Monday, October 31, 2011

Informal Fallacy Test

This was the Quote of the Day a year ago on Debunking Christianity


Faith is a belief in an unknown or unrealized proposition in spite of evidence that the belief is incorrect. Faith is clearly NOT a belief in an unknown or unrealized proposition that is SUPPORTED by the evidence, because if that belief was supported by the evidence, it ipso facto does NOT REQUIRE Faith.


Which fallacy, if any, is committed in the above passage? 


a. ad hominem
b. begging the question
c. red herring
d. no fallacy

97 comments:

Anonymous said...

Looks more like a straw man to me.

JSA said...

b

finney said...

B.

It assumes a definition of faith from the outset which is not the definition as used by its proponents.

Thomas said...

"Looks more like a straw man to me."

I agree. If "faith" is defined as trust or commitment towards a person, then the quote is just a huge straw man of what religious believers mean by "faith".

So perhaps one can say that the quote therefore begs the question. So B.

Ilíon said...

As Anonymous points out, it is a straw-man; as Finney point out, it is an equivocation; it is begging the question; it is a red herring; it even may contain an implied ad hominem.

William said...

Not very original, and not as funny as the original:

There are those who scoff at the school boy, calling him frivolous and shallow. Yet it was the school boy who said, Faith is believing what you know ain't so.
-Mark Twain, Following the Equator, Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar

Mike Darus said...

I couldn't get past, "Faith is a belief in an unknown ... proposition." Which definition of "proposition" are we using?
1.the act of offering or suggesting something to be considered, accepted, adopted, or done.

2.a plan or scheme proposed.

3.an offer of terms for a transaction, as in business.

4.a thing, matter, or person considered as something to be dealt with or encountered: Keeping diplomatic channels open is a serious proposition.

5.anything stated or affirmed for discussion or illustration.

If it is 5, how you can believe in a statement or affirmation when you don't know what the statement or is?

I vote for D because the passage is nonsensical.

Victor Reppert said...

It looked to me like a classic case of question-begging. It says that rational faith is impossible, because if the belief were rational, you wouldn't need faith. And yes, there is a straw man at work here, of course.

B. Prokop said...

How to begin, how to begin...???

First off, "Faith is a belief in an unknown or unrealized proposition". Well, it's nice that Jeffrey Myers at least defined his terms - emphasis on his terms. That's certainly a definition I've never heard before.

Next: "in spite of evidence that the belief is incorrect". No, not at all. The writer is assuming contrary evidence. But let's give him this one, just for the sake of argument. Let's say I have faith that my best friend will always tell me the truth, no matter what. Now let's imagine he's been accused of a horrible murder, and there even appears to be evidence of his guilt. But he tells me, "Bob, you gotta believe me. I'm innocent!" If I don't lose my faith in him, this is where I might (very reasonably) come back with, "Don't worry. Despite what it looks like, I have faith in you. I know you didn't do it. I am sure the truth will ultimately come out."

Now we move on to "Faith is clearly NOT a belief ... that is SUPPORTED by the evidence". Clearly to whom? Certainly not to the billions of Christians through the centuries who have had faith in Jesus, despite mountains of evidence in favor of the Gospels. So they do have faith supported by evidence.

And lastly: "because if that belief was supported by the evidence, it ipso facto does NOT REQUIRE Faith." Whatever. The real world is not generally neatly divided into such cut and dried categories with clear boundary lines. The writer seems to imagine being able to everything into 2 classes of beliefs: 1) things only supported by positive evidence. and 2) things having evidence of them being incorrect.

But he's completely ignored the existence of beliefs that have "evidence" both pro and con, or evidences that themselves are debatable. Or even things that have no evidence whatsoever, either for or against (e.g., intelligent life on other planets).

I don't what to call this, other than an atrocity against the English Language.

Anonymous said...

Definitely B, question begging.

B. Prokop said...

By the way, the little story about the friend wrongly accused of a crime that I used as an illustration of why faith might be a positive thing, also illustrates why we term Faith a Virtue. It's not a morally neutral quality. It can in the right occasion be an admirable, even praiseworthy, attribute. It's why we say things like, "I have faith in you, son." Or, "Despite all odds and in the face of every setback, Churchill never lost his faith in ultimate victory." Etc.

Victor Reppert said...

This was by a Jeffrey Myers, who comments over there. But it was made the Quote of the Day by Loftus. The link is on the title of this post.

Anonymous said...

This is clearly an example of 'question begging'. The concept of "faith" is cashed out in terms of 'belief in an "unrealized( or false)proposition", contrary to evidence( or epistemic warrant). However, that is merely to assert the negation of the theists contention that "faith" in God, is a "realized", epistemicly warranted belief, supported by a plethora of evidence. It could also be be seen as an example of the 'red-herring' fallacy, depending on ones conception of faith. That evidence( taken as appeal to empirical phenomena) is necessary for faith to be rationally justified, would be to invoke premises irrelevent to the conclusion in terms of a Plantinga-esque analysis of 'faith'.

parbouj said...

There is no argument, only a definition, so there is one reason the correct answer is d.

Maybe some of you don't use that definition of faith, but that doesn't mean some don't, or that he is not allowed to use it that way. Hell, he can just stipulate he is using the term that way.

So, no fallacy.

As usual, Christians are confused by elementary ordinary language logic. Probably why Feser is sympathetic to the view that we shouldn't teach this branch of logic to undergrads...he can't even out-logic the undergrads at a shitty community college in Pasadena lol....

grear said...

"This is probably the easiest class i have taken at PCC."

Upshot of Feser? He teaches to the least-common-denominator. What a shock.

grear said...

More about the greatest Christian intellectual on the west coast:
"Philosophy is not my thing and i still dont understand it. I didnt buy the books, so i just memorized all of his inclass lectures...never read a page in his book and got an A! take it if you want an easy A. i still dont know anything bout philo."

Get an A and learn nothing. Why isn't this grade-inflating magician at Harvard? lol

Victor Reppert said...

You guys missed the word "because" in the quote, which is a premise indicator. He justifies the definition with an argument. But it assumes what it's trying to prove.

B. Prokop said...

Victor,

I think I covered the "because" near the end of my first posting. The argument, such as it is, relies on an overly simplistic classification of propositions into all-too-neat categories that don't exist in the real world. Myers argues like Johnny Cochran, the lawyer in the O.J. Simpson trial: "If [the glove] doesn't fit, you must acquit." The reasoning was bogus then; it remains bogus today.

parbouj said...

