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> it is a statement of faith expressed in absolute terms,
> not a matter of "empirical evidence."

I don't think I understand the relationship between religious faith
and empirical evidence.  On one hand, I've heard people say that if
empirical evidence were available, faith would not be necessary.
Faith arises when there's no evidence (or insufficient evidence) to
demonstrate or to prove what one believes.  On the other hand, I've
heard people explaining or justifying their faith on empirical
grounds, as when someone says: "The complexity of patterns found in
nature could not have come about by accident; they are proof of a
divine intelligence" or "The fact that my family survived the
hurricane shows that God was looking out for us and protecting us" or
"The miracles reported in the Bible are not fiction; they are
empirical evidence of God's powers."

Ought I conclude that when people of faith are arguing with
rationalists, they dismiss empirical evidence as irrelevant, but when
they are affirming their faith, they call empirical evidence into
service?

Debra