What is the minimum statement of faith?



Taking 'faith' to mean: an effective trust or acceptance of the veracity of certain statements of fact, or the truth of existential claims. I.e. the kind of faith/beliefs that are cardinal to the worldview, or the "ism's" one subscribe to. Eg: "he takes it on faith that Math is sound", "she can sleep soundly in the faith the sun will rise tomorrow", or Wittgenstein's "hinges" below (thanks @Conifold).

I seems to me that there are many conditional beliefs we cary for the sake of day to day functioning. We don't contemplate "cogito ergo sum" everyday, but I could hardly hold down a job without some faith in a future benefit from its proceeds. We all have what we think of as our worldview, but only some actively work to adjust our view. Regardless our efforts to improve, or simply leave most of our understanding to contingency, we all have an idea of what we would call fact and faith.

What would the minimal statement of faith be, could we assert: "I have no faith"?

EDIT: Though I haven't expressly excluded (with reason), religious statements such as "God is doing all of it", those tend to trivialize the question somewhat. So I'll request that answers on the religious vein be kept to something that are at least to some degree rationally rooted, i.e. it can be reasoned about within the broader context of 'purely rational' answers.


Posted 2018-12-29T10:08:44.630

Reputation: 2 265

2Do you mean "faith" as "belief without proof" and not as "religious belief"... I think. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA – 2018-12-29T10:25:09.707

2If so, from a metaphysical point of view, quite all our "everyday beliefs" are "by faith". – Mauro ALLEGRANZA – 2018-12-29T10:26:34.690

@MauroALLEGRANZA - Your comment is generally true but it is only true when we have no sound and workable metaphysical theory. if we do have such a theory then our everyday beliefs are backed up by logic and analysis. They may still require faith but no more than mathematics or physics asks of us. I don't think just stating we have no faith, as in the OPs example, means we have none. Most people depend on faith just as you say. Trouble is, there's so many different kinds of faith that the question is too broad. . . – None – 2018-12-29T13:07:54.097

minimal statement; 'Faith' is 'belief' in the un-experience-able. – Gary Reist – 2018-12-29T21:53:00.567


In Peirce's paraphrase of Bane, "belief is that upon which is prepared to act". So the minimum is not a statement, but action. When verbalized, Peirce called such non-propositions "indubitables", and Wittgenstein called them "hinges":"We just can’t investigate everything, and for that reason we are forced to rest content with assumption. If I want the door to turn, the hinges must stay put", see IEP.

– Conifold – 2018-12-30T04:09:11.793

@GaryReist sometimes experience is attributed via prior belief, as in: John says his experience yesterday was God speaking to him. – christo183 – 2018-12-30T06:13:53.810

We can approve or disapprove...:- ), But all people have faith, they are born with it and die... – Cyril Mikhalchenko – 2018-12-30T18:54:13.667

2I’m curious what sort of statements you would consider to not be statements of faith. Every noun you use assumes that there is something to which that noun refers to, and each verb assumes that a corresponding action “exists”. (Otherwise, your statement is meaningless, in which case I worry that it’s not even a statement.) Maybe interjections would not count, though they often assume that there is someone to hear them being said, even if that “someone” is yourself. Almost all sentences inherently state some sort of faith about what exists in the world. – Pro Q – 2018-12-31T09:25:58.110

@ProQ - Your view gets my vote. As Russell notes, almost all our sentences begin 'There is a x such that...' – None – 2018-12-31T13:29:10.373

1@ProQ You give a good overview of one extreme of the problem I'm thinking about. That other extreme being someone that claim to have no faith, which is of course not impossible since the that view would require, at the very least, a belief that something can actually be self-evident. So then the problem is: does there exist a formal/normal minimal acknowledged 'faith set', and how could it be established? – christo183 – 2018-12-31T14:00:48.563

@PeterJ Now you mention him, it seems to me that Russell may have tried to answer this very question. Do you maybe know of something like that? – christo183 – 2018-12-31T14:08:50.763

@christo183 Can a computer give a statement of faith? If a computer displays on the screen “No faith”, is that a statement of faith? If so, I think the answer is that no statement at all is a minimum statement of faith because a basic computer can make no statement at all and has no faith. I’m worried that your response is going to be that a basic computer can’t give a statement of faith, because it is not conscious, and that the question is more about if there are any beliefs that all conscious beings must hold (or must hold in order to communicate). – Pro Q – 2019-01-01T10:19:46.697

1As long as a system is based on deductive logic, no faith is involved. The meta system where axioms or denotation is fixed however may contain assumptions, hidden or otherwise, that may qualify as beliefs. Most computers do not use the meta system in normal functioning, and if they do it is limited and closed, i.e. from human perspective (as yet) the overall system is operating deterministically - no faith, just computation. Communication should be a good place to start looking for it may expose shared beliefs, but then, we find that, what is 'minimal' becomes relative... – christo183 – 2019-01-01T12:49:21.990

1@christo183 - It was certainly a question that concerned Russell, and perhaps his attempted axiomatisation of set theory could be seen as a search for the minimum statement of faith. . . – None – 2019-01-01T13:58:44.867



Michael Polanyi claims (page 7)

...all knowledge is either tacit or rooted in tacit knowledge.

Here is Wikipedia's description of tacit knowledge:

Tacit knowledge (as opposed to formal, codified or explicit knowledge) is the kind of knowledge that is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it.

Here is Wikipedia's description of explicit knowledge:

Explicit knowledge (also expressive knowledge) is knowledge that can be readily articulated, codified, accessed and verbalized.

From this perspective an answer might be able to be made to the title question:

What is the minimum statement of faith?

A statement of faith, because it is a statement, is verbalized explicit knowledge. Given Polanyi's claim that explicit knowledge is rooted in tacit knowledge it is unlikely there is any minimum explicit statement of faith. Any minimum would be part of the non-verbalized tacit knowledge that is not explicit.

The second questions asks:

What would the minimal statement of faith be, could we assert: "I have no faith"?

Any statement of faith, viewed as a kind of knowledge, would have its roots in tacit knowledge which is not verbalized. Even the explicit, verbalized claim that "I have no faith" is rooted in tacit knowledge and so cannot be true if one includes faith as tacit knowledge.

Polanyi, M. (1966). The logic of tacit inference. Philosophy, 41(155), 1-18.

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, March 25). Explicit knowledge. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:26, April 9, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Explicit_knowledge&oldid=889420248

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, March 28). Tacit knowledge. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:16, April 9, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Tacit_knowledge&oldid=889863893

Frank Hubeny

Posted 2018-12-29T10:08:44.630

Reputation: 18 742

Also compare "declarative" and "procedural" memory: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memory

– christo183 – 2019-04-10T06:11:37.100

In that article both declarative (explicit) and non-declarative (implicit) memory are based on data or information, one we are conscious of and the other not. That seems similar to Polanyi's explicit and tacit knowledge. However, if knowledge can be reduced to data then I imagine there could be some minimal statement (information) that we are unaware of. For Polanyi it is all rooted in tacit knowledge, but I don't know if he would call that tacit knowledge information. – Frank Hubeny – 2019-04-10T09:53:01.460

As long as we keep to a generic understanding of declarative memory = data = explicit knowledge your answer presents a good working theory. But yes, tacit knowledge = implicit (eg. procedural) memory, presents a lot of unknown... :) areas where some surprises may lurk. – christo183 – 2019-04-10T11:08:11.957