Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Redefining faith

You thought faith was defined as 'belief without evidence'? Think again...

According to JP Holding in a recent interview with Jason Rennie of The Sci Phi Show podcast, faith is actually more like 'loyalty':



http://thesciphishow.com/?p=120

Audio here: http://thesciphishow.com/audio/tspsoc41.mp3 (about 19 minutes)

It's easy to counter arguments if you simply redefine the terms...

Jason interviewed PZ Myers recently as well, and they talked briefly about The God Delusion. I wouldn't recommend it as the audio quality is abysmal (poor phone line?). But if you're still curious, have a good pair of ears and a quiet place to listen, the audio is here:

http://thesciphishow.com/audio/tspsoc42.mp3

3 comments:

  1. Hi Paul,

    You realise of course that taking exception with a redefintion of the idea of faith in this case is somewhat backwards. After all, the idea of faith as "believing without evidence" is actually a redefintion of the original idea. So it is twain and others who are guilty of redefinition not JP.

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  2. No, I didn't realise this. But language evolves over time (and maybe Twain played his part). I'm using a commonly accepted definition of faith that appears in several dictionaries. Interestingly, my definition doesn't appear in the 1933 edition of the 2-volume Shorter Oxford.

    If JP Holding uses some other definition (such as loyalty) that's fine, but he must be talking about something other than "belief without evidence", which is what I was addressing in my earlier post.

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  3. "I'm using a commonly accepted definition of faith that appears in several dictionaries."

    Fair enough. I actually did the interview initially because I read some of the research JP has done and the topic of "faith" came up in the show forums a couple of times and I thought it was a useful corrective to the common perception of what faith is, and that historically it is something quite different.

    "but he must be talking about something other than "belief without evidence", which is what I was addressing in my earlier post"

    He was taling about something different but that was the point. This perjorative defintion of faith that is all the rage these days is mistaken. Sadly many christians have adopted this erroneous understanding as well :(

    Besides, "belief without evidence" is such a useless definition. Nobody believes anything without evidence or in the face of sufficent contray evidence, even if that evidence is just their own personal experience.

    There are probably a small set of things that are believed without evidence but only because no evidence can be supplied to make belief in them reasonable. Such as the existence of an external world for example.

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