OSC’s Definition by interrogateum!

Continuing on the theme of faith, as it’s always best to do so as exhaustively as possible, I’ve again enjoyed an exchange of ideas with the writer and staunch atheist Allallt! They however, much like Alex and Maritza, have an alien definition of faith which doesn’t appear to be applicable to who I would point to as the most excellent examples of the Christian faith in action. This would mean they have avoided where the real arguments lay in favour of roasting paper tigers. So, let’s examine Allallt’s definition of faith by way of their glossary: “pretending to know things you don’t know.” Being perfectly blunt, the Mark Twainian definition of faith isn’t at all sophisticated, actually it’s an awful failure if we’re assuming here that Allallt made an honest attempt at interacting with the case for Christianity (or any faith in candour). Albeit many casual believers for all faiths do pay lip service to the above definition, it’s merely done so to protect the believing person from having to answer uncomfortable questions about their faith. Meanwhile however on planet reality, believers in tune with what the Bible teaches can point to faith as it’s properly defined. Though rather than simply taking my word for how unsuccessful an effort the above definition is, join me as I share faith with Allallt (first a small portion of an article of theirs):

What follows is 10 questions aimed at theists, along with an explanation as to why the questions are meaningful. The questions are sincere, as they have been the stumbling blocks to many a conversation about religion. What is contained in the explanations that follow the questions is not meant to limit a theist’s response, and anywhere you think I may be offering a limited number of options for your answer, that is not my point; these are not meant to be produced as multiple choice questions. They are open and you are free to answer anything. Nothing is intended as a ‘gotcha’ question. . .

4. How should I know when to implement faith, and when to implement reason?

I assume, for the most part, reason and critical thinking guides you when you take yourself or your children to a practitioner to be healed of an ailment. In general, you are sceptical of homeopathy and people who claim marijuana, echinacea and white wine vinegar are the cures to all conditions. In general, you visit a doctor who you trust will implement a scientific system. The trust is not unfounded, either. You are aware of a system that keeps doctors to a standard, else you will have an opportunity for recourse. And it is good that you do this: getting this wrong could have very immediate and negative consequences. . .

And yet, when it comes to questions of religion and defences for God’s existence, one ends up resting heavily on faith at a critical point in the argument. How do you know it is reasonable to implement faith at this point, instead of enquiring further? (for more questions read here).

To paraphrase “I’m writing a sincere question,” Allallt insists, “We’re stumbling over the topic,” insofar as faith is concerned. Even more interestingly, they ask why aren’t people inquiring further, as if to say inquiry into God has been stopped merely by the very natural inclination to believe in God no longer being denied. “Why aren’t you withholding your faith?” they’re asking, as they’re already withholding theirs. My reply begins by sharing with who sometimes appears a sincerely misled questioner an honest answer from the historic method: “4. How should I know when to implement faith, and when to implement reason?”

By writing “reason and critical thinking” ordinarily guides decision making, you’re implying irrationality and unanalysed processes inform or are workaday in people who believe in God while in the act of belief in God, meaning the faulty assumptions of many modern atheists are being written into the question before it’s ever been asked. The famous question “Have you stopped beating your wife lately?” comes irresistibly to mind (a yes or no answer to that question, please!) The question supposes reason as the opposite of faith, yet that’s factually incorrect, rather the opposite of reason would be irrationality, as for belief, distrust would be it’s opposite.

Faith, as I can confess to being played out in my life, is something which is a natural occurrence insofar as people allow themselves to be led by the available evidence. Whereas when I speak to people about God in London, and they’re inclined to find an escape route (I normally corner them beforehand), that’s simply a hardening of the heart, something deserving of being called distrust. If after having everything they assume to be true (e.g Religious people are stupid, Jesus didn’t exist) cast into doubt by a conversation with myself or a JW or somebody else, it’s then their sovereign choice to either accept how they’ve just had their arguments flustered, meaning there’s more to the opposite viewpoint than they’d have believed earlier, or it’s their free choice to go into denial mode, to continue to scoff and enjoy the company of scoffers as opposed to giving into “blind faith”, which is of course not blind, but an occurrence of reason (even “founded” upon reason).

An example of faith founded upon rational inquiry would be found in a message I originally intended to post in an earlier topic of yours, nevertheless, let’s move along with the tide of posts so as to not disturb the flow of discussion. Insofar as I have found, reason and evidence are to later adult converts into Christianity an essential happening before their conversion experience, that is unless they’re converting so to get married (e.g female converts to Islam) or trying to grease the wheels and get their kid into the “right” school (upper middle-class parents, for example).

