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Definitions of Faith


Faith is a commitment to belief contrary to evidence and reason.

A. C. Grayling

We may define “faith” as the firm belief in something for which there is no evidence. When there is evidence, no one speaks of “faith.” We do not speak of faith that two plus two is four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence.

Bertrand Russell

Faith is a state of mind that leads people to believe something—it doesn’t matter what—in the total absence of supporting evidence. If there were good supporting evidence then faith would be superfluous, for the evidence would compel us to believe it anyway.

Richard Dawkins

Faith is nothing more than the license that religious people give one another to believe, when reasons fail, such propositions as that Jesus was born of a virgin, or that Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse.

Sam Harris

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.

H. L. Mencken

There is enlightenment in questions, but only barbarism in belief.

Louis Dudek


Faith doesn’t have to be unreasonable, and often is not.

Salmon Rushdie (Interview with Bill Moyers)

What is most beautiful about religious faith [is] its ability to give solace and to inspire.

Salmon Rushdie

Intellectual discipline is the purgatory through which a man must pass in order to reach the paradise of faith, and the passage can be, in fact it often is, a torture.

Nirad C. Chaudhuri

I was not able indeed to return to the old religions, but I learned from them that faith is as necessary for a man’s mind as food is necessary for his body; of course if he has the true human nature.

Nirad C. Chaudhuri

The conception of truth as the end of knowledge is dependent on faith, and nothing else.

Nirad C. Chaudhuri

Let us learn, then, that energy of faith which enables us to live constantly in the vision of the good; and let us descend, in action, into the world of fact, with that vision always before us.

Bertrand Russell

Faith is intense, usually confident, belief that is not based on evidence sufficient to command assent from every reasonable person.

Walter Kaufmann

Everything is moods—love, hate, convictions—when you have no belief.

Malcolm Muggeridge

Faith makes convictions possible because without faith—or something very like it—reason can’t get any traction.

If we have better grounds for believing something to be true than for believing it not to be true, it is not irrational to invest a certain degree of faith in it. There is nothing unscientific about such an attitude because the question at issue, concerning as it does the untestable, is not a scientific question. It is not a matter of possible knowledge.

Bryan Magee (from Confessions of a Philosopher, 1997)

I have found it necessary to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.

Immanuel Kant

All science requires faith in the inner harmony of the world.

Albert Einstein

It has been an act of faith on the part of scientists that the world can be explained in the simple terms that mathematics handles.

R. W. Hamming


Faith is the reality of hope, and of illusion.

Northrop Frye

What is faith but a kind of betting or speculation after all? It should be, ‘I bet that my Redeemer liveth.’

Samuel Butler

Faith which does not doubt is dead faith.

Miguel de Unamuno

Faith makes many of the mountains which it has to remove.

W. R. Inge


Faith declares what the senses do not see, but not the contrary of what they see.


Faith requires the dicipline of distinguishing between mysteries beyond, but not contrary to, our reason, and mere claptrap that requires suspending critical judgment altogether.

Fr. Raymond de Souza

Believe in God and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction, religious or irreligious, will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of Faith resulting in the habit of Faith will gradually do that.

C. S. Lewis

I define Faith as the power of continuing to believe what we once honestly thought to be true until cogent reasons for honestly changing our minds are brought before us.

C. S. Lewis

Reason must be perfected by faith.

Karl Stern

Faith begins as an experiment and ends as an experience.

W. R. Inge

Faith is a kind of knowledge.

It is the heart which experiences God, and not the reason. This, then, is faith: God felt by the heart, not by the reason.


Belief means being able to feel the existence of the spiritual, to know God and not just to know about him.

Douglas Hyde

Those who believe they believe in God without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself.

Madeleine L’Engle

Purely human conviction is not faith. Faith is supernatural certainty, the gift of God.

Arnold Lunn

According to Simone Weil faith is the experience that the intelligence is enlightened by love.

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