Defining Faith

My biggest problem with the New Atheists boils down to this:

That’s not faith. Here’s how Hebrews 11 defines faith:

1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

I would suggest, humble readers, that this definition of faith – belief in the unseen – is not the same as deliberately not seeing. Which is the way most atheists seem to frame it. Seeing something and denying it is not faith – which is a problem for some Christians, I’ll admit. But thought and faith are not in opposition – faith simply deals with that which we hope and do not see. I don’t have faith that a chair will hold me. I trust that it will. Because I have watched it, or experienced it, holding me. That’s where, I think, faith and trust are different.

If I had found any contradictory evidence (ala point 1 of the above definition), ie if I had seen it – then it would no longer be faith keeping me in a position (according to Hebrews 11) but stupidity. Taking something “on faith” does not mean not seeking to confirm the thing by investigation, or observation – and it does not mean holding a position contrary to logic, reason, or observation. This is where I think Atheists 2.0 have it most wrong. At least second most wrong. I think not believing in God is where they have it most wrong…

That is all.

Is your faith rational?

You can take the test here (h/t Craig).

I have a couple of problems with the absolute language used in framing the questions – and the presupposition that God must be testable in a materialistic framework.

Here’s where I “bit the bullet”…

“In saying that God has the freedom and power to do that which is logically impossible (like creating square circles), you are saying that any discussion of God and ultimate reality cannot be constrained by basic principles of rationality. This would seem to make rational discourse about God impossible. If rational discourse about God is impossible, there is nothing rational we can say about God and nothing rational we can say to support our belief or disbelief in God. To reject rational constraints on religious discourse in this fashion requires accepting that religious convictions, including your religious convictions, are beyond any debate or rational discussion. This is to bite a bullet.”

Here were my results:

Congratulations!

You have been awarded the TPM medal of distinction! This is our second highest award for outstanding service on the intellectual battleground.

The fact that you progressed through this activity being hit only once and biting very few bullets suggests that your beliefs about God are well thought out and almost entirely internally consistent.

The direct hit you suffered occurred because one set of your answers implied a logical contradiction. The bitten bullets occurred because you responded in ways that required that you held views that most people would have found strange, incredible or unpalatable. At the bottom of this page, we have reproduced the analyses of your direct hit and bitten bullets.

Because you only suffered one direct hit and bit very few bullets, you qualify for our second highest award. A good achievement!”

The other point I “failed” on was that I suggested the burden of proof for the Loch Ness Monster (a creature who should be physical, measurable and observable) was different to the burden of proof for God. Plus the question was framed equating the word “atheism” with rational thought, and not stating whether it was strong atheism (the positive statement of belief that there are no gods) or weak atheism (a lack of belief in gods). The justification of this approach is included in their FAQ.

“The contradiction is that on the first ocassion (Loch Ness monster) you agreed that the absence of evidence or argument is enough to rationally justify belief in the non-existence of the Loch Ness monster, but on this occasion (God), you do not.”