Monday, July 22, 2013

The meaning of "faith"

One of the most common forms of playing with words, committing a fallacy of equivocation, is when creationists use the word "faith." They will argue that "scientists/evolutionists have faith too", trying to put every kind of "faith" at the same level, giving credence to all of them. (Basically, they want to lower science/evolution to the same philosophical level as creationism and theism. They want to give the impression that they are all valid choices that one could make.)

The word "faith" is an extremely loaded word, and mixing its different meanings up is extremely dishonest. The word can have many meanings, such as:
  1. Belief (without evidence): You simply believe in something (often the existence of something) for which there is no valid evidence and has not been demonstrated. God, UFOs, psychic powers, astrology... they all fall under this category.
  2. Trust (in a person): The confidence that a person (eg. a spouse) will not betray, harm or otherwise act in a hurting manner, or will always act with your best interest in mind.
  3. Confidence: Things that you are certain of based on evidence and experience, in other words, things that you don't question anymore because you have complete confidence that they work in a certain way or have certain characteristics.
  4. Induction: Closely related to confidence (if not even a subset of it.) This is when you can make predictions based on evidence and experience, and you can have extreme certainty that your prediction will be very close to correct. (For example, calculating how long it will take for a stone to fall from a certain altitude to the ground.)
Especially creationists want to collate all the different meanings of the word into one. The most egregious of them even want to equate the first meaning above with the second one (a common gimmick of eg. Ray Comfort.)

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