He is just fleshing out the implications of the definition. There is no argument there, but a definition. He isn't arguing that the definition is correct, but saying his definition, and going on to give implications of that definition.

What is hard for you people. Jeesh.

grear said...

Maybe Christians shouldn't be taught the informal fallacies, I can see why Feser thinks logic is lost on people--he hangs out with Christians all day!

B. Prokop said...

Victor,

You’ve done a great service by calling to mind this “Quote of the Day”, but I think you’ve asked the wrong question. It’s not a case of logical fallacy here, but of the use of language.

As I read the quote, I kept asking myself, “Where have I heard this sort of thing before?”, and then it came to me. Myers is using the same sort of tactic that the far right has been employing since the 1980s, when a conscious and deliberate decision was made by the Republican Party to poison the English language, and train the public to have negative reactions to fine words such as “liberal” (a very successful campaign, by the way).

This is exactly what the atheists are attempting to do here. We see an effort to re-define “faith” negatively, a word which for millennia has been a positive term. Just look at such standard usages as “he kept faith”, or “this man acted in bad faith”, or “I never lost faith in you” – all instances where the idea of faith is something positive, even virtuous.

But Meyers sets out to implant negative connotations to a noble word – to, as I said above, poison the language. The atheist has already lost the argument (he never really had one to begin with), and has been driven off the field of logic (embarrassingly so), and therefore cannot compete by reasoning. So he is forced back upon linguistics. Define the terms, and make an end run around logic and clear thinking. Train people to see “faith” as a negative, instead of the virtue it has always been, and you don’t need to argue your case.

Anonymous said...

"parabouj" and "grear" are obviously the same person. Even a Christian could've figured that one out.

parbouj said...

Bob got it. It's like saying 'Atheism is by definition to be someone that lacks morals. Because of that, if someone has morals, they cannot be an atheist.'

Every atheist would flip out at this, but the thing to do is attack the original definition, not treat it as a question-begging argument.

Sure, you could stipulate that is your definition of atheist. But it would have a pretty small range.

I would like us to attack his definition, not treat it as a freshman exercise in informal logic.

Anonymous: I am not Richard Gere. I am parbouj.

grear said...

I resent the association with that fool parvalbumin.

B. Prokop said...

That's right, Parbouj. Define the terms and you control the debate. We mostly see this in politics, where Congress gives Orwellian names to bills (e.g., Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, etc.) or emotionally loaded yet semantically null terms such as "Death Panels" or "Job Creators" are employed in debate to fog the issue in an attempt to prejudge the outcome.

Unfortunatly, this intellectually dishonest practice has been spilling over into theological and philosophical discussions of late, to the great detriment of rational discourse. thus we see New Atheists employing such inanities like "magic orbiting teakettle" or "invisible sky fairy" rather than the actual terms (e.g., deity, angel, etc.). These are all (rather infantile) attempts to avoid actually debating the proposition at hand, preferring to fall back upon linguistic trickery.

(By the way, what sort of moniker is Parbouj? the only reference I could find to the word was in an 1892 German-English dictionary, defining it as "bang!")

JSA said...

@parbouj - It's more like saying, "Atheism is false, because if it wasn't false, it wouldn't be called atheism".

JSA said...

And although this wasn't a direct Loftus quote, I find that Loftus to be a dead ringer for Mojo-Jojo in the use of repeated redefinition:

"That's all just well enough, because in reality there is only room enough in this world for one Mojo Jojo. One shall be the number of Mojo Jojos in the world, and the number of Mojo Jojos in the world shall be one. Two Mojo Jojos is too many, and three is right out. So the only Mojo Jojo there is room for in the world shall be me."

"I am not Bubbles! Bubbles is not who I am! I am the one, the only, single, solitary doer of dastardly deeds! Purveyor of pestilence! Interloper of lawlessness! Menace to mankind! I am bad! I am evil! I am Mojo Jojo!"

Victor Reppert said...

I would have thought that the guy was at least trying to answer the obvious question that is going to arise when you generate a definition like this, which is why anyone should take it seriously.

B. Prokop said...

Victor,

I think you've hit the nail on the head. the problem is that the English language is not exactly precise when it comes to this word. I remember hearing somewhere (I can't remember where) that there was a huge difference between "believing in God" and "believing God", a.k.a. "having faith in God, a.k.a. "trusting God".

Faith in the sense of "trusting God" is one of the Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, and Charity). Faith in the sense of "believing in God", however, is not ("You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe - and shudder." James 2:19)

DavidJ said...

To those of us who believe that propositions exist necessarily it sounds a bit weird to talk about an unrealized proposition.

Victor Reppert said...

Actually, I tell students that whenever they use the word faith, they need to define the word so that we can understand how it's being used. Your typical atheist hears "irrational" whenever the believer uses the word "faith," so if you don't want them to conclude that, you have to clarify.

Anonymous said...

the problem though is that "faith" has different definitions even in Christian theology. contrast a Christian philosopher like yourself with a Christian who is a fideist.

still, this in no way excuses the atheists who are loudly pretending that the word has and can have only one definition. as Christians, "Christian faith" is our concept to define, not theirs.

parbouj said...

Bob--you got the etymology right. :) Pretty impressive.

I think your view is right on, and it is disheartening to see these "new" atheists being gobbled up so eagerly, as if they are making brilliant new points against theists with their flying spaghetti monsters, teacups, "sky fairies", "outsider tests".

They are dragging discussion down to the level of creationists.

Ilíon said...

Prokop: "I remember hearing somewhere (I can't remember where) that there was a huge difference between "believing in God" and "believing God", a.k.a. "having faith in God, a.k.a. "trusting God"."

You probably heard/read it from one of those terrible (Protestant) "fundies" .. and you appear to have mangled it.

Believing *in* God is to trust God ... just as believing *in* your spouse is to trust her/him.

Believing *that* God is what may be contrasted with believing *in* God. For example, the demons believe *that* God, but they are demon precisely because they refuse to believe *in* God.

Of course, these days, when most people are actually functional atheists who say they "Believe in God", the usage and meaning of the phrase can get confused.

Tony Hoffman said...

I agree that the quote you provided is clumsy and ambiguous. But if I were to apply the principal of charity to it, I'd suggest something like this:

What I think the writer is trying to say is that faith can be described as the expectation that a proposition will be true when we have no evidence to support that outcome, and that we have good reason to expect that no good evidence will be forthcoming.

