Faith vs. Trust

Spiritual atheism? Wtf is that? Well see for yourself. The articles vary between cutely comical and flat out ridiculous. I want to take a moment to address one in particular entitled, Do Atheists Even Know They Are Religious?.

Now let first say that this, like many of his articles, start with a good point and could potentially be good articles but then he makes a wrong turn or seems completely oblivious to the wonderful point that he could be making from his initial premise. Now in this post, there lies an excellent point about confirmation bias and how we all, atheist and theist alike, can fall victim to having a distorted view of the world and events via the lens of our world views and opinions. That’s fine, and an excellent point; however, he then makes a really bad left turn and concludes we atheists are religious because we take things on faith.

Again, there hangs a point to be made like a heavy, ripened fruit waiting to be picked and savored yet he’s oblivious to it. It’s a valid point to say that we could simply accept science reports and what our teachers tell us as gospel, never questioning it or doing further investigation into the matters. I have no problem with expressing a warning about that, but Mr. Pinn simply asserts that we all do this and therefore we’re all religious and what’s worse, which I think is the biggest problem I have with this article, he confuses faith and trust. For instance, he claims that accepting the fossil records is an act of faith. I guess if one doesn’t dig them up themselves, then in his mind, accepting their validity is an act of faith. That’s simply incorrect.

Looking at faith and trust in the dictionary isn’t that helpful for one is used often to define the other, and that’s a mistake. The problem is the definitions are reflecting usage and most people misuse the words for they treat them as interchangeable. To set the record straight, faith is an all or mostly unwarranted belief, whereas trust is an all or mostly warranted belief. I think you can see how the grey area where warrants decrease and/or where they become more subjective is where faith and trust begin to look similar, and part of the reason why both are used interchangeably. Another reason why they are is religion, for religion esteems faith as a valid means to know things and make judgments when it most certainly is not. Still, the esteem it grants it and the prevalence of religion in the US makes for an environment where faith and trust are comparable. One thing I always say in regards to faith is how can anyone esteem something so highly which throughout their day they would never even dream of using it? I mean, if it can’t even get you across the street, what good is it?

Let’s look at crossing the street. Would you close your eyes and simply start to cross when you felt it was right, or would you look first? I’m willing to bet that all of you would look first. THAT is trust. Now you don’t know with absolute certainty that it’s safe; your eyes could be playing tricks on you, you could misjudge the speed of the oncoming cars and how quickly you can get across the street, you could fall in the middle of the street, or perhaps a car comes from a direction you didn’t look. Absolute certainty is a myth, it simply doesn’t exist. Hell, we can’t be absolutely certain that reality is real and that we’re not brains in a jar, but we go with what we observe and what works. That’s an example of correctly applying our current knowledge and experience to make decisions. So to get across the street we know what getting hit by a car can do, we know how long it takes us to walk across, we have learned to observe moving objects and determine their speed and the time it’ll take for them to cover a certain distance and trusting all that, we decide whether it’s safe to cross the street.

Mr. Pinn, it would seem, would call that determination of the safety to cross the street an act of faith just as he calls accepting the fossil records or what an educator tells you as an act of faith. Like the street crossing, those acts are not acts of faith but rather, acts of trust. Scientific evidence is scrutinized and debated by other scientists. There are standards which have to be met, just as there are for your educator to be in the position he or she is. Accepting that evidence and their words is an act of trust, because it’s warranted. Now certainly the evidence could be faulty and your educator could be unscrupulous, but again, absolute certainty is a myth. Not being able to know with absolute certainty whether the evidence is correct or your educator is good and competent does not making accepting them an act of faith. An act of faith is accepting that all of that is a lie, that the world was created by a thing in the sky and everything is only 6,000 years old.

So I don’t know what’s up with Mr. Pinn and his so-called spiritual atheism, but he’s really flying fast and loose and seems rather ignorant about what he’s talking about and frankly, those are usually the roots for shit like “spirituality” and confusing faith and trust, laziness and ignorance. How about some diligent, competent atheism? How about some critical thinking atheism? Better yet, how about simply being a hard working, critical thinking human? Chances are, atheism will just be a natural by-product and not something which anyone would have to actually focus on and make the point of their actions, which it shouldn’t be anyway.

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58 Responses to “Faith vs. Trust”

  1. Philly:
    As you and I have discussed in the past, we hear "spiritual" nonsense from atheists all the time. To you and me, it's bullshit. The article you linked to is beneath contempt, badly written drivel, and it's not worth a comment.

