Redefining Faith

In the context to a belief in God the word “faith” has become in some atheist circles to meaning believing in something where there is no evidence. This definition is gaining wider acceptance.

Yet in almost most every other context use of the word faith goes hand in hand with evidence.

For example we express faith in a friend or spouse not in the back drop of no evidence but because of it.

We have faith in an institution because of past evidence of it’s action and or use of it’s power.

This mixed use of the word does not help anyone and is abused on both sides.

Religions mistakenly hide behind a mantra of requiring more faith when faced with some view or evidence that challenges a certain ritual, culture or belief that they feel to be central to the core of their religion.

But this is the wrong response and I stand in the atheist camp in regards to all things in our life should be rooted in evidence and be rational. We may argue over the validity or relevance of such evidence but it is required all the same. Otherwise we open ourselves up to all sorts of abuse and control that is unhealthy and all to common.

However I do stand against the view that faith as defined as a belief in something in the face of no evidence, is not a reflection of the everyday use and understanding of the word. To my mind this redefinition of faith is a way to try and divide and marginalize certain groups and is not helpful.

Engage, debate, respect and be gracious! We are all on the same journey.

6 comments

  1. “For example we express faith in a friend or spouse not in the back drop of no evidence but because of it.”

    I express trust in my friends and spouse. Not faith.

    “We have faith in an institution because of past evidence of it’s action and or use of it’s power.”

    Again, this is trust, not faith.

    1. My contention is that in everyday language with people they use use the word ‘faith’ and they associated the claim with some evidence to justify their ‘faith’. Otherwise a term like “Blind Faith” would be redundant as the word on its own implies no evidence to back it up.

      Are you suggesting that when people say they have ‘faith’ in someone they are saying it to express they have no reason or evidence to back up their faith in that person? This is obviously nonsense as people do use the word ‘faith’ in that way. In the same way there are many people who express a faith in religious terms and have gone through a mental process and consider evidence to support (or not support) their belief system.

      I am not sure it is helpful to narrowly redefine the word ‘faith’ to imply anyone expressing ‘faith’ in something/person/God is an unthinking or who blindly believes knowingly there is no evidence for what they have ‘faith’ in.

      In the end if the word faith is being redefined in our society then there probably nothing we can do about it and we just adjust. If we end up engaging and discussing with people on such topics we usually we get beyond petty word definitions anyway and just communicate.

      Thanks for comments…

      Andy

      1. “Are you suggesting that when people say they have ‘faith’ in someone they are saying it to express they have no reason or evidence to back up their faith in that person?”

        No. I am suggesting that they mean ‘trust’. And that when religious people use ‘faith’ to talk about religious things they mean ‘blind faith’.

      2. You are right that people maybe expressing trust and using the word faith but that proves exactly what I am saying that people use the word ‘faith’ meaning they have considered evidence.

        That equally applies to many (of course not all) with a religious faith. It is quite a claim you are making that people saying they have ‘faith’ in religious terms actually know there is no evidence for their claims yet believe anyway. Maybe I misunderstand. Again I am not sure that is helpful view to hold when engaging on the subject with someone (unless of course all you want to do is argue then it is the perfect setup).

      3. “It is quite a claim you are making that people saying they have ‘faith’ in religious terms actually know there is no evidence for their claims yet believe anyway.”

        I never claimed that they knew that’s what they were doing. They often try to claim that they are using good evidence. Science would disagree.

        “Again I am not sure that is helpful view to hold when engaging on the subject with someone ”

        It is my opinion, and it seems to be consistent. I don’t mean it as an insult as much as an observation.

      4. Then your main concern then is evidence presented not that the everyday use of the word ‘faith’ implies the person using it thinks they have some evidence. You would just want to question and explore the evidence presented. Perfectly reasonable..

        We agree!

        No insult taken at all appreciate the comments, have a good weekend…

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