That there is life after death is an example of faith; we have no (good) evidence that supports the idea that there is life after death.

We do not say that we have faith that 2 + 2 = 4, or that entropy occurs, or that life evolves. And this is because we have good evidence that these proposition are true; these are propositions (claims) that can all be examined, tested, etc. This is not true of propositions that we normally we say we have faith are true. One does not say that one has faith that 2 + 2 = 4; one acknowledges that the truth of this proposition is something that anyone can examine, that can be proven false, and that is consistent.

Faith is reserved for propositions that cannot be examined and tested in ways that are objective, verifiable, and reliable.

B. Prokop said...

Ilion,

I was using the phrase "believe in God" to mean the same thing as "believe God exists".

B. Prokop said...

Oh, and also... It is indeed quite possible that I heard the phrase I quoted from a protestant fundamentalist. I used to be one myself (many decades ago). But I don't think I mangled it. Perhaps you heard a similar version.

Ilíon said...

"But if I were to apply the principal of charity to it, I'd suggest something like this: ..."

Yet, if I were to apply the principle of lived experience to it, I'd *know* that the author means something like this: "Christians are stupid 'faith-heads'!"

Ilionologist said...

Yet, if I were to apply the principle of lived experience to it, I'd *know* that the author means something like this: "Christians are stupid 'faith-heads'!"

When Ilion is wrong, he is disastrously wrong. But when Ilion is right, he is oh so very right.

This is an example of the latter.

Ilíon said...

Yet, seeing that no one ever seems able to supply an example of Ilíon being wrong, I suppose we'll simply have to take it on 'faith' that "When Ilion is wrong, he is disastrously wrong".

hotaffi said...

To be wrong requires saying something meaningful.

Tony Hoffman said...

Ilion: "Yet, seeing that no one ever seems able to supply an example of Ilíon being wrong, I suppose we'll simply have to take it on 'faith' that ..."

It always surprises me that people write things like this as if they think it will add to their credibility. The people whose arguments I respect the most are those who have shown that arguments and evidence can change their mind. And I always listen most attentively to the arguments they propone because it seems they are more likely to have aligned their beliefs with reality.

I would suggest that those who hold dear a definition of faith that is different than "believing what they know ain't so" also demonstrate an unusual degree of intractability regarding their belief. In other words, faith-based belief appears to be not only unexaminable, but also very stubborn.

Anonymous said...

"In other words, faith-based belief appears to be not only unexaminable, but also very stubborn."

I agree, and there's no better confirmation of it than the online atheist community.

JSA said...

When people talk about "faith" in the sense of belief, the issue is invariably a debate about how much warrant is necessary to reasonably hold that belief.

When someone says, "I have faith that my wife isn't cheating", he is saying that he has sufficient evidence to his satisfaction, regardless of what standard someone else wishes to impose. Matt McCormick covered this at his blog recently.

That's why I insist that the original quote is question-begging. By smuggling in phrases like "inadequate evidence" or "evidence to the contrary", the atheist is implicitly arguing that belief is not warranted unless it meets his arbitrary standard of evidence.

Tony Hoffman said...

JSA: "By smuggling in phrases like "inadequate evidence" or "evidence to the contrary", the atheist is implicitly arguing that belief is not warranted unless it meets his arbitrary standard of evidence."

I think you have this exactly wrong. Standards of evidence that are objective, reliable, and verifiable seem to be the opposite of arbitrary.

Saying that one has warrant for a belief that cannot be arbitrated by the standards of objectivity, reliability and verifiability is the same as saying that one holds a belief for reasons that arbitrary.

BTW, I am using a definition of arbitrary which basically means subject to individual judgment -- I don't mean to be using the implication that the judgment need be whimsical or transitory.

JSA said...

@Tony - Good point. When I say that the atheist is arbitrarily trying to impose a standard of evidence that is more suitable for physics experiments, I could be guilty of question-begging myself.

A better way to make the point would be to appeal to community norms for what constitutes sufficient evidence. For example, the standard of evidence required to believe that your spouse isn't cheating on you is typically different from the standard of evidence you require to have faith that you're going to be paid in full for a real estate transaction. Different parties may seek to convince you that your standard is not adequate, and it is in cases where there can be reasonable disagreement that the word "faith" becomes appropriate.

John W. Loftus said...

Victor, as I said in a recent post, "Sometimes I use my Blog to test ideas. Sometimes I merely provoke discussion. But I learn as I go."

So it is in this case. The first sentence (a) I took to be a definition which forms the basis of the second explanatory sentence (b).

It provoked thought didn't it?

finney said...

John,

Consider the following statement:

"X is A. X is clearly not B, because B is not A."

That's not exactly thought-provoking. It's just a derivation of a definition that no one uses except people like you who have an axe to grind.

Tony Hoffman said...

JSA: “A better way to make the point would be to appeal to community norms for what constitutes sufficient evidence.”

This seems problematic to me. Community norms of what constitute the best way to treat disease in the community of Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, would be a kind of appeal to authority. I think that appealing to a community’s norms, without considering how those norms track reality, would be highly problematic.

JSA: “For example, the standard of evidence required to believe that your spouse isn't cheating on you is typically different from the standard of evidence you require to have faith that you're going to be paid in full for a real estate transaction.”

I disagree. The standard of evidence that I would require for these instances would be objective, verifiable, and reliable in both cases. Whatever reasons I have for my prior belief in either case you suggest can be overturned by the kind of evidence that is objective, reliable, and verifiable. On the other hand, if someone told me that they “had a hunch” that my wife was cheating on me or that I wouldn’t get paid in a real estate transaction but could provide no reasons that were objective, reliable, and verifiable, then I would not alter my belief.

JSA: “Different parties may seek to convince you that your standard is not adequate, and it is in cases where there can be reasonable disagreement that the word "faith" becomes appropriate.”

I agree that in cases where neither party can appeal to evidence that is objective, reliable, and verifiable then a belief could be said to be based on “faith.” But I think that if one party has access to good evidence that either supports or is contrary to a claim and the other party is not persuaded despite having no good evidence to the contrary, then the party with a belief that is not supported by good evidence would be unreasonable.

I am not sure how I would the classify the idea that there is life after death. I think that neither party has access to any good evidence that there is life after death, so I would suppose that the belief one way or another would be one that I would say is based on faith.

JSA said...

