If the evidence for the Christian god is so overwhelming, then why is it necessary for the Bible to define faith for us? I certainly never asked myself this question as a Christian. Why would I when I had surrounded myself with people who reasoned exactly the same way I did? Yet, it's as if the authors knew that divine hiddenness might be a bit of a stumbling block for some, and faith was to be the affirming answer. Thus, we move into Chapter 8 of Natasha Crain's Keeping Your Kids on God's Side, titled "Is faith in God the opposite of reason?" Before we dive right in, it's important to understand that faith has multiple definitions and needs to be treated as such, lest an equivocation fallacy should occur. So, let's start first with the biblical definition that Natasha provides.
Hebrews 11:1 "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."
The problem with this definition is that it is conflating two alternate meanings of the word faith. An "assurance of things hoped for" is simply trust, which, of course, we all exercise to some extent in our daily lives. However, this form of faith is not at all the same as having a "conviction of things not seen." According to Natasha, "Christians and atheists alike -- exercise faith. For example, you get on an airplane without checking the pilot's license, reviewing the mechanic's log, or checking the cargo for explosives." Obviously, that depends on the definition of faith that's being utilized, in this case, trust. A pilot's license, a mechanic's log, and the cargo can all be investigated, tested, and verified worthy of trust or distrust. On the other hand, Christians and atheists alike do not hold a firm belief in something for which there is no proof (Merriam-Webster Dictionary), so it's erroneous to lump them into the same category and claim that atheists use faith, too.
The real question that needs to be answered is What is the best way to understand reality? Faith-based beliefs or informed beliefs? The insurmountable problem with faith-based beliefs is that it relies on the subjective interpretation of the Bible or any given religious text, for that matter. Whereas, informed beliefs are developed through observable, testable, and repeatable behavior. Informed beliefs can be adjusted as information is updated.
Consider the Muslim, the Mormon, the Scientologist, the Jehovah's Witness, the Orthodox Jew, the Christian, and/or the Hindu. Natasha notes, "It's dishonest for atheists to state as a given that there's no evidence and maintain that Christians are happy to believe anyway." In actuality, what atheists are willing to acknowledge is that every religion/denomination is using the cosmological argument, the argument from design, and the argument from morality as "evidence" for a god belief and then bolstering that evidence with faith in its religious text and ultimately reaching different conclusions. Each religion cannot be right, but each could very well be wrong. That is the simple truth.
"Perhaps the ultimate testimony that God values evidence and good reasoning is Jesus' life. Jesus didn't run around making extraordinary claims without offering evidence to back them up. He substantiated His claim with miracles--actions no one could perform without the divine power He alleged He had." And so we arrive at the pinnacle of the faith problem, a firm belief in something for which there is no proof -- miracles. How can I test that Jesus is who he said he is? If every religion is making miracle claims, how can I determine which one is true? If I'm willing to accept biblical miracles, do I not have a responsibility to examine and evaluate the probability of all miracles? Am I to just have faith? See, here's the thing. I want to believe as many true things as possible. I want to teach my children as many true things as possible. If something can't be falsified, how can it's truth be determined? Faith is both contrary and counterproductive to my goals as a human being.
"We can't allow atheists to hijack the biblical meaning of faith and inappropriately redefine it in terms that leave our kids feeling ashamed of Christianity." No, I have no interest in hijacking biblical faith. I'd like to eliminate it altogether. And if you don't want your kids left feeling ashamed of Christianity, then just be honest with them. Tell them that every religion requires faith, because when the evidence is sufficient, faith is no longer necessary.