The Definition Refutation: Christians, You Don't Get To Define The Word "Faith" For Us

Victor Reppert, David Marshall and Randal Rauser have repeatedly said atheists must abide by their definitions of the word "Faith"--then they have all defined that word differently. *cough* Not so. Not at all. Not even close. Here is the definition refutation of such tomfoolery:

Christian, what if scientists defined the word "evidence" as "objective sense data that leaves no room for faith"?

[Actually many scientists think of evidence this way, but that's beside the point.]

You would dispute that definition of theirs wouldn't you? But what if scientists also said you must accept this definition before you can talk about any evidence or participate in the scientific enterprise?

You would not be obligated to acquiesce to this definition of theirs would you? The reason is because defining words like these are part of the debate itself.

So atheists, in the same fashion, do not have to acquiesce to you by using any one of the many Christians definitions of "faith" either. Because how we define the word "faith" is part of the debate itself.

But does language work that way?

Yes it does. To see this take a philosophy of language class. Do an etymological study of words like "nice" and "gay" for starters. Look at how language evolves. Look at the use of stipulative definitions.

I can define a word any way I want to. If I want to communicate then I must also tell my readers what I mean by the word. Them's the rules. That Christians have been in the majority for nearly two thousand years does not mean non-Christians and non-believers must accept how they define the word "faith," since that is part of the debate, as I said.

The way believers define the word "faith" is so incongruent with other definitions that nonbelievers cannot make sense of the precise definition of the word. So we have defined it much better with more consistency according to what we've concluded about the case against religious belief. To the degree people accept the case we make then to that same degree they'll agree with our definitions. It's that simple and should be noncontroversial among intellectuals and educated people! *ahem* Stop this willful ignorance at best, or disingenuous skullduggery at worst! Now! ;-)

I've supplied three definitions of "faith" in my book, The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True:

…faith is an irrational leap over the probabilities. (OTF, p.207)

Faith is an attitude or feeling whereby believers attribute a higher degree of probability to the evidence than what the evidence calls for. (OTF, p.207)

Faith is a cognitive bias that causes believers to overestimate the confirming evidence and underestimate disconfirming evidence. (OTF, p.207)

I see no reason to use faith in the way Christians do, especially when their definitions of faith are contradictory with each other, irrelevant to the core issues that provoke the debate, and/or contrary to what I've concluded about religious faiths and their dogmas.