Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Conservative Christian Blogger:
…One of the primary reasons I am a Christian is because of the overwhelming objective evidence that Jesus actually arose from the dead. The faith I have is not based on “lack of evidence.” Believing something without evidence is not faith; it’s stupidity. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” The only way I, as a scientist, know how to love God with my mind is to be able to think, discover the facts, consider alternative views, and follow the evidence where it leads. That is exactly what Christian faith asks us to do.
…There is a common indictment made by skeptics and critics of religion, that Christianity is based on faith while science is based on facts. These skeptics view faith as a vice because, in their opinion, faith is not based on evidence and blindly accepts religious dogma. The biologist Richard Dawkins has said, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence,” and “Faith, being belief that isn’t based on evidence, is the principal vice of any religion.” The biologist Jerry Coyne writes, “Indeed, by relying on faith rather than evidence, religion renders itself incapable of finding truth.”
…Thomas was a follower of Jesus who would not accept that the resurrection of Jesus happened unless he actually saw the evidence for himself. He said to his fellow disciples who had already seen the risen Jesus, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” That hardly sounds like the skeptics’ definition of faith. Unless he saw actual evidence for himself, Thomas would not believe that the resurrection occurred. I like Thomas. I think he is the “patron saint” of all scientists who require evidence to believe. What was Jesus’ response to this statement? He showed Thomas the evidence of the resurrection. At their next encounter, Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” See what Jesus did there? He asked Thomas to believe based on sufficient evidence, not the lack of evidence.
You did not finish the story of Doubting Thomas. What did Jesus (allegedly) say to Thomas after instructing him to check out his wounds? Answer:
“Blessed are those who believe WITHOUT seeing [objective evidence].”
I agree with you that good scientists should be like Thomas: They should demand objective evidence before believing any claim that defies the current “laws” of science. But according to the author of the Gospel of John, Jesus chided Thomas for being so “cerebral”. Jesus (at least according to the author of the Gospel of John; the only gospel author who tells this story) wants people to believe that a three-day-brain dead corpse came back to life without objective evidence. He wanted people to believe a laws-of-science-defying claim based on what someone else claimed to have observed. No scientist should believe that the laws of nature have been violated based on what someone else claims happened. And unfortunately for conservative Christians, experts in the study of the New Testament have concluded that hearsay evidence is all the “evidence” that today’s Christians have for this alleged first century event.
The majority of scholars in New Testament studies believe that the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses nor the associates of eyewitnesses. Even New Testament scholar NT Wright, a scholar whom conservative Christians frequently quote for his belief and support of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, states the following:
“I do not know who the authors of the Gospels were, nor does anyone else.”
Therefore, you are correct, Mike, it is incorrect to say that Christian faith is “blind faith”; that it is based on zero evidence. I would suggest that a better definition is this:
“Christian faith is belief in a particular claim based on INSUFFICIENT evidence. It is wishful thinking, hoping that better evidence for one’s desired belief exists but has not yet been discovered; evidence that will justify one’s hopes.”
The Christian claims that a three-day-brain-dead first century corpse came back to life and later flew off into outer space is based on HEARSAY evidence, and hearsay evidence is NOT admissible in most courts of law.
Therefore, I would encourage all scientists (and in fact everyone) to be like Thomas. Doubt! Doubt all extra-ordinary claims (especially those that defy the laws of science) until very, very good, OBJECTIVE evidence is presented that overturns that law of science.