Faith is, in general terms, the act of believing in something that you can't prove. This does not necessarily make it a less valid belief system than something you have proven. There are many things that can't be or haven't been proven, but can't be ignored. Your use of faith will probably be on the same level as your use of reason: if you have a well-developed understanding of the world, your faith will not need to fill in gaps that it should not; if you have a well-developed spirituality, your rationality will not have to fill in gaps that it should not.

Faith isn't only for religion. You also probably have faith in our government, some other governmental system, or anarchy. Most of these haven't been tested out thoroughly, and none of them have been tested under all of the conditions that will come along in the next ten years (and with any luck, you'll still be around in 30 years -- scary, huh?)

Most people have faith in moral systems that are unprovable; it is arguable whether it is possible to 'prove' that a moral system is the best, and it is certain that most people simply find one that is serviceable and put their faith in it.

On a deeper level, philosophers have long wondered how we know that the world we see is real in the sense that most people think it is. The most famous example of this is Descartes' Method of Doubt ("I think, therefore I am") or, perhaps, The Matrix's mind control. We have no reason to think that the 'real world' is more real than the ones that exist in our mind except for convenience and faith.

Faith is a reasonable response to these situations. If you don't have a logical explanation, it is logical to pick what seems best or what has worked for others and stick to it until you find something more empirical to experiment with. So it is reasonable to view faith is a mechanism allowing humans to cope with a largely mysterious world. Humans may get carried away and have wars over their faith, but this does not mean that faith is bad -- humans will have wars over just about anything. There are, however, a lot of people who take their faith on certain subjects as an absolute, unquestionable given. This can be bad, as faith is a strong tool, and if it is over-applied, it can get in the way of understanding the world.

Why is faith looked at as a virtue? Why does religion say you need to have faith? Why is it that when someone doesn't have faith in a religious environment, he is looked down upon? Clearly, any institution that relies on faith to gain belief has some sort of flaw in it. Many religious people say that they have many doubts but their faith helps them past it. Why would they ignore their doubts? Why do they fight in the opposite direction?

I've had times where I thought that maybe God does exist, and realized that maybe I'm just being foolish. But as much as I'd like to believe that God exists, I still don't ignore my doubts, I nurture them. Now, I understand that ignoring petty, silly doubts in the face of convincing proof can be a good thing. But when one has doubts about the very foundation of a certain belief system, a belief system which says "faith" is a good thing, he should not ignore his doubts.

What is faith
but an empty word
a promise no one can keep

a hypothetical quandry
contrary to human nature
something we all try to strive for
but never reach

when you say you'll be true
    to who?
        yourself?
what else can you do?

We all believe the truth
but all that makes it true
is that we all believe it
stuff that down your philisophical blowhole

each day a falsehood's made true
and a truth is made false
and we all follow
like bleeting sheep

the major bastion of faith
is religion
with the fanatics convincing the hopeless
that their god is better
their god it true

the collies,
leading the sacrificial lambs
off to the alter
the crimson knife
to slaughter the innocent mind

oh yes
I believe
- (c) 1999, Life101
Faith, simply put, is that we hold and accept to be true in the absence of evidence.

In itself, this is not problematic. Faith is an essential ingredient in our lives, whether we are religious or not. Even an atheist can have faith in things, even in something larger than he is, whether or not it may actually be God. Faith is what sustains us when we have nothing concrete on which we can rely, which happens from time to time.

But faith can also work against us. Like any other trait or behavior, faith can be a failing as well as a strength. This is seen most often when we observe others (or perhaps ourselves) who not only have faith in the absence of evidence, but faith in spite of the evidence. When this line is crossed, faith leads to dogma, closed thinking, and a polarized view of the world.

So, it's in our best interests to ensure that our faith, in whatever it is placed, is reasonable, realistic, and well-considered.

The old man stepped into the door frame with the manner of a great proud beast whose authority had just been threatened by a gnat:


Faith!


Faith is leaving your family and everything you know to move across the ocean to a land you know nothing about.


Faith is looking at the world after it knocked you down and grinning.


Faith is getting on one knee in front of the woman you love and advancing the most ridiculous idea your mind could conceive.


Faith is her looking over your fidgety self and between sparkly tears proving she's got no more sense than you do.


Faith is promising a new born pile of snot with a heart beat and some leaky valves that you're going give it the best live there be gotten, never mind you haven't scanty notion what that entails.


