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On faith (again)

In my earlier question, I asked why faith is considered by many to be a virtue.  I don't feel that I've gotten any real answers, because most were circular in nature, or vague.  Some described faith and used that definition as the reason that faith is a virtue.  It's like saying that fruit is good because it's the ripened ovary of a seed-bearing plant.

Some said it's a virtue because it's hard.  It would be hard for me to kill my own children.  Does that make killing my children a virtue?  It would be hard for me to believe that my father is Big Foot.  Would that make it a virtue if I were able to convince myself of that?

Some said that it's a virtue because having faith in something "bigger" than themselves makes them strive to be better persons.  Is it not a virtue, then, to want to improve oneself without a belief in an invisible supernatural being?

Is it a virtue to know that we are limited beings?  What does that have to do with faith?  I know that as a human being, as a mortal creature, I'm limited in my abilities, but I don't believe in any deities . . . so, where's the virtue in that?

Specifically, though, I'm wondering what the virtue is in believing (having faith) in a god or gods.  What makes that a virtue? 

The definition of faith in this sense is a belief in something that does not rest on logical proof or evidence - because you cannot know that your god/s exist/s or exist/s in the way you imagine him/them - you can only believe that he/she/it does or they do. 

Can you explain, without using circular "logic" or by simply defining either word, what is virtuous about faith?  Can you tell me why it's virtuous to believe in a god but not in magical unicorns or powerful space aliens (or would that be virtuous, too)?

Answer Question

Asked by jsbenkert at 11:27 AM on Mar. 29, 2013 in Religious Debate

Level 37 (89,331 Credits)
Answers (42)
  • Why are you so obsessed with religious questions? Are you an ex Nun?

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:32 AM on Mar. 29, 2013

  • Oh - I'm sorry.  I thought this was the Religious Debate section.  Did I miss-post?


    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 11:35 AM on Mar. 29, 2013

  • Specifically, though, I'm wondering what the virtue is in believing (having faith) in a god or gods. What makes that a virtue?

    It doesn't. Because the inverse of that would be that those who lack faith in a god are not virtuous, which is simply untrue.

    Answer by tnm786 at 11:45 AM on Mar. 29, 2013

  • Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a positive trait or quality deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness.

    People who see religion as a virtue are obviously religious themselves and see it as a good thing. Maybe they think you have to be religious to have good morals and be a good person so they see it as virtue? I don't know. People say patience is a virtue and it would still be very hard to pinpoint the exact reason why. You're going to get different answers because it means different things to different people, and all of those different things could be the right answer. You could certainly twist things around like you did above but I don't think that's going to do anything except annoy people.

    Answer by Hollyhock. at 11:46 AM on Mar. 29, 2013

  • You will never find real answers to your question because the concept for you is so hard to comprehend....people refer to it as a virtue because not everyone can attain this concept, and those who do, rely on spirituality not facts............

    Answer by older at 11:50 AM on Mar. 29, 2013

  • I didn't twist anything, Hollyhock.  I gave examples in an effort to get a direct answer.  So, if it will please you, we'll use your definition of virtue for the question.  Can you tell me, Hollyhock, what is "morally excellent" in believing in something without evidence?  What makes it moral?  What makes it excellent?  Is it only "morally excellent" to believe in a supernatural deity, or is it morally excellent to believe in anything without evidence?


    Comment by jsbenkert (original poster) at 11:50 AM on Mar. 29, 2013

  • Well, since I have faith that no gods exist,and have attained this belief based on zero evidence and have found it "difficult" as far as others accepting my beliefs, I am virtuous.

    Answer by tnm786 at 11:52 AM on Mar. 29, 2013

  • A lot of people do see being humble as a virtue. It keeps our arrogance in check, and tends to make us more willing to help those who have less than we do. Arrogance and pride tend to make us pompous a-holes to others.

    So if a person believes in a greater deity who is all powerful but is still willing to give unconditional love to us weaker humans, that can be humbling. That's how I felt when I was a Christian. I considered faith as a virtue by that association.

    I can still feel humble without faith in a god. I just have to look up into the night sky and realize I'm not the greatest thing on this planet.

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 11:57 AM on Mar. 29, 2013

  • That wasn't just my definition. That was the definition I got when I looked it up. To answer your question. Yes, I think you could pick anything you wanted and call it a virtue if you truly believed that's what it was. Also, I don't think it's simply believing in something without proof that's virtuous, it's the religion itself, and what it means to that person and how it makes them feel. This is all just my opinion. I don't believe there is a real factual answer to your question.

    Answer by Hollyhock. at 11:59 AM on Mar. 29, 2013

  • Yes tnm, you are ! basically a virtue is the capacity and the desire to act well.....this is why the religious attribute faith as a virtue.....

    Answer by older at 12:00 PM on Mar. 29, 2013

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