An example of the sorts of rational inquiry which would go towards naturally producing faith in the sincere believer would be being introduced to the historical nature of the New Testament. Or in different, more technical language, it’s how an event’s historicity is determined which would work towards causing faith in the soon to be believing person. In terms of ascertaining an event’s historicity (or lack thereof) modern scholarship employs several criteria whereby they can critically deconstruct a text, whether or not an event conforms to the various criteria would determine how accurately the manuscript’s original autographer (or the newly exposed interloper) caught (or corrupted) the particular record of the event.

The criteria are of course applied equally to treasured religious manuscripts and non-religious material, which includes utilizing such benchmarks as dissimilarity, congruence, early attestation, multiple attestation, embarrassment, not to forget traces of first century Palestinian milieu (a less applicable criteria insofar as world literature is concerned, albeit excellent insofar as the Gospels are concerned). Biblical scholar Richard Bauckham in their Jesus and the Eyewitnesses book would be an excellent example of how criteria is employed and history properly defined.

With regards to my claim, one made very recently, which loosely explained how Jesus’ baptism had been confirmed as an authentic event in the life of history’s greatest rabbi, my fault was only in that in citing embarrassment (embarrassment and only embarrassment) as an example of criteria by which Jesus’ baptism as Christ might be confirmed, I’d been overly modest. Rather the materials which report Jesus’ baptism conform to such criteria as: dissimilarity, congruence, early attestation, multiple attestation and embarrassment.

Furthermore, to meet the famous baptism event and class it as it is (meaning an event in history), isn’t to commit the historian to anything readers in the infidel community would be offended by, they’re not by coming to a historic consensus attempting to supplant anything with the miraculous (Heaven forbid I hear atheists cry), rather it’s the encounter of the baptized Jesus and their in those days contemporary John which is being confirmed “in the natural” so to speak, with which we’re finally able to either withhold some degree of faith in the event, or if we’re reasonable people, will be (even for time) naturally inclined to give ground, admitting the truth of the event in some wise. It’s that continued accumulation of evidence in favour of a thing which either wins over an unbeliever, softening their views toward Christian belief in time, or it’ll have the opposite effect, transforming the hard-hearted listener into a raving clown even your everyday atheist has a hard time keeping company with, they of course become this thing to their own hurt.

When some commentator, one whose name escapes me as of this moment, explained Martin Luther played John the Baptised to Adolf Hitler, our initial reaction may be to either become offended, or perhaps make it known that the point is factually in error, though the comment isn’t meant to be understood in the factually sense, rather it’s supposed to be relational, with which we would be less reactionary (indeed less deluded) to tackle their statement in vein of how it’s being presented. By knowing the claim is about how their lives related to one another we’re more easily primed to explain the depth of ignorance behind the claim. In a similar fashion, atheists who would rather be better than their gormless peers in the infidel community ought to take heed of the word faith, how the facts of faith arise and what the actual antithesis of faith truly is.

On an aside note, question 8, don’t do this to yourselves again guys, not to yourselves or anybody else, 🙂 even the use of “innovative” and “original” are awfully subjective in the mouths of the questioner, for which they refuse to define what’s being included either way. Not to mention being answered many times, so much so that “theological statements” and “promises” must be banned by atheists as a form of answer because it keeps undoing the silly question.

Allallt replies by several points, only one of which really touched upon the subject of faith. This attempt used the widely debunked extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence catchphrase: Well, a little housekeeping first. This post was written 3 months ago (and there’s another 3 months of posts scheduled posts, coming out every Wednesday!). The positive of this is that is doesn’t tend to spread conversation too thinly when I have the idea for 2 or three posts on the same day (as has happened before), because they still get posted a week apart. The bad side of this is that posts aren’t rescheduled in terms of context, and I can’t offer a quick turn around on posts that come out of comments sections. (I even think there’s one more for xPrae coming.)

That said, when I wrote question 8, months ago, I had moral messages or scientific facts in mind. So far as I can tell, the Bible is composed of an understanding of nature that already existed and moral messages that had already been authored. I see from the other thread that Zande is happy to cast a wider net, including story tropes and narratives. I’m not sure what benefit that serves, but I don’t think the question as I intended it (as I see that it’s a little ambiguous, especially in context) has been answered.

Secondly, I did not assume that religion ultimately rests of faith. Even people who claim they have “reasonable faith” admit to resting on faith ultimately, if you drill the conversation down far enough. (And it happens at a point well before solipsism.) People who don’t attest to faith at bottom are people like Silence of Mind, who claims it’s all science and in the few years he has been commenting here has never given a peer-reviewed article or comprehensible account of how. EquippedCat, in this thread, who is a Christian, pulled SoM up on that. You may argue I’ve only ever encountered people unable to defend their religion without resting on faith, but that a full rational defence is available. To that I say two things: that’s not how religion is being practised or defended; and that doesn’t mean I’m making an unsupported statement when I say religion rests on faith for people. That is my experience of people willing to defend religion. (I even had a JW come to my door and then say “don’t talk to me about science, I’m an old lady”. Am I supposed to believe she had a rational defence up her sleeve, but just didn’t like the cut of my jib?)