Faith is going to your editor hour before due, telling him you wrote something as far from what he asked as Thailand, but not to worry cause it'll win awards up the left bucket.


Faith is two guys fifty bucks each taking on the sum wheel o smelly cheese.


You think cause you read some fairy tale book your friends read, some clueless gnat tell you what it's all about, you can come here and demand answers form me? Think your mortician plastered smile make me think you're the bright shining example of future generation? Think cause you're here spreading your threadbare hysteria stead o shooting smack makes you wise? Look at you. Your whole existence turns round you doing what your told and liking it. You feel guilty if you have think about wearing shoes your num nuts friends don't approve of.


Don't you tell me 'bout faith. Don't you fucking dare.

To have faith in is to trust in.

A specific type of faith called blind faith is what you get when your trust is baseless. However, there really is never a case of blind faith since faith is always based on something. For example, the base of some peoples' religious faith is a subjective experience.

As humans it is very difficult if not impossible for us to absolutely prove most things. When it comes time for us to make a decision we are not taking into account the possibility that the laws of physics will radically change. This is because we have a very high faith in the constancy of these laws.

Conversations with God, #1

I dreamed I had a conversation with God last night. "God," I said, "I think you're being a tad unfair."

"How so?" said he.

"According to your bible, a lot depends on whether or not one believes in you. Eternal bliss if you do, endless torment if you don't. Yet you don't exactly make it easy. In the literature, you're constantly appearing before people or shouting at them from the Heavens. Those people had pretty clear evidence of your existence. I have none of these things... how is it fair to hold me to the same standards?"

"Have I not said that Faith is necessary?"

"Yes, but I don't see WHY it's necessary. Why can't you just offer some proof?"

"Hmm... and I suppose you don't consider that we're currently having this conversation to be sufficient proof? It is kinda rude to tell people that they don't exist to their face..."

"No... I'm pretty sure I'm dreaming right now. I have all sorts of conversations with non-existent people in my dreams. If you want my belief, you're going to have to offer something that will remain when daylight comes."

"Well, I only want your belief because it will keep you out of Hell, and being a kind God I don't want you to suffer, but I see your point. Yet let me ask you this... what sort of evidence would be sufficient for you?"

"Oh... you know... like I said... voices booming from the Heavens and that sort of thing."

God gave me a skeptical look, "Are you really going to tell me that hearing a voice from the sky would be all it took to convince you in the existence of a divine entity?"

"Er... no, I suppose not. It would be more likely to convince me that someone had invested in a really good stereo system."

"What about if I spoke to you in your own head, so that you were the only one that could hear me?"

"No, I don't think that'd do it either. I saw 'Real Genius'; that sort of things can be faked too." Not to mention that I lived in a culture where listening to voices in your head was considered a sign of insanity, not divinity.

"Fine line, at times," the Lord said, " so you'll be wanting some stronger evidence? A burning bush, perhaps, or some stigmata? Would such remove your doubts?"

"Well, these could be faked as well..."

"What if I had someone make the Statue of Liberty disappear in my name?" I had the distinct impression God was laughing at me now.

"I think I saw a magician do that once, but not in anyone's name in particular..."

"Ok what if I sent an Angel to you, complete with flaming sword and halo. Or better yet, what if I appeared myself. Long flowing beard, holy chorus, the whole works"

"I'd probably just think you were some old guy who had bribed a local choir group."

"Then pretend, for the moment, that I did appear before you, and did something clearly beyond the ability of any mortal agency you're familiar with. Would that be enough to make you unreservedly belief I was your God?"

""I suppose I would be forced to admit there was something supernatural going on..."

"...but..."

"...but I wouldn't necessarily believe you were THE God, though I probably wouldn't argue if you wanted to call yourself A God, since I try not to argue with people who could smite me."

"Why not?"

"Because I don't want to be... er... smitten?"

God sighed, "Why wouldn't you immediately accept a clearly supernatural entity claiming to be God, as God?"

"Because you, as a concept, embody more then just an extremely powerful creature in white robes. You're supposed to be omnipotent and all omniscient. You're supposed to be good and wise and just. These arn't the sorts of things that one can show in a five minute demonstration. You could be Shiva in disguise or Athena in drag. Seems like there might be a lot things out there which might be able to pretend to be God, that arn't. Or, you could be the real and true God, but I still wouldn't worship you automatically and unreservedly. Just because you're divine doesn't mean I'd agree with the way you're running things. Just because you're God dosn't mean I have to like you."

