Do Atheists Have Faith?

jonathan_hili

Well-known member
I agree that it is a matter of definition. If you consider that faith is belief in something despite a lack of convincing evidence, then you have a tolerably useful definition that sorts theists from non-theists, flat-earthers from non-flat-earthers and those who believe in life on other worlds from those who don't. This begs the question of what constitutes convincing evidence, but to my mind, if the evidence was convincing, then most people would believe it.

If on the other hand you hold that it is faith to not believe in something despite there being no convincing evidence against its existence, then you have a completely useless definition. I don't believe in the tooth fairy, the Loch Ness monster, God or Russell's space teapot. I have no evidence for the non-existence of these things, or for the millions of other things I don't believe in from goblins to Ganesh. I suspect that virtually everything I don't believe in, without evidence, is similar to what every other person on the planet does not believe in without evidence; with a bit of shuffling around the margins. If this lack of belief constitutes "faith", then that devalues what we currently think of as faith to something like having bowel movements, something that we all have but don't need to talk about unless they become unhealthy.
The problem is no people really use faith as believing "in something despite a lack of convincing evidence". If people believe in something, they are convinced by whatever evidence is presented (even if others don't find it persuasive). "Blind faith" is actually - from a religious (well, at least Catholic) perspective - frowned upon. Even flat-earthers, for example, will put forward evidence for their beliefs and try to counter evidence contrary.

You raise a good point about what constitutes convincing evidence. I think evidence can be objectively assessed as weak-to-strong, however, I think there's also a subjective element to the question, as what persuades a person is also dependent on their background, how they think, prior knowledge, etc.
 

Whateverman

Well-known member
It depends on what you mean by "faith". If by "faith" you mean "confidence and trust" in something, obviously they do. However, if by "faith" you mean some kind of religious adherence or the theological virtue, then I'd say "no".
Thank you, JH. Your posts (in my experience) are always reasonable and kind, and they're welcomed here.

ps. as an atheist, if there's anything on the face of this planet which has the power to get me to question my lack of belief in the gods described here at CARM, it's behavior like yours.
 

jonathan_hili

Well-known member
Thank you, JH. Your posts (in my experience) are always reasonable and kind, and they're welcomed here.

ps. as an atheist, if there's anything on the face of this planet which has the power to get me to question my lack of belief in the gods described here at CARM, it's behavior like yours.
Thanks Whatever for the generous words. As I've said many times, I think atheists and Catholic/Orthodox Christians probably get along better on CARM than Catholics/Orthodox do with the evangelical Christians because (a) we both respect the role of reason, (b) we are interested in arguments and evidence, and (c) we don't think that just because you hold a contrary view you are going to hell.
 
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