The Second Eclectic

Technology changes how we relate to God and each other

Is faith above bias?

I tried to read this book. It's a 600-page tome, which I got about 1/6th of the way through. It was actually quite readable and interesting. But I got busy. It happens.

So I read a review of it.

In the review, from 2004, Bruce Kuklick argues:

It is mistaken (and degrading)...for the faithful to argue that faith is a form of bias.... Faith is different from bias. For one thing it concerns the supernatural world, and not the natural. And just because it is faith, ongoing inquiry will not falsify it—that is the whole idea of faith.
This was an interesting argument to me. Is faith above bias?

This argument would seem to spill over from history (where Kuklick deals with it) to science, specifically as regards the Intelligent Design debate that heated up last year.

But I don't want to argue within those contexts. I'm wondering, Is faith above bias?

If faith is indeed concerned with the supernatural, and not the natural, does that exempt it from being a sort of bias? Certainly, the Christian version of the supernatural has implications for the natural world (as opposed to Deism); would this connection implicate faith as a sort of bias then?
I posted an email debate that I had with a university professor last year (1,2,3,4,5). We circled this issue without ever really pinpointing it, drawing it out, or discussing it. He basically said faith and science cannot meet because science relies on natural proof and faith requires no natural proof (so evidence was his dividing line). Kuklick might agree with this and even says faith cannot be falsified by ongoing inquiry. But both seem to make the same distinction, yet, they concluded two opposite opinions regarding faith's nature in regards to bias. One, that faith imposes bias on an otherwise unbaised scientific method. The other, that faith poses no bias to historical research because it deals with superhistory only.

Instead of scientific research, we might turn also to the field of philosophy and logic, which relies on reason and syllogisms. Can faith be attacked using reason instead of matter? In the area of metaphysics, the supernatural is not untouched, but perhaps we are reasoning from the natural to the metaphyical so that we cannot speak on matters of faith. Is that true?

Yet I consider faith quite a bit a matter of history. I rely on the historical words of God, accurately preserved down through history. More than that I rely upon a historical figure: Jesus of Nazareth. He claimed to be the son of God, and the historicity of his signs and wonders and of his teaching are of great importance for my faith in the world beyond nature.

Is faith above bias is science, history, and/or philosophy? Can scientific, historical, or philosophical inquiry tamper with the contents of faith or the nature of faith? These are bookends to the conversation: in the first, it is a matter of how we approach any subject; in the second, it is a matter of how that subject impacts our approach.

Feel free to shed those biases and discuss!