Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Debunking Christianity: On Definitions of Faith and Arguments Against It

You may be aware that John Loftus has been posting a lot about what "faith" is. It's amazing that he has still failed to have correctly define it. Here is a list of definitions has has used put together from two recent blog posts.  Loftus wrote:

Skeptics define "faith" differently than believers. It's hard to find a middle ground between us because we see faith differently. Here are a few skeptical definitions of faith:

Yup, I think it is impossible to believers and non-believers are not capable to agree on this. Here are some of those quotes.

Mark Twain defined faith as “believing what you know ain’t true.”

Sam Harris: "Faith is the license religious people give themselves to keep believing when reasons fail."

In the documentary Religulous, Bill Maher said “Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking.”

Richard Dawkins: “The whole point of religious faith, its strength and chief glory, is that it does not depend on rational justification. The rest of us are expected to defend our prejudices.”

John Loftus: "Faith is an attitude or feeling whereby someone attributes a higher degree of probability to the evidence than what the evidence calls for."
And from Dr Matt McCormick

-To take something on faith or to believe by faith is to believe it despite contrary or inadequate evidence. It is to believe anyway when there's not enough support from evidence and reason to clear the way.

-The overcoming of doubts or counter-evidence is the essential feature of faith.

-If someone's reaction to my arguments against the resurrection and other religious beliefs is that she has faith, then she is conceding the central point. In effect, she is acknowledging that in order to believe those religious doctrines, one must ignore the inefficiencies in the evidence and believe anyway.

-If there is sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion, then faith isn't needed. So to suggest that faith and evidence jointly justify is acknowledging that the evidence by itself isn't enough, and I will ignore that gap and believe anyway.

-In fact, the need to invoke faith to bridge the gap affirms the inadequacy of the evidence.

-In effect, the faith response amounts to, "I'm going to believe anyway, despite those objections." That's just dogmatic irrationality, not a serious consideration that the critic must give some further objection to.

Debunking Christianity: On Definitions of Faith and Arguments Against It

Professor Matt McCormick's Definition of Faith

In the latest post, Loftus said something in the comments that I think bears scrutiny:

FTFDad, it doesn't matter how they define it. This is an argument over how it is best defined.

My response: Who are you to tell me what I mean when I use the word "faith"? There have been few arguments I have seen about how to define a single word in English. My vote is to go with the Biblical definition, but people like Loftus and McCormick would never agree to that. I say that because none of them have seem to argue that the Bible defines it the way they do. Baring that...why don't we just decide the way we do all other English words: Etymology. Where does this word come from? I came up with a couple of links that one can look at that shows what the word originally meant:

And you would notice that in no way did it mean to believe or trust in something without proof or contrary to evidence. In today's vernacular we do use "faith" that way, but that is not how the people who first translated the Bible into English would have thought of what "faith" means. And for sure the Bible writers did not think that was what :"pistas:" means - the word that is often translated to "faith" in English Bibles.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for , the evidence of things not seen .- Hebrews 11:1

Crosswalk.com is very handy. The Biblical text is hyperlinked to Strong's Concordance. One could click on the words and look up some lexical aids to see what words mean. Can we find anything in the Greek words that lends credibility to idea that when we believe, we should just turn our brains off and ignore and contrary facts or evidence? I don't mind if you check yourself. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Nope, nothing about believing despite "counterfactuals". Sorry, but Atheists have no leg to stand on in mis-defining "Faith" as they often do. It doesn't matter what  "faith" means now in the English vernacular when you are trying  to understand what the the Gospel writers were saying 2000 years ago. Where they using your definition? If you think "Faith" is believing something even if you can prove its false, then you are not using the same concepts that the writers of the Bible were using.and you should repent of the error.

Sugarcoating the Bible | Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament

Dr Mariottini has posted some comments about an article by Steven James, writing a post for CNN Belief Blog, in which he argued for Christians to stop "sugarcoating" the Bible. I agree. Dr Mariottini wrote:

In previous posts I have argued for translating the biblical text as literally as possible and as readable as necessary. I rather prefer that the reader struggle with the text as it is than to offer a reading that is more of an interpretation than a translation of the text.

I could not agree more!!

Sugarcoating the Bible | Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament
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Peregrinations: The Crux of Cosmic History

Rick Gerhardt recently gave an important sermon at his home church. Thankfully, he posted it on his blog.

Rick Gerhardt :: The Crux of Cosmic History from Antioch Church on Vimeo.

Peregrinations: The Crux of Cosmic History