The Debate Over Definitions of Faith

The debate over faith is whether Christian definitions of faith make any sense (they don't), whether they are consistent with each other (they're not), and whether Christians do what their own definitions say they do (they don't). No, we emphatically do not have to use a word such as "faith" in the same way Christians use it, when the concept behind it is the debate itself. Although, if faith is trust, as they say, there is no reason to trust faith. If "faith is trust in a person", as they say, there's no reason to trust extraordinary miraculous claims such as the sun appearing as blood, or standing in the sky for a day, or that its shadow backed up a stairway, or it was eclipsed by the moon for more than an hour; nor that a virgin really had a baby in an ancient superstitious era where it was believed several important fetuses were birthed without sex, or that Jesus, Elijah and Moses really levitated before Peter, James and John, or that Zombie's came out of their tombs. There's no reason to trust these claims especially since they come from superstitious ancient people, such as prophets, apostles, priests, rabbis, sorcerers, shamans, and guru's, without having seen them for ourselves, or without being there to investigate them for ourselves.

Because of this sad state of faith, atheists and skeptics have come up with definitions of faith that make sense, are consistent with each other and describe what believers actually do. Here are some of mine:
Faith is an irrational leap over and beyond the available evidence.
Faith is an irrational leap over the need for evidence.
Faith is a mother of all cognitive biases.
Faith prohibits one's cognitive faculties from functioning properly.
Faith is the permission believers give themselves to accept bullshit as the truth.
Faith is trusting in a god who is believed as trustworthy based on faith that he is trustworthy.
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 an irrational, unevidenced, or misplaced trust in something or someone. (Unapologetic, p.152)
Faith is a cognitive bias that causes believers to overestimate any confirming evidence and underestimate any disconfirming evidence. (Unapologetic, p. 55)
Here are a few of Dr. Matt McCormick's definitions, from chapter 11, "The 'F' Word", in his book, Atheism and the Case Against Christ:
-To take something on faith or to believe by faith is to believe it despite contrary or inadequate evidence. It is to believe anyway when there's not enough support from evidence and reason to clear the way.

-The overcoming of doubts or counter-evidence is the essential feature of faith.

-If someone's reaction to my arguments against the resurrection and other religious beliefs is that she has faith, then she is conceding the central point. In effect, she is acknowledging that in order to believe those religious doctrines, one must ignore the inefficiencies in the evidence and believe anyway.

-If there is sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion, then faith isn't needed. So to suggest that faith and evidence jointly justify is acknowledging that the evidence by itself isn't enough, and I will ignore that gap and believe anyway.

-In fact, the need to invoke faith to bridge the gap affirms the inadequacy of the evidence.

-In effect, the faith response amounts to, "I'm going to believe anyway, despite those objections." That's just dogmatic irrationality, not a serious consideration that the critic must give some further objection to.
Dr. Peter Boghossian has weighed in on faith:
-"Faith is an epistemology, a way of knowing" because its results are taken to be knowledge, firmly held knowledge, even certain knowledge, despite the fact that "faith-based belief processes are unreliable."
-"The most charitable thing we can say about faith is that it's likely to be false."
-"Faith: Pretending to know things you don't know."
"Pretending..." is a stipulative definition, one that's polemical in nature yet accurate from the perspective of atheists and skeptics. Just like the sophists in the days of Socrates, who pretended to know things they didn't know, apologists for Christianity do likewise (otherwise they wouldn't be apologists). By contrast Boghossian wants us to practice the intellectual virtue of authenticity, whereby we admit we don't know something if we legitimately don't know it. We are to be like Socrates who was told by the Delphic Oracle he was the wisest person alive because he didn't pretend to know something if he didn't know it.

No one can know everything. So apologists who are pretending are not authentic people. The question is why anyone would take seriously the pontifications of an inauthentic person? The lack of authenticity, all by itself, should tell us such a person is indoctrinated, brainwashed and delusional.

Here is some essential reading if a debate ensues here, as I expect it will:

Faith is not to be defined as trust.

On Definitions of Faith and Arguments Against It.

If you have some good definitions of faith fire away!