“Faith is belief without evidence” — an objectionOctober 5, 2007 — Deacon Duncan
Hot on the heels of our most recent XFiles Friday, I stumble across this objection to the idea that faith is belief without evidence. But this blogger isn’t mad at Christian apologists like Geisler and Turek. Like so many other things, this “offense” gets blamed on atheists.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when the new atheists pull the old “faith is belief without evidence” meme out of their back pocket. By itself, it isn’t that annoying, but combine it with the fact that no matter how many times somebody like myself points out to them that that isn’t what faith means, they will continue to think that that is what it does, in fact, mean. I’ve never quite understood this until this “On Faith” post by Sam Harris**. It occurred to me that the “faith is belief without evidence” meme often serves as a form of self-deception for these atheists.
Can you believe those wacky atheists? Not only do they have more faith (i.e. “belief without evidence”) than Christians, as Geisler and Turek inform us, but they’re also guilty of deliberately and maliciously spreading the “meme” that says faith is belief without evidence. And their insidious purpose behind spreading this idea? Why, to defend their own atheistic beliefs, which are a faith with no evidence:
If there is one thing the new atheists are invested in, it is that their view of the world is the most reasonable. If they don’t have that, they don’t really have anything at all.
If there’s one thing Christians are good at, it’s the psychological phenomenon known as projection. It is Christians, and not atheists, who have been promoting the “faith = belief – evidence” equation ever since Paul told the Corinthians that Christians “walk by faith and not by sight.” The blogger above is merely uncomfortable with this necessity because he is smart enough to realize that if truth is consistent with itself, faith in the truth ought to be reflected by a corresponding body of evidence which is consistent with what he believes. So he blames atheists for spreading a “false” definition of faith. And though he protests at length that this is what faith doesn’t mean, he never quite defines for us what he thinks faith does mean. Small wonder, then, that atheistic writers like Sam Harris prefer to take their definition of faith from noted Bible scholars and Christian apologists like Norm Geisler.
Secondly, with regards to the remark that “If they don’t have that, they don’t have anything…” Why is it so important to argue about what the proper definition of faith is? If there were tangible evidence backing up Christian claims, why would it require faith to believe the conclusions the evidence supported? People sometimes speak somewhat poetically about having “faith” that the dark of the night will give way to the light of dawn, but the reality of sunrise and sunset are not seriously questioned by anyone. That, however, is because recurring sunrises are consistent with an abundance of real-world evidence.
By flagging the definition of faith as an issue significant enough to require pinning the blame on atheists, the blogger above is inadvertently providing us with further evidence that his Christian faith is indeed a belief in that which, if it were consistent with the evidence, would not need to be called a “faith.” The whole reason the definition of faith is so important is because faith is all they have. If Christians don’t have faith, they have nothing at all. That’s also an unpalatable state of affairs, so the blogger projects it onto the atheists, and claims that all they have is faith in how reasonable their worldview is, and that apart from that they have nothing.
A multitude of ironies, as is so often the case.