Semantic Resolution And “Faith”

We all have intelligence. That does not mean we are all of the same intelligence. It does not mean there are only 2 categories; intelligent and unintelligent. Such a claim would remove the semantic resolution that reflects the reality of a smooth bell curve across various degrees intelligence.

We also all have beliefs. But warranted belief is commensurate to the degree of evidence available. Someone’s belief based on years of developing critical thinking skills and evaluating relevant evidence is not even remotely similar to a belief in merely what feels good. To claim we are similar in that we all have “faith” is to consciously remove semantic resolution to produce distortion.

The following are different types of belief.

  1. Irrational belief
    (Maps to emotions, often runs contrary to evidence, and often tends to be absolute and dogmatic.)
  2. Incommensurate belief
    (Does not map appropriately to the degree of evidence, and is influenced by the natural human tendency towards a bivalent commitment.)
  3. Commensurate belief
    (Maps to the degree of evidence, and requires the discipline and rigor to disallow emotional factors. This is the only type of belief that is warranted.)

So those who want to say “we all have faith” are intentionally distorting reality by removing the semantic resolution that distinguishes between warranted and unwarranted belief.

An underlying false premise that contributes to this misunderstanding of warranted belief is that, if we do not ourselves have direct access to the evidence and must rely upon an authority, we are employing “faith”. In these cases our degree of belief is warranted if it maps to the degree of reliability of the authority. Simply assess the track record of the authority, whether the authority be our parents, our memory, a professor, a metal detector, Wikipedia, our eyesight, the scientific method, or a voice in our head. Where there is a track record of successful input and the subsequent predictive power, there is warrant for our confidence. This is nowhere close to “faith” as “faith” is conventionally defined.

While this essay primarily addresses the claims of theists that I also have “faith” as they do, it also holds true for non-theists who incoherently claim “you either you believe, or you don’t.”


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