Defining Faith

IS ‘FAITH’ BELIEVING WITHOUT EVIDENCE?

By: Monique Zorzella

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Faith is most often portrayed by mainstream atheism to be an actively held belief when knowing its truth is uncertain. For example, prominent New Atheist thinker Richard Dawkins defines faith as “belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” 1, while fellow Atheist Sam Harris defines faith similarly as “the license religious people give themselves to keep believing when reasons fail […]” 2. According to mainstream Atheists, when one professes their faith in a god or religion they are making two acknowledgements: firstly, that there is insufficient evidence to justify belief in the theological propositions they hold (that is, propositions that relate to the subject of theology e.g. that a god exists, that he offers enlightenment or salvation, etc.). Secondly, despite this uncertainty have continued to believe them to be true. Thus, it is concluded that faith is inherently irrational, as belief in propositions can only be rationally justified if there is sufficient evidence to support its truth. While it can be recognized that some religious adherents might describe their faith in such a fashion, it would be disingenuous to assert that all those who subscribe to some form of faith do so while holding that there is insufficient evidential justification for their beliefs. Nonbelievers who subscribe to such an outlook on faith also should consider whether such stipulations can be met on their part when taking into account other beliefs they typically hold to be true – namely the presumption of atheism and empiricism.

FAITH ACCORDING TO BELIEVERS

Foremost, the definition of  faith according to the view of religious adherents should be established in order to determine the context in which the term is intended to be understood. In this context, the word has two common meanings that are fairly similar. The most general notion of faith can be defined as a strongly held belief—in this case, beliefs relating to the subject of theology. Richard Swinburne calls this the Thomist view of faith, and summarizes it in this way in his work Faith and Reason:

“It is a view which is found in St Thomas Aquinas and has been held by many Protestants and many outside Christianity, and by many Christians long before Aquinas. Indeed it is by far the most widespread and natural view of the nature of faith. This is the view that[…]to have faith in God is simply to have a belief-that, to believe that God exists. Although to speak strictly, the object of faith is the ‘first truth’, God himself, to have that faith it is alone necessary that you believe a proposition, that god exists. The person of religious faith has the theoretical conviction that there is a God” 3

The second model can be summarized as an act of trust or placing confidence in a person or thing—namely in a god or religious figure. Faith in this form does not only refer to a belief that theological propositions are true, although this aspect is implied since one who trusts a god presumably believes that a god exists along with believing other theological propositions. In addition to a belief that, it is believing in—in the sense of actively trusting in the object of their faith. This version of faith implies an active commitment to the object of ones faith. In short, it is to have fidelity (whose Latin root is fides, from which the word faith is derived) to something or someone. This conception of faith is the notion put forth within Judeo-Christian writings [4], and is perhaps its earliest conception in the context of religion. The late Christian theologian Martin Luther summarizes faith in this fashion, stating “Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times.” 5. Normally, when one says they have faith in a religious figure, they mean it in this way. Seeing it is difficult to conceive of a religious notion of faith that does not include some component of devotion, this model would seem to be the most favorable in the context of religious discussion.

FAITH ACCORDING TO MAINSTREAM ATHEISTS

Mainstream atheists typically differ with theists on their notion of faith. They propose that religious faith is what is often called blind faith or a leap of faith, which is to believe in God even though Gods existence cannot be objectively proven on our available evidence. Yet, faith under this definition is not very often used by religious adherents if at all, so the use of it is often perceived by persons of faith as a fallacy of equivocation or a demonstration of dishonesty. Arguing against a notion of faith that theists don’t generally subscribe to only serves to misrepresent the position of the believer, consequently leaving the actual position they hold unaddressed.

Despite this, many mainstream Atheists insist that faith should be understood in this fashion even if those who profess to have faith may not agree that is what they personally mean by the expression. Austin Cline, Agnosticism & Atheism Expert for atheism.about.com presents this kind of reasoning in an article entitled Faith is Unreliable and Unreasonable: Faith is Not a Source of Knowledge, saying “Even if religious theists don’t intend it in this manner, it seems that in practice ‘faith’ is simply pulled out whenever attempted arguments based on reason and evidence fail.” 6 He further states that faith cannot be offered as justification for ones beliefs because faith can’t be measured or tested to determine its accuracy, making it impossible to prove against other competing theories that can also be justified on the basis of faith. He concludes:

faith is not an adequate or reasonable defense of any belief or belief system which purports to have any empirical connection to the reality which we all share. Faith is also an unreliable and irrational basis for singling out one religion and claiming that it is true while all other religions, as well as any competing secular philosophies, are false”

