical experience was the true one.  The stakes get higher with exclusive religions.  The Muslim's experience was of the devil, says the Christian.  The Muslim refutes this with a vice versa.  This is like two solipsists arguing over which one is actually having the dream.

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There still, at the end of the day, has to be some kind of unique and infallible form of gnosis.  "Ye shall know the truth."  Eastern Christianity appears to die on a similar hill as Thomism does: "you just aren't following the Aristotelian philosophy correctly, son" becomes "you just haven't had the mystical perception yet, brother"—and the latter is a claim that can be followed by "pax tecum" as easily as "salaam alaikum."

This isn't exactly the same hill, though, is it?

They're similar.  I don't know if a Thomist would say that the faith is wholly knowable by following a philosophical enquiry to its end; they would more likely say that reason can get you a good long ways toward the faith (even if you & I & David Hume find this approach a failure).  At some point, both the Eastern and Western traditions ultimately come down to grace.  You either get it or you don't—or, perhaps more accurately, you either cooperate with it or you don't.

I think your side would say that Daniel should simply pray for the grace of a mystical experience.  A Thomist would say that he should pray for grace (and try to follow their rationale).  In both cases, however, he must pray for and await an illumination.  I guess in the Eastern paradigm he simply has less philosophical and theological homework.
 

Online Daniel

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #31 on: December 05, 2018, 08:48:25 AM »
Even if the "mystical" knowledge-knowing faculty is something distinct from the intellect, I'm not seeing how it solves the problem. In either case, true belief (i.e. "faith") is still to be found only in the submission to true knowledge. It's no longer "rationalism" since we're no longer speaking of intellectual knowledge, but the question still remains: how do we know whether or not our knowledge is true? The Christian says that he knows that Christianity is true; the Muslim says that he knows that Islam is true; the Buddhist says that he knows that Buddhism is true. Clearly some people know less than they think they know. I do see that iff you know that your knowledge is true, then you know that your knowledge is true. But that's a tautology, not an explanation.

That, or maybe "faith" is not in our submission to true knowledge at all, but in our submission to Truth regardless of whether or not we have the knowledge. But if that's the case, then it's a kind of "voluntarism". And whether or not you have "faith" just comes down to chance. And this, too, is a bit of a tautology: iff your belief is true, then it's true.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2018, 08:56:45 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #32 on: December 05, 2018, 01:58:39 PM »
Added to which, every religion that claims mystical experience as its way of knowing has apostates from that religion.  So either the mystical experience is fallible, or the apostates had not actually had a mystical experience.  If every apostate is therefore a false claimant to the experience, then every believer is a putative false claimant until they either apostatize or die holding the faith.  There would still be no way to ascertain whether the dead believer actually believed, or whether he had some other motive for upholding the faith.

In the discussions of Fatima on here, it is alleged that the Fatima apparitions and the Miracle of the Sun are the work of the devil.  Taking this to its logical conclusion, a writer of speculative fiction might wonder how far demonic deception could be ratcheted up; if a Marian apparition can be of Satanic origin, why can't an entire religion?  There would be no way to know whether the professed believers aren't double agents acting on behalf of the devil.  The only response is to say, "God doesn't allow the devil that amount of power," but that claim itself depends on the revealed religion, which is precisely what might be demonic.  It could be that "the greatest trick the devil ever pulled" was getting people to believe that God exists.  The Gnostics believed that God was the devil.

 :-\
« Last Edit: December 05, 2018, 02:53:17 PM by Pon de Replay »
 
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Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #33 on: December 05, 2018, 03:17:17 PM »
Daniel and Pon,

You're still operating under the assumption that the essence of Faith is assent to doctrines (or propositions).  While this is often how it is presented, this is 1) self-refuting; and 2) at least implicitly denied by the Church itself.

