The Nature of Faith

1299 Words6 Pages
In many aspects of our lives, the use of faith as a basis for knowledge can be found. Whether it is faith in the advice of your teacher, faith in a God or faith in a scientific theory, it is present. But what is faith? A definition of faith in a theory of knowledge context is the confident belief or trust in a knowledge claim by a knower, without the knower having conclusive evidence. This is because if a knowledge claim is backed up by evidence, then we would use reason rather than faith as a basis for knowledge . If we define knowledge as ‘justified true belief’, it can be seen that faith, being without justification, can never fulfill this definition, and so cannot be used as a reliable basis for knowledge. However, the question arises, what if a certain knowledge claim lies outside of the realm of reason? What if a knowledge claim cannot be justified by empirical evidence and reasoning alone, such as a religious knowledge claim? It is then that faith allows the knower to decide what is knowledge and what is not, when something cannot be definitively proved through the use of evidence. When assessing faith as a basis for knowledge in the natural sciences, the fact arises that without faith in the research done before us, it is impossible to develop further knowledge on top of it. Yet at the same time, if we have unwavering faith in existing theories, they would never be challenged, and so our progress of knowledge in the natural sciences would come to a standstill. Although I intend to approach this essay in a balanced manner, this essay may be subject to a small degree of bias, due to my own non-religious viewpoint. Today, faith is the cornerstone of all major religious knowledge claims because there is no definitive way of... ... middle of paper ... ...th in the theory, it was succeeded by the cell theory and the germ theory, allowing for knowledge in the natural sciences to advance in those areas, eventually leading to the development of vaccines and stem-cell research. While faith alone cannot be said to necessitate truth, it is by no means useless as a basis for knowledge in the areas of knowledge of religion and the natural sciences. Faith allows a knower to make the decision of what is knowledge and what is not, even when the knowledge claim cannot be justified by evidence or empirical reasoning. Yet simultaneously, this quality of faith renders it useless in finding absolute truth. In the natural sciences, faith can be seen as both a necessity, as it is essential for the building of knowledge, and yet also it must be challenged, as the advancement of science is through the disproving of current theories.
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