Hope and Faith
I remember singing in Sunday School, “Have faith, hope, and charity, That’s the way to live successfully, How do I know? The Bible tells me so!” I assume the song’s words are taken directly from Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 13:13, KJV). The three words faith, hope, and charity are called the “three theological virtues” or just the “three virtues.” Having sorted out what Perception Theory tells us about “belief” (I Believe! [Oct., 2016]), two of the three, faith and hope, or, in the order I consider them here, hope and faith, will be considered. Both are related to belief and though both are “separate virtues,” the pair, I intend to show, are very similar in Perception Theory, yet are very distinguishable from one another. (Perception is Everything, [Jan., 2016]; Perception Theory (Perception is Everything) — Three Applications, [Feb., 2016]; Perception Theory: Adventures in Ontology — Rock, Dog, Freedom, & God, [March, 2016]) Indeed, they are paired conceptually in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (KJV)
Despite my skepticism Paul should even be call an apostle, much less an accurate describer of Jesus (Sorting Out the Apostle Paul, [April, 2012]) and despite the consensus Paul did not write Hebrews (Priscilla, Barnabas, Luke, Clement of Rome, and Apollos of Alexandria have been proposed as more likely authors of Hebrews than Paul.), the presence of the same two words (hope and faith) together in both KJV verses provides a convenient “cutting board” upon which to dissect the two with Perception Theory. In I Believe! [Oct., 2016] belief is far from having anything to do with evidence, yet the Hebrews verse links “substance” and “evidence” with faith.
Hence, if this linkage is accurate, faith has more to do with evidence than belief. In fact, starting from absence of evidence, starting from belief, and heading in the direction of evidence, I see hope first, followed by faith, with evidence (“I know” statements –I Believe! [Oct., 2016]) coming only after faith. “I believe” statements and “I know” statements, with hope and faith “sandwiched” in between, are all four non-veridical activities of the brain, with “I believe” statements devoid of resonance with the “outside,” real, veridical world beyond the volume of our brains and “I know” statements as resonant with the real, veridical world as they possibly can be (as possibly allowed by the “subjective trap”). This would suggest that both hope and faith exist as resonating non-veridically based concepts, “in between” the looped non-veridically based existence of “I believe” statements and the strongly veridically-based existence of “I know” statements. In other words, belief is looped non-veridically based, like God, and hope and faith are possibly resonating non-veridically based, like freedom (Perception Theory: Adventures in Ontology — Rock, Dog, Freedom, & God, [March, 2016]); both hope and faith at first appear to “reach out” to the veridical world in a way belief does not bother to do.
To Perception Theory, however, hope is like a “wish statement” that may or may not resonate veridically. To hope God hears our prayer is looped non-veridically based, but to hope your sick loved one gets well is resonating non-veridically based. Hope statements can be in either non-veridically based camp — looped or resonating. To Perception Theory faith leans strongly toward the resonating non-veridical, like having faith that your sick loved one will actually get well, which means the loved one’s health will be described with “I know” statements of wellness in the future. If the sick one does not get well, the hope still seems justified, but the faith seems ill-placed; hope cannot ever count on “I know” statements to come, but faith risks counting upon “I know” statements coming. One’s hope can never be squelched by the real veridical world (it is so looped); one’s faith can (it is so resonate). Faith, then, is like a “prediction statement,” a declaration that something will in future be supported by evidence, and by, therefore, “I know” statements. With hope I wish, and with faith I predict or bet. Moreover, faith is embedded with a confidence in a “real world” outcome, whether justified in hindsight or not. This confidence reinforces the resonance of faith with the veridical.
Hebrews 11:1, therefore, is way off-base. Faith cannot be substance or evidence of anything. I can believe or hope in just anything (wishing); conversely I cannot bet on just anything (predicting) and be considered sane, no matter how confident my faith. Based upon what we know about the universe that seems to be outside our heads, hoping that unicorns exist can be seen as “cute and charming,” while confidently predicting that unicorns exist will probably been seen as silly. Stating I have faith that unicorns exist is not evidence that unicorns exist, but stating I hope unicorns exist “gets a pass” from those who demand evidence. One is simply not taken seriously when hoping, like he/she is when bestowing faith. Hope is more like belief than faith; faith is more like predicting freedom in a veridical society than hope, but with a confidence often falsely interpreted by others as connected with evidence.
An analogy might be in order: I am about to witness the results of a wager I’ve made at a casino in Las Vegas, say. It’s the results of a pull of the handle of a slot machine, the final resting place of the ball in a roulette wheel, a roll of the dice at the craps table, the revealing of the cards at the end of a round of poker, or the public posting of the results of a sporting event I have bet on. Normally, I hope I win (which is not the same as saying I predict I will win), but if I don’t (if I fail to win), the worst that can happen is the loss of my wager. However, if I win, any conclusion other than to realize how lucky I am would not be warranted; I happened to beat the odds, the probability of which I knew was very low when I made the bet. But if I have bestowed faith in winning the wager, as we have seen above, it is almost redundant to say I am betting, that is, predicting that I will win. (Recall I can place a bet with hope, which is not a prediction.) If I have faith that I will win, predicting that I will win, then the amount of the wager, the bet, relative to my gambling budget, is a measure of the strength of my faith. If I fail to win, my faith will be seen as ill-placed and in hindsight unnecessary; confidence in my winning (in my faith) in hindsight might seem cruelly laughable. However, if I win, my faith, along with the confidence attending it, seems (irrationally) justified. In minds wherein suspension of rationality seems commonplace, the human mind tends to think that the win might not have happened without the faith and its attendant confidence. But the win would not have happened without the bet, and the confident faith before the results had nothing to do with the win, but too often the faith and its confidence are seen as the “cause” of the win! Such an irrational conclusion is nothing short of believing in magic; it is a view of the win that is all in the head of the winner, and has nothing to do with the evidence from the real world that actually determined the mechanics of the results. Perception theory would say that veridically the results, win or lose, were the outcome of random probability; any hope or faith put in the results are non-veridical processes inside the brain (Perception is Everything, [Jan., 2016]).
Now, let’s get to the “elephant in the room,” the “gorilla sitting in the corner.” Believing that God exists is just like hoping God exists — neither tells one anything about God’s existence, except that God is a concept in the head of the one making the belief statement or the hope statement (Perception Theory: Adventures in Ontology — Rock, Dog, Freedom, & God, [March, 2016]). Having faith that God exists in the real veridical world bets that, or predicts that, God exists like freedom, a dog, or a rock. Bets and predictions can fail (as in gambling), as have all bets and predictions concerning both unicorns and God, so far. Faith in God outside our heads, as faith in unicorns outside our heads, is ill-placed — in terms found in Perception Theory: Adventures in Ontology — Rock, Dog, Freedom, & God, it is absurd. Unlike freedom, God and unicorns do not resonate with the veridical. I can think of at least one statement about God in which we can all make an “I know” statement — God is a concept in our heads. It is curiously difficult not to say we can all have faith that God is a concept in our heads. Also, curiously, I am betting, have faith, that the concept of God, under “high resolution,” is different for each and every head. Perhaps this “God difference in every head” will one day be shown to be only a hope (an inescapable belief) or. even perhaps be another “I know” statement.