"Just have faith" vs evidence

As I post topics related to my doubts, it seems many keep telling me that I just need to have faith. But I know that fideism is rejected by the Church. So, is the “just have faith” advice just bad advice? Or is there something about the Church’s teaching that encourages us to “just have faith” despite not being persuaded by evidence?

I really need some clarity on this because I’m simply trying to deal with my doubts and weigh the “evidence”… but then I’ve got people telling me I can’t use empiricism in religion, that I need to just have faith…as if I shouldn’t be weighing the evidence.

So, should one weigh the evidence for and against Christianity?

Absolutely, It would be irresponsible not to.

The thing about Truth is that it can stand up to inquiry.

Have you checked out G. K. Chesterton? He has written some good books on the topic of testing the faith. His book “The Everlasting Man” brought C. S. Lewis to Christianity. I would also recommend “Orthodoxy”.

No, I haven’t read those books, but I’ve perused them. But I’m not sure they address the kind of evidence I’m talking about.

I’m a convert from atheism, so yeah, this is how I viewed faith as an atheist. Believing for the sake of believing is not what faith is, and is not what people here are recommending.

Empiricism is useful as a method or attitude in religion (or religious studies or theology), but empiricism is not complete and self-sufficient as a method or attitude in these areas. If someone wants to be a strict empiricist in these areas, they are automatically excluding (as their own negative presupposition) anything that does not conform to a materialistic naturalistic four-dimensional view or interpretation of the space-time universe. From a religious viewpoint (or even from rational viewpoints in philosophy), strict empiricism is just another name for reductionism. :tsktsk: :nunchuk: :onpatrol:

Of course religion includes considerations related to physical things and tangible aspects, but religion is especially concerned with a fifth dimension of reality, an intangible dimension, an enduring spiritual dimension. This is not a wild or strange or esoteric theory. This is a basic standard orientation that is often found, for example, in various kinds of idealism (referring to metaphysical idealism) in the history of philosophy. :compcoff: :angel1: :yup: :clapping:

Why don’t you tell us, here and now, your NUMBER ONE doubt? Let us answer that.

We can go from there.

Faith is not blind acceptance, it’s built on reason and is the trust in something we can not know through research alone. You can’t know everything about someone just based on basic information, some things they’d have to tell you about. Christians believe God did just that - He told us about Himself and more. “Just have faith” is bad advice in the way that it implies that you’re to blame for a lack of faith, as if you can conjure it up from within. The catechism of the Catholic Church says that faith is a gift from God though, and we are meant to accept that gift when it comes. That’s not the same thing as forcing yourself to believe, you just choose to believe it when that faith comes.

Keep on your journey in the meantime towards understanding the reasoning of our faith.

I haven’t seen this and it isn’t Catholic teaching. The Catholic teaching is Faith and Reason.
Aquinas said Faith builds on Reason and reason enlightens faith. St. Peter says, always have a reasoned answer to those who ask about the faith.

Perhaps the best approach would be if you give us a specific thing that’s troubling you and well see if we can examine it in the light of Reason.

In this way we can address each of your most serious concerns, one at a time.

It is kind of difficult to weigh the evidence for and against a person who is standing right in front of you. Jesus said (says) “Follow me, I am the King / Messiah from God, I am the Son of God”.
What do you do with that person? Do you want to be with him or not?

If you want to weigh the evidence, then you are still not with him, but on the outside observing. Like the Pharisees (I believe it was them) you are, in effect, saying, "Show us a sign (empirical evidence) so that we might believe in you (so that we might judge you from our superior position of intelligence in knowing whether evidence is from God or not).

But, if “something” inside you “knows” that “You are true, and you are who you say your are. I want to be with you, follow you, be one of your People with you as my King. Here is water; baptize me - make me one of your citizens”, then you will see “evidence” in the future that you also “know” it is true.

About the most that evidence can do prior to this is to make you aware of an understanding that there must be more to life than what is here, through negation of the ultimate value of what is here versus the value or goal desired of life. That “ultimate something more” is given the term “God”. And in the face of this understanding there appears: Jesus, saying, “I Am”.

There is no assertion here to “just have faith”. There is a question for you, “Do I want to be with him? Is he true, is it good to be united to Him?”

I posted about my main doubts in other recent threads.

Basically, I am tripped up by Polygenism (science says yes, Church says no, and of course the effect on Original Sin and the Atonement) and the "evidence for the Resurrection and the idea that we’re supposed to accept hearsay in order to be saved.

