C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Does Unbelief Take Faith

Over at another blog, an atheist says, Atheism Does Not Require Faith.

The Claim: “I can count on finding at least a few stories in either the mainstream media or various theist-generated sources claiming that atheism is a religion or that atheism requires as much faith as any religion.”

The Rebuttal: “An atheist is someone who does not accept the theistic claim (i.e., a god or gods exist). Like the "agnomist," the atheist requires no faith because he or she is not offering any sort of belief claim. In fact, it is precisely the tendency to seek evidence rather than to rely on faith that typically leads one to atheism.”



I left the following comment:

“Maybe the faith spoken of, is not so much that you do not believe in God, but the faith to believe in the evolution of everything from a big bang (or other choice besides God); therefore, claiming you have faith in what you believe, not in what you claim not to believe.I understand, you may claim that there is evidence and/or degrees of probability, for the big bang (or other choice besides God), but without absolutes, one is still left with making a choice that is based (whether great or small) on "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen", which is the biblical definition of faith.

So, I am not sure if most are saying that an atheist is exercising faith when they deny God, but when they believe/trust/hope (or other choice word) in something else, such as the big bang, etc.

For even in atheism, one is saying, "I don't believe in that", but "I do believe in this."”



I believe there may be some confusion (maybe somewhat on both sides) when it comes to an issue of faith vs. unbelief. I don’t think we can actually say it takes faith to not believe in something, have it be God, “gnome[s], unicorns, fairies, Santa Claus, Odin, angels, or gods”.

The faith arises not from the denial of God as our Creator, but in the acceptance (belief/hope/trust) of something else, whether the big bang or another cause, as man’s creator (or starter of creation).

Do I believe atheists exercise faith? I sure do, just not in their denial of God. I believe, when atheists believe (by teaching, writing, saying) mankind has come from the evolutionary chain, birthed by the big bang, which still fails to hold absolute proof, it is exercising faith in "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

12 comments:

BEAST said...

http://atheisthaven.blogspot.com/2007/08/faith-of-atheist-debunking-myth-of.html

Christian said...

Good Day :) God is Love, May you experience God's Love this Day, may we really learn to Praise him in all things :) Lets Share God's Love today :) You are Loved!

Spanish Inquisitor said...

That last comment by Christian was about as helpful to understanding your post as rats at a picnic. What kind of meds is he/she using? The doctors need to reduce the dosage. It sounds like he/she is somewhere in LaLa land. :)

Tim, here's where your logic is faulty.

You are assuming that atheists are replacing a belief in the existence of gods with a belief in something else -Big Bang, Evolution, etc - as if they need something else to worship. This couldn't be farther from the truth.

The proof of this is that there are many Christians who do accept the science behind the Big Bang and evolution as fact, while at the same time retaining a belief in their gods. Catholics, by official doctrine, are a good example. Many protestants do also.

Belief in scientific matters are not mutually exclusive with a belief in god, for many people. (As other's have noted on vjack's post, belief, or faith, are not terms used to describe one's view of science). All atheists do is shed one belief in a supernatural being.

No atheist will tell you that he believes in the Big Bang. He will tell you that all of the facts and evidence point to the Big Bang theory as the most likely explanation for the beginning of the Universe. One does not have to have faith to accept that. One does need evidence, however. Without evidence, it would be faith.

No way in hell is the evidence for the Big Bang, and especially evolution, "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." If you think that, then that's where Dawkins validly uses the term "delusion" in his most recent book. You are deluding yourself if you think there is no evidence for these things.

However, if you are comfortable and happy with your delusion, we can feel pity for your willful ignorance, but we will not ever tell you that you are not allowed to delude yourself.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

I am not talking about worship, for there are many which say they believe in God, yet do not worship Him.

The very first definition of faith is: "confidence or trust in a person or thing"

Do you really expect me to believe that atheists do not have "confidence or trust in a person or thing", when it comes to the big band and evolution?

Also noting, I wrote, "without absolutes, one is still left with making a choice that is based (whether great or small) on "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"."

Although one may claim there is evidence of the big bang and evolution, there remains no absolute to either. The so-called chain of evolution still contains gaps, and so does the science surrounding the big bang.

