1. Felicific Forest
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    01 Jan '07 03:582 edits
    http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/CIS/mcgrath/lecture.html#_edn2

    by Alister McGrath

    Let's begin by looking at that definition of faith, and ask where it comes from. Faith `means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.' But why should anyone accept this ludicrous definition? What is the evidence that this is how religious people define faith? Dawkins is coy at this point, and adduces no religious writer to substantiate this highly implausible definition, which appears to have been conceived with the deliberate intention of making religious faith seem a piece of intellectual buffoonery. I don't accept this idea of faith, and I have yet to meet a theologian who takes it seriously.[21] It cannot be defended from any official declaration of faith from any Christian denomination. It is Dawkins' own definition, constructed with his own agenda in mind, being represented as if it were characteristic of those he wishes to criticise.

    What is really worrying is that Dawkins genuinely seems to believe that faith actually is `blind trust', despite the fact that no major Christian writer adopts such a definition. This is a core belief for Dawkins, which determines more or less every aspect of his attitude to religion and religious people. Yet core beliefs often need to be challenged. For, as Dawkins once remarked of Paley's ideas on design, this belief is `gloriously and utterly wrong'.

    Faith, Dawkins tells us, `means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.' This may be what Dawkins thinks; it is not what Christians think. Let me provide a definition of faith offered by W. H. Griffith-Thomas (1861-1924), a noted Anglican theologian who was one of my predecessors as Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. The definition of faith that he offers is typical of any Christian writer.[22]

    [Faith] affects the whole of man's nature. It commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence; it continues in the confidence of the heart or emotions based on conviction, and it is crowned in the consent of the will, by means of which the conviction and confidence are expressed in conduct.

    It's a good and reliable definition, synthesising the core elements of the characteristic Christian understanding of faith. And this faith `commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence.' I see no point in wearying readers with other quotations from Christian writers down the ages in support of this point. In any case, it is Dawkins' responsibility to demonstrate that his skewed and nonsensical definition of `faith' is characteristic of Christianity through evidence-based argument.

    Having set up his straw man, Dawkins knocks it down. It is not an unduly difficult or demanding intellectual feat. Faith is infantile, we are told - just fine for cramming into the minds of impressionable young children, but outrageously immoral and intellectually risible in the case of adults. We've grown up now, and need to move on. Why should we believe things that can't be scientifically proved? Faith in God, Dawkins argues, is just like believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. When you grow up, you grow out of it.

    This is a schoolboy argument that has accidentally found its way into a grown-up discussion. It is as amateurish as it is unconvincing. There is no serious empirical evidence that people regard God, Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy as being in the same category. I stopped believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy when I was about six years old. After being an atheist for some years, I discovered God when I was eighteen, and have never regarded this as some kind of infantile regression. As I noticed while researching The Twilight of Atheism, a large number of people come to believe in God in later life - when they are `grown up'. I have yet to meet anyone who came to believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy late in life.

    If Dawkins' rather simplistic argument has any plausibility, it requires a real analogy between God and Santa Claus to exist - which it clearly does not. Everyone knows that people do not regard belief in God as belonging to the same category as these childish beliefs. Dawkins, of course, argues that they both represent belief in non-existent entities. But this represents a very elementary confusion over which is the conclusion and which the presupposition of an argument.
  2. Donationkirksey957
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    01 Jan '07 06:12
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/CIS/mcgrath/lecture.html#_edn2

    by Alister McGrath

    Let's begin by looking at that definition of faith, and ask where it comes from. Faith `means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.' But why should anyone accept this ludicrous definition? What is the evidence that this is how rel ...[text shortened]... usion over which is the conclusion and which the presupposition of an argument.
    I've come across literally hundreds of people for whom their view of God is virtually the same as Santa Claus or the tooth fairy.
  3. Standard memberscottishinnz
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    01 Jan '07 06:23
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/CIS/mcgrath/lecture.html#_edn2

    by Alister McGrath

    Let's begin by looking at that definition of faith, and ask where it comes from. Faith `means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.' But why should anyone accept this ludicrous definition? What is the evidence that this is how rel ...[text shortened]... usion over which is the conclusion and which the presupposition of an argument.
    Well then, where's the physical evidence for God then?
  4. Meddling with things
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    01 Jan '07 11:541 edit
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    et me provide a definition of faith offered by W. H. Griffith-Thomas (1861-1924), a noted Anglican theologian who was one of my predecessors as Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. The definition of faith that he offers is typical of any Christian writer.[22]