I also didn’t say, and will not say, that religious people are stupid. Some are (SoM comes to mind), but so are some atheists. Some are articulate and intelligent, praise I readily extend to you (and Francis Collins and many others — it would just be gushing to start listing them). But that doesn’t mean their intellect is being applied consistently to their religion and other domains (including their criticism of other religions).

Lastly, there is an ‘ordinary claim/extraordinary claim’ evidence deficit to consider. It’s not just the fact that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (a claim made very ambiguous by the pedestrian nature of, say, the evidence for gravitational waves) but that the extraordinary claims are the ones for which there is no evidence and accepting them, because the ordinary claims can be defended, appears to be faith.

A contribution was next added by a writer simply named Paul, who accused Allallt of a weighty charge, dishonesty: Cool beans! I’m not the only one who recognized the plurium interrogationum!

Allallt then attempted to untangle my original message, as they’re sometimes trying, though in many cases they’re unsuccessful: I’ve gone through at some length to try to avoid the idea there is some trickery here. I’ve given an explanation as to why I think questions are important to the discussion and written that nothing is meant to close down a question; I’m not trying to make then multiple choice questions.

That said, there are standards as to what counts as an answer. Yours, Paul, largely, do not.
And, I think think Oldschool is even alluding to the accusation of plurium interrogationum. He’s accusing me of suggesting religious people are stupid, which I did not say. He’s accusing me of saying religious people are not rational, which I did not say. But not of asking too many questions. Perhaps I’m being accused of hiding a presupposition, but that is not plurium interrogationum, and if Oldschool is making that accusation it’s been tip-toed around to the point it’s hard to see. If anything, I’d ask Oldschool again to explain more clearly why he rejects the premise of the question.

In reality, Paul was correct, or as my first reply plainly explainedthe faulty assumptions of many modern atheists are being written into the question before it’s ever been asked,” though nobody had properly defined what it meant to define a word by use of a complicated presupposition masked by a seemingly honest question. With which I began to do so: To explain, I’m saying you have presuppositions of the definition and operations of faith built into the question which believers do not share. You then ask the question as if your ideas are shared by yourself and the theist, which they’re not. So, to ask a theist the sort of question you have asked wouldn’t be appropriate, you’re not interacting with faith faith, but a caricature. It’s like me asking a homosexual how they’re coping with their ongoing medical condition, it’s an accusation of mental illness as much as it is a question.

To briefly make another point, the definition of plurium interrogationum, insofar as I’ve found it, reads like so:

A complex question, trick question, multiple question or plurium interrogationum (Latin, “of many questions”) is a question that has a presupposition that is complex. The presupposition is a proposition that is presumed to be acceptable to the respondent when the question is asked.

The portion which reads “The presupposition is a proposition that is presumed to be acceptable to the respondent when the question is asked.” does appear to be what question four does, as it’s containing a complex presupposition assumed true on the believer’s behalf. Although I’m not personally saying this was done in a malicious or calculated way, in that it’s not a “trick question” as the name suggests, and for me to say it was would be speculative. I’d sooner speculate as to it being more of a mental hiccup on the part of the questioner if the above definition rightly describes the question.

Ignoring the topic of a possible trick question, Allallt goes on into asking more about the question of faith: I’ve tried reading your initial comment, where you attempt to define faith in a different way. I’ve not been able to draw from that anything meaningful. Could you attempt it again.

Oldschoolcontemporary: By meaningful do you mean to write “something which differentiates one definition of faith from the other”? Because by your definition of faith, you then proceed to explains faith’s opposite number, even explaining “In general, you visit a doctor who you trust will implement a scientific system. The trust is not unfounded, either.” Which would again imply faith as an unfounded act of volition. My example of how a yet unconvinced person could have faith brought about as a consequence of their rational faculties would mean the faith to which I’m referring isn’t “unfounded”, rather it would be nurtured and increase by way of the evidence, meaning totally founded, even founded upon reason and evidence.

Is it fair to say Paul rightly identified hidden assumptions not shared by the believers reading which have been built into your question?

Perhaps assuming there’s no possible alternative to their understanding of faith, Allallt again ignores my question about their presuppositions made on the believer’s behalf: So, how does ‘founded faith’ differ from other rational enquiry? That’s the meaningful bit I can’t see. You seem to be talking about faith as evidence based reasoning, which I would say is not faith at all. But you still use the word. Because it seems what you’re saying is that you don’t implement faith at all. Which is a fine answer, but you are still using the word “faith”.

