Chuck Colson, in an article entitled “The Atheist Leap of Faith,” joins the list of Christians using the term “faith” to mean “unsupported belief”:
Dawkins and Krauss simply assume that materialism—the idea that there is nothing besides matter—is true. Thus, what makes a faith “rational” is whether it can be proven empirically.
Dawkins and Krauss do not offer any arguments to justify their assumptions. They do not tell us why materialism is true: Instead, they ask you to take its truth as a given—in other words, on faith.
Colson takes it a step further. Faith isn’t just belief without evidence, it’s belief without even any arguments in its favor. I should hope by now we could lay to rest macht’s insinuation that the “faith = belief – evidence” idea is a atheistic attempt to misrepresent what Christians are saying about faith. But Colson goes on to raise an interesting challenge:
If you meet someone who says your Christian faith is irrational, ask him to explain the basis of his faith.
My faith is based on one simple principle: truth is consistent with itself. Or, put negatively, truth does not contradict itself. From this simple principle flows not only all of science, but our whole ability to distinguish between what is true and what is not.
Science is possible because truth is consistent with itself. Facts do not exist in isolation from one another, but are interconnected in ways that are consistent and rational, and because of this rational self-consistency, we can proceed from the facts we already know to new facts we have yet to discover. Contrary to Colson’s erroneous assertion, science does not depend on assuming that a thing cannot be real unless it is made of matter (for example, there really is a fixed constant for the ratio of diameter to circumference, even though this ratio is not made of matter). All science requires is that a thing be demonstrably consistent with the truth, as we observe it in the real world. In other words, you have to be able to provide verifiable (not necessarily material) evidence for your claim.
The self-consistency of truth is the reason we are able to distinguish between what is true and what is untrue. It’s what we look for when someone tells us something of doubtful truthfulness. Does their claim match what we find in the real world? If Bill claims he never met Monica, but the log book at the security desk records repeated, lengthy visits to Bill’s office, often when there was no one else there but the two of them, then the story is not consistent with the evidence, and we conclude that the story is untrue. We can do this because we know that the truth does not contradict itself.
This is why faith in the Christian God is irrational, because rationality must first and foremost embrace the principle that truth is self-consistent, and the Gospel is neither consistent with itself nor with the truth we observe in the world around us. A God who loved us enough to die so that we could be together forever, and who was omnipotent and all-wise as well as all-loving, could not fail to leave overwhelming, tangible evidence of His existence in the course of doing what He most desires to do (i.e. have the same kind of relationship with us as He allegedly used to have with Adam and Eve). It’s what He allegedly wants to do and what He is allegedly able to do, yet it does not happen outside the stories, superstitions, and subjective feelings of men. Inconsistent, and therefore untrue.
This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a big tip and it sticks up pretty far out of the water. The evidence is incompatible with the possibility that the Christian Gospel might actually be true. So if Chuck Colson asks you to explain what your faith is based on, you can tell him. It’s based on the self-consistency of the truth.