Faith is a concept that straddles both spiritual and practical domains. We learn to expect things on the basis of experience. Learning involves moving from the known towards the unknown. Faith is always about something we have learned and it is like probability in that we may feel certain about some things and less sure of other things. However, current models of learning show how some of the things we learn may only have quite temporary viability: some of what we learn can be false. In addition, people differ manifestly in terms of both their personal confidence and their comfort with uncertainty concerning events. Further, faith differs in the roles it plays in science and in religion. This paper concurs with the view that some highly publicised attacks on religious faith are based on mistaken views of religion and faith. Relevance: Faith plays a central role in religion and faith also plays a role in science. This paper takes the position that faith needs to be examined carefully before it is put in place to justify beliefs so as to understand its role. In other words we need to move beyond “blind faith.”
Context: In the literature of radical constructivism, the epistemology and ontology of religion has been rarely discussed. Problem: I investigate the impact of radical constructivism on some aspects of religion - in particular, on the conflict that is sometimes perceived to arise between religion and natural science, discussed in the context of religious belief. Method: It is argued that the epistemology of radical constructivism serves to distinguish between items of cognitive and non-cognitive knowledge. This makes it possible to discuss issues of religious belief, which are non-cognitive, from a constructivist epistemic and ontological perspective. Results: I conclude that radical constructivism cannot be invoked to support or contradict any particular religious faith; the individual knower will construct her own ontology (i.e., her attitudes and convictions with respect to religious propositions), as part of her store of non-cognitive knowledge, in interaction with her environment (which includes other individuals. Note that the existence of this environment is accepted as given (thus repudiating the metaphysical position of solipsism); on the other hand, any knowledge of it must be constructed in the mind of the knower, and there is no way to identify any one construction as being objectively “right” or “true.” Hence the truth value of propositions of religious conviction cannot be argued in cognitive terms. Implications: It is argued that these results elevate the knower into a position of personal autonomy with respect to religious issues. One consequence of this is the emergence of a fundamental epistemic incompatibility between the worldviews of radical constructivism and religion of any kind. Another is that the old dichotomy between atheism and agnosticism disappears - or rather, becomes irrelevant. Constructivist content: The role played by radical constructivism in the approach to cognitive vs. non-cognitive knowledge is discussed, specifically as pertaining to issues of religion. The construction of knowledge (of any kind) is a strictly personal enterprise, and the use of constructed non-cognitive knowledge then forms a basis for the individual knower’s religious position.