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Do You Have Blind Faith That Faith Is Blind?
I have many Christian friends who insist that faith is blind.* That is, true faith is expressed when there is no evidence, perhaps even opposing evidence. In the presence of convincing evidence, there would be no need for faith--instead, one would simply say "I know X is the case." Ironically, they present evidence to support their view. For instance, advocates of blind faith commonly argue that Jesus said we must have "faith like a child," and that Thomas was chided for asking for evidence when, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Further, blind-faithers point Hebrews 11:1 which says that "faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
You might be wondering, "Why does it matter?" The answer is that whether you believe faith is blind or based on evidence, there is no escaping the fact that it is indispensable to Christianity. While there are different ways of understanding the passages mentioned above, it is hard to escape the meaning of Hebrews 11:6: "without faith it is impossible to please God." So it is vitally important to know what the biblical view of faith is.
I have already written several articles for becauseitstrue on this topic, so I won't spend much time in this space arguing for what I am convinced is the correct biblical view of faith. But since I mentioned a few verses commonly offered in favor of blind faith, I will give a brief thought on each. First, faith like a child, understood in context, is not about lack of evidence, but humility. It isn't about expressing blind faith, but receiving the message of the Gospel (for which Jesus gave many convincing proofs/evidences Acts 1:3, Jn 20:30-31) with humble hearts. Second, Thomas was not chided for asking for evidence but for stubbornly refusing to accept the good evidence he already had. Namely, the testimony of the women and other disciples concerning the empty tomb and resurrection appearances. And lastly, I agree that faith is confidence and assurance of things hoped for and not seen. But does that mean it is blind? No. We have confidence and hope for what we don't see because of what we do see. That is not just my way of trying to get around what the verse "clearly says." Rather, it is in keeping with the pattern seen throughout the Bible. For instance, in the Old Testament, whenever God condemns the people of Israel's lack of faith, and/or encourages them to trust Him, He almost always includes a reminder of all that they had seen Him do in the past--the testimonies of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their deliverance from Egypt, etc. In the New Testament, Jesus says "even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father" (Jn 10:38).
With that out of the way, the primary thing I wanted to do in this space is address what I consider to be one of the biggest holes in the whole blind faith, anti-evidence, concept. Christian advocates of this view typically insist upon drawing a hard line between religious and non-religious claims to knowledge. They argue that faith applies to the former, reason to the latter, and the two do not overlap. We believe religious things by faith, wholly apart from reason, and the things that can be known by reason do not involve faith--we just know them. Beyond the fact that I think that idea is entirely unbiblical, there is a more fundamental problem within the idea itself. That is, the phrase "faith is blind" is a religious knowledge claim. As such, if a Christian holds to the strict division between faith and reason, the claim that faith is blind must be accepted by faith, wholly apart from reason. The moment you give reasons to establish that faith is blind, you are undermining faith. So I would ask any believer who holds the view that faith is blind the following question: Do you have blind faith that faith is blind? I hope you can see the problem here. If the answer is yes, which would at least be consistent, then there is no reason to think that the claim is true (by their own definition). And if there is no reason to think it is true, then I have good reason to think it is false. What if the answer is no? That is more likely, since every Christian that I have ever talked to who advocates for blind faith has produced a list of evidences/reasons for why they think it is the case. Remember how this article began? However, if the answer is no, and they are not taking blind faith blindly by faith, then the whole concept implodes--all religious/faith claims are not necessarily blind. It becomes arbitrary at that point to say "well, we need reasons for this one thing, but not for all other things." Why just that one thing? And what are the reasons for thinking that?
A Christian who is convinced that there are good reasons for thinking faith is blind, demonstrates that faith is not blind. Instead, the one who holds this view unwittingly affirms the biblical definition of faith--trust based on reason/evidence. The Greek word most commonly translated "faith" in the New Testament is pistis, which literally means trust and/or to be convinced/persuaded. In Greek mythology, Pistis was the personification of reliability and trustworthiness. There are other words that the biblical writes could have used to communicate the idea of blind faith, but pisitis does precisely the opposite. So, at the end of the day, I am not really concerned with what is colloquially meant by faith in the 21st century in the West. I am well aware of the way people commonly throw it around. As a Christian, I what I want to know is what it meant to the biblical writers, to Jesus, and what it means to God. Why? Because as I mentioned at the outset, "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Heb 11:6).
*There are, of course, many non-Christians who also maintain that faith is blind, but they do not face the same internal problem that I am addressing here.