The standard definition of Faith is believing what God has revealed on the authority of Him revealing.  But, to assent to proposition X on the basis that God has revealed X entails that one must first assent to the proposition that God has revealed X.  But that just moves it one step backwards.  If one assents to the proposition that God has revealed X on some other basis than revelation, this hardly qualifies as "Faith".  Televangelists claim "God has revealed" to them that they are to go on television and ask you for lots of money.  But if the basis for assent for the proposition that God has revealed X is that God has revealed that God has revealed X, we go on to infinity.

And, as I said, we're all familiar with the arguments of hard-core EENSers, but a plain reading of Pius IX (Quanto Conficiamur Moerore) states that those invincibly ignorant can be saved while remaining ignorant, and a plain reading of Pius XII (Suprema Haec Sacra) only demands that one know that God is, and is a rewarder to those that seek Him, as long as they have supernatural Faith.

Rather, the mystical faculty allows one to "see" God in a certain sense without the need for rational argument.  Just like Peter and the other Apostles on the lake could "see" Christ was God even before He worked the miracle and their nets were full of fishes.  So, the argument is that the mystical faculty allows one to "see" God working through the Church and therefore the Church must be from God, and therefore one converts to it.

The argument that one could apostasize even after conversion leads nowhere.  One can turn off his mystical faculty, just like one can blind himself, and one can convince himself his experience wasn't real.  However, note that if conversion really is the result of, or results in, 100% certain intellectual knowledge (or conclusion), then true apostasy is really impossible - Bayes' Theorem shows that once 100% certainty is reached no later evidence at all can result in a reduction of that certainty.  Of course, one can lie and say he doesn't believe when he really does - but that is the only sort of "apostasy" possible.
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #34 on: December 05, 2018, 08:15:09 PM »
QMR: the problem with mystical experiences is the variation in content.  All I am pointing out is the fact that there are different kinds of mystical experience.  Traditionally, there is monistic mysticism (such as Neoplatonism and Vedanta) and theistic mysticism (Christianity and Islam).  You appear to be not even minding that distinction; you seem to disregard it altogether and insist that the only true mystical experience must be your own, giving you certainty of Roman Catholicism.  But surely you can concede that this is only an internal proof, however certain you personally may be.  It can no more be proven true than an individual Muslim's claim of a mystical experience affirming Islam.  There is no external proof on offer in this respect, just chauvinism: "my mystical experience is truer than your mystical experience."

Other religions make mystical experience claims.  You can switch out the apostles on the lake being able to "see" Christ as God with Khadija and Ali being able to "see" Muhammad as God's prophet.  The mystical faculty for "seeing" in this sense does not produce uniform results.  There is no way to confirm whether one's mystical antennae are tuned to the right frequency except by plumping with the group of believers who "see" the same things as you do.  Then you will have confirmation, but you will only have moved the subjectivity from the individual to a group.  However, the objective truth of any one particular faith would have to rest on some claim that other religions could not make, otherwise it's just a cacophony of competing claims.

The apostate problem ends in subjectivity, too.  There is no external proof for anyone's 100% religious certainty; there is only proof that they claim to be 100% certain.


« Last Edit: December 05, 2018, 08:24:20 PM by Pon de Replay »
 

Offline Acolyte

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #35 on: December 06, 2018, 03:07:00 AM »
"But there are other possible explanations. Even if we ignore the possibility that it was a deliberate hoax, we don't really know how the man was healed. It could have been God. That's a very real possibility. But it also could have been Satan, performing false miracles in order to deceive people into believing that the apparition at Lourdes was from God. Or it could have been something natural which scientists simply don't yet know about. It's also possible that God in fact performed the miracle, but not as a divine stamp of approval on the apparition at Lourdes."

If the Miracle was Supernatural ( outside of the Natural ) then it has to be from God as God is the only Being able to work Supernatural Miracles. satan cannot do this. If truly tested false miracles always turn out to be in the natural realm.

Exactly

Why would Satan, if he could, perform miracles of healing that build the faith of Christians ?