Even if some Christians accept the idea of the big bang and evolution, they still acknowledge it all originated with God. This then leaves the atheist to believe in God, that something else started it, or it started itself. And with no absolute truth that it started itself or something else started it, one is simply left with faith in the current idea (which you admit, may change later, and so would ones faith).

All atheists do is shed one belief in a supernatural being.

But how is this done, simply by a lack of science having the ability to prove or disprove God (as stated by atheist and science)? Even Dawkins shows himself to be an agnostic, for he writes in his book, he is left in his #6 category: "[6] Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. “I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”"

Assumptions can be wrong, and is no different than faith. For his preupposition, "there is no God", is not based on science, but choice.

To argue that Christians must accept the big bang and evolution, even though "No atheist will tell you that he believes in the Big Bang" seems hypocritcal in asking the Christian to believe in something (over God) which the atheist fights for, but will not admit they believe in.

I understand you do not believe in God - but that means you do believe all of creation has come about without God (or a god).

P.S.
I would say that Mr. Dawkins' himself has a few delusional thoughts in his most recent book, which I have been slowly reading and noting here.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Copied from my post of:

Examine: Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Chapter 3


P. 51
He writes, “I’d be surprised to meet many people in category 7, but I include it for symmetry with category 1, which is well populated.” “I count myself in category 6, but leaning towards 7 – I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden.

His categories (only 1, 6, & 7)
[1] Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C. G. Jung, “I do not believe, I know.”

[6] Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. “I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”

[7] Strong atheist. “I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung “knows” there is one.”

At first, his words may seem clever, but taking a further look at what he writes seems somewhat hypocritical on his part. I would say the majority of atheists I have conversed with on the internet, at least, write as if they are in category 7, for they are always telling Christians, “there is no God”. Saying, “there is no scientific evidence of God” is not the same as saying “there is no God”. As since RD points out that [7] exactly contrast [1], and [1] is built on faith, so must [7] be. For the choices 1-7 are based on faith, belief, and not on evidence.

For how many times have we heard that science cannot prove or disprove God, for He is of the supernatural realm, whereby the natural science has no means to examine? For this reason, RD decides to say, “What matters is not whether God is disprovable (he isn’t) but whether his existence is probable.” So since science cannot prove/disprove God, it turns to test His probability. But against what, the natural? This still leaves the atheist with no greater foundation to rest their case of “there is no God” on, but their faith/belief/hope that their presuppositions “there is no God” is correct. With no probability giving a definite “no” to “does God exist”, they are still left in category [6] or [7] by their choice to deny God exist, even though science and probability are unable to remove God from existence.

stillwaters said...

Tim, you are confusing the other definition of 'faith',

2. belief that is not based on proof

with the first definition,

1. confidence or trust in a person or thing

First you talk about atheists having as much faith as theists, and then say that faith means 'confidence'.

In the context of believing in a god, the second definition applies.

In the context of scientific theories, I don't think either apply, since people don't have faith in scientific theories. They 'accept' the theories as the best explanation for the observed phenomena.

Yes, there has to be some confidence in the science behind the theory, but it has NOTHING to do with 'belief that is not based on proof'.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

stillwaters,

First you talk about atheists having as much faith as theists, and then say that faith means 'confidence'.

I don't know if I say "as much faith as theists", but made mention of a degree "(whether great or small)" of faith.

Would you contend that atheists do not exercise faith at all in their lives?

Dawkins speaks of living with an assumption there is no God, based on the so-called determination of a low probablitity of the existance of God. The chain of evolution and the voice of the big bang, contain holes that leave one without absolutes (which even science agrees, and atheist accept, but admit can change).

How can one claim to accept the big bang as to giving creation life, whereby evolution has given us man and all that we see, but at the same time say they do not believe it to be so?

I mean, we have "No atheist will tell you that he believes in the Big Bang. He will tell you that all of the facts and evidence point to the Big Bang theory as the most likely explanation for the beginning of the Universe."

Isn't this like saying - "I don't believe it, but I accept it."?

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Oh god, Tim, you have so many ideas conflated I don't know where to start.

First, as Stillwaters aptly pointed out, there are two different definitions for the use of the word, faith, and you are mixing them up.

Faith in god is just what you say it is, as defined by your scripture. You need no evidence, the word of god is enough.

