This is the latest in a series of Q&A using questions from atheists and skeptics.
Question: I have often heard that faith is all that is necessary to know God. If we accept faith in God and the Bible as true on faith, then aren’t all religions or supernatural beliefs true since they all require faith?
1.) A prerequisite to believe in a Faith is faith.
2.) Having faith is all that is required to accept a Faith (belief) as true.
3.) All Faiths are true.
Of course all Faiths aren’t true, but this is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn from a person that states that, “Faith” is how one knows God.
Answer: There are several problems with this question. First, what Christians claim is that faith is all that is necessary to be in a right relationship with God. This statement is based upon the reality of God existing and Jesus’ paying for our transgressions. Without those facts existing in reality, the faith would not be of benefit to anyone. So while God’s offer of reconciliation with Him is appropriated by humans through faith, it is also necessary that God actually exist. God’s existence is not dependent on our faith. The ontology, which is external to us, is not dependent on our faith, which is internal. So the implication of point 2) above is that faith determines the truth of God’s existence, which is false.
Second, this question seems to be making an illicit logical transfer. It is saying “We accept God as true on faith, therefore faith determines what is true.” In logic, this an illicit transposing of an A term, such as saying “All horses have four legs, therefore everything with four legs is a horse.” Truth statements do not work like that.
Third, point 1) above is untrue. It is not the case that a prerequisite to belief is faith. Rather, belief and faith, in this context, are indistinguishable. With the term faith being much maligned, perhaps a better term is trust. Rather than 1), Christians would say that we are reconciled to God through trust.
Fourth, even if other religions asked for trust, it would not prove them true, just as trust in Christ does not prove Christ as true. Trust is how we come into a relationship with someone, not how we determine truth. For example, we might be walking down a trail and encounter a bridge. The knowledge of the bridge’s existence is determined by the standard way we know anything: our judgment which acts on sense impressions. We see the image of a bridge and determine that it is not a mirage. So we can know that the bridge exists without trusting the bridge to hold us up. Some people have an irrational fear of crossing bridges that has nothing to do with the logical facts of the bridge’s construction.
Likewise, some perceive that God exists, then later decide to put their trust in Him. Others put trust in things that are not worthy of trust.