I have been interested in reading the reaction to the debate between Dr. Tim McGrew and Dr. Peter Boghossian. I listened to the debate, and one thing struck me as particularly odd. There was a lot of time spent from the side of Dr. Boghossian discussing what he believes the majority of Christians in the 21st century mean when they refer to faith. However, I don’t believe that the topic of the debate was simply an issue that would be solved by Gallup. The topic in question is whether or not faith is a bad epistemology. In other words, the debate was supposed to be about the issue of whether or not faith is a bad “way of knowing.”
Those two questions could not be more different. In fact, I think that small example involving Dr. Boghossian might illustrate the difference.
What if we took a poll of the authors of this website as to whether or not Jesus Christ rose from the dead? Since that is part of our statement of faith, the answer would be 100% of the people polled believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Dr. Boghossian would argue that we are simply all wrong or deluded. From his perspective, even though the results of the poll show one thing undoubtedly, from his worldview, that opinion does not necessarily mean anything in regards to the actual veracity of his position. We would still be wrong in his book.
Can you see the problem that I had with this position then? It really does not matter whether or not a few people or a majority of people are operating with a bad definition. In fact, if these people are truly operating from a definition that is inaccurate and not faithful to the original intention of the usage of “faith,” then why would we even use them as a good example for evaluating what was supposed to be at the heart of this debate?
Let me give you another example. I left my office and went outside for a walk during lunch. I came back and you asked me whether or not I saw a truck outside. I say that I didn’t see a truck. You go outside, and there clearly is a truck in the parking lot. You come and get me and ask what I thought that was. I tell you that I call that a bobsled.
Clearly, if we take the dictionary definition, a truck is not a bobsled. You could open up the dictionary, show me the right entry, and it would be obvious that I was wrong. However, that statement does not say anything about the definition of a bobsled, and it does not make that definition of bobsled any more or less valid. That would need to be evaluated on its own merit.
Does that help? It is somewhat irrelevant that some people in the 21st century have a bad understanding of what faith is. What matters in this particular debate is whether or not faith, properly defined and in context of when it was written, is a proper epistemology.
That is why I was encouraged when both participants said they would potentially be open for a second round. Dr. Boghossian did not really want to address the topic at hand this time.