This was written by my friend Tom Gilson at Thinking Christian.
By Tom Gilson
Jerry Coyne’s recent Slate article on science and faith provides another convenient opportunity to clarify the contentious meaning of “faith.” He presents three religious and one putative scientific usage of the word, then comments,
The three religious claims (Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, respectively) represent faith as defined by philosopher Walter Kaufmann: “intense, usually confident, belief that is not based on evidence sufficient to command assent from every reasonable person.” Indeed, there is no evidence beyond revelation, authority, and scripture to support the religious claims above, and most of the world’s believers would reject at least one of them. To state it bluntly, such faith involves pretending to know things you don’t. Behind it is wish-thinking, as clearly expressed in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Kaufman’s definition as quoted here isn’t bad. If Coyne had stuck with it he might have stayed on solid ground. He doesn’t do that, though.
Misunderstanding Hebrews 11:1 and Faith