Oldschoolcontemporary: Reasoning is the process (not faith), whereas faith/trust/confidence would be the substance of said process barring an individual actively withholding their trust. Faith is [synonymous] with trust. That’s why if you were to ask anybody “When do you implement trust?” they’d either reply “When I’m feeling safe” (as in no axe murderers please), or they’d reply “Trust isn’t implemented, it’s just something which occurs naturally.” Faith likewise is naturally occurring based upon various circumstances (freedom of the will included). The above circumstances in which an individual would encounter historic methods of verification would be faith affirming, with which they now have an assurance of something (namely that Jesus’ was baptized) without outright proof. Confidence would also be an excellent substitute. “O ye of little faith” isn’t to say “Why aren’t you pretending to know things you don’t know?” (your definition in the glossary), rather it’s to say “You’re an individual who withholds confidence when you ought not to.”

Replying to Paul I’d decided to offer a commonplace example of the kind of tactic (consciously or unconsciously) used by Allallt in the above: Man, Paul, you’re some kind of word wizard, thank goodness I have a search engine to look these terms up! I actually came across an example of “plurium interrogationum” the day before yesterday, a co-worker jokingly asked me to hand over my money, to which I replied “You’re assuming I have money when you ask that question.” Nonetheless, my faith is yet to be disturbed by question number four.

The above question appears to have simply been an exercise in self delusion (that or dishonesty), even a fig leaf failing badly to hide an array of assumptions and false beliefs believed true by the atheist upon the believer’s behalf. It’s the village atheist stuff (albeit highly complex to untangle). Nevertheless, the gospel of John closes with this message to the reader: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Once more miracles, in addition to the documentation of the miraculous, the Christian community claimed, have been told of so that the reader might have sure confidence in the finished work of the cross. That’s belief properly grounded in the evidence. Similarly by way of Romans: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” The Apostle Paul wrote nature itself is one portion of the evidence for the existence of God.

“Blind belief,” being the continued definition which atheists use for faith only goes to show how much maturing they have yet to do. In fact, having a faulty concept of faith would also taint a person’s views on salvation, justification, judgement, almost everything. They become incapable of interacting with any message about the Christian worldview without first superimposing their strange definitions upon the other person. The person who holds to such an unthoughtful definition of faith has tricked only him or herself into fighting shadows. They’re boxing the believer’s shadow because to actually look at a real person is far too frightening. Faith, as it’s been thoroughly demonstrated, turns out to be the exact opposite of what angry young men in the infidel community would prefer.

Ironically, for an atheist to continue to clasp onto their failed definition of faith in light of having no strong evidence (though perhaps anecdotes) in support of it, would be the kind of thinking they claim to find so unattractive, namely pretending to know things they do not know (blind belief!)

John F. Haught bookends our conversation by explaining the atheist’s dilemma excellently: ‘Even one white crow is enough to show that not all crows are black, so surely the existence of countless believers who reject the New atheists’ simplistic definition of faith is enough to place in question the applicability of their critique to a significant section of religious population.’

― T. C. M


10 thoughts on “OSC’s Definition by interrogateum!

  1. So, again, how does ‘faith’ differ from ‘knowledge’?
    Why does the word ‘faith’ exist at all when you’re giving it a definition that in every other domain would be called ‘knowledge’ or ‘defensible beliefs’ or, as my GIS lecturer would say, ‘defensibly true’.

    You seem to be missing my point here: you’re defining the word “faith” to mean something else. We already have words for what you say the definition of faith is. And people use the word faith in a very different way — it is ‘belief in things unseen’ or “knowing” things you don’t know. (Do check my definition of “know” as well: allallt.wordpress.com/glossary)


    • ‘faith’ isn’t simply the knowledge of some collection of data, but rather the warranted confidence whereby an individual might conform their entire person to the experiential reality of God. ‘defensible belief,’ might appear charitable, though I’m inclined to write that’s also incorrect, as there’s obviously an array of beliefs which are objects of faith, albeit faith misguided (even indefensible).

      Rereading our dialogue really contains everything you’d need so to properly define each aspect of faith. We’re discussing a diamond, and as such it’s possessing many facets, each worthy of being appreciated so that you may arrive at something far different from your current understanding. Of course its components are in my messages to be found. For example, you’re capable of withholding faith, as explained by my writing: ‘Faith, as I can confess to being played out in my life, is something which is a natural occurrence insofar as people allow themselves to be led by the available evidence.’

