Is Faith Belief Without Evidence?

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Is Faith Belief Without Evidence?

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Richard Dawkins is known to regularly assert one of his chief criticisms of Christainity is it asks us to believe things without evidence. He even mentions it in The Selfish Gene, an excellent book I recommend to anyone who would like to better understand evolution, or even a nerd like me who'd just enjoy hearing about life and adaption the gene's own viewpoint. As mentioned though, while the book is not one of his atheism books, it mentions the Apostle Thomas and quotes his popular nickname, "Doubting Thomas." He points out that the word doubt is meant to be seen as negative, and that his desire to see evidence rather than depend on secondhand accounts is bad.

Frankly, I can't quite see where he's wrong. If he is right, of course, that's greatly troubling. Surely, to believe something for reasons other than evidence (because Jesus loves me, because I just know, because it's the center of my life, etc) is unreasonable.

This topic isn't asking is there evidence for God. The question here is, don't Christians tend to emphasize faith, what is faith, and why is it a good thing? EDIT: I'm not playing devil's advocate, I've genuinely realized I don't understand this concept, basic as it may be.
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PennyBassett
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The problem here is that Mr. Dawkins is mixing two different definitions of the word 'faith.' One says faith is belief without evidence, another is the believe in God or other religion. So when it comes to using the word faith in the context of Christianity, evidence is irrelevant. Someone can easily conciter the evidence that there is a God and then come to have faith. You can base your faith on evidence, though some people don't. But frankly they're unrelated. I believe that when it comes to Christianity, we should pray that God would help us strengthen our faith, so that in times of struggle, we can trust him. As far as Thomas, I honestly don't see where it says in the Bible, that doubting is a sin. It's ok that sometimes we get caught up in worldly things and I've noticed that when we do, it's hard to see God because our minds are so corrupted with sin, and we begin to doubt him. That fact that Thomas doubted for a time wasn't as sin. And Thomas wasn't perfect, he was a man like any of us.
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PennyBassett wrote:. I believe that when it comes to Christianity, we should pray that God would help us strengthen our faith, so that in times of struggle, we can trust him.
Yes, people sometimes define it that way, as fortitude when we emotionally find it hard to believe in God, based on what we know from earlier. But that's not how it's used. We can't understand the Trinity, or how Jesus could be fully God and fully man, or God can be in full control of the world and allow it to be a violent, miserable place for many while being fully good. These are fundamental questions of Christianity and while there's philosophy and speculation on these subjects, most Christians will freely admit they don't understand them and that they "take them on faith." One common phrase is, "They'r called mysteries for a reason", saying that as if it's a positive they're mysteries, as if it's a good thing we don't understand foundational questions about our religion.
PennyBassett wrote:As far as Thomas, I honestly don't see where it says in the Bible, that doubting is a sin.
It doesn't.

If I insinuated it is, it was unintentional. The point was "Doubting Thomas" is not seen as a congratulatory title. It is seen as a negative that he asked for evidence. Texts and sermons site his example so we can do the opposite of his example.
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I would say that faith is believing in things that cannot be understood by reason alone. Faith informs us of things that are not seen in this world. We are called to question and seek out as much as we can with our reason but there comes a point where reason has been exhausted and the final leap must come from faith.
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jehoshaphat wrote:We are called to question and seek out as much as we can with our reason but there comes a point where reason has been exhausted and the final leap must come from faith.
So faith takes over where reason stops? So you agree faith is believing things without evidence?
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Not completely without evidence. There is a point when there is no more evidence and you can either choose to believe or not believe.
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I don't quite follow. You gather all the evidence you can and the final decision is faith? If you gather sufficient evidence, how can the final decision be faith? Or are you saying there is insufficient evidence, and we choose to believe anyway?
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The latter yes. We are called to gather as much "logical proof" of God's existence but then if it is insufficient then we must make the final leap of faith.
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jehoshaphat wrote:We are called to gather as much "logical proof" of God's existence but then if it is insufficient then we must make the final leap of faith.
Isn't that the very definition of jumping to conclusions?
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If you have the OAC Club, the episode Things Not Seen talks about this exact subject: Faith.
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Yes, it was quite fascinating, it mentioned the sort of faith that PennyBassett mentioned. Which was refreshing, aio has been partial to whole, "Don't use your mind too much, stick with faith!" thing in the past. We are not discussing that sort of faith here. Thanks though, mnm.
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It is jumping to conclusions yes. What I am trying to say is that faith is not blind or dumb. Faith makes up for any uncertainty when it comes to belief. What I am also trying to say is that faith is not belief without evidence, it is belief without conclusive evidence.
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Well, isn't jumping to conclusions bad? Especially if it's a choice you build your life around? If faith is essentially jumping to conclusions then that doesn't sound good.

