Faith Is Believing Without Evidence

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! We’ve spent a lot of time lately looking at atheistic soundbites that one will regularly encounter in the blogosphere. Tonight, I’m going to look at one that I think really shows the new atheist movement for what it is.

Before that however, let’s be clear about words. The meaning of a word is inherent in the text the word is in. I cannot go to what you say, attribute my own meaning to the words you use, and make you mean something different. No. I need to seek to understand how you mean the word to be used and if it’s a word in an ancient book, I need to understand how the people of the time used that word and not how people today use it.

For instance, we can read about marriage in the Bible and while it is still a relationship between a man and a woman that’s monogamous and sexual and life-long, that does not mean everything is the same. We will be hard-pressed to find information about choosing your spouse in the Bible and how to behave on a date. The concept just wasn’t around back then.

I’d like to apply this to faith. Go through the new atheists be it their books or their audio debates and hear how they talk about faith. See constantly how they berate people believing something for which they say they don’t have evidence. The irony is rich and it should be something that the new atheists deserve to be shamed for.

Each of them should know better, and none of them apparently do. Dawkins knows Alister McGrath. He can disagree with McGrath, but he surely knows McGrath doesn’t believe without evidence. Harris is supposed to be a graduate in philosophy from Stanford. He should know about the philosophical arguments for God’s existence from Christian philosophers.

Consider also Victor Stenger who regularly makes this kind of claim as well. Oh Stenger will every now and then reference Craig and Zacharias, but he will not really interact with them. In his book “The New Atheism: Taking A Stand For Science and Reason” he will counter apologists who argue against the new atheism. Now I find nothing wrong with that. I think if you’re of a belief and you think an argument against your belief is faulty, you should argue against it. However, I also think if an argument is for your belief and faulty, you should argue against it. I certainly don’t want my viewpoint to be presented with bad arguments.

The problem is Stenger will give the impression that there are no arguments for theism. In fact, his total jump to science shows this. Oh we’ve heard the philosophy and the theology before, but we all know that doesn’t matter! Let’s go to science and if science says it’s not true, then it’s not true! It’s the priesthood of science that I’ve spoken about here. Forget philosophy and forget theology. They don’t matter. I think atheists would rightly reply with scorn if a Christian said “Forget science! All we need is Jesus and the Bible.” Heck. I’d reply with scorn. That’s not a Christian attitude at all since we are to be people of truth. That’s not just biblical truth. That’s ALL truth!

However, the sad irony of all of this is while the new atheists condemn faith as believing something without evidence, I have never seen them give any evidence that this is what the biblical writers meant by faith. Readers. I ask you this and you can tell me if I’ve missed it. Have they ever once cited a Greek lexicon that says this is the definition of faith? Have they pointed to any Greek authorities? Have they shown any research abilities whatsoever in looking up what faith means?

I have a few copies of Vine’s in my room. Vine’s does not say that this is what faith is. Faith is instead to be granted to that which is trustworthy and reliable. To have faith in Jesus means to say that you find Jesus to be one who is worthy of trust and you choose to side with him.

Where do the new atheists get the idea? The first place I checked is the abomination that causes misinformation. Here’s what the first sentence on Wikipedia is about the topic:

“Faith is the confident belief or trust in a person, idea, or thing that is not based on proof.”

Well to begin with, very few of our beliefs are based on absolute proof. You do not have proof that that box of cereal at the grocery store contains cereal. You do not have proof that the surgery you’re going to undertake will succeed and you’ll walk away more healthy. You do not have proof that that airplane you’re about to board will get you where you want to go.

What’s really bad about the Wikipedia definition however is that it gets its definition from a dictionary. That’s just fine if you want to use a word in its modern sense and I can agree that sadly to many moderns, faith means believing something without evidence. To argue against the Bible however, you must take the word as the writers of the Bible took it to mean.

For instance, when the Christmas carol says “Don we now our gay apparel”, we don’t look at that and say “They want us to dress like homosexuals?” We know that “gay” meant happy. Today, it’s been twisted to mean something else. It doesn’t mean we look back and think the writers of the Christmas carol had some sexual fetishes we don’t know about.

The new atheists however don’t do that. For them, shoddy research has been their calling card. God belief is not something any rational person would believe to them a priori so why spend any real time studying it? Why also think any readers would do the same? The new atheists say that this is what faith is, so let’s just have all the drones repeat it. (For people claiming to be free-thinkers, you’d think some of them would actually think differently)

Even if atheism were true, I think arguments like this should be enough to discredit the new atheists as not doing appropriate research. What’s the result of this? They end knocking down a straw man that doesn’t exist, having several atheists think Christians don’t have real arguments, having some Christians think likewise, and destroying the false faith of many who really do believe without evidence.

Not only that, it is just intellectual dishonesty. When you present your opponents’ viewpoints, you present them in their best possible light with the best arguments that you can possibly come up with. The new atheists do not do this and I cannot think of any good reason why they do not.

If you are a follower of the new atheists, I urge you to consider this. If they’ve done this bad of research on a basic point, can you trust them on greater points?

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