    But it's symptomatic of the precarious state of atheism in a society that insistently imbues "faith" with positive value. Those so-called spiritual atheists, having rejected traditional religion, are still searching desperately for some kind of supernatural, otherworldly force to "believe in." They can't accept the existential fact that life, in and of itself, has no "meaning." They're not comfortable with the simple idea that existence needs no meaning.

  2. That bucket of condensed stupid serves as an excellent example of postmodern (even typing that ridiculous word makes me grind my teeth) thought. The author's premise seems to be this:

    Implausible claim with no evidence in support
    - is exactly equal to –
    Scientifically valid claim where the copious evidence in support has not been witnessed first hand

    That article betrays the author as a concern troll on the atheist blogosphere at large.

    "Spirituality" comes is rooted in the word "spirit." Definitions vary, but I would claim "spirit" = "magic friend." I don't have any magic friends, and I don't believe anyone else does either.

  3. I've heard lots of atheist say things along the lines of "I'm spiritual, but I don't believe in god". When pressed, they talk about the feelings of awe and majesty they experience when confronted with beautiful sunsets, or tri-part waterfalls, or whatever.

    But I'm with desertscope and loath to call that spirituality. I think we're better off jettisoning the whole concept of the spiritual, in favor of something else. Maybe "Emotional response" , or "hormonal experience", or some-such.

    Personally, I've never felt spiritual at all. It's a really annoying and creepy term to use to describe feelings and emotions. Then to have this Pinn character say that Christians' feelings of spirituality equate to knowledge, because they ascribe, without any evidence whatsoever, that Jesus is the cause, is just downright ludicrous. The man should rejoin his church.

  4. Faith is based on drawing a conclusion based on past experiences, it can be correct or it can dead wrong too. For instance, I have faith that when I sit down in my trusty chair that I sit in every single day, that it is not going to break on me. Of course, I'm also going off of the assumptions that it looks sturdy enough to support my 190 lb weight, and that it's designed for that given use, etc, but I have plenty of faith my own assumptions, in fact in the millions of assumptions that my mind is constantly making from the 5 senses every moment to produce an accurate conscious model of my environment.

    Although, I'm starting to lose a little faith in Chinese built products though, they're cheap and they tend to break after so many uses. That is a product quality issue.

  5. Spiritual, in a secular sense, is this lazy label for many things such as creativity, empathy, and heightened awareness of self and surroundings. I say lazy because rather than clearly identify that someone exhibits one or more of these traits, it'll be said that they're spiritual. Also, rather than perhaps actually being aware of what those individual traits really are, no doubt to never taking the time to investigate, "spiritual" will be used. In a way it's ironic when someone refers to themselves as spiritual since if it refers to awareness, they're not exhibiting awareness by using the word spiritual.

    As we all know, religion and woo (essentially the same thing) sneak in via any crack like cockroaches, so when you allow a gaping hole like spiritual, it's like opening the door, turning out the lights and leaving a big pile of food in the middle of the floor; you'll be infested in no time. So I hate the use of spiritual or spirituality because to use them exhibits laziness, ignorance, and it opens the door wide for woo.

    I agree, Larry, that this clown is an example of those atheists who are deconverts who miss having religion. I really can't stand these fuckers because I think we'd agree that it's not atheism itself which is important to us, but not being an ignorant, delusional, lazy bastard. Simply dropping god belief doesn't automatically stop someone from being an ignorant, lazy bastard. Needing the world to have inherent meaning rather than giving it meaning yourself is being lazy. Using "spiritual" is being lazy and ignorant, and those clowns who still want to believe in shit like crystals, life energy, and so forth are delusional. Oh, and let's add fearful as well, because any atheist who cooks up some afterlife belief is really just a fearful tit afraid of dying. I can't take fearful people either.

  6. Agreed. He wants his no god but still enjoy the great taste of religion, and that's bullshit just like this delusion from KFC

  7. You're confusing faith and trust. You trust the sturdiness of the chair and you rightly distrust the quality of Chinese goods. Now I can trust that this would be sturdy enough for me, but it would take an act of faith to think Mrs. Chief would allow it in the living room.

