by Blake Giunta
Question: Is Biblical faith such that, when one has it, one is believing in the absence of evidence or in spite of the evidence?
Often critics of various religions are inclined to represent faith as an intellectual vice. E.g.
Mark Twain: “Faith is believing what you know ain't so.”1
Ayn Rand: “Faith is the commitment of one's consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof.”2
The most famous advocate in recent years of this view is Peter Boghossian, who writes:
“I’ll now offer my two preferred definitions of faith, ...'belief without evidence' ... [or] 'pretending to know what you don't know.'”
This irked enough believers that it culminated in a now famous radio face-off between Boghossian and Western Michigan University professor Tim McGrew, a prominent epistemologist (philosopher of knowledge). McGrew insisted that even if Boghossian felt Christians had poor reason for belief (such that their faith was irrational), it should not imply that they mean “blind faith.” Most Christians, McGrew insisted, simply mean something analogous to “trust.” The show ended with McGrew suggesting that a large poll be taken, asking Christians and non-Christians what they meant. Boghossian agreed.
The choice to put the question to both Christians and Non-Christians was strategic—if Christians disagreed with Boghossian, then it would be sufficient to establish that Boghossian was wrong about what Christians mean. But if Non-Christians agreed with Boghossian, it would do more: it would also imply that non-believers at large were perpetuating a myth about what Christians mean. And sure enough, this is exactly what was established…
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