Belief vs. faith

Difference Between Belief And faith

Belief, a commitment, either intellectual or emotional, or both, to something such as a proposition, a position, a procedure, or a person. In the scale of attitudes it is located above surmise or conjecture and below knowledge. On a scale in which the number 1 represents absolute certainty, belief ranges from a subjective probability of over 1/2 to the level of great confidence, just short of 1. Belief is one of the key concepts in the borderland between philosophy and psychology and has frequently been grossly oversimplified by leaders of reform movements in both fields, such as introspectionists, behaviorists, idealists, and empiricists.

The concept of belief has aroused particular interest because it has seemed possible to analyze the concept of knowledge in terms of belief. For example, knowledge has been defined as justified true belief—a definition that has been proved faulty. Another interesting aspect of belief is its close connection with religious or political partisanship. In this role, belief is sometimes defined as synonymous with faith and sometimes as a weaker version of faith. From this definition it has been argued that belief is immune from any need for a rational basis. It is true that belief can be well founded without being founded on any process of rational inference, this is a different point. Individual perceptions provide immediate knowledge without any intervening process of inference, and long experience may train our perception (or intuition) until it is entirely rational to rely on it. But this does not show that untested intuition is of any value in achieving real knowledge, however strong a belief it may engender. Reason is the only safe path to knowledge or sound belief, although it is not a guaranteed route. The mystic’s slogan “I believe because it is absurd” may be honest, but it is not logical.

Faith, as a theological term, has several related meanings. 1) “Faith” denotes a kind of knowledge, different from empirical knowledge. 2) “Faith” is a synonym for assent. 3) “Faith” is used linguistically in a way similar to declaring, “I believe in…”. 4) “Faith” is a synonym for “religion.”. What a religion has faith in is a distinguishing characteristic of that religion; thus one speaks of the Hindu faith, the Christian faith, and so on.

In several senses, “faith” can be used in nonreligious contexts. For example, a person has “faith in science.” Since “faith” has so many meanings, it is incumbent on anyone using the term to define precisely what he means.


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