Peculiarly, Cline neglects to specify what he means by faith; however, suppose what he means is belief without evidence (that is, information which grants justification), then what he is saying is believing a proposition without evidence is not an adequate defense for a believing a proposition. Such redundancy renders the expression unnatural and incoherent. A faith statement would translate I believe without evidence my belief, which in this case would be to say I believe God exists without evidence in my belief that God exists. Surely, theists do not offer belief as justification for belief when reasons escape them. Nevertheless, Cline argues similarly to Sam Harris that faith is an excuse employed when reasons fail. This is said as if their determination that the evidence and reasoning offered for theological claims have objectively been shown the be a failure. Far from the truth, this conclusion rests on whether one accepts the standards used to determine whether the arguments for theism succeed in providing grounds for believing theological propositions, and believers find many of the requirements proposed by nonbelievers contentious.

A major reason theists reject the criteria offered is because it typically excludes the prospect of explaining phenomena in supernatural terms by presuming methodological naturalism, begging the question as to whether atheistic naturalism is true. Perhaps the largest reason believers reject their standards of justification is that they appear to be self-weakening in some respect. For example, this criteria often includes empiricism; that is, “the view that all concepts originate in experience, that all concepts are about or applicable to things that can be experienced, or that all rationally acceptable beliefs or propositions are justifiable or knowable only through experience.7  This reasoning,  however, appears to be self-refuting. The late logician and philosopher Bertrand Russell summarizes this issue well:

“[…]empiricism, as a theory of knowledge, is self-refuting. For, however it may be formulated, it must involve some general proposition about the dependence of knowledge upon experience; and any such proposition, if true, must have as a consequence that [it] itself cannot be known. While therefore, empiricism may be true, it cannot, if true, be known to be so.” 8

As stated, there is a question of whether such standards of justification are internally coherent. For, what evidence is there suggesting that empiricism itself is reliable to lead one to true conclusions? This dependency on experience could be justified by the proven reliability of inductive reasoning or the scientific method, which would also need to be justified with evidence. One could argue that these things are justified by their proven usefulness, but this would beg the question since one is making an inductive argument to prove the usefulness of inductive methods. This should be a problem for non-believers, because if one does not have evidence that these methods are true are they not propositions of faith and therefore irrational? The failure of the non-believer to meet their own requirements of justification is detrimental to the Atheist’s own position. As an example, consider the absurdity in this statement by distinguished Philosopher David Hume:

“If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.” 9

If we shall commit to the flames any volume of metaphysics that does not contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity and number, or any experimental reasoning, then we shall set Hume’s own work ablaze as it contains neither. Either Hume has exempted his own reasoning from being subject to his own standards of justification, or he simply neglected to consider whether his reasoning meets his proposed requirements. Lets suppose that the former is the case; it could be defended by arguing that a methodology is different than a conclusion of truth, so methodologies need not be subject to justification in the same way that conclusions of truth are. But why not? It is not as if the assumption that the methodology in question can lead us to accurate conclusions of truth does not in some respect depend on the conclusion that the underlying propositions included in the methodology are true. Yet, if one accepts the presumptions of such theories despite being able to prove they are true by way of evidence, this would only fly in the face of their initial contention that statements can only be justified by way of experience.

For this reason, many believers conclude that such requirements cannot reasonably be met by anyone and the standards proposed by mainstream Atheists are false, or at least very unreasonable. Additionally, there are many believers who would argue that there is plenty of experiential evidence for theological propositions, such as an individuals personal interactions with the divine and the history of humankinds encounters with the divine. Atheists usually dismiss these experiences as possible delusion or outright fantasy, thus believers see the Atheists notion of empiricism as resembling more radical views like logical positivism and scientism which can be refuted quite easily.  Furthermore, believers maintain that truths found in abstract reasoning—namely logic and mathematics—cannot be objectively proven through experience and serve as evidence  that the notion knowledge can only be acquired through experience is false. German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz expounds this conclusion quite elegantly in his work New Essays on Human Understanding:

“The senses, although they are necessary for all our actual knowledge, are not sufficient to give us the whole of it, since the senses never give anything but instances, that is to say particular or individual truths. Now all the instances which confirm a general truth, however numerous they may be, are not sufficient to establish the universal necessity of this same truth, for it does not follow that what happened before will happen in the same way again. […] From which it appears that necessary truths, such as we find in pure mathematics […] must have principles whose proof does not depend on instances, nor consequently on the testimony of the senses.” 10