    Now speaking of sturdy chairs, as you may know, I'm a large human (large in height, not so much in width and depth). So I get on these damn mailing lists for large shit and at least in the US, large = fat. So there's a fatty site appropriately named livingxl.com and <a href="http://www.livingxl.com/store/en_US/catalog/browse_sku.jsp?clear=true&catID=cat10141&prodId=X1666&id=cat10141"check out the chairs. They have lawn chairs that list 1000lb capacities! I suppose if you're on the KFC diet plan, you'll need such chairs.

  8. …cockroaches…

    Did I ever tell you I always enjoy your metaphors?

    This whole discussion of people being "spiritual" reminds me of this piece by Tim Minchin.

  9. Hilarious. I do believe that trust is a relationship that can only exist between two conscious minds. I don't quite know what to say, definantly not trusting an inanimate object of course, however I do trust my own senses and my mind, I do trust in my own capacity to reason and make decisions too…or perhaps it is merely faith that I place in my own mind and abilities. If some dipshit puts LSD in my drink or something, suddenly I probably can't trust my senses anymore, in that case I'd have to go on faith in my ability to reason under extremely faulty missfiring neuronal conditions. I don't have any proof that I would be able to do things intelligently, of course, if my neurons were going haywire and spitting out a bunch of false data.

  10. Save for my ability to lucid dream, perhaps, but I know I'm not 10 out of 10 in my lucid dreams….

  11. I don't accept your definition of trust.
    I wouldn't allow solipsism to color my judgments.

  12. I'll chalk that particular response up to a "Philly doesn't know what he's talking about".

  13. I could have sworn I left a comment with a Tim Minchin link in it. I saw it too. What happened to it, Philly?

  14. And I'll chalk that up to yet another naked assertion.

  15. I was wondering the same thing.

  16. Odd. Well, here's the link again. It seemed relevant to the discussion of spirituality and faith .

  17. This thread got me thinking about a recently retired colleague of mine here. Silly stuff. Like many here, I agree that the postmodernist philosophy (i.e. "There is no objective reality.") is complete bullshit. If it were true, then why can't everyone learn quantum mechanics? "Your reality is not necessarily the same reality held by someone else." It is. Unless one of us is insane.

  18. Well, I still hold that faith is a powerful virtue when it's coupled with reason. I have faith in myself, a hell of a lot more faith in myself than I have in anything else, after all I am at least in control of what I do, maybe I can influence and persuade others with my reason and appeal, but that I can't always fully count on them though because other people tend to be foolish and don't listen to reasonable advice. In that case, they sort of have to earn my trust, and even then I can take my trust in others away if they fail to live up to my standards too. Mwahahaha.

    Although, I do like the confidence scale idea too, I say this with 99.999% confidence :)

  19. Yes, but people can be confident due to faith, so I don't see confidence as being a useful measurement.

  20. You know what else is powerful? Alcohol. It can make you very confident. Confident enough to think you can get the hottest girl at the bar, that the stripper actually likes you, and that you can get away with patting the bouncer on the cheek and calling him "cupcake". Faith is like alcohol, it provides unwarranted confidence.

    Now of course for me, all three have come true, but my awesomeness warranted my belief that I could accomplish those things, and sure enough, I did. ;)

  21. Where faith is delivered in longwinded-bullshit sermon form, alcohol is delivered in delicious beer form.

  22. Like I stated above, faith can be dead wrong, or it can be absolutely correct too. Tis the confidence level that changes up or down with new evidence.

  23. Faith panning out occasionally has no bearing. Faith panning out consistently would.

    Confidence influenced by evidence is trust. Confidence sans evidence is faith, and is thus unwarranted.

  24. All opinions are equal, only some are more equal than others.

  25. Well, not exactly. I don't trust anything precisely because evidence is quite a scarce commodity. I hardly trust anybody, unless of course I've looked at the evidence for myself, but in that case it is essentially me having faith in my own judgement based on what appears to be evidence for or against a claim. I will always site my sources if I have not put the thought together on my own, such as if an authority figure tells me something then I will site that authority figure just in case that claim is later proven incorrect. If I don't site an authority figure for something I say, then my own credibility is on the line. In that case it is faith on my part that I am placing in my own statements, but I call them a hypothesis if pressed.

