Many times I've been told by believers that I also have faith. For example, when I sit in a chair, I'm demonstrating faith that the chair will hold me. So there! See, I'm just like them after all. It's an attempt to portray that we're all on the same level ground, so I shouldn't criticize their faith.
I draw a distinction between faith and reasonable expectation. Reasonable expectation is a confidence based on evidence such as past behavior and experience, peer-reviewed knowledge, results that could be demonstrated experimentally, and the like. Faith, on the other hand, is pretty much entirely subjective.
Do I have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow? OK, I know it doesn't actually rise, but work with me here... I'd argue that no, I have a reasonable expectation based on consistent experience of all known human history, knowledge of cosmology, lacking evidence of any cataclysm that would prevent it, and so on. We can conduct experiments on the rotation of the planet, on the orbit of the planet, on the relative position of the planet to the sun... The list could go on.
So could I have reasonable expectation for the existence of a deity described in holy texts? I suppose that depends on your threshold of 'reasonable,' but I don't see how I could. There is nary a shred of evidence that doesn't come down to "some guy said..." It's an appeal to authority with no basis on which to grant that authority - and a myriad of reasons *not* to. What experiments could we conduct? None. What about knowledge? Well, if we are limited to faith, that's pretty much ruled out. What about past experience? Sure, lots of folks have claimed experiences with gods. Trouble is, many are contradictory, and virtually all can be attributed to natural phenomena up to and including delusion.
So no, we're not on equal footing. Which brings me to a related rant:
How many times have you heard something like, "You know, it takes just as much faith to be an atheist as it does to be a believer!"
Well, it might if everything were of equal probability. Does it take as much faith to lack belief in leprechauns as it would to believe in them? No, and that's because the probability that leprechauns actually exist and the probability that they don't are not equal. If you're not already familiar with "Russell's Teapot," I urge you to take some time to research it.
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