Fundamatheists frequently misdefine faith as “belief without evidence.” Not surprisingly, you can look in vain for such a definition in quality dictionaries (see, e.g., here). Indeed, in the past I have described such efforts as arguments disguised as definitions. But even that is far too generous. Truly, the claim that faith is belief without evidence is a bald assertion disguised as a definition. Moreover, it’s a misdirected assertion not just because it’s not so defined by dictionaries.
- It’s misdirected because atheists have no standing to tell believers how faith is (or should be) defined. That’s not how Christians define faith, and their (our) views should control here.
- It’s misdirected because we already have a great word in English for the concept fundamatheists are driving at. It’s not faith they’re talking about. It’s credulity, commonly defined as “readiness or willingness to believe especially on slight or uncertain evidence.”
- Most fundamentally, it’s misdirected because it’s false. Christianity is, for example, supported by historical evidence (what happened in 1st C. Palestine to the man Jesus who was called the Christ) and testimonial evidence (people’s testimony about their personal experiences of God). This evidence can be problematic and is also subject to multiple interpretations, of course, but it is still evidence. The appropriate quarrel is over the nature and quality of the evidence rather than its status as evidence.
So, the next time you visit a typical fundamatheist website and see faith misdefined as “belief without evidence” (which happens so quickly and so consistently as to be essentially Pavlovian), remind the crowd of would-be and alleged rationalists of the error of their ways. Faith is not credulity and vice versa.