  26. I like your distinction between "faith" and "trust," but I wouldn't want to be bothered repeatedly pointing out how I'm using either term. At this time, I'm leaning toward expressing "confidence," or, perhaps, "degree of confidence" about something. I think "confidence" is less ambiguous than the other two terms. Those terms aren't inherently ambiguous; I think the ambiguity is an unfortunate consequence of their sloppy common usage. Unfortunately, we're stuck with having to either tolerate the ambiguity, navigate our way out of it, as you've done here, Philly, or avoid it altogether, as I'm inclined to do.

  27. I'm tempted to reflect here on those who claim all opinions are essentially equal. "There are no god/s" and "yes, there is a god and we sometimes call him Jesus" are bound together by equivalency. Certainly, "there are no god/s" and "yes, there are" become completely blurred to such thinkers.

    In fact, while everyone is equally entitled to have an opinion, not all opinions are equally good. I "trust" you will stay on this guy's ass.

  28. No, you trust your judgment. You'd have faith in your judgment if it hadn't served you well before but you believed it was sound.

    You'd have faith in your statements if they weren't supported by anything and you were simply pulling them out of your ass. If, however, you were basing them on experience and/or careful examination of the subject, then you could trust your statements insofar that you can support them. Consider the following…

    • Looking at how teen pregnancy and STDs are lower where comprehensive sex ed and condom distribution occurs, and higher where they aren't, especially where there's abstinence only sex ed, it's clear that comprehensive sex ed and condom distribution is necessary for teens.

    • Abstinence only sex ed works. The only reason why it hasn't yet is because it hasn't been given enough time and wasn't implemented as vigorously as it needs to be.

    Which one is a faith statement?

  29. I think it would be fun to work with an ogre. I've worked with dwarves. Btw, here's a n example of a double standard. It's perfectly acceptable to stop a tall guy and fuss over his height, make jokes (ie – how's the weather up there?), call him names (ie – stretch, sasquatch, etc) and even get into personal shit (ie – how do you find clothes?, can you even fit behind a wheel?, where do find women your size?). In contrast, I couldn't walk up to some guy who was 5' or under and say….
    How's the weather down there, shorty? Do you have to shop in the kids section or what? Where do you find other women of your kind, back at the shire? Can you drive a regular car, or does it have to be outfitted for you?

  30. I think it would be fun to work with an ogre. I've worked with dwarves. Btw, here's a n example of a double standard. It's perfectly acceptable to stop a tall guy and fuss over his height, make jokes (ie – how's the weather up there?), call him names (ie – stretch, sasquatch, etc) and even get into personal shit (ie – how do you find clothes?, can you even fit behind a wheel?, where do find women your size?). In contrast, I couldn't walk up to some guy who was 5' or under and say….
    How's the weather down there, shorty? Do you have to shop in the kids section or what? Where do you find other women of your kind, back at the shire? Can you drive a regular car, or does it have to be outfitted for you?

  31. Similarly, one can jest of a woman being skinny, but not of a woman being fat. I suppose it is not insulting to call attention to exaggerated features that are otherwise considered "desirable." In most modern cultures, height in males and thinness in females are considered attractive. I remember seeing an old Andy Hardy movie (or whatever Mickey Rooney's character was) in which he asked a pretty girl to a dance. She accepted, but on standing showed herself to be unusually tall. I didn't get the joke at the time. I hadn't learned that "taller than a man" was considered a flaw in a woman.

    Weird.

  32. Most men even today, I think, would be intimidated by a taller woman, much like they'd be intimidated if she made more money. It goes to feeling inadequate I guess. In contrast, I've seen some Napoleons go after tall women as a challenge, and to win such a woman would be their climbing of Mt. Everest, so I guess it's all in how you look at things.

    I've never encountered a woman who was taller than me (well not since I was maybe 11 or 12), so I don't know how I'd react. Maybe I'd turtle a bit, like when I first saw Helga. Eeek!

    Now as for having a sugarmomma, I think I could get used to that. ;)

  33. They are both faith statements. You say "necessary for teens". I had abstinence only education and I followed those rules too, especially for fear of STD's or having a child I couldn't support (condoms aren't 100% safe either).

    We live in a country whereby it is illegal for minors to be having sex. The laws should be changed before condoms and other forms of birth control are being distributed to minors (anybody under 18).

    Aside from that, abstinence is the first kind of protection against STD's, it also is the first kind of prevention against pregnancy too. However, if people choose to take risks, they might was well be mitigating those risks as best they can via the use of safe sex practices. I am all for minors being given all the necessary education for them to be abstaining or having safe sex, since, biologically they are capable of sex at a much younger age than the legally given age of consent.