Some Atheists go as far as to say all arguments that appear to justify a belief can ultimately turn out to fail due to errors in human reasoning (e.g. misapprehensions, limits of cognitive abilities, etc.), or in light of newly discovered evidence that invalidates previously held conclusions. Because of this, the reliance we have in our own reason and methods of acquiring knowledge is itself an act of faith. In other words, it is, at least very unlikely, that any proposition can be objectively proven on the basis of experience, so all beliefs require some degree of faith. By demonstrating that the methodological presumptions employed to reach such conclusions are flawed, the argument that the evidence for theism fails—itself fails.

BELIEF VS. KNOWLEDGE

Many mainstream Atheists claim that reason and evidence eliminate the need for faith, and only beliefs that cannot be proven with evidence require faith. An articulation of this view can be seen in the following image circulated by the mainstream Atheist movement :

Essentially, the argument is if the evidence were sufficient to prove that a God exists, we would not need to believe–we would simply accept it as part of our knowledge. However, there is no evidence for gods existence, so believers must rely on faith. The first issue with this reasoning is that the distinction between knowledge and belief would appear to be fairly superficial given knowledge, as it is most popularly conceptualized, is justified true belief. Secondly, it may be the case that some theists agree to this reasoning, but the vast majority of religious adherents do not think by definition they cannot have evidence for their faith, nor would they agree there is no evidence for gods existence. Some may argue that it is an objective fact that there is no evidence for gods existence, but this would be terribly disingenuous to claim. What they rather mean to say is there is no evidence or reasoning for gods existence that they consider valid or sound. If the claim there is no evidence for Gods existence is itself to be accepted, by the Atheists’ own charge it must be a claim that is capable of being proven to anyone else, and can be repeated, tested and demonstrated. A possible response is that one cannot reasonably be expected to provide evidence that there is no evidence that exists for something, since that would be asking to prove a negative. The burden of proof rests on the theist since they are the ones who are making positive claims such as God exists, that it created the universe, that it causes ‘miracles’ to happen, and so on. The atheist is one who is simply not compelled by the arguments in favor of theological claims, and it is up to the believer to offer a compelling case for theism. This view is expressed in an article aimed at explaining the views of atheism on a popular encyclopedic-style website:

Conventionally, the burden of proof lies with someone proposing a positive idea – or as Karl Popper fans would put it, those who are proposing something falsifiable. By this standard, atheists have no need to prove anything, and just need to render arguments for the existence of God as non-compelling. […] The absurdity of being asked to prove a negative is demonstrated in Bertrand Russell’s teapot thought experiment – where no matter how hard you look, you can’t thoroughly disprove the belief that a teapot is out there in space, orbiting the sun somewhere between Earth and Mars. This sort of presuppositional thinking is illogical […]” 11

There are three major issues with this reasoning:

(1) If one “cannot prove a negative”, in particular the claim  God does not exist, then it follows that the claim God exists is not falsifiable because one would have to prove a negative to falsify the claim. If we accept the first part of the argument—that the burden of proof only rests on those “who are proposing something falsifiable”, then the burden of proof rests neither on the Theist or Atheist. Therefore, this argument is self-defeating.

(2) One cannot prove that the statement there is no evidence for Gods existence is true since the statement is negative, so according to the previously proposed requirements for a claim to have the status of knowledge (a claim that can be proven to anyone else) the claim falls into the category of belief, thereby making it a proposition of faith.

(3) This approach seems to altogether confuse the obligation that all parties have to offer information that can be used as justification for holding their beliefs, and the obligation one has to effectively persuade or compel another to hold those beliefs—a burden that neither formally or exclusively rests on any party.