OK, I think you're getting hung up on "objective, verifiable, and reliable". You're trying to implicitly define faith as being either non-objective, non-verifiable, or non-reliable -- or trying to argue that belief which isn't objective or verifiable to be unwarranted. I don't think that works.

Let's take the case of spousal infidelity. For one person, the following evidence, which is completely objective, verifiable, and reliable, would be considered suitable warrant for believing in his wife's fidelity on a trip away from home:
1) She hasn't cheated before, to my knowledge
2) She says she'll be visiting her sister, and she's not the sort who would do shady things around her sister
3) She seems happy with the marriage

However, another man might demand more evidence:
1) She needs to have her "find my friends" GPS tracking on her new iPhone on at all times
2) She needs to respond whenever I call, and turn on video chat so I can see the surroundings she is in

And so on...

In both cases, the evidence under consideration is objective, verifiable, and reliable. But one man will consider faith warranted, and the other will not.

The same situation will apply when some of the evidence is subjective, or when some of the evidence is not repeatable, but that's not really relevant. The overall point is that the word "faith" is primarily about a disagreement as to what constitutes adequate evidence, all other things being equal.

Ilíon said...

Moreover, we have already established, via logical reasoning, that atheism is false; and logical reasoning is the gold standard of "completely objective, verifiable, and reliable".

That these pretend atheists will not admit that atheism has been proven false, but insteasd of doing that, keep tossing red herrings, is just "completely objective, verifiable, and reliable" evidence that they are intellectually dishonest.

Ilíon said...

Disregarding the fact that atheism has been proven false --

If these intellectually dishonest persons, which is to say, fools, were *real* atheists, they'd not be spending all this effort trying to convince (by which word I mean 'browbeat') anyone into abandoning "theism", for they'd know that it doesn't matter in the least whether one understands and believes the truth about the nature of reality.

B. Prokop said...

For once I agree with Ilion. I know for certain that if I were an atheist, I wouldn't care two cents what anyone else believed, because in the end it wouldn't matter.

Why this amazing effort to drag everyone else down with them?

B. Prokop said...

Tony,

I have previously posted on this website what I consider "case closed" evidences for life after death. I won't repeat them here, 'cause that's not what this thread's about. If Victor decides to raise the question of personal survival in another conversation, I will gladly dredge up my old comments and re-post them. Otherwise, you can look them up. But in any case, I'm convinced.

Ilíon said...

Prokop: "For once I agree with Ilion."

You ought to work on that.

Prokop: "I know for certain that if I were an atheist, I wouldn't care two cents what anyone else believed, because in the end[, and if atheism were the truth about the nature of reality,] it wouldn't matter."

Prokop: "Why this amazing effort to drag everyone else down with them?"

Why do the demons get joy only from corrupting men? Why do reprobates go out of their way to shred the innocence of the innocent? This is the nature of sin: to try always to destroy what is good.

Tony Hoffman said...

JSA, I don't really understand your last comment. You seem to be confusing evidence and demands on behavior, for instance. Can you please try and restate your objection?

JSA said...

I find Tony to be generally pretty reasonable, and I don't think it is possible, in principle, to prove atheism false short of dying. Faith is a virtue, after all.

Regarding the question of why atheists try to "drag down" Christians, I was once an atheist who deconverted many Christians during my teen years, and I can speak to what some of my motivations were:

1) I bought the idea that Christian "faith" was about belief without adequate evidence. This belief was bolstered by various neighborhood fundagelicals who would explicitly argue that their more absurd beliefs were evidence of a greater level of faith. There are a great many Christians who consider irrationality a virtue, and I thought they represented the true Christian faith. I considered irrational people to be dangerous and not worthy of respect.
2) I was curious about why people formed different beliefs than mine (a curiosity that continues to this day). Challenging people was a way to find out whether their reasons were good.
3) I was mildly autistic, and I'm allergic to illogic. I could never help pointing out flaws in critical thinking of teachers, fellow students, etc.

You claim it doesn't matter in the end, but it definitely matters in the short run. And I think that 99% of Christians who claim that they are hectoring atheists out of love, are hypocritical liars. The fact that Christians could have an ultimately good motive for challenging atheists doesn't at all mean that they do have good motives.

JSA said...

@Tony - Are you talking about my example of the controlling boyfriend? Those 2 points are trivial to interpret as evidence -- "She left her GPS tracking on so I could objectively verify her whereabouts at all times", "She promptly answered the phone and always acquiesced to video chat so that I could objectively verify who was with her at all times".

Any rational person would agree that the second guy's standard of evidence is much higher. However, we can differ about which guy's faith is more warranted, or who is truly the one with "adequate" evidence. The second guy would vigorously argue that the first guy doesn't have adequate basis for belief (and we all know people like this), but I think it's pretty clear that he is the one who doesn't have faith or belief in his wife's fidelity, and never will.

boodi said...

Bob wrote that if he were an atheist:
" I wouldn't care two cents what anyone else believed, because in the end it wouldn't matter."

Really? So atheists shouldn't care about truth? They shouldn't enjoy a good argument? They shouldn't have psychological attractions to certain topics, enjoy the give and take of an intellectual debate?


And atheists don't exist in a vacuum. The theist crap is shoved down their throat constantly in the US anyway. They are forced to think about it, consider matters.

It's like saying if you are an atheist your life has no meaning because your life will end. Huh?

It matters more for the atheist, because THIS is all they have.

Hard for Christians sometimes to understand that others don't need an afterlife-carrot to give their lives meaning...

parbouj said...

Professor Loftus verified my reading of his passage. Hold the applause! Thank you, thank you very much!

I am available for exegetical consulting at a nominal fee...reduced rates for Biblical exeJesus.

JSA said...

@parbouj - It wasn't Loftus's passage. At most, you verified that neither of you were motivated to see the question-begging.

On the other hand, if it had been Loftus's passage, and if he had been guilty of question-begging, we have sufficient evidence to have faith that Loftus would have acknowledged the question-begging.

Ilíon said...

JSA: "I find Tony to be generally pretty reasonable, and I don't think it is possible, in principle, to prove atheism false short of dying. Faith is a virtue, after all."

Then, non-exhaustively:
1) you appear not to have been paying attention;
2) you appear not to understand that the AfR is actually much stronger than VR phrases it, and that it proves that atheism *cannot* be true;
3) you appear to have let the so-called atheists define 'faith' for you in their tendentious manner, which is 180 degrees off the Biblical meaning of the term.