  34. ^^^Bad move John, you shouldn't trust anybody.

  35. It's pretty funny how you note that the dictionary definition and comment usage of 'faith' and 'trust' is the same, yet you simply assert that "To set the record straight, faith is an all or mostly unwarranted belief, whereas trust is an all or mostly warranted belief. "… umm.. ok, if you say so! :D
    Unfortunately, while this kind of strawman definition of 'faith' is popular with anti-theists, it actually doesn't reflect at all what real Christian faith is, nor how any serious Christian thinker of any age has defined it. Your crossing the street analogy is a very good analogy of what Christian faith is – trusting in the person of Jesus, not just a blind step into the dark.

  36. (I wanted also to comment on your windmill-tilting from the post you linked to this page from, but it seems my comments are going through there anymore)

  37. Your assertion of a strawman is misguided, for I'm not speaking of the Christian definition of faith, but the generally understood one. To address what you're calling Christian faith and why it's clouding your understanding of the distinction between faith and trust, is your Jesus can't be demonstrated to exist. You may believe he does, but that doesn't make it so. In contrast, the road, cars and your mobility are all demonstrable and things which one can form a decision on.

    As far as your "if you say so" comment, again misguided for I believe I demonstrated the validity of the statement in what followed. If you disagree, feel free to explain why, but to simply say, "if you say so" is essentially doing what you're falsely accusing me of doing. :D

  38. He has comment moderation, which personally I don't agree with. If your comment doesn't appear there soon, email him. If he won't post it, let me know and I'll inquire, because I don't care for that.

  39. <blockqoute>Your assertion of a strawman is misguided, for I'm not speaking of the Christian definition of faith, but the generally understood one.

    The context of you pointing me to this thread was a discussion of Christian faith.

    Jesus can't be demonstrated to exist.

    There is overwhelming historical evidence that he did, and a persuasive historical argument that he still does. Likewise, though, past experience of safely crossing the road is not exactly easily provable or demonstrable in the kind of empirical way you seem to want.

    As far as your "if you say so" comment, again misguided for I believe I demonstrated the validity of the statement in what followed. If you disagree, feel free to explain why, but to simply say, "if you say so" is essentially doing what you're falsely accusing me of doing. :D

    My comment points out that all you've done is deny a commonly held understanding and the dictionary definition and replaced it with your own definition, and I can see no basis for doing that. When you simply come up with your own definition, what else is there to say except 'if you say so'?
    I agree that some beliefs / faith / what people trust in have better grounding and better reasoning that others perhaps do, but that doesn't mean faith is necessarily blind or not an act of trust anymore.

  40. The context of you pointing me to this thread was a discussion of Christian faith.

    I don't know why you'd think that, because I never made such a distinction. In fact, I see no distinction. Faith is faith. Arguing I'm not in tune with the specifics of Christian faith sounds like the Courtier's Reply.

    There's no "overwhelming evidence" that your Jesus ever existed, but that's not exactly what I was saying, was it? You spoke of present tense, and that's what I'm speaking of, as in demonstrating that your god or Jesus or angels or anything else which you claim exist NOW actually exist NOW.

    My comment points out that all you've done is deny a commonly held understanding and the dictionary definition and replaced it with your own definition, and I can see no basis for doing that.

    I believe I explained why the error occurs, and since definitions reflect usage, then if the usage can be demonstrated to be incorrect, then the definition would be incorrect. Of course that doesn't in and of itself stop people from incorrectly using words.

    Anyway, without demonstrating that your god/Jesus exists, claiming you trust in him is meaningless and an example of faith, and I didn't say faith must be blind. The separation between faith and trust is one of legitimate warrant, and certainly some decisions may be made more in faith than trust, but such decisions are then a roll of the dice.

  41. Faith is faith.

    You've simply asserted that "faith is an all or mostly unwarranted belief", which is a definition that I and many people would disagree with. Just because assert it doesn't make it so.
    Much could be said about the 'courtier's reply', not least, that as Dawkins can't help but 'critique the fashion' as well this defence is moot. But as you say faith is faith (and I would say that faith is trust) and that in fact says nothing at all about whether that faith and trust is warranted or not.

    I believe I explained why the error occurs

    No doubt you do have believe that.. but I don't believe you have, rather, you seem to have just assumed your definition and then pointed out that everyone else is in the wrong for not having also assumed it.

