An author called James A. Lindsay has a new book out in December called "Everybody Is Wrong About God".

Here is a link to his blog where he has given a preview of the preface and chapter list.

I thought the premise of the book was quite interesting and relevant to a lot of the discussions I have had with theists. For those who don't click through to the link I took his central message to be that he distinguishes between God (in whom he does not believe) and "God" who does exist.

The scare-quoted "God" represents what God means to theists and these couple of paragraphs sum up his view:

"Many atheist interest groups currently and ambitiously seek to “normalize” atheism, to make it a normal part of society. Once we understand “God,” we will understand why atheism, as anything that could be misconstrued as a thing, cannot be normalized. As we will see, the first thing “God” means to almost every believer is nearly always “how I understand moral values.” Second (or thereabouts), and intimately related, comes “how I contextualize myself in my culture/community.”

Atheism, from the believer’s point of view, is therefore always heard as a rejection of those values, hence we see rampant mistrust of atheists. We must understand that, alongside everything else it does, religion acts to form moral communities, which allow for a bypassing mechanism to our natural distrust of unknown others under the perception of shared moral and cultural values. Those values are grounded in the idea people call “God.” Atheism stands in negation to those values, as understood by the believer, and so the “theism versus atheism” conversation is doomed."

He goes on to say that the term atheism has become so tainted that we should move past it. He mentions the term post-theism in the preface but I've no idea what that is - I guess the book expands on it.

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I agree, the "theism versus atheism" debate is pretty doomed.  I think it's better to find a way to live together in common ground, and everyone believe what they like about who created the universe. 

The "freedom versus "freedom to restrict freedom"" debate however is a live wire. 

It's also up to us to prove we have a coherent morality.  This coherent morality is the same at heart as the religious (i.e. compassion) so that's our common ground. 

"Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.” – Khalil Gibran

I'm not sure about that.  We could find a rational basis for having faith. 

I can't have faith in something without a rational reason why, and I don't know if anyone really can.  The given religious reasons are pretty unconvincing I think.  But the thing they have faith in is real, so that's what supplies the faith in the heart without knowing why. 

It wouldn't *be* faith if there were a rational reason for it.

Just like you can't have an atheist "religion" when atheists don't believe in the key feature of religions, i.e., a god.

You're really good at utterly disregarding the definitions of words when you write your ramblings.  What's next?  Trying to prove four-sided triangles exist?

It wouldn't *be* faith if there were a rational reason for it.

Why not?

I have faith in the efficacy of vaccines, even though I know they aren't 100% effective.   Having faith in ideas (or in people) just means that you believe in them enough to make decisions on that basis.  

Faith isn't the opposite of rationality it's an orthogonal concept.

You guys are playing using different definitions of "faith," which like so many words has multiple meanings. Simon and The Dr. mean "faith" in the sense of "reliance on something." Steve, you're referring to "faith" in the sense of "baseless belief."

I may have misjudged the context then; it seemed to me as though Simon (P) meant "faith" as in "baseless belief"

Later on, Simon says "Or you believe in them because you know they work, like your car, or the bathroom taps." That is the more practical and rational meaning of "faith."

Unless I am greatly mistaken, that was later than my mistaken comment (so I couldn't have used it to correct my mis-impression), but yes, it serves as an example.

[edited to add--Simon's bathroom taps example is actually a reply to my comment, so now I am pretty doggone certain it came later.]

This is particularly embarrassing to me because I sometimes do the same thing Simon P did with "believe" and "belief," using those words to include both evidence-based and baseless views of how things are, and I get jumped on by people who think "belief" equates to "(evidence-less) faith."

On the other hand, most of my atheist friends DO reserve the word "faith" for "evidence-less belief" (and I suspect that's the more common usage, but I can't prove that, and obviously there are exceptions). For Simon's faucet example, they'd say, "oh, you mean 'confidence' in those faucets."  (Yeah, they're Yanks, so they say "faucet" not "bathroom tap")  Or "I have faith in you [that you'll actually do what you said you'd do]." gets corrected to "I have confidence in you."

As much crap as I take for using "belief' the way I do, I'm not about to pick up "faith" which even more commonly has the connotation of "baseless," and I'd suggest that if only for the sake of clarity, an atheist ought to avoid using the word when they don't mean that.  So my personal preferred usage would be to treat "faith" as a subset of "belief" (and "have faith" as a subset for "believe"), otherwise the two words might as well mean the same thing.  "I believe in evolution" may or may not be evidence of critical thinking, "I have faith in it" would not (yes there are plenty of people who believe evolution happened, simply because someone told them so).

Like most English speakers, I use "faith" in both its senses, relying on context to sort things out. But using "faith" in its evidence-based sense in a discussion of religion can be confusing, for sure. 

"Belief" can be used in much the same way. The word functions totally differently in sentences like "I believe in an afterlife because The Holy Bible tells me about it" and "I believe your glasses are on the bathroom counter because I remember seeing them there about an hour ago." One is based on nonsense, the other is based on empirical evidence (albeit, evidence gathered in the past).

I have faith in the efficacy of vaccines, even though I know they aren't 100% effective.

Me too Dr. Bob!! That is because there is plenty of objective evidence to warrant that faith. However “faith” in that sense is a synonym for “trust”. It is based upon evidenced based testing.  Faith in god is faith that is present even though there is no objective evidence for it. It is like having faith in the efficacy of placebos.

You may have some reason to trust that your faith in a belief in a god has merit but it is entirely subjective. You cannot display any objective evidence to us so we can believe in your God because you have none. I do not see religious faith as being justifiable in the sense that faith in evidence based medicine is. The word does not have the same meaning in both cases.

Right on, Reg.

BTW, the Bob who wants us to know he has a doctorate has a reason for wanting us to know it.


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