Another argument that can be made is Atheism coheres with our observations of the world around us; it does not go beyond our experiences. Theism, on the other hand, makes extraordinary claims, therefore, such claims are to be disbelieved except in the face of extraordinary evidence. 12 This is summarized by the popular expression extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  There are a few issues with this principle that must be reconciled if it is to be considered a meaningful statement. Firstly, what exactly constitutes an extraordinary claim? Presumably they are referring to things that are outside normal or ordinary experience. Then what does the Atheist suppose constitutes as ordinary or normal? A possible definition is that which occurs naturally—then what does one mean by natural? It may be defined as that which follows the laws of nature, or that which can be described according to natural law. However, it would seem that this definition is circular. The second issue is that this position implies a provisional acceptance of metaphysical naturalism (the belief that the natural world is all that there is), which entails the notion that all effects are caused by natural entities. Yet, if all events are to be presumed as natural, then the term natural will have to be constantly updated to include things that are not included in (or even in contradiction to) current scientific theories. Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University Hans Halvorson explains the issue with this treatment of the term natural:

“Suppose that I have a hypothesis: all professors of philosophy are intelligent. But when I learn that Professor X took an IQ test and scored only 90, I conclude that IQ tests must not be the sole criterion of intelligence. That is, rather than abandon my original hypothesis, instead I rethink the meaning of “intelligent.” In a similar fashion, at any time in history, it might be correct to say that our best scientific theories include only natural entities. But when the next scientific revolution comes along, we will rethink the meaning of “natural entities” to include whatever is described by the successful scientific theories. That is, we say that something is natural as soon as it appears in a successful scientific theory.” 13

In all, provisionally presupposing metaphysical naturalism begs the question as to whether it is actually true, lending virtually no support to the presumption of Atheism.

What makes this reasoning more problematic is it suggests that a person can choose whether to believe a proposition is true or false. If we take belief  to mean “the mental state of having some attitude, stance, take, or opinion about a proposition or about the potential state of affairs in which that proposition is true” [14], then to suppose that one can choose to believe in spite of the evidence would mean that a theist considers the evidence for and against theological propositions and chooses on the weight of it whether to have the mental state that it is true. However, strictly speaking, we cannot choose our beliefs in this manner. Some may disagree that people cannot directly choose to believe things, but this view is unfavorable in light of the nature of how beliefs are formed. If we can agree that beliefs are aimed at a truth, and we assume we can believe at will, then it should be possible for one to believe a proposition is true on the basis of any reasoning, even for reasons which are not compelling. For example, if we consider a proposition such as the existence Russell’s teapot or the flying spaghetti monster, we should at this moment be able to convict ourselves it is true such beings exist. Since it is doubtful that one can do such a thing, direct volitional control over ones beliefs does not appear possible. Therefore, whether the belief in question is warranted, being a function of conscious reflection, is not directly included in the concept of belief, but is a separate matter entirely. Ultimately, Theists do not believe in god because they choose to; they believe because, for reasons beyond their control, they arrive at the conviction. In fact, many Christians would argue that only God Himself can produce belief and faith in him and evidence and reason are essentially powerless to change ones mind. In all, it appears the suggestion one can venture into believing commits a category error.

Alternatively, the Atheist can argue that, because faith in the sense of trust is a voluntary act, there is no category error committed in describing faith as willing to believe without evidence. Fundamental to the concept of trust is the idea of a person (or persons)—the truster—trusting in some agent or agency—the trustee—for some (assumedly) favorable outcome. So, if faith is trust, it may be presumed to be the type of venture implicated in trust. Venturing in trust is usually assumed to involve some kind of risk as one makes themself vulnerable to adverse outcomes or betrayal. 15 According to this model, the Theist does not necessarily choose whether to have the mental state that certain theological propositions are true, but they are certainly choosing to accept them as true insofar as their practical reasoning is concerned. In other words, they choose live their life as though theological propositions are true. In the perspective of the Atheist, they are choosing to devote their lives to a religion that they know cannot be objectively justified on the evidence available. The active decision to trust the claims of a Religion without evidence is regarded as irrational. But if we accept this argument, it would seem to work against the notion that atheism itself requires no evidential justification. For, is it not true that an Atheist, even if he does not have the conviction that God does not exist, lives as though there is no God — even at times presuming that no God exists until he finds good reasons to believe otherwise? Surely, if one is impartial in their reasoning they would conclude one who actively holds the presumption of atheism requires evidential justification to be rationally justified just the same as if one were to take theism to be true within their practical reasoning. Further, if we are encouraged to accept the popular Atheist mantra you cannot prove a negative, it would seem all the more true that one who lives as though atheism were true is unjustified. The Atheist may respond by saying that atheism is a term to denote one who merely lacks belief in any God. One does not do anything that is characteristically atheistic; they just don’t believe in any theological propositions so they typically happen not to follow any religious doctrines or belong to any system of worship. Some Atheists may lack a belief simply because they are totally unaware of the concept of any God. Thus, to say one lives as though atheism is true nonsensical. However, this is not the case for anyone who calls themselves an Atheist, or calls themselves experts in Atheism, or one who blogs or writes books about why not believing is more rational than faith. A person must have some understanding of what God is and have contemplated whether they believe in such an entity in order to know that they are an Atheist—especially if they hold that there are good reasons to actively maintain their lack of belief. Even in the case that we grant that atheism does not need evidential justification to be rationally justified, this would only serve as proof that their evidential requirement is at least not always true (see The Burden of Proof).

