Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Faith - Belief without Evidence

AN Wilson was an atheist, but he has now returned to faith.

He writes 'Of course, only hard evidence will satisfy the secularists, but over time and after repeated readings of the story, I've been convinced without it.'

Faith - belief without evidence.

21 Comments:

Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

What a boring, depressed, colorless atheist he must have been. The atheists he knew sounded similar or maybe he was projecting.

If believing in God makes him happy, then that's fine by me. He certainly doesn't sound happy.

4:40 AM  
Blogger ZAROVE said...

I'm rather tired of this definition fo Faith that is ever-so-popular amongst the New Atheism.

Faith isn't "Beleif without Evidence", Faith is undertsood as loyalty, confidence, or trust.

When Augustine wrote "THe City of God" or when Aquinas wrote the "Suma Theologica" neithe rman undertsood that Faith was beleiving htings even though you had no evidence for it. Hell, the Suma is over 1200 pages long, in hsort form, and gives Aristotelian logic as a base for beleiving in the Doctriens of the Midaevel Catholic Church.

If Aquinas beelived Faith was "Beleif without evidence" then he'd not have wasted 30 or so years finding logical reasons to beelive in Christianity and claimed to have proof of it.

Even modern theologialns offer logical evidetial arguments.

No oen in the enture history of CHristian thought (Or before then, in other religions) udnerstood Faith as "Beleif without evidence". That si enturley a construct of the 19th century.


That said, I also tire of the endless attacks Atheist give defectors. AN WIlson must have been a colourless and boring Ahtiest because hes converted back to Christianity. Meanwhile Anthony FLew must have goen se nile to become a Deist. Collins went insane and becane an Evangelical.

Can it possibely be that these peopel simply disagree with you?

12:17 PM  
Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I don't care if he became a potato, he sounds like his outlook is dreary. Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but every time I hear theists talk about how angry and depressed and dreary atheists are I think "where are these atheists? I don't know any like that."

As to the common new atheist definition of faith, I'm sure they are taking it from Hebrews 11:1

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Granted, the verse doesn't say no evidence, so I agree that is a stretch, but not a great one.

I would say faith is believing that the circumstances of life have some sort of purpose, that things happen for a reason. The evidence is wherever people see it. You can have two different theists, have them witness the same event, and one may see it as spiritual and the other may not.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

MIKE
Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but every time I hear theists talk about how angry and depressed and dreary atheists are I think "where are these atheists?

CARR
I don't know about you,but I lead a drug-filled,orgy-consumed hedonistic life, like all atheists do.

Didn't you get the invites to the parties from Atheist Central?

As for faith being without evidence, I was simply repeating what the atheist convert AN Wilson said.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Steven, I moved recently, I suppose my invite was lost in the mail. Do we get a discount on the drugs, or are they just free if you are an atheist?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Perhaps it was decided you were not a True Atheist, who rejects Christianity because they do not want their immoral life-styles cramped by having to behave like Ted Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart.

Perhaps they were bad examples for me to use.

Here is a better example.

Did Mother Teresa ever take part in wild orgies?

No.

Just think of how many men she would have had if she had not devoted her life to Christ.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Could be. Oh well, I'll have to work harder at being a True Atheist. I'll double my daily "God does not exist" mantra to 666 from the old 333.

1:19 PM  
Blogger ZAROVE said...

Mike, even youe definition of Faith doens't work. Again, THomas Aquinas wrote volumes about evidence of the Faith.

The probnlem with Hebrews 11:1 is that its deocntextualised, and then stretched to refer to all uses of theowrd. All the writer of Hebrews is sayign is that confidence (This is what Faith is here) is hwat will keep us going in the hardest times, and its sort of a pep talk. He's not arguing that we shoudl juyst buy into things and asign them spiritual meaning apart form material world. Inf act, the idea of that sort of dualism didn't even exist till the 18th century. (Platonic Dualism did exist, btu this sint exaclty the same as Platonic DUalism.)

