Believing certain propositions (God exists, Jesus was resurrected, etc) on faith is what every good Christian at a minimum is required to do.

How can we define "faith" in the context of religion?

There are two meanings of faith:

"complete trust or confidence in someone or something."
Example: "this restores one's faith in politicians"

strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.
Example: "bereaved people who have shown supreme faith"

The second definition applies to religious faith. Religious faith is "based on spiritual conviction rather than proof." *note that "proof" is a synonym for "evidence"

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language gives the following definition of faith:

"Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence."

This definition is consistent with "strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof."

But what if someone wanted evidence for his or her religious beliefs? What would 'not' constitute good evidence?

If one wishes to establish the truth of a claim, e.g. "God exists," one must provide evidence of an objectively verifiable nature. This cannot be personal revelation because by definition no one can know another person's subjective experience of god. Someone can describe their experience of god to me, but that person's description is not sufficient for me to know whether what they purport to have experienced is actually real. A believer can tell me that he sees god standing before him or that he hears god's voice, but unless I can see or hear it, I cannot rule out the possibility that he is hallucinating.

And good evidence for god or miracles cannot be written accounts either because I cannot see what the writer purports to have seen.

Recall that when talking about the supernatural (God(s) and miracles), we are talking about extraordinary claims. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The existence of a supernatural being and suspension of the natural order, in the case of miracles, would be extraordinary if true. The standard of evidence must be quite high. It must be unequivocal. It cannot be, for example, Francis Collins' frozen waterfall.

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Comment by Michael Penn on January 23, 2014 at 7:21am

Good evidence for god or miracles could be written accounts IF the account could be verified to show any real evidence. It cannot, however, because god and miracles cannot be proven. Enter now the circular reasoning of the christian who simply does not get this and replys "but the bible says . . . ."

On the other hand, if I want to do a paper explaining the effects of gravity I can submit my evidence in a demonstrable way so that my conclusions can be accepted by everyone. Gravity would appear to be the same every time, given the different criteria used for the experiment.

What is the difference here? One is faith and the other is science. Our science can be shown and demonstrated. Faith cannot. There is absolutely no evidence to back up your faith. None! Zilch! Nada! People believe in god simply because they want to. If the sky daddy is your friend you are among like kindred and you are never alone. Faith is indeed belief that has no logical proof or material evidence.

Here's where it gets tricky. The man in a church service gets ready to speak and he stands up telling you that "he was just setting there talking to Jesus." Others of the gullible get angry if you question them. "How dare you judge me or question my experiences." This is why some people have reported seeing Jesus 70 foot tall.

Is this real? Should we believe them? Absolutely not!

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