One of the most common attacks on Christianity is to ridicule its reliance on faith. Atheists proudly proclaim their dependence upon reason or logic whereas Christians practice a faith in a magic book trusting their imaginary friend named Jesus. This tactic has proven very effective damaging the faith of many and keeping others from ever coming to Christ. In my last post, I stated that it is impossible to escape faith while seeking to discern truth. Indeed, everyone practices faith. It is impossible to live and not have faith.
Obviously, we cannot address this issue without defining faith and therein lies the problem. The definition of faith promulgated by atheists is that of a belief or trust in something without evidence or reason, an irrational belief. Unfortunately, even many Christians have accepted this definition in their practice of Christianity. As I have shown, neither the Bible nor Jesus Christ ever asked for that kind of faith. We are to love the Lord with all of our mind (Matthew 22:37). God challenges His foes to “Produce your strong reasons” (Isaiah 41:21) and invites all to “Come, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). Faith, then, is not contrary to reason and evidence. The Bible describes faith as the “The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) which points to the definition. “Substance” refers to “That which stands under or behind something giving us assurance of the validity of that on which we are relying” (Robertson) Faith is a belief or trust in something that has not been seen “Faith apprehends as real fact what is not revealed to the senses” (Vincent). This is practiced by everyone every day. In my last post I pointed out that we decide what is true by picking out our criterion for deciding truth or our set of axioms based on what appeals to our own thinking. This is essentially having faith in our own ability to reason. Indeed, we have to have faith that our senses are really giving us true information about the reality around us. If someone makes some statement, we accept it as true because we have faith in the person making the statement even though we know everyone can be mistaken. We cannot possibly check all of our sources for accuracy nor can we be certain of the authority we use to check those sources. Even atheist, who loudly proclaim their lack of any kind of faith, believe that the space-time universe was produced by a rapid expansion of primordial matter found in a singularity even though it has never been seen nor can it ever be reproduced. They also must believe that life came from non-living chemicals by processes that we have never observed and would be contrary to what we do know about bio-chemical processes. God created all reality to require faith for all things were created to bring pleasure to God (Revelation 4:11) and without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The real question is not do we have faith – we all have faith -but how reasonable our faith is. An Atheist would say that their belief in the standard model of cosmogony and spontaneous generation of life is based on scientific evidence and therefore not faith, i.e. not an irrational belief. We would counter that the evidence for the existence of the God is supported by even stronger evidence. However, in any case, the question is not that of faith verses reason but of the reasonableness of the competing faiths.
This discussion, then, is not as simple as it seems. We cannot merely compare evidences and evaluate reasoning because all evidence needs interpretation and all reasoning needs foundation. Without a way to organize and evaluate evidence, it is only so much information. The problem often is, then, not with the evidence and reasoning, but with the interpretation of the evidence and the criterion we use for reasoning. That is, the competing paradigms or worldviews through which we observe the evidence and on which we base our reasoning becomes the real arena of the battle. Furthermore, these worldviews are chosen, at least in part, on the basis of faith as I have shown. How, then, can we argue worldviews? Lord willing I will deal with that issue in my next post.