As I didn't have it in my possession, I checked online in hope of finding an excerpt that might address the distinction between biblical and unbiblical understandings of the nature of faith. Amazon's excerpt didn't contain anything relevant to my question but I did note the following sentence in the book description: "All worldviews, including atheism, require faith. I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist argues that Christianity requires the least faith of all because it is the most reasonable." Faith, as presented here, is obviously unreasonable belief. Unsure of whether this was a description provided by the publisher, I then checked Crossway's site which confirmed this as their chosen promotion of the book. The following is the full text of the description:
I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist argues that Christianity requires the least faith of all worldviews because it is the most reasonable. The authors lay out the evidence for truth, God, and the Bible in logical order and in a readable, non-technical, engaging style. A valuable aid to those interested in examining the reasonableness of the Christian faith, Geisler and Turek provide a firm challenge to the prior beliefs of doubters and skeptics.As Tony noted in his comment, in the interest of reducing an opponent's position to absurdity, one may, for the sake of argument, adopt his or her assumptions and show their logical consequences. While I don't share the atheist's definition of faith as irrational or unwarranted belief, for example, I may nevertheless say to my atheistic friend, "Even if I did define faith the way you do, it would take more faith to be an atheist and here's why." Wanting to see if this was the stance Geisler and Turek take, I headed off to the bookstore today and at last procured my own copy (thereby disproving any suspicions that I was subtly calling for a boycott). From my reading so far, it seems that the authors are not merely adopting a concept of faith foreign to that of the Bible for the sake of argument, but are stating their own position.
In the book's introduction, after making the claim that "the atheist has to muster a lot more faith than the Christian" (p. 26), the authors explain what they mean:
We mean that the less evidence you have for your position, the more faith you need to believe it (and vice versa). Faith covers a gap in knowledge. And it turns out that atheists have bigger gaps in knowledge because they have far less evidence for their beliefs than Christians have for theirs. In other words, the empirical, forensic, and philosophical evidence strongly supports conclusions consistent with Christianity and inconsistent with atheism (p. 26).Earlier in the introduction, the authors describe the late Carl Sagan's well-known assertion that "the Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be" as "the ultimate statement of faith in atheistic materialism" (emphasis in the original). They then write: "How did he know that for sure? He didn't. How could he? He was a limited human being with limited knowledge. Sagan was operating in the realm of probability just like Christians are when they say God exists."
My original question remains. Is the concept of faith presented above compatible with faith as described in Scripture? Does one get the impression from the Bible that the amount of faith required is inversely proportionate to the scarcity of evidence? If the answer to this question is "no," which I think it is, is it really helpful to speak in such terms in our apologetic and evangelistic conversations with non-Christians? Wouldn't it be better to explain to them what it is that the Bible is speaking of when it uses the term and how that differs from blind faith? While looking for the quotation from Schaeffer's The God Who is There that I included in a previous post, I came across the following passage in which Schaeffer was determined to make that distinction:
Of course, faith is needed to become a Christian, but there are two concepts concerning faith. The two ideas of faith run like this: One idea of faith would be a blind leap in the dark. A blind leap in which you believe something with no reason (or, no adequate reason), you just believe it. This is what I mean by a blind leap of faith. The other idea of faith, which has no relationship with this, none whatsoever, is that you are asked to believe something and bow before that something on the basis of good and adequate reasons. There is no relationship between those two concepts of faith.None of this is designed to discredit either of the authors or the totality of the volume they authored. I only wish to think with other believers about how we may most faithfully and accurately present a biblical perspective to those to whom we commend and defend the gospel of Christ.
The biblical concept of faith is very much the second and not the first. You are not asked to believe in a blind leap of faith. The Bible teaches that there are good and sufficient reasons to know that these things are true. - Volume I, The Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, pp. 181-182