Does Faith Have to be Blind, Irrational and Opposed to Reason?

Beyond Teachable Moments

This is the second of twenty points that I think every person should learn before they reach twenty.

One of the things that every young person should understand before they reach the age of twenty is that there is a war on the word ‘faith’. It is because of this war that faith is often viewed as the opposite of reason, intelligence, and the ‘scientific mind’.

Consider how ‘faith’ is defined in the dictionary.

For example, the online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘faith’ in the following way [1]:

  1. allegiance to duty or a person:  loyalty:  fidelity to one’s promises:  sincerity of intentions;
  2. belief and trust in and loyalty to God:  belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion:  firm belief in something for which there is no proof [emphasis added]:  complete trust;
  3. something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially:  a system of religious beliefs.

Notice that faith holds the connotation of believing in something for which there is no proof. Based on this definition of ‘faith’, it is perfectly reasonable for an atheist or skeptic to conclude that religion (‘faith’) is opposed to science (which is more interested in ‘facts’). And this is just what they have done.

“The whole point of faith is to believe regardless of the evidence, which is the very antithesis of science.” Michael Shermer

“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” Richard Dawkins

These are pretty heavy accusations against Christianity – or faith of any stripe. I also think the accusations are logical if we accept the definition of faith as described above.

But is the definition of ‘faith’ – belief in something for which there is no proof – really accurate for Christian faith, or for any use of the word ‘faith’ for that matter? When you say that you have faith in someone – God, your mother, the government, your doctor – is it because you have no proof of their reliability, or because of the proof of their reliability?…

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