John Loftus has challenged me to respond to the following:
Christian theists make two claims about faith: 1) That atheists define the concept of faith wrong, and 2) That atheists have faith just like Christian theists do. So here’s my challenge: Define faith in such a way that it fulfills both requirements! Let’s see you try. 😉
Seems kind of inconsistent doesn’t it? When I have written extended criticisms of John’s arguments he refuses even to read them let alone to offer a response. Apparently he prefers to issue his own challenges rather than answer those posed to him.
That reminds me of this kid I knew in high school who would come along for the ride when we would go cliff jumping. He was always the one challenging everyone else to jump off higher and higher rocky precipices into the lake far below. But he wouldn’t jump off anything. Once we realized he was a wimp, we just ignored him.
I’m not going to do that here. Instead, I will respond to John despite his gross double standard.
First off, I never said “1) That atheists define the concept of faith wrong”. There are many well informed atheists who would never countenance the facile blather on faith that one hears at Debunking Christianity. I have always pointed out instead that John defines the concept of faith incorrectly.
As for “2) That atheists have faith just like Christian theists do”, yes this is correct.
Here is a simple and straightforward definition of faith:
Assent to a proposition that is conceivably false.
With this definition in mind, the object of faith can be thought of in two basic ways:
(1) Immediate faith in the proposition itself.
(2) Mediate faith in the doxastic process or agent that is the occasion for one forming belief in the proposition.
Consider a simple example.
I look out the window in the morning, see the sunny day, and come to believe: “It is sunny today.”
It is conceivable that this proposition is false. For example, I could possibly still be sleeping or hallucinating due to a brain tumor while it is in fact raining. I know this is conceivably the case but I still believe that “It is sunny today.”
As a result, I have immediate faith in the truth of the proposition “It is sunny today” and mediate faith in the doxastic sense perceptory processes that are the occasion for me forming the belief.
So yes John, we all have immediate faith in the truth of certain propositions that could conceivably be false and mediate truth in the doxastic processes and agents that provide the occasion for our formation of those beliefs.
In closing, I’d like to extend my thanks to John for such a delightfully easy challenge. If nothing else, the fact that John thinks his “challenge” is in any way daunting is revealing of little more than his own level of ignorance.