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On Not Posting for a Few Days, or, 2011: Year of E-books

It’s been a week or so since I’ve updated, and I wanted to assure everyone that I’m okay and that I will be updating regularly in the near future. Being the full-time caregiver to two wonderful children is how I’ve been spending most of my time. I used to do my writing after they go to bed, but I’ve found sleep to be a much more tempting way to spend my time. That is why the updates are getting spaced further out lately.

This is a teaser on what I’m going to be up to on the blog. I have three e-books in the works with a possible fourth, plus three series of posts for the blog.

I have taken my top posts for all time (from 2006 until around January 2011) and collated them in an e-book. Nine posts in all; why it’s not an even ten will be discussed in the actual book. I’m going to edit them and release updated versions of most posts by the middle of February.

I have an e-book slated for this Easter defending the Resurrection. Chris Hallquist (the Uncredible Hallq) has put together a small flier entitled “The ‘Evidence’ for Jesus’ Resurrection Debunked in One Page.” It literally is what it promises: a single page that casts dispersions on the use of the historical method to prove Jesus’ Resurrection. I plan to discuss problems with that flier in a flier of my own, “‘The “Evidence” for Jesus’ Resurrection Debunked in One Page’ Rebutted in Two.” This will summarize a case contrary to Mr. Hallquist’s assertions and is meant as a teaser for the e-book.

A third e-book will be released sometime in the late summer and will focus on the characters of Revelation. I promise that this is not more of the same best selling Left Behind-like crap churned out by Tim LaHaye and his ilk. I do not believe in any current Christian eschatology vogue.

As of now, all e-books are going to be available free of charge.

On the blog, I’ll be finishing my current series answering some of DaGoodS’s questions that Christians hope no one will ask, which began here. I needed to do more research and I plan to get those questions answered shortly. That got preempted last week in favor of the pro-life fight that I waged on the blog and Twitter in response to Blog for Choice Day.

The series on DaGoodS has generated a lot of interest from regular readers of Thoughts from a Sandwich. As per my usual comment policy, I’m not intentionally ignoring people when I don’t respond. If you feel that your challenge to my argument should be addressed, you can e-mail me. I do respond to e-mails promptly.

After I complete DaGoodS’s questions, I’m  going to answer more questions that theists allegedly can’t answer, originally from a thread on Reddit. I started that series back in November, then continued it last week. I have five future posts planned, plus a sixth post with two general observations.

Finally, there has been some recent discussion about faith. I repeatedly have said that faith is trust. Atheists, however, believe faith is a blind step, taken without or despite evidence. The less evidence available to make the decision, the greater the spiritual reward. If the evidence is actually against something, then God will reward you more than your wildest dreams can imagine!

Traditional Christians have never believed that faith is founded on nothing. But atheists have jumped to defend the contention it is quickly, so I’m going to look in-depth at the definition of faith. The Catholic Church, the oldest Christian denomination and deeply rooted in tradition, has a lot to say on the subject of faith in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Several Popes have also written on the subject recently; Pope John Paul II on the relationship of faith and reason, and Pope Paul VI on the mystery of Christian faith in the Eucharist. I’m going to examine each of those, and the Bible (especially Hebrews 10 and 11).

If this series is popular enough, it might end up being the mythical Christmas season e-book I mentioned earlier.

So that’s a taste of what is to come. Stay with me and let’s reason together (Is 1:18).

 

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on January 27, 2011, in Site News. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I repeatedly have said that faith is trust.

    The term “faith” is often used to mean “trust”, yes; that is one of its established meanings. We already have a term for that, though: “trust”.

    That is not the only meaning that theists apply for “faith”; and indeed the word retains separate identity because it is used in different meanings from “trust”. So, please drop the false equivocation.

    Atheists, however, believe faith is a blind step, taken without or despite evidence.

    Rather, the problem – belief of a claim without or despite evidence – is one which is a point of discussion. Since theists use the term “faith” for that, we agree to use the same term to discuss it.

    You can use a different term, if you like; I haven’t seen you propose an alternative to describe that problem. What isn’t helpful is to deny that the term “faith” is used by theists in that sense.

    • Okay, perhaps in the future I could be more precise.

      When talking about the sort of faith that is a gift from God, the sort of faith that the theist must possess in order to please God, I can specify that this is “authentic faith.” An authentic faith in God through Jesus will produce fruit (Gal 5:22-23; cf. Mt 7:15-20) and repentance.

      The sort of faith that most atheists think of when speaking of “faith in God” isn’t the sort of authentic faith to which I’m referring when I say “authentic faith.” Rather, they are referring to a blind step in the dark taken either because no evidence is present, or in the face of enough contrary evidence to defeat the belief. Authentic faith isn’t blind.