He would gain nothing.

God is the omnipotent source of all and His nature is Supernatural.

What He has chosen to reveal to us is all we can comprehend. We either accept The Word or separate ourselves from Him by rejecting it.



 
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Online Daniel

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #36 on: December 06, 2018, 08:27:57 AM »
Exactly

Why would Satan, if he could, perform miracles of healing that build the faith of Christians ?

He would gain nothing.
Suppose Christianity is a false religion. Satan would then have every reason to want to lure us in. (Even the Church says this much. When Antichrist comes he will perform all sorts of false miracles in order to "prove" that he's the Christ.)
 

Offline Acolyte

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #37 on: December 06, 2018, 12:11:23 PM »
Exactly

Why would Satan, if he could, perform miracles of healing that build the faith of Christians ?

He would gain nothing.
Suppose Christianity is a false religion. Satan would then have every reason to want to lure us in. (Even the Church says this much. When Antichrist comes he will perform all sorts of false miracles in order to "prove" that he's the Christ.)

For someone who doesn't believe in God you sure do display a fervent faith in Satan.


 
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Online Daniel

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #38 on: December 06, 2018, 12:54:23 PM »
Exactly

Why would Satan, if he could, perform miracles of healing that build the faith of Christians ?

He would gain nothing.
Suppose Christianity is a false religion. Satan would then have every reason to want to lure us in. (Even the Church says this much. When Antichrist comes he will perform all sorts of false miracles in order to "prove" that he's the Christ.)

For someone who doesn't believe in God you sure do display a fervent faith in Satan.
I'm no atheist. What I don't know for sure is whether the Church's claims about God are true, or whether the Church is even the true Church. God's existence is certain, and Satan's existence is, at the very least, possible.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 12:56:05 PM by Daniel »
 

Offline Acolyte

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #39 on: December 06, 2018, 01:42:48 PM »
Well, the Apostles had a pretty good teacher.

Why not just turn to Him with a visit before the Most Blessed Sacrament ?

Questioning every answer to every question you ask on a forum is not going to give you comfort.

« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 04:08:11 PM by Acolyte »
 
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #40 on: December 06, 2018, 02:21:19 PM »
On the subject of demonic miracles, St. Thomas Aquinas believed that demons can work miracles—but only miracles of a natural nature (and not of a supernatural nature, which would be the province of God alone).  In appearance, however, the difference is all but negligible:

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Properly speaking, miracles are those things which are done outside the order of the whole created nature. But as we do not know all the power of created nature, it follows that when anything is done outside the order of created nature by a power unknown to us, it is called a miracle as regards ourselves. So when the demons do anything of their own natural power, these things are called "miracles" not in an absolute sense, but in reference to ourselves. In this way the magicians work miracles through the demons; and these are said to be done by "private contracts," forasmuch as every power of the creature, in the universe, may be compared to the power of a private person in a city. Hence when a magician does anything by compact with the devil, this is done as it were by private contract. On the other hand, the Divine justice is in the whole universe as the public law is in the city. Therefore good Christians, so far as they work miracles by Divine justice, are said to work miracles by "public justice": but bad Christians by the "signs of public justice," as by invoking the name of Christ, or by making use of other sacred signs.

Summa, I, Q110. A4.

So he does concede that natural miracles worked by demons would appear, in the human perspective, as bona fide miracles.  And Daniel has already mentioned the biblical prophecy that the Antichrist will work miracles to deceive.  I think this supports, at least theologically, the anti-Fatimist contention that the Miracle of the Sun might've been diabolically wrought.  The problem, unfortunately, is that this invites a regress of possible demonic miracles back through history that would seemingly call the original revelation into question.


« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 02:24:49 PM by Pon de Replay »
 
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Offline St. Columba

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #41 on: December 06, 2018, 02:51:45 PM »
Rather, the mystical faculty allows one to "see" God in a certain sense without the need for rational argument.  Just like Peter and the other Apostles on the lake could "see" Christ was God even before He worked the miracle and their nets were full of fishes.  So, the argument is that the mystical faculty allows one to "see" God working through the Church and therefore the Church must be from God, and therefore one converts to it.