So it's something that makes up for uncertainty. And it's not dumb. Okay, yes, it's not dumb, you can find evidence and still have faith.

So, according to your definition, faith is something (assurance?) that steps in when evidence is insufficient. Is firmly believing something with insufficient evidence a good thing?
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We don't have sufficient evidence of anything. Isn't the whole point of "I think therefor I am" is because the only thing we can actually prove is that we think?

And also, it seems like the whole point of God is that we /can't/ prove Him. The teaching about Him is that we have tiny human brains that in no way can comprehend Him. No way are able to put Him in a box, define Him, describe Him, understand Him or why He does everything He does. Paul tells us now we see through a dark mirror, but we will find answers when we come face to face with God. So, to answer your original question, yes, Christians rely on "belief" without evidence because there is some answers and evidence that we will just never find or comprehend.

Something else I have been learning about is that Christianity (believe it or not) is an Eastern religion. Why is that important? Well, people in the East tend to have completely different mindsets than us here in the West. That is, everything having to make sense, provable, and rational is not how they view things. The Eastern thought seems to accept mysteries more. So, if the Eastern thought is still acceptable and not "primeval" then having mystery in our life is not the end of the world. It's natural. Even now we have mysterious in our science and history and medical... everywhere.

So, yes, maybe some parts of Christianity emphasize faith too much. And yet other parts emphasize evidence too much. There should be a healthy balance in between; of things we know for sure and things we can not prove yet still hold to be true.
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I agree. I don't agree that we cannot understand, describe, or define God in any way though. Certainly our knowledge is limited but not completely. God has given us brains and reason to understand some things about him. I realize you probably didn't mean it so drastically but I thought we would clear that up.

I completely agree that we need a balance of mystery and evidence.
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Ox has a point. We are dealing with a God we cannot see who thinks on an entirely differently level than we do and who is supposedly at work in ways we cannot keep track of. At a certain point some amount of belief we cannot completely prove will be required.


Etc., etc.: I, Ninjahunter
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Fascinating post, Ox, I had to think about it a lot to articulate a reply.
Isaiah the Ox wrote: We don't have sufficient evidence of anything.
It depends how we define sufficient. I define it as evidence that allows you to be reasonably certain until further evidence shows otherwise. Would you agree to that?
Isaiah the Ox wrote:And also, it seems like the whole point of God is that we /can't/ prove Him. The teaching about Him is that we have tiny human brains that in no way can comprehend Him. No way are able to put Him in a box, define Him, describe Him, understand Him or why He does everything He does.
We cannot comprehend Him, yes. How does it follow we cannot prove Him? We proved gravity before we knew about gravitational time dilation. Do you see the principle? We can prove something and know little or even next to nothing about what we have proven exists.
Isaiah the Ox wrote:That is, everything having to make sense, provable, and rational is not how they view things.
Does that concept make sense? Is that provable? Is it rational?
Isaiah the Ox wrote:It's natural. Even now we have mysterious in our science and history and medical... everywhere.
Don't you see a number of things wrong with that comparison?

In conclusion. How can we know something without evidence, and if you think we can know things without evidence, pray site evidence to support that claim.
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First off, I don't know how much more I can argue as I am already a little out of my knowledge zone and I don't want to be spouting off random things I've heard without actually thinking them through properly and understanding them. I'm also not that very good with apologetics along these lines... I know I should be but it can get complicated very fast and sometimes I never know if I should trust what an apologist says or not. =p

You made a bunch of good points and I probably don't know how to answer them. But I think I'll just settle with this quote from you:
The PF Man wrote:Does that concept make sense? Is that provable? Is it rational?
That's the thing. We are working with such complicated ideas, that minds, at least my own, can't understand it. My point is, God in general doesn't make sense. He's mind blowing and complicated and everything. We might think we could prove him scientifically without a shadow of a doubt, but He might have a greater plan and doesn't allow Himself to be discovered that way. That's the thing, if you believe in a God like mine, ours, you basically have a trump card for any argument. Is that a good thing? Yes and no. We can just toss aside things that don't make sense because we can know there are things we won't ever know on this earth. But, it sounds incredibly stupid to our modern minds, to have such a big trump card. We think it's unscientific, prehistoric, false. But, I don't know. To me, even though this is odd and somewhat contradicting of myself to say this, God existing makes sense to me. The way I interpret history and what I see in this world, I see enough proof for me. Everyone's different though, and I understand that this could be an issue that holds people back from belief in God. But if you want to debate the philosophical points that I haven't researched (but probably should), then you'll have to find someone else to debate. =p
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Do you have anything you'd point me to then? I can't guarantee I'd read whatever book or article you picked but I'd at least check them out.
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Nothing comes to mind really... Sorry =/
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