All other faith, such as the faith I have that a red light will turn to green, or that the sun will rise tomorrow, or that my children love me, are based on at least something that I have evidence for.

Red lights are manufactured by red light companies, and have been tested and tried for ages. They occasionally malfunction, but usually they don't, so I have reasonable faith that the next time I roll up to an intersection, the light will eventually change.

The sun has risen every day of my life, and scientists have given me a reasonable explanation as to why. We have observations from space, and the calculations as to tomorrow's sunrise have been based on mathematics that so far have not been wrong, so I have reasonable faith that it will rise again tomorrow.

My children tell me they love me, they act like they love me, they do things that indicate they love me, so I have a reasonable amount of evidence to have faith in their love for me.

In all these examples, I have confidence or trust in those things I profess to have faith in, because I have evidence for it. It may not be great evidence, and it may sometimes prove to be misleading evidence, but it is evidence.

With God, there is no evidence, but there need not be, because of the religious definition of faith.

Now, with the Big Bang theory and evolution, there is also a shitload of evidence for it, and so far there is none that contradicts it. I don't need to have religious faith in either concept because there is evidence for both. Just because there are gaps in our knowledge of the specifics of every aspect of the theories, doesn't mean that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the theories, requiring faith. Actually, to the contrary, I would need an extraordinary amount of faith to disbelieve the theories, because of so much evidence in their favor. I would have to throw out my intellect, reject the evidence, and claim the contrary. That's what confusing religious faith with everyday faith will do to you.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

This is why it gets confusing talking with an atheists sometimes (as I am sure it is for the atheist also).

Atheists tell me that they do not have "faith" or "believe" in anything, yet here you now say you have "other faith", which is not "religious faith".

Back, in my original post, I write, "I understand, you may claim that there is evidence and/or degrees of probability, for the big bang (or other choice besides God), but without absolutes, one is still left with making a choice that is based (whether great or small)"...on faith.

I clearly acknowledge that the atheist will note their evidence towards the big bang and evolution, but as you acknowledge, this evidence is not absolute nor complete, and you freely acknowledge, "No atheist will tell you that he believes in the Big Bang. He will tell you that all of the facts and evidence point to the Big Bang theory as the most likely explanation for the beginning of the Universe."

I still fail to understand this logic. An atheist will tell me I am wrong to deny evolution and that creation originated from the big bang, yet you will not believe it yourself, but simply say it is the best answer science has given us?

You are asking me to trust in something that you are not totally convinced of, are you not?

Is there not a sense of faith in that the atheist does trust science will complete the evolution chain, further proving it with 100% accuracy, and that it will also prove the big bang brought forth all that is today?

And actually, some of the very laws of science contradict the big bang, and that is why science yet searches for the big bang's beginning (I saw one speaking of a universe before ours, etc.), and claims that "maybe" only after the big bang did these laws exist. They don't have a full understanding of it, but they do wish to rid their beginning of its apparent contradictions.

BEAST said...

Let me clarify this:

Faith, as defined by the dictionary, refers to a "complete trust and confidence" in someone or a phenomenon. Do not confuse faith with trust in the mundane world.

My favorite analogy to dispel such misconceptions is simple. Suppose you buy a washing machine.

Will you:

1. Simply tell the shop owner to send any washing machine he thinks will suit you, place a payment and walk out of the shop?

2. Or take your time to pick the right washing machine, read through the manual, ask few questions, fill in the warranty form and so on?

If you pick option one, that is faith. If you pick option 2, it is trust. You trust the owner that he will deliver a defect-free product, but obviously you will attach some precautions in anticipation of a screw up.Perfectly reasonable. Its about protecting your own interests.

Like I said, not many people in real life can really attribute faith in their mundane dealings.Those that do invariably fall prey to conjobs.

Beast

Spanish Inquisitor said...

This is why it gets confusing talking with an atheists sometimes (as I am sure it is for the atheist also).

The funny thing is, I don't find what you say to be confusing. Frustrating, yes, but not confusing.

Atheists tell me that they do not have "faith" or "believe" in anything, yet here you now say you have "other faith", which is not "religious faith".

Reread what I say. Try to understand the distinction between religious faith, and ordinary faith in things that are not "unseen". There is a difference, which even by that last comment, you indicate you don't understand.