      Understanding, assent and lastly (which I’ve highlighted repeatedly) trust. Your complaint is to write the first facet of faith (understanding) counts as though it were its total, in addition to possibly being the second facet. Although that’s an error, rather faith in the truth of the Christian worldview would be predicated upon an intellectual assent also, meaning believers aren’t merely aware of particular claims, they’re also of the mind that they’re true. Only hereafter are we equipped insofar as developing the third facet of faith goes.

      ‘Knowledge,’ wouldn’t be an accurate description of the above, but rather an accurate description of an aspect (or facet) of the above. Similarly ‘defensible beliefs,’ would be deficient. Largely because an atheist could be so knowledgeable as to defend Christianity, however they’d lack both intellectual assent and trust. Even in other cases they may possess belief that, while being without belief in (saving trust). There’s always the famous quote of James which comes to mind: ‘You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.’ By use of the above definition faith truly becomes the famous ‘substance of things hoped for,’ for not everybody who believes intellectually wants the reality of said beliefs to be so. Moreover, faith as so defined would even satisfy the Biblical description of being ‘the evidence of things not seen.’ insofar that for the rational man to believe based upon reasonable (even the best) evidence is in itself evidence in prospect of the yet immaterial happening.

      Martin Luther some five hundred years ago explained likewise with regards to faith being comprised of district components. ‘faith,’ deserves nothing less than their description (though it might too deserve much more).


      • My goal here is to explain that you have not done much to distance the word “faith” from the “pretending to know what you don’t know” definition. What you have done is define ‘to have faith in’ as ‘to know and worship’, but then reserved the word for things people don’t actually have evidence for.

        “‘Faith’ [is] the warranted confidence…”

        Okay, outright I’m hearing “knowledge”: A claim you can defend with evidence and reasoned logic.

        “… whereby an individual might conform their entire person to the experiential reality of God.”

        Sorry, completely lost to me as having no obvious meaning. Unless you are talking about worship, which is about deciding the the thing you know is unquestionably good (or “the surrender of your moral autonomy to a being considered greater than oneself”, to reference my glossary again).

        “‘Faith, as I can confess to being played out in my life, is something which is a natural occurrence insofar as people allow themselves to be led by the available evidence.’”

        Still describing knowledge.

        “… believers aren’t merely aware of particular claims, they’re also of the mind that they’re true.”

        Yeah, okay. Fine. I mean, I am not a believer in homoeopathy just because I’ve heard of it. I’ve heard of it and am explicitly not of the mind that it is true. I get the feeling you’ve misspoken here.

        To sum up so far, we’ve gone: Faith is “the warranted confidence… led by the available evidence” that “particular claims” are “true”. So far, that’s “knowledge”.

        There’s a bit about conforming your own person to “to the experiential reality” of the claim. But I can’t unpick what that means.

        Moving on.

        I think you get confused disavowing “defensible beliefs”. After all, that’s the same as “warranted confidence”. The atheist who could offer a mock-defense of Christianity might be meeting all the criteria of “defensible…” but not of “… beliefs”. The atheist would ‘believe’ it i.e. would not be of the mind that they’re true. But I digress.

        I’m also going to have to make a large assumption based on your distinction between “belief that” and “belief in”. In language, they are the exact same thing. I think you are confusing language here to make a point, and that you mean to draw a distinction between “belief in” and “worship of”. For example, I believe in Google; I believe that Google exists. I do not worship Google. I think that is the distinction you’re trying to make, but trying to make “belief in” synonymous with “worship of” is misleading.

        So, I’ll add “and the subsequent worship of the subject of that claim” to your definition.

        And I use the word “worship”, and not “trust” intentionally. Afterall, I trust Google ― I use GDrive, GMail, GDocs and a lot of other Google products. But, I’d argue, I’m a long way off “worshipping” Google ― which is currently the way to stop your definition of “faith” applying to my relationship with Google. If I let ‘trust’ replace ‘worship’ in the definition so far, suddenly I have faith in Google. And in ESRI. And in NASA. I don’t think you intend to create such a broad definition.

        “‘You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.’ By use of the above definition faith truly becomes the famous ‘substance of things hoped for.’”

        Err… what? There is no similarity between hope and faith. They are almost juxtapositioned against each other. Hope is a desire for something not currently known to be true, to in fact be true. Whereas one’s faith is a claim about what is actually true.

        “[F]or the rational man to believe based upon reasonable (even the best) evidence is in itself evidence in prospect of the yet immaterial happening.”


        Okay, so, whether you are aware of it or not, you’ve defined faith as knowledge and worship of a thing. I’ve derived the word “knowledge” here from your phrases “led by the available evidence” and “warranted confidence”. So, faith is to have good reasons to believe a thing exists, and to believe that thing is beyond moral reproach.

        Except, you’ve also thrown “hope” in there, and claiming that for which you “hope” is in fact something you “know” is ‘pretending to know something you don’t know’.