As to Wilson, I think you lot are projecting, and had this gone the other way round, if he was reared an Atheist, became a CHristian for a few eyars, and wrote htis arilce about how hes now an Ahiwst Again, I doubt you'd find him quiet as Dreary.

Besides, een if you accept he is dreary, you can't just asusme all of anyoen will be lively.

Surly you've met with Ahteists who where less-than-impressiv ein eprsonality, just as you've met Christians who where exceptionally full of life.

That'd be just a matte of individual persoanlity, not ones religiosu beleifs.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Zarove, it's clear you've made your mind up about atheists and it doesn't matter what we say. Most of my best friends are Christians and quite a few of my family members are too. I have great love and respect for them. Again, I couldn't care less if AN Wilson reconverted, de-converted, or whatever. When he writes things like this: "Materialist atheism says we are just a collection of chemicals. It has no answer whatsoever to the question of how we should be capable of love or heroism or poetry if we are simply animated pieces of meat." it makes me think he must have been a dreary atheist, because I don't know any atheists that think like that.

As Steven pointed out, it was AN Wilson who said "Of course, only hard evidence will satisfy the secularists, but over time and after repeated readings of the story, I've been convinced without it."

The theist is the one who made that statement and Steven just repeated it.

7:27 PM  
Blogger ZAROVE said...

Mike, I think you shoudl read what I actually said and not pretext upon me some odd meaning.

I made no comment against Atheists in General, I just htink that your beign overly critical of AN WIlson because of his recent retrn to Christianity.

I also think your misunderstanding what he is Sayign here.

For instance, saying he has no Hard evidence isn't the same thing as saying he has no evidence at all. However, most events in the Ancient World cannot be proven with Hard evidence, much less can abstract Philosophical perspectives on how we should live.

I also think you shoudl consider that not all Theists agree with each other, just like not all Atheists agree.

As to me, All I said was that you have a range of personalities on either end, so claiming he has a Dreary personality is meaningless, except to ease the proverbial blow his return to Christianity gives. ( And don't overinflate the meanign of the term blow here.)

9:01 AM  
Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Zarove, you turned my statement about him being dreary into an argument against theism, which it was not. That is what I object to. I discuss what I believe, but think you will be hard pressed to find me arguing against theism.


"I also think you shoudl consider that not all Theists agree with each other, just like not all Atheists agree."

That is exactly the point I find myself trying to drive home nearly every day with some Christians.

Put 10 Christians in a room and you'll get 10 very different answers on some issues, the same can be said of atheists. Too many of the Christians I deal with act like all Christianity is unified in belief and that atheists are all unified and are as organized as a religion.

I've explained why I said I felt he must have been dreary, yet you keep telling me my real reason. I wouldn't presume to tell you what you believe or why you believe it, why.

Again, it is a common misconception in some circles of Christianity that most atheists are drab, dreary people. AN Wilson seemed to agree with that and I was merely pointing that out.

10:52 AM  
Blogger ZAROVE said...

So perhaps it was a mutual misunderstanding, If so I apologise.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Not a problem, Zarove. I just wanted to make sure we were understanding each other. I find myself, despite my best attempts not to, pigeonholing people. It's easy to do, especially in discussions between atheists and Christians. I apologize for any misunderstanding I may have had as well.

1:59 PM  
Blogger James Garth said...

I suppose this all hinges on what Wilson means by 'hard evidence'. If we take 'hard evidence' as being some sort of mathematical proof, or the ability to produce sensory data that somehow reveals God under controlled, repeatable experimental conditions, then I certainly agree with him.

However, from reading this article, and Wilson's other article in the New Statesman...

http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2009/04/conversion-experience-atheism

... I find it difficult to conclude that he advocates 'belief without evidence'.

