Atheism part 6: Fideism

Rick Mattson Apologetics, Atheism 2 Comments

One of my favorite Christian philosophers is C. Stephen Evans. He is sophisticated yet accessible to thinking lay people.

In his Philosophy of Religion, co-authored with R. Zachary Manis, he contrasts two opposing approaches to faith: neutralism and fideism.

In the fideistic way, believing tends to come before critical thinking.

There is no stepping back in order to rationally evaluate the arguments for and against God.

Rather, you simply believe in God. You commit yourself. You step out in faith.

It’s only after this step of faith is made that you can think rightly about God, because now you’re standing on the proper ground.

Any supposed “neutral” posture toward God is actually a state of rebellion.

Generally, fideism drives atheists nuts.

They ask, “Why do you believe?”

You reply, “You just have to have faith.”

But then, “Faith in what?”

“Faith in Christ.”

“Why Christ? Why not the Buddha?”

“Because Christ is true.”

“How do you know that?”

“I know it from experience. You’d know it too, if you just had faith.”

“You’re driving me crazy. I’ll never make a blind leap of faith like that.”

“Blind? This is the clearest vision I’ve ever had in my life.”

Dear readers, what do you think of fideism? Since I am out of space I’ll comment next week — and introduce neutralism.

Comments 2

  1. I often think in visuals from Disney — comes from having 2 children. There's a scene in the movie Aladdin where he wants the princess to get on the magic carpet with him. He holds out his hand and asks, “do you trust me?” She has to decide at that moment whether she's going to trust him or be safe.

    I see my decision to trust Christ that way. I had to decide whether to surrender my will and trust that He would take care of me. Maybe that's fideism. The other thing you said is true as well. My experience since trusting Him has proven that faith to be placed correctly.

    It isn't always easy, and I don't ever do it perfectly, but it is worth every minute of living in the Light to have taken the offered Hand.

  2. Dear SLM, nicely put. Sounds like you made a kind of leap of faith, then subsequently realized its truthfulness. That was me, too, 35 years ago. If my fideistic approach turned out to be irrational, however, I'd have given up the faith a long time ago!

    Thanks for writing in.

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