Everyone Has Faith

Because of the limits of the human condition everyone has faith in something or someone; everyone takes certain things on faith.  To believe in anything that occurs or has occurred away from our time and location requires faith.  To believe in the scientific method requires faith.  Poincaré notes that the inductive method “applied to the physical sciences is always uncertain, because it rests on the belief in a general order of the universe, an order outside us”. [1]  To be a materialist requires faith.  How can one prove that this material world is all that exists?  Can one prove our soul does not exist?  That evolution produced the world as we know it requires faith because we have not witnessed the evolution of one species into another; we have not seen all the fossil evidence; we cannot go back in time to see how this world came to be.  We must have faith that the processes we see today have always existed and have created life as we know it.  To be an atheist requires faith.  Atheists cannot prove there is no God.  They have not experienced all there is to experience and they do not know all there is to know.  Atheist must have faith that their inability to find sufficient evidence for God means he does not exist.  James F. Sennett maintains every belief system has its problems.  He observes the various belief systems of the world have rational parity which means for every problem one raises about a particular belief, there is an equal and opposite problem for the other beliefs. [2]  To maintain that only religious people have faith is to display one’s ignorance of the human condition.

The Dialectic

So if the human condition limits our ability to know what is true, how do we determine what to believe?  Karl Popper maintains that we have no criterion for truth, that we can only recognize error.  Our knowledge is finite but our ignorance is infinite. [3]  The only way we can discover error is through criticism of the theories of ourselves and others. [4]  Philosophy has long recognized this fact and uses the process called the dialectic to assist in our quest to understand what is true.  A. E. Taylor defines the dialectic as “repeated and thorough criticism of our assumptions”. [5]  Kant states the reason why the dialectic is such an important tool:  “. . .the dogmatic use of reason without criticism leads to groundless assertions, against which others equally specious can always be set, thus ending unavoidably in skepticism”. [6]  If we want to know truth, we must constantly expose all our assumptions and thought processes to criticism because we are fallible and prone to all manner of errors.  That includes our Christian beliefs and that is what we are attempting to do in this blog.


[1]   Henri Poincaré, The Foundations of Science (Lancaster, PA:  The Science Press, 1946), pp. 39-40.

[2]   James F. Sennett, The Reluctant Disciple:  A Postmodern Apologetic (an unpublished book), chapter 3, pp. 1-2.

[3]   Popper, p. 36-38.

[4]   Popper, p. 34.

[5]   David Elton Trueblood, General Philosophy (New York:  Harper & Row, 1963), p. 77.

[6]   Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, ed. Mortimer J. Adler (Chicago:  Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1990), p. 20.

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