Is Faith Justified?


Some things must be taken on faith.

Q1 Analysis

This may be a Q1 violation if you define what things must be taken on faith but sometimes don’t take those things on faith.

Q2 Analysis

This is not a Q2 violation unless you don’t allow others to require that similar things be taken on faith.


Before deciding whether anything must be taken on faith, it’s important to define what faith is. A distinction should be made between faith (belief based on conviction) and trust (belief based on past experience). For example, imagine you are on the eighth floor of a burning building. If you see firefighters below and they are encouraging you to jump from the window, and you jump because you assume (based on you knowledge of firefighters) that they know what they’re talking about, then that’s trust. But if there is so much smoke that you can’t see out the window and you haven’t heard sounds of fire engines or firefighters below, but you jump out the window anyway because you’re sure firefighters will save you, that’s faith.

Now the question is whether there are things that must be taken on faith. For example, most people assume that yesterday actually happened — that the world wasn’t created this morning, complete with false memories and other "evidence" of yesterday’s existence. There is no way to rigorously prove that yesterday occurred, and it isn’t a matter of trust since we have no way to test yesterday’s "truthfulness." We have faith that the universe didn’t come into existence earlier today.

Similarly, we may take on faith that the universe is real and not a Matrix-style simulation, that our thoughts are our own, etc.*

So if there is at least one thing that must be taken on faith, why not more things?

To answer this question, you must set a personal threshold for when things can be taken on faith. The more you allow to be taken on faith — particularly when faith and science or other objective resources are in conflict — the more you are approving of others taking things on faith (by Q2). For this reason, it may be preferable to agree that some things must be taken on faith, but attempt to have faith in as few things as possible. For example, you might consider it preferable to prove that God exists rather than simply have faith that God exists.

*There are philosophical arguments that have been constructed to show that these things can be proven, but for average folks like us, they’re matters of faith.

You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at and See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.

Posted on May 11, 2010 at 10:10 am by ideclare · Permalink
In: 2Q

One Response

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  1. Written by ed42
    on May 11, 2010 at 6:16 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Interesting. Raised Christian I have always tried to understand the concepts and differences between faith and hope. You have introduced me to the word ‘trust’ in relationship to faith.

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