"I find it astonishing and depressing that many people who lead their lives according to the ideas and rules laid down in these books have not read them" - Alom Shaha, The Young Atheist's Handbook.
You may have guessed it, but faith often has a lot to do with religious belief. Strip even the most 'educated' theological argument down to its core, and what you're often left with is 'we just don't know - therefore God'.
The 'we just don't know' part is reasonable. The leap of faith required to justify the existence of a very specific, very personal deity is anything but... Yet, that is the argument many make. Even Theologians.
This argument is, essentially, Pascal's wager. For those of you unfamiliar with this particular non-position, it goes a little something like this:
'One should live as if God exists (even though this cannot be proved or disproved through reason), because there is nothing to lose and everything to gain from doing so.'
'... So long as Mr Supposedly-Omnipotent can't see through your deception.*Wink*'
The problem is, it can be applied to pretty much every God our species has ever thought up; from Allah to Zeus.
In light of this, the wonderful* William Lane Craig has, on his 'Reasonable Faith' website, attempted to argue that:
"There are two possible responses to this objection. First, in a decision-theoretic context we are justified in ignoring states which have a remotely small probability of obtaining. Thus, I need not concern myself with the possibility that, say, Zeus or Odin might exist. If the odds of these other deities’ existing are negligible, then I would be justified in setting up a payoff matrix according to which the odds of the existence of the Christian God are taken to be roughly 50/50. The choice is effectively between Christianity and atheism."
Needless to say though, he's wrong. Sifting through the theological jargon, what he's trying to assert is that asking the question of all gods is plainly silly - after all, 'only the Christian God has any chance of existing' anyway!
So we're back, again, to 'I just believe'... And this is from a man who has devoted his life to studying the Bible.
Very few of his fellow Christians are so well-versed. But, when it comes down to the core of it, they're no better or worse off than he is. Neither 'sort' has evidence - Craig's just spent more time trying to bleed it out of his favourite book's pages...