In fact, in these two articles, Wilson cites what seem to me to be clear lines of evidence, including (i)the prompting of conscience, (ii) the sensation of beauty and our appreciation of music, (iii) the experiences of love and bereavement, (iv) mankind's capacity for love, heroism and poetry, (v) transformational power within the Christian tradition, and (vi) the phenomena of complex language, to infer that a certain 'something more' exists within humanity, something best explained by the existence of God.

This seems to be the classic "inference to the best explanation" situation. What is meant by "best", what assumptions we ought to bring to the table, and what specific criteria must be satisfied to establish "truth" are naturally the areas where individuals will tend to differ, and I believe this is where productive dialogue can be had. But it simply isn't accurate to categorize Wilson's belief as irrational, particularly when he advances the above points in order to marshal support for his contention.

cheers,
James

4:00 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

I think Wilson reserves hard evidence for things which are actually important.

He would definitely want hard evidence for his money for the Daily Marl article.

It is only his faith for which he does not need any hard evidence.

If there are some stories in an old book, that is good enough for him.

4:08 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

WILSON
Do materialists really think that language just “evolved”, like finches’ beaks, or have they simply never thought about the matter rationally?

CARR
Yes, God created German, English, French, Spanish and Mandarin.

Even now, God is like creating street-patois, innit?

WILSON
How could it come about that human beings all agreed that particular grunts carried particular connotations?

CARR
Gosh, these arguments are so embarrassing.

Faith - belief without brains in the case of Wilson, who is obviously trying to subvert Christianity from within by making it look as foolish as possible.

Perhaps AN Wilson is a lot cleverer atheist than Dawkins, and knows a much better strategy to deconvert people than writing a book like 'The God Delusion'

4:18 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Of course, if you want hard evidence, there is as much hard evidence as you want that the Gospels are Frauds and Lies , but faith is belief despite the hard evidence.

Only those pesky secularists trust the evidence of their eyes. Faith-heads have to find a way to explain away the evidence.

4:24 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

Sorry, faith-heads have no problems with the hard evidence that other religions are false.

They only have problems with the hard evidence about their own religion.

Show them the evidence about Islam or Mormonism and Christians are as rational as anybody.

Show Muslims the evidence about Christianity and they happily accept it.

It is only when shown the evidence about their own religion that faith-heads say that their religion is not based on frauds and lies, unlike all other religions ever invented by man.

4:26 AM  
Blogger David B Marshall said...

Since Steven includes historical evidence about Jesus in the category of "hard evidence," then in fact, AN Wilson did find hard evidence for the essential historicity of the gospels, which he described long ago in his atheism days in Jesus, A Life. It might be a good idea to read people a little more before you comment on their thinking.

7:17 AM  
Blogger Steven Carr said...

WILSON
'Of course, only hard evidence will satisfy the secularists, but over time and after repeated readings of the story, I've been convinced without it.'

CARR
I guess Wilson must have been lying about his own conversion process.

Why would Wilson pretend he was convinced without hard evidence?

I guess that as soon as you become a Christian , you feel compelled to start telling lies.

Even when the lies you tell are so blatant that even a David Marshall can tell that you are lying.

7:30 AM  
Blogger David B Marshall said...

Steven: That's a pretty simple-minded exegesis. You just assume (a) that YOUR definition of "hard evidence" is the same as Wilson's (even though many skeptics use the term synonymously with "physical evidence"); (b) that Wilson happened when he wrote that to be thinking of his earlier comments (even though they were written long before); (c) that given any discrepancy between what one says and has previously said, the immediate go-to position is "the guy MUST have been lying." (d) And if one Christian tells one lie, then it's a general rule that all Christians not only tell lies, (e) but HAVE to tell lies.

I came to this blog because some people were asking if you were an atheist who should be taken seriously, and I wanted to refresh my memory. Thanks for helping me do so. With an answer such as that, I'll just have to say "no." Make that "hell, no."

10:54 AM  

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