    [Faith] affects the whole of man's nature. It commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence;
    Please supply us with the 'adequate evidence'.

    Any takers?
  5. Cosmos
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    01 Jan '07 12:14
    "...it requires a real analogy between God and Santa Claus to exist - which it clearly does not."

    Correct. The analogy is very weak. After all there is plenty of evidence for Santa - White bearded, tubby Men in red outfits in shops with children on their knees, presents appearing on Xmas day, etc, etc....whereas there is zero evidence for God's existence.
  6. Territories Unknown
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    01 Jan '07 16:05
    Originally posted by scottishinnz
    Well then, where's the physical evidence for God then?
    If, by physical evidence, you are looking for God's literal footprints, you will have (once again) won an argument not wagered. Congratulations.

    Finding a gopher wooden boat on the mountains of Ararat will not prove that Noah and his family of eight went through a deluge; it will simply be evidence that a boat of biblical puportions somehow ended up on the side of a mountain otherwise dominated by snow and ice.

    The same holds true for the remaining iconoclasms of faith, and anyone who pursues such superficiality will always be unsatisfied--- even when face-to-face with the physicality they demand. This is borne out every day (and seen here even more) amidst the hues and cries of the supposed critics. Ignoring the long-standing objective standards used for establishing historical surety, the naysayers are reduced to demanding the equivalence of modern-day billboards before they acquiesce to the facts represented in the Bible.

    Conceptualization is ruined and their claim is Reason is to blame, despite Reason's quiet cries of desperation for an audience--- any audience. The words of the Lord Jesus Christ ring true to this generation of supposed enlightened minds:

    "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel."
  7. Standard memberscottishinnz
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    01 Jan '07 21:06
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    If, by physical evidence, you are looking for God's literal footprints, you will have (once again) won an argument not wagered. Congratulations.

    Finding a gopher wooden boat on the mountains of Ararat will not prove that Noah and his family of eight went through a deluge; it will simply be evidence that a boat of biblical puportions somehow ended up on ...[text shortened]... upposed enlightened minds:

    "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel."
    So, no evidence for God then? Roughly the same amount as there is for fairies, or goblins?
  8. Felicific Forest
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    01 Jan '07 22:061 edit
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    I've come across literally hundreds of people for whom their view of God is virtually the same as Santa Claus or the tooth fairy.
    Do you fall in that category ?
  9. Joined
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    01 Jan '07 23:43
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    [Faith] affects the whole of man's nature. It commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence; it continues in the confidence of the heart or emotions based on conviction, and it is crowned in the consent of the will, by means of which the conviction and confidence are expressed in conduct.
    Faith is a belief in something. There is no need for evidence here. As soon as someone is convinced of something they can be said to have faith. I don't see a problem with stating that. Why do you have to add 'adequate evidence'?
  10. Donationkirksey957
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    02 Jan '07 00:42
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    Do you fall in that category ?
    No. Most of my life has found me with nothing under the "tree."
  11. Standard memberfrogstomp
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    02 Jan '07 00:46
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    No. Most of my life has found me with nothing under the "tree."
    or your pillow?
  12. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    02 Jan '07 00:51
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/CIS/mcgrath/lecture.html#_edn2

    by Alister McGrath

    Let's begin by looking at that definition of faith, and ask where it comes from. Faith `means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.' But why should anyone accept this ludicrous definition? What is the evidence that this is how rel ...[text shortened]... usion over which is the conclusion and which the presupposition of an argument.
    [Faith] affects the whole of man's nature. It commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence; it continues in the confidence of the heart or emotions based on conviction, and it is crowned in the consent of the will, by means of which the conviction and confidence are expressed in conduct.