FAITH IN SACRED SCRIPTURE

By far, the most popular argument put forth by mainstream Atheists for faith as belief without evidence is that it is the definition put forth in The Bible. There are two passages that are used to establish this  fact. The first passage is from Hebrews 11:3 : “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the  evidence of things not seen” (KJV). Perhaps Christians may wish not to accept this definition, but that would only indicate that they do not uphold the notion of faith that is in their own scriptures. Notwithstanding, when looking at this this passage in deeper detail, it can be seen that it more adequately supports a notion of faith as trust or devotion than belief without evidence. Foremost, the word translated into substance is hypostasis [G5287] which means a foundation, or to have assurance. In other words, faith (pistis [G4102] belief; fidelity) is what provides assurance in in the things hoped for; the things hoped for being the future promises of God—in particular, salvation 16. The latter portion says the assurance that comes from ones devotion to God is evidence (elegchos [G1650] that by which a thing is proved or tested) of things not seen; the things not seen being the things hoped for, as “hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” (Romans 8:24). In other words, ones belief in and devotion to God provides assurance for what one hopes (and is assured) to receive in so doing. This passage is meant as a “description of the great things which faith (in its widest sense: not here restricted to faith in the Gospel sense) does for us. Not a full definition of faith in its whole nature, but a description of its great characteristics in relation to the subject of Paul’s exhortation here, namely, to perseverance.” 17

Atheists point to the latter portion of the statement— that faith gives evidence of the things not seen— as an indication that the author is defining faith as believing without evidence. One would think that the writers use of the word evidence in this passage would be sufficient reasoning enough to conclude that they are not defining faith as belief without evidence. It would also seem that the Atheist is supposing the only kind of evidence that is valid is that which can be seen, which would be an absurd claim. Surely, there are many things that we believe with good reasons that we cannot know by sight; particularly promises of future events God intends to bring about as in the context of this passage. We cannot see the future occurring in this present moment, nor can we have direct evidence of something that has yet to occur, but we can still reasonably feel assured that certain things may come to be realized (e.g. the sun will rise tomorrow, that you will get to work on time if you leave by a certain hour, that your favorite TV show will air at the usual time of the week, etc.) Thus, the question of whether theism is rational boils down to whether Christians are expected to trust God and the claims He makes enough to venture into an interpersonal commitment with Him without any good reasons. Christians may contend that there are plenty of good reasons to believe and trust God, such as the historicity of the life and resurrection of Jesus, evidence of creation (see Romans 1:20), and the accuracy of scriptural and private revelations (i.e. the coming of the Messiah, the bringing forth of the new covenant, etc.).

A final argument that may arise is that, although the Bible does not encourage one to believe without any evidence or reasoning at all, it assuredly promotes low standards of justification. This is evidenced by the narrative in John 20:24-29 where Jesus subtly rebukes Thomas for refusing to believe that He had risen unless he could see Him for himself, stating “Because you have seen me you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”. Jesus gives the impression that it was in some way wrong for Thomas to desire empirical evidence of the highest form, while exalting those who would be willing to believe on less reliable forms of evidence. Without question,  a direct encounter with the risen Jesus would serve as exceptionally concrete evidence that such an event occurred. However, it is not as if Thomas would have been left with no good reasons to believe that Jesus had risen short of him placing his own fingers directly into His wounds. He was privileged to some fairly compelling evidence: the direct testimony of about ten of his close friends who he should have regarded as credible, he had directly witnessed Jesus performing many miracles, and Jesus taught him of the scriptures which foretold of the events of his life. Nevertheless, Jesus does not appear concerned with whether Thomas was reasonable to desire concrete evidence, but with acknowledging that those who believe without seeing (horaō [G3708] to look at; more particularly, in the spiritual sense, to experience or to perceive) are blessed (makarios,[G3107] meaning honorable; worthy of divine approbation). The seeing is not per se that of visually seeing, but more of a spiritual experience; a witnessing of a divine miracle—in this case physically encountering the risen Jesus. Thus, Jesus is saying honorable are those who have not witnessed these miracles, but still believe that they happened. Hence, the writers conclusion “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31 KJV). This narrative does not in appear to promote low standards of justification when examined more carefully.