    There's no "overwhelming evidence" that your Jesus ever existed

    You may well believe that, but it would be an unwarranted belief. There is no serious debate in mainstream scholarship regarding the existence of Jesus. It is an historical fact.

    You spoke of present tense, and that's what I'm speaking of, as in demonstrating that your god or Jesus or angels or anything else which you claim exist NOW actually exist NOW.

    Well, again – you've no way of demonstrating in the present tense that your faith and trust in the drivers stopped at the red light won't run you down actually won't happen – of course, you can try it and see, and look back, but at the moment you step out, it's an act of faith and trust – and even though it's not demonstrable prior to acting on that faith, it's still warranted.
    That you think trust and faith in Jesus is unwarranted (or not provable in a way that satisfies your presuppositions) doesn't make it necessarily so.

  42. If you didn't find any evidence then you clearly had your eyes shut.
    There is early, multiple, independent attestation from both friendly and hostile sources.
    There is no contemporary competing or conflicting account to say otherwise. Even the extant counter-claim regarding the resurrection claim only serves to corroborate Jesus life, death, burial and the empty tomb. One must disregard a considerable number of sources in order to support a non-existence theory, and then proceed to argue from silence – generally betraying a prejudice and agenda when that happens.
    Then there is the issue of explaining certain historical phenomenon like the birth of the church and so forth. A non-historical Jesus fails to account for these and only raises more problems.
    It's not hard to see why the non-existence 'Jesus-Myth' theory has been roundly rejected by the overwhelming majority of scholars. I know of no mainstream professional historian who holds this view, only those on the fringe who are roundly criticised for such a view. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory

  43. There is overwhelming historical evidence that he did, and a persuasive historical argument that he still does.

    This I would love to see overwhelming evidence of the historical Jesus, because I've looked into this, and tried to find any evidence, but I keep coming up completely underwhelmed.

  44. Roundly criticized by believers, you mean. Please open our eyes and present evidence for your Jesus outside of the Christian bible instead of asserting things.

    Now of course the historicity is a bit irrelevant. What really matters is evidence for him existing today and, of course, evidence for his deity status.

  45. You may well believe that, but it would be an unwarranted belief.

    So let's recap. You see a statement and declare it an assertion after either not reading what followed it or reading it but avoiding it. I point to what followed as supporting it and rather than address it, you respond with a smart ass zinger. I see.

    Well, again – you've no way of demonstrating in the present tense that your faith and trust in the drivers stopped at the red light won't run you down actually won't happen…

    I'm not sure what the roadblock is for you. First, absolute certainty is a myth. Beyond being aware that you're thinking, everything else is certainty based upon probability, so not knowing absolutely that the light will come on when I flick the switch is not an act of faith to flick the switch for light. My personal experience demonstrates to me that the probability of the light coming on is very high, and since most people share that experience then we collectively consider the probability as high. I don't know with absolute certainty that it will come on, but again, absolute certainty is a myth. It's unattainable. So can I demonstrate that a driver won't suddenly gun it and kill me? With absolute certainty, no, but with probability, yes. If you can't or won't get past that, then you'll never grasp this. Faith would be a decision made with little to no probability. For instance, stepping in front of a fast moving car and believing it would stop or in any other way not touch or hurt you. Hey, maybe the driver has super reflexes and high end brakes and tires and could stop, but again, low probability for that scenario.

  46. You may well believe that, but it would be an unwarranted belief.

    So let's recap. You see a statement and declare it an assertion after either not reading what followed it or reading it but avoiding it. I point to what followed as supporting it and rather than address it, you respond with a smart ass zinger. I see.

    Well, again – you've no way of demonstrating in the present tense that your faith and trust in the drivers stopped at the red light won't run you down actually won't happen…

    I'm not sure what the roadblock is for you. First, absolute certainty is a myth. Beyond being aware that you're thinking, everything else is certainty based upon probability, so not knowing absolutely that the light will come on when I flick the switch is not an act of faith to flick the switch for light. My personal experience demonstrates to me that the probability of the light coming on is very high, and since most people share that experience then we collectively consider the probability as high. I don't know with absolute certainty that it will come on, but again, absolute certainty is a myth. It's unattainable. So can I demonstrate that a driver won't suddenly gun it and kill me? With absolute certainty, no, but with probability, yes. If you can't or won't get past that, then you'll never grasp this. Faith would be a decision made with little to no probability. For instance, stepping in front of a fast moving car and believing it would stop or in any other way not touch or hurt you. Hey, maybe the driver has super reflexes and high end brakes and tires and could stop, but again, low probability for that scenario.