JSA: "I was once an atheist who deconverted many Christians during my teen years, and I can speak to what some of my motivations were: [list]"

Which is to say, you didn’t *actually* believe the God-denial that you asserted as truth; for, like almost all ‘atheists’, what you *actually* believed is that there is a Cosmic Score-Keeper, who was assigning you points as you demonstrated your intellectual superiority over all those ignorant (or stupid) Christians.

JSA: "You claim it doesn't matter in the end, but it definitely matters in the short run."

If the long run doesn't matter, than the short run cannot matter, ever.

If, per impossible, atheism were the truth about the nature of reality, then the only potential fate awaiting *anything* is utter annihilation; it’s not just that you and I shall die, and that all memory of us shall die, and that all memory of our nation(s) shall die, and that all memory of our species shall die, and that all memory of our planet shall die, and that all memory of our galaxy shall die, and that all memory of our universe shall die, but that all memory even of memory shall die. If atheism were the truth about the nature of reality, that nothing at all *can* matter, for there exists no one to whom its mattering does or can matters.

JSA: "And I think that 99% of Christians who claim that they are hectoring atheists out of love, are hypocritical liars."

Who hectors those intellectually dishonest fools? Where is this happening? How can I get in on the fun?

parbouj said...

Ilion already admitted his argument doesn't even target atheism generally, but a species of atheism. Ilion I would appreciate if you were more intellectually honest next time.

I am an atheist Platonist who believes in abstract (nonmaterial) propositions and am also a dualist. Therefore, your argument from reason, starting with your premise 1, does not apply to me.

Whether it works on who you wish to apply it to: atheists who are also materialists (no abstracta) is another question I cannot answer...

parbouj said...

Ilion: Troy is the Hector.

-wink-

Speaking of which, Victor's AfR also doesn't hurt my view at all--I am a dualist, but atheistic.

Seems like a lot of hot air to me. I see religious belief as an intellectual opiate, but things like mathematical truths (2 is even) have to be true *of something*. God never enters into it, and I buy the same anti theistic arguments as my fellow atheists (who, as a rule outside of university, tend to be vulgar materialists of the type that Hector/Troy/Ilion likes to attack).

I sit back and roast marshmellows on the flames of all these crazies!

{wry g}

Ilíon said...

"Ilion already admitted his argument doesn't even target atheism generally, but a species of atheism."

Are you stupid, or just a liar? That is the exact opposite of anything Ilíon had ever "admitted".

parbouj said...

I will gladly debate any vulgar materialist who is not a Platonist. If Victor lets me.

That is the one thing I have expertise in. Everything else I am as much the amateur as Ilion is about atheism!

parbouj said...

Then who is this other Ilion that wrote:
"Rather, that IF-THEN statement is simply a restatement of materialistic atheism; my argument doesn't deal with Buddhism (i.e. anti-materialistic atheism), for Buddhism deals with itself."

Your argument doesn't deal with me, or any of the other atheists that aren't vulgar materialists.


I'd appreciate a little intellectual honesty from you in the future, otherwise you are on my -do not reply- list, little Troy.

You are either ignorant of all the different types of atheism, or just being a liar. Either way, you are no longer worth my time. You apparently, and obviously, just like to play games, are not after truth. And that, good sir Troy, is enough to get you banned from my club, not exclusive, but only people interested in truth are allowed. You can hang out back with the vulgar materialists and throw your derivative argument from nonreason at them.

{sad, knowing g :-P}

parbouj said...

Just did an internet search for "Ilion" and "troll". Apparently this guy is not a recent phenomenon. {lol, gentle g}

I just banned you Ilion. From the universe of people I will ever consider to be rational agents, deserving of my precious intellectual energy.

{sad, but stern and resolute :( }

parbouj said...

From codeproject.com in 2008:
"The real issue with Ilion is that he posts link after link, then when you try to discuss anything with him, he calls you a liar and 'intellectually dishonest'. He posts links here incessantly, refuses to discuss them and insults anyone who tries to talk to him. So, he gets...negative comments the moment he shows his head, because he treats this site and it's users with contempt, and has multiple layers of personality issues."

Sorry everyone, I didn't know I was dealing with the site joke. I will refrain from torching this Troy any more.

{satisfied yet puzzled :-)}

intellectually_honest said...

Troy Hailey

Ilíon said...

parbouj: "I will gladly debate any vulgar materialist who is not a Platonist."

parbouj: "Your argument doesn't deal with me, or any of the other atheists that aren't vulgar materialists."

What an illogical and irrational person this Parbouj is; there is a person who *refuses* to reason properly and consistently. Which is to say, there as a person who is intellectually dishonest. For, if he were not intellectually dishonest, he would have given some thought to what I'd pointed out previously, part of which he quotes: my argument doesn't care about the mis-matched mish-mash of either unrelated or mutually contradictory assertions that some so-called atheists imagine can be merged into atheism so as to rescue God-denial from its inherent self-refutation. My argument isn't about atheists, it is about atheism.

It is as though atheism were a rusted-out old Pinto and Parbouj imagines that by bolting some bells and whistles onto it, which have little-to-nothing to do automobiles, he has turned the bucket of rust into a Lamborghini. I point out that the chasis is rotten, and he imagines that by trying to turn the focus from the rotted chasis to the bells and whistles he has bolted (or duct-taped, as the case may be) to it, he has solved the problem of the rotted chasis.

"Vulgar materialistic atheism" at least has the surface appearance of being rational. The irrationality of Parbouj's "Platonic atheism" can be seen on its very face -- for Parbouj is positing, and appealing to, Unthought Thoughts as his "Platonic" explanation for why there is something rather than nothing.

parbouj: "And that, good sir Troy, ..."

People who use my Christian name, rather than my online handle, are *always* trolls who go trolling the internet to get their Ilíon-fix. Such persons are obsessed with me. I hadn't known that there were more than one or possibly two such persons who were fixated on me to the point of obsession. To be blunt, I suspect that there may be only one such person so fixated on me -- someone whom I have never knowingly addressed, having observed his generally trollish behavior over a number of weeks -- and I suspect that this Parbouj (and 'intellectually_honest' above) is that very troll.

{curled lip}

HV said...

What's the problem--Ilion is clear that his argument doesn't address all atheists. He needs to use different arguments if he wants to deal with the "Platonist" atheists. Not sure why this matters--why Ilion seems to be protesting this fact, or why proboj keeps pressing it.

