Faith? Uh -- What's That!?
First, let me tell you how much I enjoy your site. Brilliant! Absolutely love it!
I have a question regarding "faith." I'm debating Christians constantly, and whenever I back them into a corner (which is rather easy), I get the stock answer, "Just have faith," or, "One must have faith," etc. To say this drives me insane would be an understatement. How do you respond to "Faith"?
Thank you. Keep up the great work!
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "sean holderread"
Subject: Re: Faith?
Date: November 18, 2003 4:46 PM
How do you respond to "Faith"?
Easy! I respond to it the same way I respond to the rest of their gibberish:
Uh, forgive me for sounding dense -- but, uh -- what's "faith"? I've always heard the term, but nobody's ever explained what it means. Please explain it to me -- from the ground up. Okay?
Just as it is their burden to prove that what they're telling you is true, it is their burden to explain to you what it is that they're telling you.
They will inevitably appeal to Hebrews chapter 11, which is little more than a run-down of canonical and folkloric history ("How did they know about Enoch except to read the Apocrypha, which is not Scripture?"). This at least brings you back to the Bible, if you want.
But that's not what I want. Explain to me what "faith" is, and how one can be "saved by grace through faith, it (the faith) is a gift from God" and yet it also says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Does the faith (whatever it is) then become work? And other great questions you can ask without knowing Thing One about what "faith" (other than that it's a noun that's used in the Bible a lot, a noun whose verb is "to believe").
However, when dealing with god-claims and the like, the best thing you can do is to ask them to define what it is that they are claiming! The problem (for anybody making claims like this) is that the more precisely they define something, the easier it becomes for their critics to refute. If they can dodge this one request of yours ("Explain to me what you're even talking about!"), then they're the ones who have you backed up into the corner.
Always get them to define the terms. After all, they're the ones claiming that the thing exists, aren't they? Never take it for granted that you know what they're saying -- even if you're certain that you know exactly what they're saying.
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