Religion and Faith: All Human Beings Partake of Both Regardless of What They Believe

When I read a (long) piece recently titled, “Can We Be Good Without God? On the political meaning of Christianity,” I was reminded yet again that ideas have consequences, and that there is no neutral space where ideas inspired by “religion” do not have implications for life, including politics.

You may wonder why I put quotes around the word religion. I do that because all human beings are fundamentally “religious” in that every person lives by faith. For those uncritically marinated in secular Western culture, they actually believe that only “religious” people require “faith.” And I put faith in quotes because our secular culture defines “faith” as something only “religious” people need. How convenient, for the secularists: only those irrational religious people need faith. And they define faith, conveniently for themselves as believing despite inadequate or no evidence. Now that is doubly convenient!

But just because the atheist/agnostic/secularist defines a word in a certain way doesn’t mean we let them do so. Faith can mean believing without evidence, but based on our everyday experience it rarely does. Here’s a better definition of faith as it is lived out by human beings:

Trust based on adequate evidence.

Is there anything in life that we can definitively prove beyond a shadow of a doubt? Hopefully you’ll see this as a rhetorical question with the assumed answer of, no! Think about it. Do you know when you get on that airplane that it will make it to the destination? No, but you trust it will based on adequate evidence, so you have “faith.” Commercial airplanes make it to their destinations 99.9999% of the time. You trust the pilots although you will never meet them. You trust the mechanics although you have no idea how well they were trained. You trust air traffic control even though it’s run by the government. So you have “faith.” Or take another example. Do you know the surgeon will not harm or kill you when you get the surgery? No, but you have it anyway because you trust he won’t, so you have “faith.” Or take yet another. Do you know that the car on the two lane highway heading toward you at a high rate of speed won’t veer into your lane and kill you? Of course not, but you still get in your car and drive every day. We could go on, but the point is easily made.

When we take this idea of faith as trust based on adequate evidence and transfer it to “religious” or metaphysical issues, does it still apply? Of course it does! Do I all of a sudden turn into a gullible rube when the issues are the existence of God, or the resurrection, or the reliability of the Bible? No, I do not? I require as much evidence to trust these things as I do the airline, the doctor, and the drivers of other cars. And it is specifically because of the evidence that I am a Christian, not in spite of it.

So while secularists may not be “religious” in the traditional sociological sense of the term, they live by “faith” every bit as much as you or I do. So take the examples I cited in the previous paragraph, the secularist cannot prove naturalism (there is no God), that the resurrection didn’t happen, and that the Bible is solely a human product. They can try to marshal evidence for these positions, but at the end of the day they’ll have to trust their conclusions based on what they deem is adequate evidence.

As my kids can tell you as I’ve taught them over the years, naturalism vs. Christianity? It isn’t even close.