Wednesday, 18 August 2010


Note: Frummies, this post obviously assumes I'm right and you're wrong. If you want to know why I think that read my other posts.

What is faith?

Back when I was good card carrying member of Orthodoxy I had faith.

But that faith was nothing special from a religious point of view. It was merely ignorant of any other way of thinking. As soon as I found out that not everyone in the world thought like us I started asking questions.

But is there another kind of faith?

Can one feel a deep inner intuition that Orthodoxy is true and that God exists despite complete and full understanding that there is no logical evidence for these ideas? Indeed Rousseau (and his modern Jewish disciple A.J. Heschel) rejected rationalistic proofs of God (and religion) and tell us to but look at our hearts. But I wonder if these people believed (erroneously in my opinion) that the dictates of the heart have just as much authority as logic OR did they realize that their hearts can't really tell us anything about reality but decided to follow anyway because life isn't all about logic.

Or is the faith of most true believers merely ignorance? When I say ignorant I don't mean they've never heard of the things us skeptics talk about - though that is often the case. I mean they do not fully realize the real implications of the skeptics' claims. Perhaps due to their fervent belief they are unable to allow their reasoning to proceed to it's logical conclusion. A sort of mental road block. Perhaps with the aid of this barrier in the road they believe that they are holding onto a fully rational world view when in reality they are using faulty thinking guided by their preconceived views.

So to sum things up I can imagine four types of faith:

1. The Realistic Romanticists

Those who follow the dictates of their heart with full knowledge that their hearts can't really describe reality. (I can't really imagine anyone being really fervent this way but whatever I suppose its possible)

2. The Wishful Thinking Romanticists

Those who follow the dictates of their heart thinking that human instinct (in this case often the product of brainwashing) is just as good as logic

3. The Intellifundies

Those who think they are following reason but really aren't

4. The Sheltered/Hamon Am

(What I used to be) Those who don't think OR don't realize that there is an intellectual world outside of Orthodoxy.

(I think 3 and 4 are the majority of people, I have met a few lone 2s, and never met a 1)


Baruch Spinoza said...

"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything." - Friedrich Nietzsche (Though what is interesting is that Nietzsche himself end up in an insane asylum when he got older).

Faith is all a bunch of non-sense. The only thing good time to "listen to your heart" is a good idea is to figure out if you are going to get a heart attack or not. People are depressed about a materialistic universe with no apparante purpose at all, so they have to invent by their madness excuses to why there is more to the universe. Of course their intellelect does not allow them. So they have to delude themselves in whatever excuse that they can. Some cannot suppress their intellelect and know they are just pulling their beliefs out of their anus, it just makes them feel better to make believe that they are real.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Lol. Personally I think faith is reasonable as long as you remember that it says nothing about empirical reality. I (and most sane people) have faith that I don't live in a solipsistic world even though my logic is quite incapable of proving it and I intend to live my life according to that unfounded assumption. My pet peeve is when people think that THAT emotion, or emotionalizing is AS authoritative as logic.

tesyaa said...

Women tend to be 2 and 4, men tend to be 2 and sometimes 4. I hate to distinguish, because I don't think men have greater intellect than women overall, but really? How many skeptic blogs are written by women?

Nj Mom And Dad said...

I already screwed up a comment. Women tend to be 2 and 4, men tend to be 3 and 4.

Shilton HaSechel said...

I think it's because they don't educate women as well as men in Orthodoxy. Either that or men just like whining ;)

G*3 said...

I've noticed that too. It plays into a stereotype, but the average woman seems to be more emotionally religious than the average man.

I think it may also be an artifact of the frum school system. Boys are taught gemara and how halacha works. Girls are taught the Lord of the Rings version of tanach. Boys get mussar shmusen; girls get inspirational stories.

Learning mi amar el mi doesn’t give you much of an intellectual basis for questioning Yiddishkeit.

ki sarita said...

There's a good reason why you've never met one... There are very few people who are capable of following strictly the dictates of their heart

Kisarita said...

It depends about what. The most important decisions in our lives have little to do with logic.

Kisarita said...

See my post Gender and Cross Cultural Epistemology

tesyaa said...

Great, now I feel SO much better about my daughters' education :(

G*3 said...

Tell me about it. I have to register my oldest (a girl) soon for kindergarten for next year, and I'm afraid I'm driving my wife crazy agonizing over which school we should send her to.

Gntessler said...

in which catagory would u put Dr. James Kugel, Phd ?

Shilton HaSechel said...

Great question. I would assume 1 or 2. But I'm obviously not sure. He never really discusses (at least in his books) why he has faith in general etc. If I ever meet him I'll be sure to ask.

Gamzoo said...

I've met him, but I have not had a long conversation about faith with him. His book On Being a Jew goes into it a bit. I think he just simply has faith and it's not backed by any kind of rigorous logic.

Awmwas777 said...

Though the way girls vs. boys are educated in yeshivas may play a small role, I think the much larger role is either innate or far more pervasive for other reasons. Observe that in society at large--beyond Judaism, too--more women are religious than men.

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