  47. Andrew:
    serious Christian thought
    That's an oxymoron.

  48. yes, very good.. pats on the back all round. Heaven forbid we actually engage in rational discussion.

  49. Roundly criticized by believers, you mean.

    No, I meant what I said – roundly criticised by mainstream scholarship. The 'Jesus Myth' hypothesis is held in the same regard by the majority of historians as YEC is held by the majority of Scientists.

    Please open our eyes and present evidence for your Jesus outside of the Christian bible instead of asserting things.

    Not only is this clearly ignorant of the numerous non-canonical sources (which even a quick search of Wikipedia could show you) but it clearly demonstrates your own prejudice, for the later collation of several independant texts into a single volume which you and I know as 'the Bible' is no reason to consider them one text, further, that is a religious text does not mean it has no historical value. Real historians (even those who reject the resurrection) certainly don't just throw out the NT documents, and even if Jesus' existence wasn't corroborated by external sources, the early, multiple and independent attestation from 'canonical' sources is sufficient, and such sources would be considered significant were it any other figure.

    Now of course the historicity is a bit irrelevant.

    It's only as irrelevant and the past experience of crossing the road (i.e. neither are irrelevant).

  50. You see a statement and declare it an assertion after either not reading what followed it or reading it but avoiding it. I point to what followed as supporting it and rather than address it, you respond with a smart ass zinger. I see.

    Oh, I read the following. My 'zinger' was pointing that what follows doesn't support it, it merely assumes it.

    If you can't or won't get past that, then you'll never grasp this.

    I've already agreed that absolute certainty is unattainable, which is why anything you do based on anything less is likewise an act of faith, whether that faith / trust is reasonable or not is quite a subjective, and incident specific issue.

    Faith would be a decision made with little to no probability.

    There you go again, just asserting your own definition. I disagree with this definition of faith, and so does the dictionary and common understanding. An act faith made on little probability would simply be unreasonable faith.

    I can understand why you feel uncomfortable with the term faith, and go to great lengths to redefine it so that you feel you don't have any faith (after all, who wants to be called a 'faith head' as Prof. Dawkins says it?), but please excuse me if I find your redefinition wanting.
    You'll disagree.. I'll disagree again.. round and round the mulberry bush..

  51. I'm aware of what believers point to as evidence outside of the Christian bible. Your refusal to list even one and defend it is as telling as your continued opting to snipe and make assertions. I was looking forward to a good discussion with you, but it appears you're simply a run of the mill trolly Christian. That's a shame.

  52. All you can do is ape the assertions of the "scholars" of your religion. I see no reason to assume superiority from that position. In contrast, I actually give rational explanations for my positions. Sure we can disagree, but when one is explaining and the other is merely asserting, well, that's really just a waste of time for at least one of us.

    Goodbye

  53. I'm sorry, I assumed you were intelligent enough to actually read the Wiki link I posted. Hardly a refusal to list anything.

  54. when one is explaining and the other is merely asserting, well, that's really just a waste of time for at least one of us.

    Goodbye

    That is true. And as I think you're just asserting, I'll echo that farewell.

  55. All you can do is ape the assertions of the "scholars" of your religion.

    All you seem to be able to do is assert that the scholars must be my religion. Unfortunately for you, I've already pointed out that I'm talking about mainstream historical scholarship – the consensus of scholars of all different religious views, including those who reject my 'religion'.
    If you're going to argue against the mainstream scholarly position, then the onus is on you to discredit it with actually argument, not just fallacious and spurious ad hominem.

  56. And who elected you as "Atheist Blog Sheriff"?
    I answer to no one. Got that?
    Let's make a deal. You mind your blog…I'll mind mine.

  57. Perhaps I should delete your comment and block you since you're not saying what I want to hear. That's how it works in your world, right?

  58. [In fact, while everyone is equally entitled to have an opinion, not all opinions are equally good.]

    John – the assumption that opinions deserve some kind of respect regardless of their connection to any facts – often seen in cable tv for instance – is very destructive of a society. And now I see it everywhere. I have heard people, upon hearing that I beleive the sun rises in the east, say "well, of course, you're entitled to your opinion."

    Bad stuff. And it's all over the place.

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