I’ve had several attempts to explain why Lennox is wrong that science requires the same faith as theism simply because science relies on axioms. I’d believed that Lennox was wrong but in my attempts to show that I’d been tackling it from the wrong angle. That there are different nuances to the word faith is obvious; but how to show what is different when Lennox talks of faith in there being a god, and when a scientist talks of faith in the universality of nature, was escaping me.
Finally I realized what that difference is – falsifiability. I’m not talking about the debate on whether god exists based on falsifiability, but on the falsifiability of the faith that he exists. Whether god exists or not is moot to this position. We have faith in everything – that the computer will turn on when the switch is pushed, that our spouse loves us, that the other road users obey the traffic rules, that nature operates by the same rules the whole universe over and that there is a god. But only one of these faiths can not be falsified. Help centers, divorce rates, accident insurance claims and everything we’ve ever observed in nature would suggest its none of them.
And by falsified I don’t mean that we can perform a test for that right now, but that if and when it is falsified we will know it. Obviously we cannot falsify the universality of nature until all of nature has been explored, and that is not going to happen anytime next week. But we do have a clear image of what the universality of nature is, and if and when we discover something which riots against that image, we will know it. And when that happens faith in the universality of nature will be over; textbooks will be rewritten in the face of the evidence, and one of the axioms of science will be replaced.
By contrast there is no falsifying faith in god. Certainly there are individuals that lose faith in god, but that is not the same as falsifying faith in god. It is a position which can be held in the face of contradictory evidence, insufficient evidence or a lack of any evidence at all. It is ‘faith’ in its truest sense. All other faiths are ‘believe in it until it is shown to be wrong’ whereas the faith Lennox speaks of is ‘believe in it knowing it can never be shown to be wrong’.
That is a subtle but telling difference.