    This is not a definition. It just talks about what it affects, not what it is.
  13. Standard memberAgerg
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    02 Jan '07 16:091 edit
    Originally posted by ivanhoe
    http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/CIS/mcgrath/lecture.html#_edn2

    by Alister McGrath

    Let's begin by looking at that definition of faith, and ask where it comes from. Faith `means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.' But why should anyone accept this ludicrous definition? What is the evidence that this is how rel usion over which is the conclusion and which the presupposition of an argument.
    Let's begin by looking at that definition of faith, and ask where it comes from. Faith `means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.' But why should anyone accept this ludicrous definition? What is the evidence that this is how religious people define faith?

    Firstly...lets assume that there was some factual physical evidence available to us all (that can be attributed to nothing other than your god (not the flying spaghetti monster, Muffy etc...))...well then in light of such evidence you wouldn't need to have faith would you!!...more you would be accepting the truth of facts...

    Dawkins' rather simplistic argument has any plausibility, it requires a real analogy between God and Santa Claus to exist - which it clearly does not. Everyone knows that people do not regard belief in God as belonging to the same category as these childish beliefs. Dawkins, of course, argues that they both represent belief in non-existent entities. But this represents a very elementary confusion over which is the conclusion and which the presupposition of an argument.

    You miss one simple flaw in your argument...when you suggested at a young age that Santa and the tooth-fairy was BS....most adults would have backed you up...if you had then gone on to question whether God was BS, many of those adults wouldn't. You amongst others would probably assume that millions of people cannot all be wrong....millions certainly can! (try to think where all those people got *their* knowledge from...it certainly wasn't God itself)...The amount of physical evidence that supports the existence of magic pots, FSM, hobgoblins etc... is equal to that which supports the existence of your god. The difference between them is *number of people that subscribe to a certain fallacy*
  14. London
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    04 Jan '07 11:26
    Originally posted by Agerg
    [b]Let's begin by looking at that definition of faith, and ask where it comes from. Faith `means blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence.' But why should anyone accept this ludicrous definition? What is the evidence that this is how religious people define faith?

    Firstly...lets assume that there was some factual physical e ...[text shortened]... god. The difference between them is *number of people that subscribe to a certain fallacy*[/b]
    Firstly...lets assume that there was some factual physical evidence available to us all (that can be attributed to nothing other than your god (not the flying spaghetti monster, Muffy etc...))...well then in light of such evidence you wouldn't need to have faith would you!!...more you would be accepting the truth of facts...

    Er.. no. The "truth of facts" (whatever that means) would be the facts themselves. If the evidence were such that God were the only logical possible explanation then it would constitute part of a logical proof.

    Of course, it only takes a moment to take a look at a few of the thousands of pieces of 'evidence' we use in our daily lives that drive our beliefs and decisions to see how very few of them actually constitute logical proof.

    Further, why should the evidence be directly physical? Why not philosophical argumentation based on physical evidence?

    The amount of physical evidence that supports the existence of magic pots, FSM, hobgoblins etc... is equal to that which supports the existence of your god.

    Actually, no. Since (by most reckonings) God is ontologically a fundamentally different entity from magic pots, hobgoblins etc. the manner in which physical evidence supports the existence of God is also fundamentally different from the manner in which it would support the existence of these creatures or whatever. Further, I would argue that, used in the appropriate philosophical manner, the physical evidence for the existence of God is more convincing than that for your existence.
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    04 Jan '07 12:08
    Originally posted by lucifershammer
    Further, I would argue that, used in the appropriate philosophical manner, the physical evidence for the existence of God is more convincing than that for your existence.
    If you don't mind, since you have brought it up, I would like to see you present the physical evidence for the existence of God that is more convincing than that for the existence of Agerg.
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