Christianity makes a virtue of faith. Faith seems to mean “believing without evidence”. On the other hand, if you talk to most Christians, they’ll deny this description of faith.
Christians usually believe that morality comes from God. This seems to indicate a divine command theory of morality: God says it, therefore it’s right. On the other hand, in my experience most Christians will deny that they believe in divine command theory.
In both of these examples, I’m describing straw men that we use against Christians. If they’re such straw men, why do we keep using them? Why don’t we talk about faith or Christian moral theory as Christians really mean them?
Answer: We don’t talk about what Christians really mean, because Christians are unable to coherently explain what they really mean.
In all my years talking about atheism and Christianity, I have heard many accusations that atheists construct straw men of Christianity, but have received very few explanations of what Christianity actually says. Of those explanations, most of them are incoherent or otherwise unsatisfactory.
Sometimes there’s a thin line between the straw man fallacy and iron man fallacy. A straw man is a fictional version of one’s opponent which is weaker than the real opponent. An iron man is a fictional version of one’s opponent which is stronger than the real opponent. But the difference between weaker and stronger is subjective. When I criticize faith as “believing things without evidence”, it feels like I am creating an iron man, because at least this definition of faith is coherent. But many Christians instead see it as a straw man, and they’re not wrong. Christians are not obligated to value coherence as much as I do.
I have some Christian readers, who might take this post as a challenge to explain how they see faith or Christian moral theory. But I’m not saying you can’t come up with any answer. It’s more like, different people come up with different answers.
To give an example, I’ve heard “faith” defined merely as trust. This is a decent answer because at least it’s coherent. But it doesn’t seem particularly accurate to the way that people use “faith”. And what would it mean to have faith that god exists? Who or what is being trusted? Why does that thing or person deserve trust?