Fine, this one argument can't kill all atheism in one stroke. Relax, the both of you.

B. Prokop said...

I myself wrote: "For once I agree with Ilion."

I apologize to all for misspeaking. What I should have posted was, "For once, Ilion agrees with me."

And this, to "boodi":

I meant what I wrote. I fail utterly to understand why atheists (e.g., Paplinton) haunt faith-based websites, or even set up their own sites that have no other purpose than to "debunk" beliefs they do not share (e.g., Loftus). Very strange, inexplicable behavior. Unless secretly (even to themselves) they suspect they are wrong, wrong, wrong, and that there might just be something to all this "God Talk". (In Loftus's case, there is likely a monetary interest in it as well.)

If that is indeed the case (and I suspect it is), then good on them. It shows their case is not hopeless.

I myself listened for years without prejudice to the arguments of atheists (I was married to one for 32 years. My wife embraced Catholicism about a year before her death. So I have first-hand knowledge of what should be an obvious fact to all: that atheism is no impediment to being a decent, loving person.) I believe I can say with all honestly that there is nothing new any atheist can say to me that I haven't thoroughly "debunked" at some point or another in my 60 years.

I am way, way past the point of having to prove my faith (at least to myself). I'm in the era now of enriching and deepening it. I find nowadays that I almost never read apologetical books, but stick to things like "The Liturgy of the Hours" and such like. (See my profile for a list of my all-time favorite books.)

And this is the only religion-themed website I regularly visit. I think victor does a terrific job in moderating it.

Walter said...

I meant what I wrote. I fail utterly to understand why atheists (e.g., Paplinton) haunt faith-based websites, or even set up their own sites that have no other purpose than to "debunk" beliefs they do not share (e.g., Loftus).

Although I am not an atheist, I would say the reason that all of us seek to change the minds of others is because beliefs matter. A person's beliefs will affect how they behave, and that behavior might possibly be detrimental to my well-being (9/11 for example).

Very strange, inexplicable behavior. Unless secretly (even to themselves) they suspect they are wrong, wrong, wrong, and that there might just be something to all this "God Talk". (In Loftus's case, there is likely a monetary interest in it as well.)

I believe that are ideas should be put to the test. Echo chambers are beyond boring.

B. Prokop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B. Prokop said...

"Echo chambers are beyond boring."

I agree. The problem as I see it, having read extensively the stuff being churned out by modern day atheists, is that there's just "no there there". Nothing to challenge anyone past puberty to serious thought. It's all mush and bluster.

Oh, how one longs for a Bertrand Russel, an H.G. Wells, or even a Vladimir Lenin! Someone who could reason seriously and speak coherently! (Does that make me sound like "Screwtape Proposes a Toast"?)

To return to the original topic of this thread, it's pointless to try and identify which logical fallacy Myers is employing in the quote, because to use any such fallacy requires the writer to be actually using reason to begin with - and he's not. If only he were!

Tony Hoffman said...

Okay, JSA -- it seems to me in your example that you're equating being suspicious and controlling with having good evidence. I don't think the two are necessarily related.

I was trying to talk about kinds of evidence. I think that we all are persuaded by evidence that is objective, reliable, and verifiable. These are the attributes of good evidence.

You seem to be saying that in order to obtain good evidence, one has to be a controlling dick. I don't think so -- if someone provided videotape of the first man's wife having an affair to the first man (who trusted his wife for good reason), then I think the first man would have better evidence that his wife was cheating than the second man who noticed that his wife's GPS tracker was turned off (?). In other words, I don't think it's not the attitude of the person but the nature of the evidence (including evidence that informs our background beliefs) that should determine the truth of a belief.

JSA said...

Bob,

You'll get no argument from me about the intellectual deficiency of people like Dawkins and Loftus. But that's not what you said. You said, "I know for certain that if I were an atheist, I wouldn't care two cents what anyone else believed, because in the end it wouldn't matter." Presumably you consider yourself to be one of the people who isn't intellectually deficient, especially considering your claim to have refuted every conceivable argument that atheists could ever give: "I believe I can say with all honestly that there is nothing new any atheist can say to me that I haven't thoroughly "debunked" at some point or another in my 60 years."

Both claims seem pretty odd to me. You've never been an atheist, so I don't see how you can express such certainty about what atheist Bob would act like. Your conviction that atheism is the same as fatalism (heck, why do atheists bother breathing, since it doesn't matter in the end?) seems like a projection of Christian Bob, and certainly not representative of any of the atheists you claim to admire. Having been in both camps, my prediction would be that atheist Bob would be a lot like Christian Bob -- sharing his life experiences on message boards and claiming to have debunked every conceivable argument of the other side.

B. Prokop said...

"But that's not what you said."

Not to be picky, but of course it wasn't. I was changing the subject.

Dr. Evangelicus said...

"It provoked thought didn't it?"

Lofty, please stop bluffing.

JSA said...

@Tony - The manner in which the evidence is obtained is entirely irrelevant to the issue of warrant.

If it makes you more comfortable, imagine that both guys can opt to easily obtain 24x7 surveillance video of nearly all of the places their wives will visit, ability to check phone and credit card records, and GPS tracking of her phone. Assume that this evidence is easy to obtain, and is completely opaque to the wives -- the wives have no ability to opt in or out of the evidence collection, and indeed do not even know that the evidence is collected.

Again, all of this evidence is objective, reliable, and verifiable. Both men also have access to a whole suite of other evidence that is also objective, reliable, and verifiable.

Now, it doesn't make any sense to talk about "faith" in the context where you have solid proof of infidelity. The colloquial definition of faith, per the dictionary, is "belief without proof", and Paul's definition in Hebrews 11:1 tracks closely: "assurance about what we do not see". Obviously, if the guy clearly sees his wife cheating, then we're not in the realm of faith, per the colloquial or Biblical definition.

So when we talk of "faith", we can only be talking about whether or not a person has adequate grounds for assurance, in the absence of proof. With physics, our beliefs are usually based on strong proof. With almost everything that is actually important in life, our assurance rests on evidence that falls far short of proof.

When people claim that faith is based on "inadequate" evidence, they're implicitly arguing that the only adequate standard of evidence is solid proof. Not a man alive has proof that his women aren't cheating on him; not even if he reviewed every bit of evidence in the hypothetical example above. And since people are so willing to base their faith on "inadequate" evidence in things that actually matter, like romantic relationships, then I call bullshit on anyone who claims that faith in other matters is unwarranted,.

parbouj said...