  2. When talking about the sort of faith that is a gift from God, the sort of faith that the theist must possess in order to please God, I can specify that this is “authentic faith.”

    That is yet another meaning, and isn’t at all what I understand by the term “trust”. I don’t see that meaning on display when people use the word “faith” to explain why they believe a particular claim.

    The sort of faith that most atheists think of when speaking of “faith in God” isn’t the sort of authentic faith to which I’m referring when I say “authentic faith.”

    You leave yourself open, if you argue along those lines, to an accusation of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

    I won’t say that in this instance. What I will say, though, is that if you think of that meaning when you use the term “faith”, you are not using it the way every theist I’ve ever heard use the term has used it. Most commonly, it comes up precisely as a justification for believing a claim in the absence of good evidence.

    • The way you’re describing faith be used is along this line:

      Doubter: I’ve prayed, and I’ve prayed, but I just can’t seem to get the money raised to go back to school for my dream job. I’m starting to think that God doesn’t even exist anymore.

      Christian: Of course he does! You just have to have more faith!

      That’s a cop-out. I hate when Christians answer other people like that. There are thousands of reasons why God is giving a “no” answer to someone’s prayer. In this instance, the Christian should instruct the doubter to seek God’s will in another direction, or pray for wisdom and guidance instead of a specific job, school, or student loan/scholarship would yield much better results.

      Telling someone that he just has to have more faith is completely arrogant; it implies you know how much faith they have in the first place, and that you know that amount of faith isn’t enough to please God.

      When you talk of “no good evidence,” remember that this is a matter of perspective. I consider the presence of life itself, the fine-tuning of the universe, the language encoded into DNA, the Bible’s complete and full-circle narrative, and the life and teachings of Jesus to all be excellent evidence for the existence of God. I’d bet $10,000, both my cars, and several internal organs–double or nothing–that you don’t regard ANY of what I just mentioned as having a thing to the question of God. So, from my perspective, there is strong evidence. But, from your perspective, there is NO evidence (even though there is).

      The No True Scotsman fallacy only applies when I arbitrarily shift the goal post because I don’t want to let something in that’s inconvenient to my argument. But I’m supplying very rational reasons why faith is defined as trust, and there is biblical data, as well as historical church writings that back me up in this regard. The problem I have with the use of the No True Scotsman fallacy is that atheists (really, no one else tries to use it) punt to it every time a Christian tries to exclude someone from Christianity on any criteria other than belief in Jesus. Bad behavior, heresy, or anything like that guarantees that an atheist will say, “You’re committing the No True Scotsman fallacy!” Why? Because atheists love to point to the hypocrisy of believers as evidence against that particular religion. (Why am I being generic? I should have said, “Atheists love to point to the hypocrisy of Christians as evidence against Christianity.” I’ve never seen an atheist use behavior of adherents to forcefully argue against any other religion, and I doubt I ever will.) If the believer can reasonably state that so-and-so hypocrite isn’t really a believer, and even logically back that up with biblical data, that hurts the atheist argument. So, when the atheist can’t prove the theist wrong in his analysis, he just accuses the theist of committing a made-up fallacy.

      By the way, Anthony Flew, who coined that fallacy, converted to deism at the end of his life. He even wrote a book about it. He’s no longer convinced by arguments that have to resort to making up a fallacy in order to proceed.

      In other words: I don’t believe the No True Scotsman fallacy is real. Groups are exclusive by nature, and there are ways to clearly show someone isn’t a member of a group. Christianity is no exception. When the believer can do this, it’s not a fallacy.

      • I don’t think I’ve ever had the dialogue you describe there. So that’s not what I’m talking about.

        No, the theistic use of the term “faith” that I’ve experienced is much more commonly in response to exposing the lack of reasonable basis for their claims. It might occur early – in direct response to a question like “what basis do you have for claiming that Jesus returned from death?”, for example – or it might occur rather later, after a long exploration of apologetics – “Yes, you’re right that there seems to be no reasonable basis for [whatever the claim is]. But I still believe it, it’s a matter of faith”.

        That doesn’t match “trust”, because trust can quite commonly be on the basis of sound evidence and reason. This usage of “faith” is explicitly used to describe a factual claim held *despite* lack of sound evidence for the claim.

        I don’t deny that other usages of “faith” exist in common usage. But the unembellished term “faith” is, very commonly and without further qualification, used by theists in the deliberate and specific sense of “belief in a claim despite absence of supporting evidence for the claim”.

        So I hope you can better understand why non-theists focus on that usage of the term, and why if you want to combat that usage it’s the theists you need to be convincing.

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