Back, in my original post, I write, "I understand, you may claim that there is evidence and/or degrees of probability, for the big bang (or other choice besides God), but without absolutes, one is still left with making a choice that is based (whether great or small)"...on faith.

I clearly acknowledge that the atheist will note their evidence towards the big bang and evolution, but as you acknowledge, this evidence is not absolute nor complete, and you freely acknowledge, "No atheist will tell you that he believes in the Big Bang. He will tell you that all of the facts and evidence point to the Big Bang theory as the most likely explanation for the beginning of the Universe."

The key word there is "believes". I'm trying to get you to understand that I don't believe in scientific explanations for natural phenomena (i.e. life, the universe, etc), I understand them, I accept or deny them, I affirm them, I agree with them. Saying I don't believe in them is not saying I somehow deny them, it means that belief is not what you do with science.

I still fail to understand this logic.

Because you don't understand logic.

An atheist will tell me I am wrong to deny evolution and that creation originated from the big bang, yet you will not believe it yourself, but simply say it is the best answer science has given us?

See above. Stop thinking about my attitude towards science in terms of belief.

You are asking me to trust in something that you are not totally convinced of, are you not?

No. I'm asking you to use your brain, and figure it out yourself. I don't want you to trust anything when it comes to science. That's why we (atheist) to a man are all skeptics. We don't trust. We ask for evidence. You think we need 100% absolute proof to accept, say evolution, when 1%, or 10% or 50% may be enough.

The evidence in favor of evolution is well nigh up to 99%. We don't have a video tape of all species coming into existence, but of the evidence we have, from genetics, anthropology, geology, chemistry, zoology, history, etc, all point to evolution. We really don't need any more to conclusively say that evolution is fact. At least until someone comes up with evidence to the contrary, something that in the entire history of science has not occurred.


Is there not a sense of faith in that the atheist does trust science will complete the evolution chain, further proving it with 100% accuracy, and that it will also prove the big bang brought forth all that is today?

No, religious faith has nothing to do with it. The fact that science has proven what it has so far is evidence in itself. Think about it a little, Tim.

Before science, religions claimed that lighting was some act of a supernatural origin. That the gods were angry. That humans had sinned. Whatever. Science then came upon the scene and proved, conclusively, that lightning was a perfectly understandable natural phenomenon that needed no supernatural explanation.

Now repeat this with everything that science has proven over the centuries, displacing religious explanations.

Does this lend itself to some "faith" as you term it that science will continue explaining phenomena currently unexplained? Yes, I guess so, but not in the same definitional sense you have for a faith in god - more like the second definition of a trust or confidence in a thing or person, or in this case, a humanly designed process - science.

And only because the evidence, the track record of science, is so good. My comparison, the track record of religion is abysmal. If we left medicine up to religion, we'd still be praying over corpses after the bloodletting and leeches had failed.


And actually, some of the very laws of science contradict the big bang, and that is why science yet searches for the big bang's beginning

name one

(I saw one speaking of a universe before ours, etc.), and claims that "maybe" only after the big bang did these laws exist. They don't have a full understanding of it, but they do wish to rid their beginning of its apparent contradictions.

No one claims that the Big Bang theory is final. There is probably a lot about the past 14 billion years we don't know, and there is a lot of knowledge yet to be gleaned that may further explain the beginning of the universe, if in fact there was one. It may have always existed. Your god, you claim, always existed, so the concept is not foreign to you.

The point, however, is that right now, it is the best explanation for what it explains. That's the definition of a scientific theory. The best explanation that fits all known facts.

You want to hold out for god, that's fine. That's also the definition of faith. Knowledge without evidence, and even, sometimes, in the face of contradictory evidence.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

I may have confused the issue when I incorporated the biblical definition of faith into my post. My inital concept was that I believe atheists do infact excercise faith, but I was not directly relating it to "religious faith" (although I may have later slanted this direction). This is why I wrote "whether great or small", noting I believe atheist do hold a degree of faith, which you acknowledge atheists do (which again, I didn't necessarily mean to be religious faith).

But, I appreciate you spending the time to note your thoughts. Honestly, it does help me understand more the mind of the atheist, even if we do disagree.

Thanks.

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.