        By this definition, if I call into question whether your belief really was “led by the available evidence” or “warranted”, I would be calling into question whether you have “faith” at all. That’s the complete opposite of how everyone uses the word. I’ve had people come to the door, who I’ve challenged, who said they have faith as a way of sidestepping the burden of presenting “available evidence” or explaining what “warranted” their confidence.


      • “warrant,” isn’t synonymous with “defensible,” in fact, they’re highly distinct from one another. Let’s ever so briefly define some solid difference between the pair, in addition to imagining an individual’s warrant for knowledge by another scenario. The defensibility of our individual beliefs, as explained already, isn’t tantamount to positive belief that various information we’re already in possession of is in fact true (about this I’m interested to read you agree). Similarly the warrant with which knowledge is ultimately fostered would be wholly independent of whether or not an individual harbouring some certain knowledge could defend their conviction against an arsenal of arguments to the contrary. Warrant is the name of the property which distinguishes knowledge from mere true beliefs. And since this property comes in degrees, it’s described like so: “warrant is the property enough of which is what distinguishes knowledge from mere true beliefs.” There are of course many examples of true beliefs which aren’t knowledge. Whereas defensibility has to do with how readily you’re able to rebuff an objection to the knowledge which you’re justifiably holding, or the justifiable/unjustifiable beliefs you’re harbouring. Although you’re not unjustifiably harbouring some knowledge merely on account of mounting an unsuccessful defense of said knowledge. In a similar fashion, an individual isn’t justified by possessing an excellent defense for harbouring beliefs they’re plainly disqualified from holding warrant over. In short, warrant in the subject is not to do with the defensibility of knowledge/beliefs to the audience, how that you have believed. Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, to a greater degree than perhaps yourself, understood arguments of this nature. Freud, for example, had a failed attempt to rebuff Christian beliefs in that the religious experience, they imagined, could be robbed of warrant upon the grounds of the believer’s interpretation of their religious experience (or the experience itself) having been produced by desires and prompts other than, or impinging upon, the experience itself—namely being desirous of comfort, significance, preservation of self and so on. The beliefs weren’t in Freud’s mind disarmed of their defensibility, as people could yet rationalise a vast collections of points so to continue affirming their cherished viewpoint, rather it was their warrant for holding the belief which had been brought into question. An apparent (albeit false) devaluing of warrant harms an appearance of defensibility, despite the subject’s perfectly sound epistemic warrant produced by an accurate cognitive process aimed at producing true beliefs. However seeming their warrant remains in tact just so long as we’re discussing an accurate process aimed at producing true beliefs.

        Insofar as your other beliefs are concerned however, you believe belief “that” the world is round (the propositional) is identical to a groom’s belief “in” their wife (the relational) when she’s reciting her marriage vows upon their wedding day (an entertaining and highly unwarranted show of unbelief I’d write). One involves an element of trust in another, another doesn’t. Your “belief that” an application shall function today as it properly functioned yesterday isn’t “belief in” the product but belief in the product’s manufacturers, who at present have your trust grounded in that you’ve found their craftsmanship to be reliable before. Similarly, Muslims don’t have belief in the Qur’an, rather there’s belief only “in” Allah as its author. Albeit there’s belief “that” Allah authored their eternal Qur’an upon equally eternal tablets of gold. My mouth doesn’t suddenly contain the word “worship,” simply because you haven’t grasped the distinction between words like in and that or warrant and defensible.

        Returning again to the subject of warrant. Warrant isn’t to do with the defensibility of belief, rather the warrant could rather easily be invalidated, yet be by the subject defended (even believed). An example might be found by way of a defense lawyer, one who despite being perfectly aware of their client’s guilt (thus being denied any small degree of warrant for believing him innocent) possesses strong defensibility of their innocence when met by a jury, due which they’re able to defend their client against changes which might endanger their freedom. The defence lawyer can muster both defensibility, in addition to deciding against believing the defeater to their belief in their client’s innocence (e.g., the client’s private confession to having committed the crime they’re accused of). The defense lawyer simply rejects inconvenient defeaters to their belief in the innocence of their client on account of desires thoroughly unrelated, that being perhaps their want to retain a guilt free conscious. I’ve rejected your false twinning of “defeasible,” and “warrant,” upon such grounds as the above. Defensible beliefs aren’t the same as warranted confidence. Similarly your collapsing of “in” into “that” can be comfortably rejected.

