In a recent conversation, a skeptic told me faith meant belief without evidence. He dismisses explanations that Biblical faith is grounded in reasons and evidence and cited the fact that so many people believe without being able to articulate the reasons or point to the evidence. He is a fan of Peter Boghosian, Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University and author of A Manual For Creating Atheists, who popularized this definition.
While such a definition may seem plausible to them, since many religious believers including Christians are unprepared to make a rational defense of their faith, is it really the case that they are believing without evidence? It should be noted at this point that evidence never speaks for itself. Evidence is one thing, and interpretation or explanation is another.
Some Christians grew up in a Christian home. They learned the Christian faith from their parents. Their parents told them many things that turned out to be true. So, when they told them about Jesus, they believed it. Did they have evidence or reasons? As far as they were concerned, they were getting their information from a trusted source. They had reason to trust their parents. That counts as evidence.
Some grow up with no religious teaching, but when they hear the Gospel from a friend, or in a church service they attend with a friend, they respond to an internal sense of the truth of the message. Is this evidence? I think it counts as a religious experience. Religious experiences count as evidence.
Still others attend a church service or evangelistic meeting where an evangelist uses scare tactics to manipulate the audience. Some respond to the fear they feel, sensing it to be evidence of the truth of the message.
Others respond to the message from friends whom they knew before they had become Christians and saw how their lives had changed. They saw this change as evidence for the truth of the Gospel.
In each of the examples above I have shown that believers who may or may not be able to articulate reasons why the Gospel is true believed with evidence. A skeptic may find the evidence in each case unconvincing, and think the believers naive for putting their faith in someone on such bases. That is his choice. However, in every case there was evidence, which the individuals took to be persuasive. Ultimately, defining faith as “belief without evidence” is just another dismissal. If the skeptic was brutally honest, he would say Biblical faith is believing without evidence that would persuade him.