Peter saw Jesus raised from the dead. He did not believe hearsay.
Linus (and many who knew Peter personally) believed Peter when he said he saw Jesus raised. This is not hearsay, but an eyewitness account by Peter, acceptable as evidence in courts.
Cletus believes Linus telling what Peter saw. This was not hearsay, but the passing on of official court records, much as courts today cite “precedence” in litigations from prior court records, and these are considered as valid evidence to go one way or another.
The Papacy and Magisterium are the keepers of “official records” of the Body of Christ, the sacred tradition. It is not hearsay.

And, even so, they are not asking you to “believe this evidence” to be saved. They are actually, with the whole Church, the person of Christ right in front of you. Do you want to be with Him, one of his People of the Covenant? That is what “saves”, being with Him, knowing you are one of his People walking behind him as he walks.

O.K - I must be really thick - but this all makes deadly reading and I cannot understand most of it. Many threads are heading this way which means only the extremely cerebral can participate - Seems a shame, especially when the titles are interesting.

Your comment made me chuckle because I TOTALLY understand how you feel! Especially in regards to philosophy. Sometimes taking a word you don’t know - perhaps in this case maybe “reductionism” or “empiricism” (I don’t know if you know those, I’m just using possible examples) - and finding a short wikipedia article will help you understand.

When I say “hearsay” I mean that I learn about the Resurrection in the Gospels, which are translations of fragments of books (the originals of which we do not have) who were written by people, who knew people, who knew people who had seen this happen…

Thank you for your thoughtful kindness. I will do as you suggest,as words fascinate me but won’t presume to participate in philosophical debate with those whose knowledge far exceeds mine. It’s no doubt extremely good for my soul to have to humbly acknowledge the extent of my ignorance - but must admit it’s also frustrating! :frowning:

God bless you :slight_smile:

No one in the Catholic Church learned about the resurrection from fragments of books.
You learned from your priest, officially, and were baptized in your (your parents’) seeking to be part of this; your priest is under obligation of obedience to teach you only the official understanding of the bishops (Church); and that official record of the eyewitness has come from “Person” to “Person” (“Official” to “Official”) over the last 2000 years of the official eyewitness accounts. The books (the fragments) were only gathered together from everyone’s evidentiary documentation into the Canon of Scripture. But the “Official Tradition” is where the “Official Good News” (Gospel) was transmitted, and the fragments are not a contrary witness but agree in every way with the eyewitness. The Catholic Church is not a Church “of the Book”; we do not define ourselves by the book, but we (who already know the Truth) have pieced together the Book ourselves, from the people who wrote its parts to the people who kept its parts over the years, to the people who assembled the parts into a Canon and filtered out what was not truth. The Book belongs to us, not us to the Book. Jesus built his Church, not his Book.

I’m a convert. My parents had nothing to do with my becoming Catholic. I read books, which lead me to Catholicism.

You’re loosing me here…what’s the point?

So, if you don’t mind me asking, when you were an atheist, and you were considering Catholicism, did you evaluate evidence for AND against Catholicism? It seems to me that people want me to read Church documents, Catholic authors, the Bible, and then just accept these things … but no one seems to recommend objectivity (i.e. the inclusion of reading of arguments against Catholicism written by non-Catholic authors).

What was your most challenging objection to overcome? What was the best “anti-Christian” argument from your atheism that you had to grapple with?

In my case, I’ve read a lot of pro-Christian stuff and a lot of anti-Christian stuff this time around and the case for the historical unreliability of the Gospels and against the Resurrection seem very strong to me. At best what I can say for Catholicism right now is that it “might” be true, but I really don’t feel like I can affirm it to be true. The evidence to the contrary seems strong to me. I failed to realize this before I converted because at the time I really only looked at the argument for Catholicism from the Catholic perspective.

And not directed at you, but just in general, this method of looking at both sides, at reading blogs that support Christian teachings and blogs that try to argue against them… coupled with prayer for guidance, this seems like the best approach if we are to avoid self-delusion. And it is true that many Catholics say that the faith does stand up to the scrutiny… but I honestly wonder if they are looking at the same information that I am because reading an argument FOR Catholicism from the perspective of a Catholic who mentions his opponents case is NOT THE SAME as reading an argument against Catholicism from the opponents perspective. I know this because as a convert to Catholicism, people do this to Catholics ALL THE TIME. Protestants say they know what Catholics think, and they can “debunk” it because the Protestant apologists have presented them with the case that Catholics make and it doesn’t stand up to their scrutiny…but we here all know that these people have not ever bothered to grab a book written from the Catholic perspective and if they had they would have a much different view of what Catholics actually think.

I hope I’m making sense…

Wow, your name fits you. Thank you for speaking kindly. :slight_smile:

So, would you say that someone, who based on the “evidence” that they’ve looked at, doesn’t believe, has simply not received the “gift of faith”?

What do you think about looking at arguments against Catholicism written by non-Catholic authors? Remember, I asked about “for and against”.

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