Monday, January 1, 2018

Roger Penrose is good at many things, but not defining "Faith."

Roger Penrose is a good physicist, mathematician, and philosopher of science. However, he is not good at defining simple words at times.  In his 2016 book called Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe, he defines “Faith” as, “according to my Concise Oxford Dictionary, is belief founded on authority.”[1] With no footnote to follow (at least in the Kindle version), I looked in my version of the Concise Oxford Dictionary for this particular definition. These are all the definitions they offer:

1    complete trust or confidence.
2    strong belief in a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.
   a particular religion.
—origin Middle English: from Old French feid, from Latin fides.[2]

Oxford dictionary online has something similar.[3]

Nothing based on an “authority.”

Neither in the Webster:

1faith \ˈfāth\ noun
plural faiths \ˈfāths, sometimes ˈfāṯẖz\ [Middle English feith, from Anglo-French feid, fei, from Latin fides; akin to Latin fidere to trust—more at bide] 13th century
1    a: allegiance to duty or a person: loyalty
b    (1): fidelity to one’s promises
(2): sincerity of intentions
2    a    (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God
(2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion
b    (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof
(2): complete trust
3:   something that is believed especially with strong conviction especially: a system of religious beliefs the Protestant faith synonym see beliefon faith: without question took everything he said on faith[4]

Neither on

confidence or trust in a person or thing:
faith in another's ability.
belief that is not based on proof:
He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion:
the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.:
to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
a system of religious belief:
the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.:
Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one's promise, oath, allegiance, etc.:
He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.
Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.
in faith, in truth; indeed:
In faith, he is a fine lad

I could go to more dictionaries, but Penrose cited Concise Oxford Dictionary and the definition he offers is nowhere to be found from the resources that I have. Not in the print or online editions (see above).

For Christianity, the Greek word for “faith” or pistis (πίστις) means in the best Greek lexicons and dictionaries, “faithfulness, reliability, fidelity, commitment”[5] or “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance”[6] or,”trustworthiness” [7] or “what can be believed…trust…trustworthiness”[8] or “faith, confidence, fidelity, guarantee, loyalty”[9] or “…trusting…trustworthy.. i.e., faithful, reliable”[10] or “trust”[11]

In summation, it basically means to have trust or confidence in what one knows to be true, especially issues surrounding Jesus (Rom 10:8-10, 1st Cor 15:3-5, 12-20), beyond a reasonable doubt (though it is not just intellectual assent, it is also living it out to. All of Eph 2:8-10 through His grace).  Not something solely based on “authority.” Maybe Penrose relied on a graduate assistant here or something along those lines? Moreover, Penrose should footnote his conclusions in the next edition if there is one (or at least include one in the Kindle version).

[1] Penrose, Roger. Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe (p. 121). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
[2] Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
[4] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
[5] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 818.
[6] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 375.
[7] Henry George Liddell et al., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 1408.
[8] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
[9] Ceslas Spicq and James D. Ernest, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 110.
[10] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 849.
[11] The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Septuagint (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012).

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