Vischer (and I think Gilson) have sought to characterize the word "faith" in terms of trust. I have obviously tried to illustrate that I do not think that trust is justified. Here's what I'm getting at with that.
When is faith trust?
Suppose my wife promises to buy milk while she's out later today. She's pretty reliable and generally keeps her word, and I've found that I can rely upon her through repeated satisfaction of other small and large promises she's made to me. I think this is analogous to the trust that Vischer (and Gilson) want to put in God (and by extension, Christian scripture and literature).
Never mind at all for the purpose of this discussion that I know my wife exists, I have evidence that she's been reliable in the past, etc. Vischer (and Gilson) feel exactly this way about their God, so these appeals apparently have almost no chance of hitting home with them.
To continue, then, I can trust my wife's promise. I can hope she will buy the milk she said, and I know there's some chance she'll forget. Indeed, I know there's a chance that she'll remember and renege anyway--perhaps finding it a task that isn't worth the hassle. I factor those possibilities into my trust in her promise to get milk from the store later.
When I was a Christian--when I believed in God--I believed the usual things about God. One of those is that God is perfect. In being perfect, I believed that God never forgets and never turns his back on his promises. This, indeed, seems to be how Vischer (and Gilson) have characterized God--as a completely reliable fulfiller of all his promises--and so I do not think I am taking unfair advantage of anything for me to proceed with this assumption.
This raises a question for them, then. I find my wife to be highly reliable. If she tells me that she will buy milk at the store later, I know there is a very high chance that it will happen, which is the same as saying I know there is a very low chance that it will not happen, no more than a few percent. The question I would like to hear Vischer (and Gilson) address is: What chance--for any reason whatsoever--do you think there is that God will slip or renege on his promises?
The thing about this
If they assign a value of "no chance" to this possibility, then I conclude that they are doing at least four things:
- Using that trust--which they identify as faith--as a claim to knowledge;
- Using that trust as a knowledge claim to pretend to know something that they do not know;
- Using that trust to conclude with at least the same certainty that God must exist and must have certain attributes; and
- Therefore, since they use that certainty that God exists to justify the trust, engaging in circular reasoning if they use that trust to justify God's existence as well.
Gentlemen, friends--you have the floor. What chance--for any reason whatsoever--do you think there is that God will slip or renege on his promises?