        Revisiting Freud however, as explained by “Knowledge and Christian belief,”. Freud argued theistic beliefs originate not by cognitive malfunction (thus the function is proper), but rather are an illusion, in his technical sense. Religious experience by their criticism finds an origin by way of wish-fulfillment, which, while it is a cognitive process with an important role to play in the total economy of life, is nevertheless not aimed at the production of true beliefs. On Freud’s view, then, theistic belief, given that it is produced by wish-fulfillment, does not have warrant; it fails to satisfy the condition of being produced by cognitive faculties whose purpose it is to produce true belief. He goes on to characterize religious beliefs as “neurosis,” “illusion,” “posion,” and “childishness to overcome,” all on one page of The Future of an Illusion.

        It is important to see the following point, however. Freud’s complaint is that religious belief lacks warrant because it is produced by wishful thinking, which is a cognitive process not aimed at producing true beliefs; in Freud’s words, it is not reality oriented. But even if it were established that wish fulfillment is the source of theistic belief, that wouldn’t be enough to establish that the latter has no warrant. It must be established that wish fulfillment in this particular manifestation is not aimed at true beliefs. The cognitive design plan of human beings is subtle and complex; a source of belief might be such that in general it isn’t aimed at the foundation of true beliefs, but in some special cases it is. So perhaps this is true of wish fulfillment; in general its purpose is not that of producing true beliefs, but in this special case precisely that is its purpose. Perhaps human beings have been created by God with a deep need to believe in His presence and goodness and love. Perhaps God has designed us that way in order that we come to believe in Him and be aware of His presence; perhaps this is how God has arranged for us to come to know Him. If so, then the particular bit of the cognitive design plan governing the formulation of theistic belief is indeed aimed at true belief, even if the belief in question arises from wish fulfillment. Perhaps God has designed us to know that He is present and loves us by way of creating us with a strong desire for Him, a desire that leads to the belief that He is in fact there. Nor is this mere speculative possibility; something like it is embraced by both St. Augustine (“Our hearts are restless till they rest in thee, O God”) and Jonathan Edwards.

        And how would Freud or a follower establish that in fact the mechanism whereby human beings come to believe in God (come to believe that there is such a person as God) is not in fact aimed at truth? This is really the crux of the matter. Freud offers no arguments or reasons here at all. As far as I can see, he simply takes it for granted that there is no God and theistic belief is false; he then casts about for some kind of explanation of this widespread phenomenon of mistaken belief. He hits on wish fulfillment and apparently assumes it is obvious that this mechanism is not “reality oriented,” i.e., is not aimed at the production of true beliefs, and hence lacks warrant. This is a safe assumption if in fact theism is false. But then Freud’s criticism really depends upon his atheism: it isn’t an independent criticism at all, and it won’t (or shouldn’t) have any force for anyone who doesn’t share that atheism.

        One who believes in God, naturally enough, Christian or Jew or Muslim, is unlikely to acquiesce in the Freudian claim that belief in God has no warrant. (It is only a certain variety of ‘liberal’ theologian, crazed by thirst for novelty and the desire to accommodate current secularity, who might agree with Freud here.) Indeed, she will see the shoe as on the other foot. According to St. Paul, it is unbelief that is a result of dysfunction, or brokenness failure to function properly, or impedance of rational facilities. Unbelief, he says, is a result of sin; it originates in an effort, as Romans 1 puts it, to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Indeed, unbelief can also be seen as resulting from wish fulfillment — a desire to live in a world without God, a world in which there is no one to whom I owe worship and obedience.

        Nonetheless, to examine another two complaints as found in your response. The first complaint of yours goes into how you’re unsure as to whether or not it’s my intention to define so broadly “faith,” though surely by your wonderfully weird caricature there’s only broadening to be done. Everything other than so uncomfortably narrow a definition would appear liberally broad. You’re not yet facing the reality of how pervasive and common the operation of faith truly goes. Yet faith improperly grounded, a kind of act of wish fulfillment against the reality of certain facts, would be more pervasive than grounded faith. Your second complaint is to be found in that my use of language hasn’t been conformed into that of the majority of the roundly unbelieving people you speak with (an odd complaint). Whereas my replies have carefully shared definitions centered at the heart of Protestantism, the like of which have been established for over 500 years. You simply don’t decide on what words mean based upon your animosity towards theists who once defined atheism in a thesaurus (how that you justify an unworkable definition of atheism), likewise how to properly define “faith,” isn’t done for retreating into talk of the democratic majority.

        You’ve also stumbled over an uncontroversial statement of mine which explained how faith isn’t merely the individual possessing some collection of information, but rather the warranted confidence whereby an individual might conform their entire person to the experiential reality of God. With which you insist the words contain “no meaning”. Furthermore, you’ve rather strangely explained how you’re incapable of “unpicking,” the sentence. “Completely lost to me,” and “no meaning,” are the kind of replies by which you paint yourself as an out of date hard-line verificationist.