The problem with this point, Quare my friend, is that God is working in every religion that has some good in it (which is every religion).  God is, as you well know, the author of every good, and in every single context in which good is found. A muslim "sees", and rightly so, God working in the religion (either in the lives of individual muslims, or by appropriation of the several good teachings in the Quran).  Heck, we all can see good outside of the confines of the Catholic religion, especially in the non-Catholic Christian faiths.

For example, the Quran teaches the following good: homosexual acts are evil.  Thus, God is in some way, at least partly, the author of the Quran, since he is the source, or author, of every good.  But then the Quran also contains many falsehoods.  It therefore logically follows that zeroing in on the good of a religion, and recognizing it's source is from God, does not, in and of itself, prove that the religion, as such, is revealed by God.

What we need is knowledge of the integral veracity of a religion.

But if I may get anecdotal for a second...I am intrigued that you used the word "see" in brackets, because that is exactly how I have described to others the two mystical experiences I had in my life informing me that the Catholic Church is of God.  Without getting into the specifics, however, I have to conclude, nevertheless, that these mystical experience did not, in all honestly, give me absolute certitude that the Catholic religion is the true one.  I do "know" from mystical experience that (a) one can become holy in the Catholic religion, including the conciliar religion; (b) the devil exists and works against the Catholic Church.  This is what I "know", or rather, know.  But I am honest enough with myself to say that this does not give me absolute certitude that the Catholic religion is true.  Nevertheless, I have chosen to continue to follow the religion, in the absence of epistemic certitude, since, among other reasons, the weight of evidence is compelling enough.

Do I have faith?  I have been wrestling with this for months, ever since you made the case that certitude was required in order to have faith.

Thanks!   8)
« Last Edit: December 06, 2018, 03:09:59 PM by St. Columba »
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Offline Christe Eleison

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #42 on: December 06, 2018, 03:11:59 PM »
Well, the Apostles had a pretty good teacher.

Why not just turn to Him with a visit before the Blessed Sacrament ?

Questioning every answer to every question you ask on a forum is not going to give you comfort.


God bless you, Acolyte!  :pray3: :pray2:
 
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Offline St. Columba

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #43 on: December 06, 2018, 07:39:14 PM »
- Bayes' Theorem shows that once 100% certainty is reached no later evidence at all can result in a reduction of that certainty. 

It does?  Bayes' theorem is either undefined (dividing by 0), or trivially true (P(A) = P(A)), at the extremes of 0 or 1 probability.  IOW's Bayes' thm is only useful in the mushy middle.
Do you see persons wise in their own eyes?  There is more hope for fools than for them. Proverbs 26:12
 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: What proof is there for faith?
« Reply #44 on: December 06, 2018, 07:45:03 PM »
Thus, God is in some way, at least partly, the author of the Quran, since he is the source, or author, of every good.  But then the Quran also contains many falsehoods.  It therefore logically follows that zeroing in on the good of a religion, and recognizing it's source is from God, does not, in and of itself, prove that the religion, as such, is revealed by God.

What we need is knowledge of the integral veracity of a religion.

Well, of course, but I am saying that the mystical faculty allows one to see the integral holiness of the Catholic religion, not just that parts of it are good as in Islam.

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But if I may get anecdotal for a second...I am intrigued that you used the word "see" in brackets, because that is exactly how I have described to others the two mystical experiences I had in my life informing me that the Catholic Church is of God.  Without getting into the specifics, however, I have to conclude, nevertheless, that these mystical experience did not, in all honestly, give me absolute certitude that the Catholic religion is the true one.

How can the Catholic Church be from God and yet the religion not be true?  True, you don't know this truth in the same way you know the answer to a differential equation.