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October 24, 2009


tripp fuller

thanks for the shout out.

philip and harvey discuss the notion of faith for a while in the podcast. while my podcast is not near as cool as your former one, you might enjoy hearing them push back and forth. (you may also hear the difference between the two that shows up and then they move along.)


One question I've been struggling with lately is this: if beliefs concern things that can be expressed as propositions, and faith is an experienced confidence, is it then a category error to have faith in something expressible through language?

I can understand "faith to ______" as a matter of fidelity to principle and following an internal sense of strength and rightness. To give one example, I see it in the tens of thousands of people who keep pushing to try to exterminate the polio virus even though economic conditions in India aren't helping and Pakistan is about to split into four provinces and Nigerian provinces don't trust Western medicine after Pfizer spent the 90s using some of their rural areas as human drug labs. Among long-term volunteers, the "faith to" seems not to be necessarily connected to the proposition "Polio can be eradicated," which I would classify more as hope. It seems more connected to the sense that immunizing children is a good thing to do.

That said, I don't understand "faith in _____," except as it's commonly used to mean "I'm a member of religious group X." I'm not saying it's unreasonable or foolish or crazy--I'm saying I don't know what it means, from either a psychological or a language standpoint. Is it just that I've been away from the church brain labs for so long that I've forgotten what it's like to have mental tracks gouged out by rituals and songs, so that ceremonial words put together in the right patterns actually can evoke those kinds of deep experiences? Or is there something else going on?

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