I guess there aren’t many people here with faith problems yet, but this is just a recent thought I’ve been looking for feedback on.
Okay, I wrote all of this after doing a lot of reading about Descartes and some thinking about the external world and knowledge. So if there are any holes or vague points, let me know and I’ll try to explain myself. Otherwise, let me know how you feel about this viewpoint through discussion.
Now to define some key words:
Know/Knowledge: Can be certified with empirical proof, cannot be doubted
Have faith in/believe: submit to belief in something despite a lack of physical proof
**Prove: **to ascertain a fact using empirical data and scientific methods.
Hypothetically, let’s assume that we have a can of paint. And I make the statement that the color of this paint is yellow. Now we must verify the truth of that statement. Certainly when I look at the paint I see the color yellow. That is my own personal perception of the can of paint. Can I be certain that everyone else sees yellow paint too? Of course not. But I make the general assumption that everyone does, because that’s the truth as I see it.
So let’s take this a step further and say my friend sees blue paint. To reduce variations, let’s take an omniscient point of view and say my friend is telling the truth as he sees it. In the same way that I looked at the paint and saw yellow, he sees blue. Now we have a situation: what is the truth? Which of us is wrong? What steps could I take to find the truth and if the paint is actually yellow, how can I prove to my friend that he’s wrong?
-We could take a random survey (or for better accuracy, several surveys of different people).
-This solution is not based on the popularity of one choice, but looks at each person as a different variable in an experiment. If a large majority of individuals believes the paint is yellow, then it is fairly safe to assume, although not doubt-free, that this is true.
-Failing points: people could lie, majority could be wrong, etc.
If possible, perhaps we could conduct an experiment on the paint and see which hues are reflected off it and which are absorbed.
-Failing points: experiment may not be possible, results may still be based in perception
In short, there is no way to prove the paint is yellow without a doubt. However, can it then be conceded that knowledge can be formed even in the midst of doubt? Maybe, maybe not. I am left with one option, then: because I cannot prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the paint is yellow, but the only observations I can make are based on my perceptions of the yellow yolk, I must take a leap of faith and assume that I am correct. I still may be wrong, but to avoid a lifetime of doubt and skepticism, I must have faith that in my perceptions.
Now to apply this to a broader scope. I cannot prove that anything exists. I cannot know that anything exists withthe exception perhaps of myself (cogito ergo sum). But I can see the external world. I hear, touch, smell, taste the external world. So to avoid uncertainty, misery, and possible insanity, I must believe the external world exists.
Does God exist? I have never physically perceived a God. I cannot prove through reasoning alone that God exists. And yet, I have also never perceived an elephant and cannot prove they exist either. But I have faith that they do. So could I have faith in God, despite my lack of proof, the same way I have faith in everything else? Certainly I could if the desire to have faith in God was in me. And thus faith is validated.