Posts Tagged ‘faith and evidence’

faith defined (incorrectly)

There are many misunderstandings on what “faith” actually is.  For example, Richard Dawkins states that, “Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”  Peter Boghossian, Portland State University philosopher and author of A Manuel for Creating Atheists, describes faith as “pretending to know what you don’t know.”  Even popular culture depicts faith as a blind leap into belief with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade scene showing Jones stepping blindly into the abyss to be caught by and invisible bridge:

All of these descriptions and definitions of faith are wrong.  They are not biblical or found in the bible.  Here is the correct understanding of the concept of faith:

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William Lane Craig of Biola University and Houston Baptist University answers the questions “how should we define faith?” at the 2014 Unbelievable? Conference in England in this short video:

Alan Shlemon of Stand to Reason answers the question: “Is Faith Blind?” A taste of the article:

The Greek word for faith, pistis, is derived from the verb pisteuo, which means “to convince by argument.” Hebrews 11:1 explains that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Some translations replace “conviction” with “evidence.” Faith, then, is being convinced that the things we can’t see (e.g. God, heaven, the resurrection, etc.) are real.

The word “faith” is so often misunderstood that I avoid using it in most conversations. I use a different word in its place: trust. This better characterizes the Bible’s use of faith, but is free of the misleading baggage.

Biblical faith, then, is not blind, but functions the same way as trust.

Greg Ganssle, former lecturer Yale University and senior fellow of the Rivendell Institute at Yale and current professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, explains the relationship of faith to reason in this video:

Just look at my menu above title “Is Christianity True?” and I cover the reasons and evidence of why we believe God exists, that Jesus is God, that the Bible is historically reliable, and the evidence for the resurrection.

J. P. Moreland, in his great book Love God With All Your Mindexplains how theologians have understood the biblical concept of faith throughout the history of the church:

Throughout church history, theologians have expressed three different aspects of biblical faith: notitia (knowledge), fiducia (trust), and assensus (assent). Notitia refers to the data or doctrinal content of the Christian faith. Assensus denotes the assent of the intellect to the truth of the content of Christian teaching. Note that each of these aspects of faith requires a careful exercise of reason, both in understanding what the teachings of Christianity are and in judging their truthfulness. In this way, reason is indispensable for the third aspect of faith — fiducia — which captures the personal application or trust involved in faith, an act that primarily involves the will but includes the affection and intellect too.

So, non-believers AND, more importantly, believers need to stop defining faith at believing without evidence.  Faith and reason are not opposed.