Many people out there claim that faith is belief without evidence. For example, in The God Delusion, Dawkins says
The dictionary supplied by Microsoft Word defines a delusion as ‘a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a symptom of psychiatric disorder’. The first part captures religious faith perfectly. (p. 28)
Even many Christians endorse this view. In Love Your God with all Your Mind, J.P. Moreland says
A few years ago I conducted a series of evangelistic messages for a church in New York. The series was in a high schooly gym, and both believers and unbelievers attended each night. The first evening I gave arguments for the existence of God from science and philosophy. Before closing in prayer, I entertained several questions from the audience. One woman (who was a Christian) complained about my talk, charging that if I “proved” the existence of God, I would leave no room for faith. I responded by saying that if she were right, then we should pray that currently available evidence for God would evaporate and be refuted so there would be even more room for faith! (p. 26, emphasis added)
In this view, the less evidence we have, the more faith we have, and the more evidence we have, the less faith we have. I do not think Christians should endorse this definition of faith at all. I have written on this previously, but today I want to forward a new argument.
1) If faith is belief without evidence, then the apostles had a lot less faith than we do today (since they saw a lot of evidence).
2) The apostles did not have less faith than we do today
3) Therefore, faith is not belief without evidence.
This argument is standard Modus Tollens (P → Q; ¬Q; ¬P) The reason I state what I do in (1) is because the apostles/disciples saw plenty of evidence that Jesus was the Son of God. They saw his miracles and they saw him rise from the dead. Luke states that Jesus gave them many proofs that he was raised (Acts 1). It would seem that, if the definition of faith in the antecedent is true, then the consequent follows.
(2) seems right as well. The apostles/disciples had faith in Christ, as their actions and words recorded in the NT shows. Of course, it is obvious from reading the Gospels and even Paul’s letters that the apostles didn’t have much faith most of the time. The Twelve are portrayed as pretty thick-headed when it comes to listening or believing in Jesus’s teachings. After Jesus showed many convincing proofs that he was raised, some still doubted (Acts 1). Even decades after the resurrection, some of the apostles behaved in ways that exhibits a lack of faith (Galations 2). But it this any different from us today? Most of us are just as thick-headed, slow to learn, slow to trust in God, etc. It could be argued that the apostles had more faith than us, since at least most of them were willing to suffer and die for their faith (see 2 Cor. 11:21-28, Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1), but my argument does not depend on that. It is enough to say that they that they did not have less faith.
Since this is a deductive argument, if the premises are true, then the conclusion is true as well. I do not think Christians should endorse the view that faith is blind.