What is Faith? (a call to Atheism)


art by Amy Roberts

art by Amy Roberts (see bottom for link)

My good friend Monica sent me an email with a link to this New York Times blog that had a little weekend competition:

define “Faith”

The post gave the Bible’s definition of faith, a few quotes from others on what faith is and then told other “co-vocabularists” to offer their definitions (the pithier the better).

In a display ad absurdem and ad nauseam of the make-up of NYTimes readers, the vast majority of “definitions” are atheistic rants about how faith is just believing things that are so plainly and clearly not true.  It’s the opiate of the masses.  It’s the crutch that helps weak-minded people get through life.  So on and so forth.

I understand the sentiment.  I do.  And I also see why they think that.  It was just comical seeing post after post after post of people that were so clearly speaking from such bitterness, hurt, and pain that went well beyond “calm, collected reason”.  Even the atheist puts some level of faith in things, even though they feel like this faith is justified by their logical deductions.  Faith isn’t a bad word.  It doesn’t have to be religious at all.  My mac dictionary’s first definition for it is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”  The second definition is the religious one!  But in spite of this, that word, for some reason, touches such a deep nerve within those hostile to Christianity that they must do more than simply display a disagreement with a prevailing notion.  It’s not good enough being a-theistic, they must be anti-theistic.

And that, I find, is very interesting.  It implies that atheism is more than a lack of belief.  It can’t stay at that merely reasoned philosophical place.  It is at its core a most outward expression of the rebellion of the heart, and the antagonism of that rebellion must and will come out.

Don’t get me wrong, I love atheists! I do!  But it looks like Atheism is becoming the new radical fundamentalism of the urban United States.  Now I know how absurd all us Christians probably looked for the past 50+ years with all of our political activism, ad hominem attacks on dissenters, made-up “culture wars” to agitate our base, over-excessive vitriol against “opponents” of our system, a circling of the wagons to maintain a false sense of security for “us” and ease of insult towards “them”, and a childish fanatical assent to a few tired (fundamental) tenets with a few tired (apologetic) defenses made by a few tired (hyperbolic, caricatured) leaders that are already irrelevant.

I guess its Atheism’s turn to take the wheel.  Try not to mess up the country in the same ways we did.  Neither you guys nor us have history on our side when it comes to our particular systems reigning supreme.  Things just don’t seem to go well.  Have fun.

As far as my contribution to the discussion?  Here was the little definition I gave:

FAITH: trusting that another has accomplished on your behalf what you ought to have done but can’t.

Grace and peace.

and Faith.

[more artwork by Amy Roberts can be found here]

About these ads

3 thoughts on “What is Faith? (a call to Atheism)

  1. This is a great post. It’s a shame that Christians have earned “faith” such a bad reputation.

    I think that many definitions of faith lack the necessary “action component.” It’s the classic contrast between “believing” and “having faith.” I can sit on my couch and do nothing and still believe. Faith gets up and does something, trusting that acting on our beliefs will yield some good. I’ll have to do some more thinking about a succinct definition. MH

    http://www.reemergentchurch.com

  2. “My mac dictionary’s first definition for it is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” ”

    There are two major versions of faith. One means to have trust or confidence in a person. The other means to believe without evidence. The two are paired together presumably because it implies trust to the degree that you accept the word without question- a very high level of trust in other words.

    However, the first is not the religious definition which is why people did not give it. After all, they started with the Biblical definition which makes it pretty obvious what they were aiming for.

    ” Even the atheist puts some level of faith in things, even though they feel like this faith is justified by their logical deductions. ”

    If it is backed by verifiable evidence, it isn’t faith.

    “Faith isn’t a bad word. ”

    There are alot of words that aren’t “bad” but are tared because of their connotations. Holocaust is the most obvious- it origionally meant a great conflagration.

    “But in spite of this, that word, for some reason, touches such a deep nerve within those hostile to Christianity that they must do more than simply display a disagreement with a prevailing notion. It’s not good enough being a-theistic, they must be anti-theistic.”

    Simple- if religion is wrong, that would be okay. But if it is both wrong and harmful… why that is all you need to be an anti-theist.

    “It is at its core a most outward expression of the rebellion of the heart, and the antagonism of that rebellion must and will come out.”

    This doesn’t work. Your statement makes no sense in a secular culture, only in one dominated by theism.

    “I guess its Atheism’s turn to take the wheel. Try not to mess up the country in the same ways we did. ”

    … “Laughs like crazy”

    Yeah- secular government is real scary. It is only the province of the entire first world. And alot of the second world in fact.

    Or do you honestly think that American atheists will ban the bible? That accusation was old when it was made against Jefferson and is just as false.

    “FAITH: trusting that another has accomplished on your behalf what you ought to have done but can’t.”

    That is called laziness, not faith. Traditionally in such a situation you ask the person to avoid any mishaps. Imagine if blind people didn’t ask if you had put the collar on their seeing eye dog.

  3. Pingback: Debates with Atheists (And Good News for Them) | the long way home

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s