Sunday, April 22, 2012

What is Faith?

I came across something that gave me pause.  It is a quote by a Christian man, Paul Douglas, who is a Meteorologist by profession and moderate Republican.  He says:

I’m a Christian and ultimately come to Christ through faith. With climate change no faith is required. There is a large and growing body of evidence. (link)

My conundrum is this.  I was always taught that we should believe in Christ and Christianity because the teaching about him and the story of Christianity is reasonable and has been proven to be correct by a substantial body of evidence.  After all, why should I accept it if not proven true?  But here he is contrasting faith with something else that does have, in his opinion, a large body of evidence.  So if Christianity does not have this body of evidence, why should we place so much confidence in it? 


Jason said...

I interpret his comment as faith will have an element of doubt. That's certainly my experience. In fact, there are days where what I feel uncertain of far outweighs anything I can know with certainty. Conversely, he's asserting affirming climate change doesn't entail any doubt.

Steve said...

Hi there Jason. I grew up thinking that all the evidence was in and there was no doubt about the really important religious matters. In that milieu the word "faith" meant the content of what you knew to be true, I guess. The "leap of faith" was something those existentialists came up with and was unnecessary since reason gave one certainty. Since I'm more of a postmodernist these days, I accept a greater level of uncertainty and doubt about a lot of things. Perhaps that is why science is appealing to me. That is one area where there can be a much higher degree of confidence attained and yes, I too recognize that climate change is here and is human induced.

S.P. Lunger said...

Analytical thinking tends to diminish religious belief.

200 years ago it was easier to hold that many things in religion were evidence based. Isn't that harder now? The growth of scientific knowledge forces an increasing suspension of disbelief... At least in terms of literal interpretations.

Steve said...

Dr. Lunger, I follow Chris Mooney's blogs and he cites this study regarding how analytic thinking correlates with religious disbelief. Here:

Unfortunately I do not have access to the Science article. A few years ago I recall coming across something at Evangelical Outpost suggesting that the slight autism that characterizes science nerds might prevent them from the perceiving necessary to believing in God. I believe there is something to that. A little something, at least.

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