A lot of atheists belittle beliefs that are based on faith. Yet when I look around the world, I find atheism requires much more of a leap of faith than my Christianity.
When I come across a finely prepared meal on a table, it would be quite a leap of faith to believe that nothing put it there. And it would be far more reasonable to believe that something must have put it there. So it is with all of creation.
Yet, somehow these days believing (the obvious) that somebody put it there is seen as just a bunch of hocus pocus mumbo jumbo unscientific nonsense. After all, when we arrived, the meal had already been prepared. Did you see somebody prepare it? Do you have any scientific evidence to support your claim? No. Therefore, (so goes the popular illogic) it is much more reasonable to conclude that nobody prepared the meal until such proof presents itself.
Let me tell ya. That's faith alright. It's also irrational faith.
Christianity involves reason and faith, too. Yet Christian faith is not irrational. In Christianity, reason takes us far and then faith takes it from there. But they never contradict. Faith is a vehicle that takes us beyond the grotesquley small limits of our own prison of reason - but is never a substitute for it. Which is an amazing and beautiful thing, because relying only on the reasoning capacity of a small, limited brain makes for a small, limited world. Faith (based upon sound reason, of course) is your ticket to a much more meaningful meal - and all of the things that come with it.
Good faith - a Christian faith - takes you truthfully beyond your reason. Bad faith is simply un-reasonable. Big difference.
UPDATE: Thanks for the discussion! Just to clarify - as it appears some people missed this - this was quite obviously not a complete refutation of atheism, nor was it a proof of God and/or Christianity. Sorry for any confusion there.
It was to make one simple point. Atheism is defined as:
1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
And, I, based on reason, believe it takes a lot more faith [i.e. belief that is not based on proof] to believe atheism than to believe there is a God. For lots and lots of reasons too numerous to post here and which have been documented in many, many books throughout history.
You may disagree with that. I respect that and I respect you.
The “meal” illustration is not a proof of God either. Never claimed it was. Never pretended it was. It’s to make the simple point that it is not unreasonable to believe that this fine meal we experience everyday (the substance of existence in all of its forms and throughout all of its history) is the result of an intelligent being that transcends all of its laws and dimensions. Which is not anything like a "God of the gaps."
Additionally, believing in nothing is still believing something. Whatever we believe, we base it upon whatever evidence is available. Some atheists seem to have a different standard for believing something vs believing nothing. In the end, we may have reasons and questions or even doubts for either. But ultimately, we choose to believe something based upon what we know about it. Even if that something is that we’re still not sure and trying to understand (which would be more akin to agnosticism than atheism - though I know some atheists think of themselves that way).
Maybe you call theism a theory, since you see no scientific, repeatable evidence of God’s existence. But maybe you are also willing to admit that it’s a viable theory. Well then you’ve reached a really great place. The next step is faith. A faith that lets you test this theory in a way that yields mind-blowing results IF you’re willing to jump in. It’s not something you can test well from the outside. But if you fully try it, by truly believing and living according to it, then the experiential evidence begins to dwarf the philosophy and reason that got you there - not that those weren’t and aren’t still important. They were pivotal. But the rest is more of a love affair than a theory.
That’s why Aquinas says, in speaking on Christian faith: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
Matthew Warner is the founder and CEO of Flocknote.com, an innovative communication tool helping thousands of churches and dioceses better connect with their flocks. He also blogs (MatthewWarner.me), is one of the founders and speakers of the Digital Church Conference, and is author of the book Messy and Foolish: How to Make a Mess, Be a Fool and Evangelize the World (messyandfoolish.com).
Matt has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M and an M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship. He, his wife and his five children hang their hats in Texas.