Bob wrote:
"I know for certain that if I were an atheist, I wouldn't care two cents what anyone else believed, because in the end it wouldn't matter."

And stands by it.

OK, then we are different. I care about truth, and like discussing matters, especially when I disagree. After all, I might be wrong. I track vulgar materialists, theists, creationists, because it is a source of fun, intellectually stimulating, and gives me a little rush to engage.

You, OTOH, wouldn't care.

parbouj said...

Frankly, we all know that if he were an atheist he would care. Many Christians think they would fundamentally change their character if they became atheists: they would no longer be moral, would give up caring about truth, their life would lose meaning.

They are wrong, in the long run. Temporarily, they would need to find new structures to replace the old superstitious ones.

I suggest Platonistic atheism, the atheism that Ilion/Reppert/Lewis argument from reason cannot touch. Doesn't even try.

B. Prokop said...

Yes, I do stand by it. 'Cause if I were an atheist, and knew atheism to be True, then I would know with utter certainty that there was no meaning to anything - none: not to life, not to history, not to the universe. As (gulp) Ilion wrote above, in the End of Ends, nothing would be even a memory, or even a memory of a memory.

But as to no longer being moral, did you not read where I wrote "I have first-hand knowledge of what should be an obvious fact to all: that atheism is no impediment to being a decent, loving person"?

But nevertheless, a universe sans meaning would be indistinguishable from Hell. As Primo Levy wrote in his wonderful book Survival in Auschwitz, the defining principle behind that terrible place was "Hier is kein Warum (Here there is no why)". Auschwitz is the inevitable consequence of losing the ability to meaningfully answer the question "Why?" Thank god we are able to answer that question!

JSA said...

Bob,

You've failed to explain why a belief in "ultimate meaning" is causally linked to a desire to persuade other people. It might be true that atheist Bob would lack a belief in "ultimate meaning". But why would that extinguish a desire to convince people of the rationality of your belief, or any other desire, for that matter.

Atheist Mitchell Heisman recently killed himself after becoming persuaded that absolute nihilism is true. Yet he wrote a 1,000 page manifesto explaining his reasoning before killing himself. Since you think that a rejection of "ultimate meaning" is irrational, why wouldn't atheist Bob's other behavior also extend to things that Christian Bob finds irrational, like defending nihilism or atheism?

I think your whole line of reasoning is preposterous, even from a Christian perspective. The Bible never claims that unbelievers are devoid of desire. In fact, unbelievers are often given over in slavery to all sorts of desires. In addition to all of the common reprobate sin, unbelief is linked with contentiousness, being quarrelsome, always mocking God, and so on. Somehow you are convinced that atheist Bob would be free of all of these things. Yeah, right...

B. Prokop said...

Perhaps those atheists who spend so much time and effort in attempting to convince others are not really "True Atheists" (Scotsmen), and are still under the benign, residual influence of the culture around them that does believe in an Ultimate Meaning.

No man is an island, and no person's thoughts and motivations are without connections to the world around him. I contend that the primary reason we see so many New Atheists so vigorously proselytizing is that they learned such behavior from Evangelical Christians.

It's probably no coincidence that (in my personal experience, making it an unscientific sampling) the overwhelming percentage of atheists I've encountered come from Protestant Fundamentalist backgrounds. Two reasons, I believe: 1) Protestant Fundamentalism is inherently a very brittle belief system. One push and the entire House of Cards tends to fall over (perhaps that's why it's a relatively rare thing to come across a formerly-Catholic atheist). And, 2) Still living in an Evangelical Sea, they're probably in contact with people trying to re-convert them back to the Faith, so they themselves proselytize in self defense. But that still makes such activity a residual Christian influence on said atheist.

I'm just thinking on paper, so to speak, here. I'm not going to fall on my sword on anything I just wrote, if it turns out I haven't thought it through enough. I'm posting here at the speed of thought. But something to consider.

Victor Reppert said...

Bob: A lot of academic atheists, when I was involved with secular philosophy departments, took relatively little interest in their position. They were dismissive of religious belief, but they sometimes complained about having to cover the problem of God in classes.

But some atheists blame religious belief for 9/11, and they think President Bush's unfortunate response to it (in particular, invading a country in no way responsible for the attacks), was the work of a "praying President" who wore his religious beliefs on his sleeve, and so they see the conflict over terrorism essentially the effect of the damaging effects of religion on the minds of its followers. They also see the rearguard action of religious believers against biological evolution as of a piece with the failure to accept the scientific consensus in the area of global warming, and these are also intellectual tendencies that are damaging to our society. Joe Sheffer once told me that all evolutionary biologists receive a lot of hate mail from Christian fundamentalists. Whether we go forward in civilization, or backwards, according to people like Dawkins, depends on whether we are willing to chuck our antiquated religious beliefs and embrace science as the measure of all things. So I can see why some atheists care about sharing the Four Atheist Laws with believers.

JSA said...

@Bob - You could be right about some atheists professing disbelief in Ultimate Meaning, while betraying through their actions that they believe in it.

However, there is a flip side to that. As far as I know, the vast majority of the world's children don't believe in Ultimate Meaning, nor are they even equipped to know what that would look like. They love their parents, they tattle on liars, and they have plenty of meaning in their lives. Yet they never spend a moment worrying about whether or not their small world of meaning is validated by a universal Ultimate. Why do they tattle on liars? Because liars are bad. It's that simple.

In my experience, most people are like children. They don't give a whit about abstract discussions of "Ultimate Meaning". They love what they love and desire what they desire.

B. Prokop said...

"In my experience, most people are like children. They don't give a whit about abstract discussions of "Ultimate Meaning". They love what they love and desire what they desire."

Absolutely right, JSA. No argument there. But that doesn't make discussions about meaning themselves without meaning. I care not a whit how my computer works. The whole subject bores me to tears. I would rather chew on ground glass before willingly learn anything about code or internal processes. Yet that does not stop me from being able to use my laptop. It also does not stop there from being an objective reality about how computer programs came about, who created them, or how they work.

The average farmer may not have the slightest idea of how seeds germinate, but that's no impediment to his growing a crop.

In like manner, the overwhelming majority of humanity would find the discussions on this website to be pointless beyond description, and would much rather talk about sports or celebrities. But that does not mean there is no Truth concerning Ultimate Meaning and Objective Reality.

Ilíon said...

