* This is a follow-up on my article “I am an Apistevist”
So, Is Faith and Trust the same thing?
—This is a question I often answer to an onslaught of superiority from those who do not seem to see the not-so-subtle difference of usage between both words.
This amazes me.
True, both words are close and could be considered synonyms in certain circumstances… but one must at least admit that “Faith” is a loaded word that does not always fit the same meaning as “Trust”.
So let’s tune our usage to the same note so we are talking about the same thing.
I do not rely on Faith anymore; in everyday colloquialism, it often has a different usage than Trust, one I cannot relate to anymore.
Let me illustrate:
a)—We say “a person of Faith”
b)—One will say “My Faith is what gets me thru hard times.”
c)—We ask, “Of what Faith are you?”
… there are more examples like this that hint on “religious faith”, and cannot be easily replaced by “trust”.
On the other hand, we often use “trust” akin to reasonable expectation, based on prior experiences and empirical evidence.
a)—We say, “I trust that this plane will get me to my destination safely.”
b)—We ask “Do you trust this surgeon?”
c)—Or, “I trust this car”.
The difference of usage between Faith and Trust is this: “religious faith” is a deep certainty, and it needs no evidence. In fact, evidence will be dismissed if it contradicts this kind of Faith.
On the other hand, Reasoned Trust is not a certainty. It is justified confidence with a level of doubt.
For example, I trust that tomorrow the sun will rise.
This is based on reasonable expectation and on a verifiable stable past.
But do I “know” the sun will rise?
—Not at all.
I just have a reasonable expectation it will rise.
Again, Religious Faith is a form of certainty. A person of Faith “knows” God exists. In fact, losing one’s Faith is punishable by most cultural deities. The more fundamentalist, the deeper this conviction. If scientific evidence contradicts this brand of Faith, it will be dismissed. Facts will even be demonized sometimes. (Creationism denying the hard evidence for Evolution is a good example.)
This is why Faith is not debatable. It can live outside of rational claims. It does not demand evidence nor justification. In fact, by religious definition, Faith does not need material based evidence at all. In this context, faith involves the supernatural, while trust is more empirical. Again, in this context.
Still, “Faith” can arguably be used in lieu of “trust” and vice versa, depending on what is argued. But why dispute the obvious?
As I have said before, words do not have intrinsic meaning. They follow the evolution of language, and it can be a messy path. One thing is certain: Definitions follow usage and not the other way around. There are many examples of this; words like “gay”, “awful”, “queer” etc…
For this reason, I admit I don’t value definitions as much as usage.
The reason this is important in my opinion is because there is much confusion and bad faith (pun intended) about this.
One thing I flatly refute is the idea that all atheists and apistevists doubt to no end; that we are in an eternal position of doubt. That we never settle…
—This notion is absurd.
The truth is that people like me are in a process of learning, and we DO make conclusions with a high level of certainty. The difference is that we realize that any of our conclusions are open to correction upon new, verifiable, and better information. We trust with a level of humility.
By contrast, many people of “religious faith” are at a conclusion. It’s at such a deep level of certainty that no evidence, even empirical, will sway this version of faith to correction.
On the flip side, when correction is embraced, it leads to a more reasonable process of learning.
I would even dare say that Faith is emotional as opposed to trust that is more rational.
—The reason I say this is that religious faith makes supernatural claims that they simply cannot know, and even less demonstrate—while reasoned trust is based on past experiences that serve as evidence for justified confidence.
Now, if one wants to start the conversation with trust/faith as equal usage, so be it. But I would have yet to find words that DO separate religious faith with empirically reasoned trust.
Yes, I am an Apistevist, as per usage and definition: “A person who does not use faith to know things-especially in the religious sense.”
But the word does not define me as a person, even if it does define my standards of epistemology.