CONCLUSION

Is Religious faith belief without evidence?

Mainstream Atheists contend that even if Theists don’t use it in this fashion; whether they claim it is merely belief or trust, the truth of the matter is that faith is without evidence. As such, there is no fallacy in defining it according to these terms. However, it is neither philosophically useful or appropriate to describe a formulation of another parties position in a manner they find inaccurate. If the goal of rational discourse is to represent the position of the other party accurately, we should define terms such as atheism, theism, and faith by how those who describe themselves with these terms use them. Many Theists would disagree with the claim there is no evidence for Gods existence, and oftentimes are quite eager to provide information that they feel validates their belief in God. Nonbelievers may not be compelled by the information offered in favor of theism, and will maintain that Theism fails to be rationally justified. But why should Theists feel any obligation to compel a nonbeliever to accept theism as true, aside from a possible feeling of moral obligation (e.g. for fear that Atheists will be eternally punished)? Certainly, no formal burden of proof exists of this kind in philosophy. Why then, should faith be defined by an Atheists determination of what counts as compelling evidence? In the end, the treatment of this term by many nonbelievers reveals itself to be disjointed and presumptuous.


1. Gomberg, Paul (2011-05-27). What Should I Believe?: Philosophical Essays for Critical Thinking. Broadview Press. p. 146.

2. LeDrew, Stephen. The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Modern Movement. Oxford University press, Incorporated, 2016. p. 68

3. Swinburne, Richard. Faith and Reason, Volume 13. Clarendon Press, 2005. Page 138.

4. Faith in the Hebrew scriptures is translated from the word אֱמוּנָה (Emunah, H530), which means firmness, fidelity, steadfastness. See {https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=h530}. The New Testament derivative of faith is πίστις (pistis, G4102) meaning faithfulness; relating to God: the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, etc. ; to believe with the predominate feeling of trust. Comes from the word πείθω (peithō, G3982) meaning to be persuaded by argument. See {https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g4102}

5. Martin Luther, J. Theodore Muller. Commentary on Romans. Kregel Publications, 2003.

6. Faith Is Unreliable and Unreasonable: Faith Is Not a Source of Knowledge. About.com Religion & Spirituality. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 June 2016.

7. EmpiricismEncyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 15 Jul. 2016 {https://www.britannica.com/topic/empiricism}

8. Russell, Bertrand. An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth (1940), 1969 Pelican ed., pp. 156-157.

9. Hume, David. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Start Publishing LLC, Dec 10, 2012.

10. Leibniz, Gottfried. New Essays on Human Understanding. 1704, pp. 150-151

11.  Atheism. – RationalWiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 June 2016.

12. “Philosophy of Religion.” Philosophy of Religion The Presumption of Atheism Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2016 {http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/arguments-for-atheism/the-presumption-of-atheism/}

13. Halvorson, Hans. Why methodological naturalism? September 2, 2014, Page 8.

14. Schwitzgebel, Eric. Belief. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2015/entries/belief/

15 Bishop, John, “Faith”,The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(Summer 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) {http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2016/entries/faith/}

16. “The “faith” here spoken of is not a mere moral virtue, which is a branch of the law; nor a bare assent to anything revealed, declared, and affirmed in the Gospel; nor a faith of doing miracles; nor an implicit one; nor a mere profession of faith, which sometimes is but temporary; nor the word or doctrine of faith; but that which is made mention of in the preceding chapter, by which the just man lives, and which has the salvation of the soul annexed to it: and it does not so much design any particular branch, or act of faith, but as that in general respects the various promises, and blessings of grace; and it chiefly regards the faith of Old Testament saints, though that, as to its nature, object, and acts, is the same with the faith of New Testament ones; and is a firm persuasion of the power, faithfulness, and love of God in Christ, and of interest therein, and in all special blessings: is described as ‘the substance of things hoped for,; and which, in general, are things unseen, and as yet not enjoyed; future, and yet to come; difficult to be obtained, though possible, otherwise there would be no hope of them; and which are promised and laid up;” (Exposition of the Old and New Testament, by John Gill, [1746-63] URL = http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/cmt/gill/heb011.htm)

17. Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, David Brown. A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, 1882.

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