A Basis from which to Start

For communication to be effective everyone needs to agree on what the terms being discussed mean.

To that end I am going to give my baseline, working definitions for ‘Atheism’ and for ‘Faith’. These are complicated by other factors but we’ll keep them absolutely as simple as possible at this point.

Atheism: Nothing more than the personal, positional statement ‘I don’t believe in god/s’. This may be for many reasons and exists to various degrees but all Atheism is, in and of itself is that. ‘I don’t believe in god/s’.

And then, at least in terms of religious/supernaturalist discussions…

Faith = (Belief – Evidence)

These are the bases upon which discussions and posts on this blog will build and continue.

4 responses to “A Basis from which to Start

  1. A fair beginning to define your terms, if a little simplistically. I would, however, suggest that “Faith”, as you define it, has little resemblance to the position held by the majority of people of faith.

    Faith is rarely a position held without evidence. It is likely that you mean “without empirical evidence”, and that is a distinction that is worth making. Otherwise, you will be arguing against a “Faith” which simply does not address the questions that you are seeking to discuss. Instead you will be arguing against a phantom, an illusion self-created from a lack of understanding about what faith really is.

    Finally, your positional statement of “Atheism” does not, in your definition, draw upon evidence. Does that make it equivalent to your limited definition of “Faith”?

    “Atheism = (non-belief – evidence)”?

    Have fun!

    • Obviously I consider it to be otherwise. I think it’s very important to separate faith in the religious context from the other meanings which it can be associated with while, at the same time, I want to avoid using a different term. Something I’m very much against is the impenetrable wall of jargon that so many causes wrap themselves up in (feminism being the example that springs most readily to mind).

      Faith is used as a synonym for ‘trust’ or ‘belief’ but we need to separate it from ‘belief’ – which can rest upon evidence, and ‘trust’ of which the same can be said (past experience etc). I’m sure many people of faith would claim that their faith is of a different character to how I’m defining it, but I’m not buying it.

      Atheism is a lack of a belief, not a belief, therefore it doesn’t fit into the equation as I presented it and, given the logical demands of the burden of proof, it’s the only rational default.

  2. You aren’t wrong, however the believer will resist your Faith formula.

    The supernaturalist has in mind that Faith is just faith (from wikipedia) “trust, hope and belief in the goodness, trustworthiness or reliability of a person, concept or entity“. They just happen to have confidence in something that the naturalist (academia) doubts.

    The religious have been taught that Faith is like faith but with the addition that (1) Faith is a virtue and that (2) some specific Beliefs are profoundly important. Those believers consider it worthwhile to maintain confidence in something that the non-religious (academia) doubts.

    Both the religious and the supernaturalist err because outsiders reject their Evidence (as scientifically antiquated) and their way they reconcile conflicting claims (as philosophically antiquated).

    • I think I tackle everything you raise here regarding the definitions in my reply to rat.
      The other things I intend to tackle in later posts.

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