Faith is a word with a bad reputation, or at least certainly a whole range of connotations.
I can’t even say the word “faith” without immediately imagining some kind of religious belief in some supernatural event that breaks all known laws of the universe, but I believe in it because I simply have faith.
I’m taking a leap of faith to believe in something that I have no really reasonable reason to believe it.
So usually, we see faith is contrasted against reason, so that we have this choice: am I going to base my decisions on reasonably considering the evidence that I observe and making rational conclusions? Or am I just going to make a leap of faith and believe in something that doesn’t make sense, because somehow leap of faith is considered to be good in this particular religion? And, you know, if you look at it that way, it seems like faith does not really come off very well.
I mean, why have faith? And you can see the atheist response is to bring up the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Well, if you can take a leap of faith and believe in some man-God who rose from the dead, or whatever else, you know, God speaking to a messenger, or writing things on tablets, or whatever else you believe that’s somehow supernatural: if you can believe in that, and you can take a leap of faith to believe in that thing with no evidence, why not believe that there’s a giant flying monster made out of spaghetti who is really the creator of the universe? After all, that is also quite unreasonable, and yet if you take a leap of faith, then you can simply decide that “Well, I don’t need evidence.
I am going to make my leap of faith and believe with all my heart in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.” So this is the standard criticism of faith, and I can’t say the word “faith” without thinking about that whole way of looking at it.
And so it seems like, you know, if you look at it this way, faith is just something that’s kind of fluffy.
It’s kind of silly.
Why believe in something when it could be anything? You could make up any ridiculous thing and believe in it.
So it seems like that’s just not a good way to live.
So I think this held me back for a long time from really appreciating this word “faith” and what it can really mean.
It’s either going to be from the atheist point of view of, you know, this is just silly, or it can be from the religious point of view of “You have to make this particular leap of faith.
This is the correct leap of faith, and the others are incorrect.
Or not making the leap of faith is also incorrect.” But imagine taking away the whole religious versus atheist debate out of it and just think of the idea of faith: having faith, believing in something that you don’t know.
It doesn’t have to be supernatural.
It doesn’t have to be any particular religious tradition.
It’s just anything that you don’t have complete knowledge of, you’re not fully sure about, but you decide to trust.
It’s very close to the idea of confidence, because confidence is almost like having a faith in your own ability, or at least a faith in something working out.
Because we don’t know the future at all, and we only know a very small piece of the world overall, anyway.
So we’re always working inside a world in which we only have very limited knowledge.
So if we were to have no faith at all, we wouldn’t be able to do anything new, do anything innovative, risky, different.
We would have to just become narrower and narrower, because if we only believe and trust things that we absolutely know, we’re just stuck within this narrow domain.
[…] Even if we don’t do anything new or different, we really just never have a full picture of what’s going on.
So having some idea of faith is being able to be comfortable with the unknown, being able to take a step without knowing exactly where it’s going to land.
And if you can take it to the extreme, you just have, you know, going doing all kinds of random things and just saying “Oh, it’ll be OK.” But on the other extreme of not having any faith at all, we simply can’t make any steps.
So somewhere in there it seems like there’s a value in being able to simply say “I don’t know, but I have faith that I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to take this step, and things […] will be all right.
I don’t know how.
I don’t know how it’s gonna work out.
But somehow I believe that this will lead in a good direction.” Maybe it’s a gamble, maybe we don’t really know, but we can live as if we know.
So I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this.
How far can we go into faith? Is it too far, where we just do foolish things and cross our fingers, hope everything turns out all right? Or is it necessary to take this leap, and how far do we need to leap? Maybe it’s a little step of faith, a little tiptoe.
I’m not sure how far to take it.
But it seems like we need some degree of faith in some way to simply live our lives.
#faith #faithvsreason #confidence