A mistake made by some Christians and most skeptics is believing that religious faith, or faith in God, is blind faith. But biblical faith is not a leap into the dark, but a leap toward the light. As Greg Koukl nicely summarizes:
“Faith [on this mistaken view] is religious wishful thinking, a desperate lunge in the dark when all evidence is against you. Take the leap of faith and hope for luck. Curiously, none of the biblical writers understood faith this way. Jesus tells his naysayers, ‘Though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me’ (John 10:38 NASB, emphasis added). Peter reminds the crowd on Pentecost that Jesus was ‘a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs’ (Acts 2:22 NASB).
“Paul writes that the evidences from the natural world for God’s eternal power and divine nature ‘have been clearly seen,’ so much so that those who deny Him ‘are without excuse’ (Rom. 1:20). Later he says that if we believe in a resurrection that didn’t really happen, we have hoped in vain and ‘are of all men most to be pitied’ (1 Cor. 15:19 NASB). No religious wishful thinking here.
“So let’s set the record straight. Faith is not the opposite of reason. The opposite of faith is unbelief. And reason is not the opposite of faith. The opposite of reason is irrationality. Do some Christians have irrational faith? Sure. Do some skeptics have unreasonable unbelief? You bet. It works both ways.”
—Is God Just a Human Invention, Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, Kregel, 2010, p. 30 (Kindle edition)
“Harvard philosopher William James (1842-1910) is considered the founder of pragmatism, the distinctive American philosophy. In Pragmatism (1907), James contends that human inquiry unavoidably reflects our temperament, needs, concerns, fears, hopes and passions. The centrality of temperament and inclination in intellectual disputes is rooted in ‘the underdetermination of theory by data.’
“Underdetermination holds that for any given set of data, there are many hypotheses which adequately account for the data but which are incompatible with one another. When such theories are in competition, no appeal to the evidence could determine the winner. In order to decide which to accept, we must bring all that we are as human beings to bear on these matters; this means that rational choice must involve passions, intellect, reason and even ‘dumb conviction.’ In addition, James rejects the traditional conception of truth that claims that a belief is true if it corresponds to reality. James contends that the idea of beliefs (statements) corresponding to reality (facts) has no real meaning. For the pragmatist, beliefs are true if they prove useful to us in the practice of our lives.
“Although many later pragmatists would be atheists, James used the pragmatic approach to philosophy to defend, at nearly every turn, the rationality of religious belief. His two most influential books in defense of religious belief are The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (1897) and The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902). In The Will to Believe James defends religious belief against the increasingly strident criticism of Enlightenment evidentialism. By the time of James, belief in God had been denigrated due to an alleged lack of evidence. James courageously criticized Enlightenment evidentialism and defended the right to believe in God.
“James argued that while it is perfectly rational for the scientist to hold up his or her scientific beliefs to the demand for evidence, the universal demand for evidence is simply not tenable. In certain cases one is forced to make a decision in the absence of adequate evidence. To believe in God or not is one of those forced choices and the stakes are so high that, even in the absence of evidence, each person has a right to believe in God based on an assessment of the benefits and costs of belief or unbelief. Each person may legitimately bring passion to bear on the question of belief in God. In so doing, a person helps create the kind of reality that the person seeks and desires involving a personal relationship with God.”
— Kelly James Clark, New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics, 366.
Omniscience is an attribute having to do with knowledge; it is the attribute of “having knowledge of everything.” Many philosophers consider omniscience to be an attribute possessed only by a divine being, such as the God of Western monotheism. However, the Eastern followers of Jainism allow omniscience to be an attribute of some human beings. But what exactly is it to be omniscient?
The term’s root Latin words are “omni” (all) and “scientia” (knowledge), and these suggest a rough layman’s definition of omniscience as “knowledge of everything.” Yet even though this definition may be somewhat useful, there are a number of questions which the definition alone does not address.
First, there is the general question of what exactly our human knowledge is and whether or not an understanding of human knowledge can be applied to God. For example, does God have beliefs? And what kind of evidence does God need for these beliefs to count as knowledge? There is also the question of what exactly this “everything” in the definition is supposed to mean. Does God know everything which is actual but not all that is possible? Does God know the future, and if so, how exactly? This last question is a perennial difficulty and will require a thorough investigation. (Continue article)
(Via Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
The lecture “The Resurrection Evidence that Changed a Generation of Critical Scholars” was given at the 2009 European Leadership Forum. The audio is available on iTunes here or for streaming online here.
The forum also has many good lectures available from past meetings here (choose the menu under “Quick Access”).