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Faith is key to our lives, even for atheists

History, psychology and all manner of disciplines rely on other people’s testimony, acceptance of which is largely a matter of faith. I cannot know by experience or perception that Napoleon lived, or any other historical figure whose existence it makes no sense to doubt.

Coady is not suggesting we are wrong to trust this scientific testimony, but rather that we are wrong to exclude testimony from knowledge in any ordinary, useful sense. In other words, faith.

I have to admit two caveats. The rise of fake news means that we should properly be more sceptical about what we read, questioning the data, the source, the agenda.

Second, many religious truth claims are in a different and more complex category: they can seem contrary to reason and experience. But equal questions apply for those who believe nothing exists other than what science can measure, for they cannot even explain human consciousness, let alone spiritual experience.

I believe there is plenty of evidence – historical, social, psychological, spiritual – to justify Christian faith. While I haven’t room for such a discussion now, there is no doubt that the eye witnesses to the resurrection believed it, because many of them later died for that belief. Just because we believe something doesn’t make it true, yet few are willing to die for something they know is a lie.

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