PM5481: On the highest faith

Sam Harris says (quoted from here):
Tell a devout Christian that his wife is cheating on him, or that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and will be persuaded only to the extent to which that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.
Harris' objection does not apply to Maratrean faith. Why?

Christian faith has as its direct object the truth of countless claims of the Christian religion.

By contrast, Maratrean faith is deliberately minimalist. It uses the least faith and the most non-faith (reason, experience, etc.) as possible.

The highest faith has these attributes:
  • it is only used on matters where reason and evidence are largely lacking or equally balanced - or even, where there might be some slightly suggestive evidence in one direction, neither side has conclusive proof
  • and on matters where the lack or close balancing of evidence seems unlikely to alter in the future. Unsettled matters of physical science are not a good subject for faith, for even though we may lack evidence concerning them today, it is likely that sooner or later we will gain the evidence we lack. But there are certain questions which are properly outside of science, and no amount of future development in science could possibly answer them
  • if we can demonstrate something by reason or experience, let us not rely on faith for it
  • let us believe the most vague, high-level, unfalsifiable claim which is conducive to our ethical and aesthetic well-being and our happiness more generally. If there be another claim, which is more general than the one we intend to believe by faith, but would be substantial similar in its ethical, aesthetic and felicifc suitability, then let us believe that more general claim by faith in preference to so believing the less general one
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