Unreasonable Faith

by Nathan Liddell

What indeed hath Athens to do with Jerusalem? – Tertullian[1]

He who believes needs no explanation. – Euripides[2]

If one claims knowledge either in the absence of evidence, or when a claim is contradicted by evidence, then this is when the word “faith” is used. “Believing something anyway” is an accurate definition of the term “faith.” – Peter Boghossian[3]

There are those who scoff at the school boy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the schoolboy who said, Faith is believing what you know ain’t so. – Mark Twain[4]

There’s a name for faith without evidence and it isn’t “Christianity.”[5] Believing something without evidence is called “Fideism.”[6] Amesbury says,[7]

“Fideism” is the name given to that school of thought—to which Tertullian himself is frequently said to have subscribed—which answers that faith is in some sense independent of, if not outright adversarial toward, reason.

He notes, however, that this view held by some Christians is not held by all. Some Christians, for example, those who make arguments from nature for the existence of God (i.e. natural theologians), are evidentialists, meaning they require evidence for their faith. Amesbury contrasts Fideism with evidentialist natural theology writing,[8]

In contrast to the more rationalistic tradition of natural theology, with its arguments for the existence of God, fideism holds…that reason is unnecessary and inappropriate for the exercise and justification of religious belief.

So, if some Christians are fideistic, how can I say that Christianity is not faith without evidence? I would argue based on Bible evidence that Christians that are fideistic are getting the epistemology of the Christian faith wrong…

Unreasonable Faith