VR: "... unfortunate response to it (in particular, invading a country in no way responsible for the attacks), was the work of a "praying President" who wore his religious beliefs on his sleeve, and so they see the conflict over terrorism essentially the effect of the damaging effects of religion on the minds of its followers."

Why bring up Serbia, now?

Ilíon said...

I probably ought to give serious thought to using Parbouj/HV to illustrate a new installment of my "Stupid Atheist Tricks" series. I don't mean the seeming sockpuppetry, I mean the refusal to understand that the AfR, neither Lewis's and Reppert's "weak" version of it, nor my "strong" version of it, is limited in scope to falsifying materialism. The AfR falsifies all those atheisms which deny that reality is grounded in a logically prior mind ... and any "atheism" that doesn't deny that isn't atheism.

Ilíon said...

Prokop: "Oh, how one longs for a Bertrand Russel, an H.G. Wells, or even a Vladimir Lenin! Someone who could reason seriously and speak coherently! (Does that make me sound like "Screwtape Proposes a Toast"?)"

Let's see:

1) Bertrand Russell -- with his Celestial Teapot "argument", he shows himself to be an early proponent of the Flying Spaghetti Monster mode of "reasoning" against Christianity. We can summarize Russell's oeuvre as "If you cannot point a telescope at God, then there is no God."

2) H.G. Wells -- his forte was "promissory atheism". We can summarize Wells' contribution to the ultimate defeat of Christianity, by means of reasoned argument,as "In the future -- when everyone is *way* smarter that you Christians are -- everyone will be an atheist."

3) V.I. Lenin -- his forte was mass murder. We can summarize Lenin's contribution to the strength and rationality of the atheist project as "If I can murder you, and you, and you, and you ... then there is no God."

====
There never has been, and never will be, *any* logically sound and valid and rational argument for atheism. Atheism is an absurdity-generating machine.

Ilíon said...

JSA: "Both claims seem pretty odd to me. You've never been an atheist, so I don't see how you can express such certainty about what atheist Bob would act like. Your conviction that atheism is the same as fatalism (heck, why do atheists bother breathing, since it doesn't matter in the end?) ..."

Perhaps part of B.Prokop's difficulty in responding is that he's still in a state of shock over letting it publicly slip that I'm right about something (he probably fears that unless he gets a grip on himself, he may let it slip that I'm always right (*) ). Then again, perhaps you're not really focusing on what he said.

B.Prokop was talking about the logically-consistent behavior we logically expect to see from all these self-proclaimed Paragons of Reason And Logic should it turn out to be the case that they really do understand the meaning of the God-denial they assert, and really do believe it ... which belief includes believing the logical implications of it.

JSA: "You've never been an atheist, so ..."

Meanwhile, you appear to be "reasoning" in the mode of post-modernism.


(*) except for that one time that I thought I was wrong, but it turned out that I was mistaken.

Tony Hoffman said...

JSA, thanks for explaining some more – I think I understand what you have been saying now.

As I understand you, you believe it is hypocritical of atheists to call irrational faith in a creator God who wants to communicate with us and is involved in our everyday lives, because atheists have irrational faith in similar things – for instance, atheists have faith that their spouses don’t cheat on them.

I’ll quibble somewhat and take issue with some things you say:

JSA: “With physics, our beliefs are usually based on strong proof.”

I’d say that with Physics, our belief is based on empirical evidence. (I think of “proof” as being a mathematical term.) I think the process of science helps us establish scientific facts (evolution occurs, gravity exists), scientific laws (entropy, inertia, etc.), and scientific theories (evolution, germ theory, etc.) I’d say that I “believe” that our physical descriptions of reality are true because they are productive, and their descriptions track reality in a way that is objective, reliable, and verifiable.

JSA: “With almost everything that is actually important in life, our assurance rests on evidence that falls far short of proof.”

I completely disagree. Death may be the most important aspect of life, and we all of us reading here have assiduously avoided those behaviors, etc. that we know (from evidence) proves fatal. I may have deep emotions about certain aspects of my life, and I may be prone to making foolish or emotional choices, but when events are truly important (don’t step into traffic, eat poison, drive drunk, etc.) to my well-being I strive to be rational about the choices that I do make.

JSA: “When people claim that faith is based on "inadequate" evidence, they're implicitly arguing that the only adequate standard of evidence is solid proof.”

I’m not sure why you would make a distinction between “evidence” and “solid proof” above. I think I’ve used the terms “good evidence” here about this topic (instead of “solid proof”), and I know I’ve repeated that evidence we all trust is objective, reliable, and verifiable. How are you distinguishing between (good) evidence that is objective, reliable, and verifiable and “solid proof?”

JSA: “And since people are so willing to base their faith on "inadequate" evidence in things that actually matter, like romantic relationships, then I call bullshit on anyone who claims that faith in other matters is unwarranted.”

Hmm. I think I understand now that if someone describes themselves as an atheist it can feel to the theist like someone has told them they think their spouse is cheating on them. It must feel like a personal insult.

I have some problems with the analogy, but I’d rather think about it a little longer. Thanks for the thoughts.

Tony Hoffman said...

Victor, I appreciate your summation of why atheists might care. That really stands out as especially thoughtful and considered compared to what I've read from theists in the past.

parbouj said...

Ilion has yet to learn that hubris is a sin. That actually explains a lot. Even people pretend-joking that they are never wrong, reveal a good deal about themselves.

Keep going to church Troy: my hope is it will help you live the form of the good, the humble, the authentic human being.

JSA said...

@Tony - No, I don't think it's hypocritical to believe that Christian's have unwarranted belief.

I'm saying that it's hypocritical (and wrong) to say that "faith", in and of itself, is based on an inadequate standard of evidence. That's what the question-begging quote in the OP was doing, and it's not an uncommon claim of atheists. Of course, the theists who make a virtue out of irrational belief are just as much to blame.

Faith is belief that is based on evidence which isn't adequate to establish proof, but which is adequate for reasonable belief nonetheless. If it were belief based on adequate evidence to establish proof, it wouldn't be called faith. And if it were belief that were unreasonable or held despite the evidence, it wouldn't meet the dictionary definition or Biblical definition of faith, either.

Note that the word "proof" in the dictionary definition of "faith" is obviously not talking about mathematical proofs. It's more akin to a judicial concept of "prove beyond a reasonable doubt". The word "faith" exists in human language because there are a great many things which cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but which nevertheless can reasonably be believed based upon the evidence.