Monday, September 07, 2009
The things you run into when poking around in your own blog!
In preparing a post on Jerry Coyne's latest mugging of philosophy (which I may or may not complete, given the size it threatens to expand to) I stumbled on a usage of "faitheism" well before Coyne ran his contest to find a new pejorative for atheists who are insufficiently militant in Coyne's eyes (Dawkins' "Neville Chamberlain 'appeasement' school" apparently not being "snappy" enough).
In a comment to a post of mine on August 10, 2008 about the "framing wars," Carl Sachs said:
In several recent conversations with self-described Christians (who are somewhat philosophically astute), I've taken to describing my atheism as a sort of "faitheism": that is, a faith that is not strictly entailed by what I know from the natural and social sciences. So while I'm upfront about my acceptance of evolution or neuroscience, and I do try to stay informed on such matters, I'm also explicit in saying that my atheism is distinct from my appreciation of science.Carl's usage is not the same as Coyne's (indeed, I doubt Coyne would accept it at all) but Carl has etymological precedence.
In other words, atheism requires a leap of faith, or a step beyond the confines of evidence, in just the same way that theism, deism, pantheism, paganism (etc.) do.
By taking this approach, I've noticed that my Christian interlocutors regard me as much more reasonable than the average atheist (as they understand that position) and also someone they are more willing to respect.
Update: Carl has this to say in the comments about the origin of the word:
In all fairness, I stole it from Crispin Sartwell, a professor of political science at Dickinson College in PA. He uses the term 'faitheism' in a series of videos. Please give credit where credit is due!