        Verificationism, namely an outdated doctrine which insisted that only in principal verifiable sentences are cognitively meaningful, hence the meaningfulness of religious language was in doubt, has (much to my chagrin) been found throughout your messages when you’re confronted with types of knowledge you dislike. The total collapse of the verification principle over half a century ago doesn’t appear to have squelched your enthusiasm however. I’d playfully (playfully now) describe an atheist like yourself as a kind of epistemic bigot incapable of coming to terms with the realities of faith and certain sorts of religious experience. Akin to the antics of a deaf man who refuses to admit their neighbours enjoy an exhilarating game of name that tune.

        You’re not simply refusing intellectual assent or trust with regards to the religious experience, you’re going so far as to resist understanding the reality of the occasion. What an awesome confirmation of the Biblical statement “They suppress the truth in unrighteousness”!

        Allow for me to share the perspective in another way. God isn’t just a hypothesis for the believer, He is a Living Reality who permeates every aspect of a person’s life. The religious experience sometimes conveys such a heightened sense of reality that the conviction they instill transforms the life of the expedient. Just contemplate the immense impact of people such as Moses, St. Paul, Augustine, Wilberforce, and others on Western civilization. We’re involved in a discussion to do with the experience of God. An experience which must be seen as innocent until proven guilty. The case for religious experience might read like so, from a psychiatrist named Angelique, she wrote:

        ‘as far back as I can remember I “knew” of the existence of God. Whatever gradually developing sense I had of myself as an entity was accompanied by a sense of someone other, invisible and infinitely greater than any other “person” and different from them, a kind of all powerful, pervasive force within the world but far from being impersonal was loving and beneficent with a real interest in me. . .I never used any word for this person—after all I never needed to—but other people’s use of the word “God” or “Creator” seemed to fit pretty well. I never saw or heard anything I recall but the knowledge was as certain as the knowledge that other people continued to exist when they left the room. . .my parents were both agnostic and anti-church. I don’t remember religion ever being a topic of conversation at home.’

        The above would be a case of warranted knowledge, not mere belief. Given the appropriate premises, we can derive from the relief experience of humankind a significant degree of epistemic justification for the existence of God. That’s not to say it’s confirmation of the theistic tradition of Christianity, rather theistic experience justifies belief in God. By religious experience experts mean an experience the subject takes to be an experience of God, or some other supernatural being or state of affairs. Such an experience is veridical if what the subject took to be the experience actually existed, was present, and caused the subject to have the experience in an appropriate way. The religious experience provides immediate knowledge of God, which in the above case was self-authenticating. C. D Broad understood the cutting edge argument from religious experience:

        The practical postulate which we hold to everywhere else is to treat cognitive claims as veridical unless there be some positive reason to think them delusive. This, after all, is our only guarantee for believing that ordinary sense-perception is veridical. We cannot prove that what people agree in perceiving really exists independently of them; but we do always assume that ordinary waking sense- perception is veridical unless we can produce some positive ground for thinking that it is delusive in any given case (how that Freud attempted). I think it would be inconsistent to treat the experiences of religious mystics on different principles. So far as they agree they should be provisionally accepted as veridical unless there be some positive ground for thinking that they are not.’

        Closing you’ve explained how for to question either my evidence or warrant would in turn be an objection to whether or not I’m faithful (an inaccurate description due that failed hypothesis are objects of improperly grounded faith). We’re discussing faith properly grounded, even grounded by knowledge, purely warranted, as opposed to improperly believed beliefs assumed to be knowledge. Faith as belief not naturally occurring can be grounded (as explained above) in irrelevant items of thought or fancy, such as self-esteem, preservation and greed. Like Freud much of your assumptions, “large assumptions,” you freely admit to making on behalf of others, simply assume atheism from the outset. Albeit much of the above criticism might yet be alien to you, “completely lost,” even, in that you’re both incapable of reading religious statements, in addition to being unaware of scenarios and situations in which “warrant,” properly qualifies. Though when the question of warrant and faith arises, the Christian believer can answer in the affirmative to having rock solid knowledge (not mere true beliefs) about God, insofar that the experience of God is properly understood as knowledge, like how the inner witness of the Holy Spirit would too be knowledge.


  2. I found myself quite amused by your line: “Similarly the warrant with which knowledge is ultimately fostered would be wholly independent of whether or not an individual harbouring some certain knowledge could defend their conviction against an arsenal of arguments to the contrary.”

    Then again, I’m also amused that you would characterise me not understanding something you wrote (in fact, finding it so impenetrable as to not see any meaning in it at all) as me refusing it as it is knowledge I don’t like. So my sense of humour might need calibrating.

    I don’t really accept much of your reasoning here. But I’ll leave it your readers to make up their own mind.

    Liked by 1 person

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