Challenge: Faith Is Gullibility

Posted: August 9, 2011 by Amy Hall in God is Real, Truth Matters, Weekly Challenge

The challenge today comes from an episode of The Atheist Experience, a cable-access TV show in Austin, TX:

And why would you believe anything on faith? Faith isn’t a pathway to truth. Every religion has some sort of faith people take things on – you know, if faith is your pathway, you can’t distinguish between Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, any of these others. How is it that you use reason as a path to truth in every endeavor of your life, and then when it comes to the ‘ultimate truth’ – the most important truth – you’re saying that faith is required? And how does that reflect on a God who supposedly exists and wants you to have this information? What kind of God requires faith instead of evidence?…

Try as I might and pray as hard as I could, no answer comes. No evidence is forthcoming. And when I talk to people about this, the only answer they ever offer is the one you did, which is ‘Well, you just got to have faith.’ Well sorry, I don’t. Well I’m not sorry that I don’t, I’m sorry for others that think that I should have because faith is not a virtue. Faith is gullibility. It’s evidence that determines whether or not your perception of reality is reasonable and in conjunction with the world as it is.

So how would you respond if a friend were to bring this up? What would you have to say to him about faith and Christianity? Alan will be taking this one on, so give us your ideas and we’ll hear from him on Thursday.

  1. Sam Harper says:

    By the way he understands “faith,” I totally agree with him. What he’s essentially saying is that if people arbitrarily assent to Christianity for no reason at all, that’s gullible because arbitrary assent is not a pathway to truth, whereas evidence and reason are. I especially agree with his rhetorical question: “How is it that you use reason as a path to truth in every endeavor of your life, and then when it comes to the ‘ultimate truth’ – the most important truth – you’re saying that faith is required?” As a criticism of Christians in general, I think his points are valid because most Christians share his understanding of what faith is.

    The only thing I disagree with is his definition of “faith.” But that’s a disagreement over the meaning of the word. If he plugged in a different word or phrase such as “arbitrary belief” or “belief without grounds” or something like that, I would agree with him.

  2. I’d simply agree with him that that kind of faith is gullibility. However, I’d ask him “Why should I accept your definition of faith? What makes you think that I believe that?” It’s not the kind of faith I see talked about in Scripture, and it’s not what I think of when I think of faith in God. When atheists define faith like this, they’re poisoning the well so that no matter what I say about God or religion, it can’t be taken seriously because it’s based on their definition of “faith.”

    I remember watching a recent panel discussion with John Lennox in Australia and a man said that faith is, by definition, not evidence, and to teach kids religious things is to brainwash them, so why should be accept that in education? My goodness! People can literally define me to be the bad guy when they want! All I can do is offer a semantic argument it seems and disagree with their definitions.

  3. I was going to mention Sam’s blog post, but he beat me to it. 😦

    Here’s how I like to illustrate faith: When you go to sit down in a chair, don’t you have faith that the chair will hold your weight and not collapse on you? Even for chairs that you’ve never sat in before? How do you know that chair will hold your weight? You’ve never actually inspected it’s structure or tested it’s physical limits of weight-bearing have you? How do you know it’ll hold you?

    By faith, I argue. Not “blind faith,” but faith based on past experiences with chairs, and the evidence that provides to reassure you that the chairs are generally trustworthy when it comes to holding the weight of people who sit in them. I say it is by faith because you have no idea whether any specific chair will actually hold up (some don’t, because they’re too old and rickety), and yet you go ahead in plop down in it, secure in the confidence that it won’t collapse on you.

    Likewise, Jesus didn’t just tell us to trust him, no questions asked. He demonstrated clearly and unequivocally who He is and the power He has. That is the evidence we have that justifies our faith in Him.

    • Amy Hall says:

      Ironically, the guy in the video also says as a way of placing himself in opposition to Christians, “I have reasonable expectations based on evidence. I have trust that has been earned. I will grant trust tentatively. I don’t have faith.” But of course, the proper definition of “faith” is also “trust that has been earned.”

  4. Adrian Urias says:

    Well, he simply doesnt know Biblical faith is. Hebrews 11:1 says Faith is BEING SURE of what we hope for, and CERTAIN of what we do not see. So it’s not blind. There is a psychological element of being sure and being certain, which needs requires warrant. So…straw man?

    • Amy Hall says:

      Definitely a straw man because he’s not describing biblical faith. (Although unfortunately, as Sam mentioned, even many Christians are mistaken about what faith means.)

  5. bobby says:

    Amy, did u get this quote from the morons on the Atheist Expirence, i Facepalm every time i hear them talk

    • Amy Hall says:

      Yes, that’s the show I got this from. I hadn’t heard of them before this, but I guess they’re getting to be pretty well known.

    • Adrian Urias says:

      Hey bro, we can disagree while being agreeable. I mean, yeah, they have wrong ideas, but calling them names isn’t attractive as an ambassador of Christ, and as children made in God’s image, they do deserve respect. I mean, they may call you names, and it obviously makes you uncomfortable, yet it seems like you’re doing the same thing, and so it’s going to make them uncomfortable, and that’s counter productive. I don’t think I need to quote scripture that tells us how we should speak, I’m sure you can think of a few. 🙂