|Secular Student Alliance leader and myself panel-discussing
atheism and Christianity at Winona State University.
Atheists and Christians often disagree about the nature of religious faith.
One group says faith is blind, a leap in the dark, definitely not based on evidence.
The other says faith is sighted, a leap in the light, supported by much evidence.
Which is it?
I think you can only describe your own experience and the experience of like-minded people. In my own case, faith is the result of critical reflection on arguments and empirical evidence.
When my atheist friends tell me that faith is blind and not based on evidence, they presuppose a universal definition of faith.
(And if Rick Mattson would only look up the word “faith” in the universal dictionary, he’d discover that faith, by definition, cannot be based on evidence. But of course no such dictionary exists.)
My reply to the atheist is this:
I do not hold to your definition of faith, nor am I obligated to do so. My faith is based largely on critical reflection of arguments and empirical evidence.
In a recent public debate with an atheist friend, I made the simple request that he not impose his definition of faith on me.
You should make the same request of your atheist friends.
At this point you may be thinking to yourself that the faith I describe above comes off a bit cold and calculating. Shouldn’t there be something more to it? What about emotion? Attitude? Commitment?