"So in short, no display of my powers would convince you of my existence, or at least that I was who I said I was, and there's no proof I could offer you of my good intent that you would accept without some degree of doubt?

"I suppose not."

"Acceptance of me would require a lengthy observation of my works anyway? In the end, you'd still have to make a decision without full knowledge?

"I suppose so."

That is why I require faith."

The word "Faith" originally, biblicly and literally means "Trust". Somehow it has been corrupted to mean "religious belief", which is only a pre-requisite to trust, rather than defining it.

The biblical use of the term could be said to be "Trust in God", but otherwise boils down to simply "trust". While "trust in God" incorporates the notion of "belief", as do many other concepts, nevertheless that doesn't actually mean that "faith" means "belief".

The prime modern example of this corruption is found in the heretical expression of the phrase "leap of faith" championed by the christian philosophers Pascal and Kierkegaard, in which the attainment of belief is said to come through an irrational "leap". Not only does this idea abuse the word "faith" but it also contradicts christian teaching that trust in God comes as a result of divine revelation; best expressed by the prayer "God, teach me to know you and love you.".

The non-heritical version of "Leap of faith", in which "faith" is defined as "trust", is consistent with christian teaching. It can be expressed as "To put one's trust in God", facilitated by free will and grace, and in which belief has already been attained.

To begin with, it's important to note the difference in meaning between faith and belief. When I wake up in the morning, I believe that the floor will be solid under my feet, but I have no faith that it will be. It just possibly might not be.

Also, it is important to avoid an equivocation fallacy here. Faith that the bus will arrive because it is on a schedule and has consistently arrived in the past is not the same thing as faith in a supernatural force. The former is basically just a synonym for belief; the latter is something else entirely. There are individuals without faith in either, I believe, but it is important to be clear which definition is being suggested as a universal human behavior. Often the suggestion that one has the former type of 'faith', simple belief or conviction in recurring phenomena, is used to imply that one has faith of the latter type, which is where the equivocation fallacy comes in. Belief in demonstratable occurrences and belief in realms of existence beyond the natural are, clearly, very different things.

As a naturalist and something of a nihilist, I find it amusing when others suggest that I must have faith in something. I have belief in many things, but never to the point of surety--I don't even, really, have faith that the bus will arrive, just a conviction that it is very likely to do so. And I have no belief in anything at all which could be considered supernatural. And no, I similarly do not have faith in the nonexistence of the supernatural or the existence of a naturalist universe. Just belief.

The postulation that one cannot possibly exist without faith seems merely an act of projection: because one cannot comprehend existing without faith, one assumes others cannot exist without it either. Most such acts are rather obvious (if I were to project my disbelief in god onto society and assume that nobody can really believe in such a thing, that would be patently ridiculous), but when the vast majority of human society is a certain way, it's all too easy to assume the entirety of human society is that way, and those who claim otherwise are merely deluding themselves in some fashion.

We're not. I have no faith in anything at all. At least, as far as I can tell. Of course, I wouldn't say I have faith in this, my lack of faith.

It feels heavy off the floor, when I know it shouldn't. I pull harder, it gets lighter, and I shrug that motherfucker up as hard as I can. Newton's 3rd law makes the weight feel heavy through my shoulders, down into my heels, but I know I've pulled it high enough. I'm on the way down.

And it drops in front of me.

"You got behind the bar," Coach tells me. This means I let my chest rise too early, which makes it easy to get off the floor, but makes it a lot harder to throw up once the bar's past my knees. "Keep your chest over it, wait it out."

Coach always says he was like me. He wasn't a notable lifter in his time, maybe placed top 3 a couple times at Nationals, which isn't a big deal in the US. I was just like you, I'd blow through my warm-ups and up to ninety-percent without blinking an eye, but I always lost my shit when I started pushing beyond that, I wasn't very consistent with heavier weights. I always had to really get my shit together when it really mattered. This is what separates the greats, the good athletes from the joes, folks like me: they're not afraid of shit, and if they are, they don't care, they'll move and pull like there's no other possible outcome to the lift other than success. Average folks, we recognize when something isn't going to happen, we recognize those things and acknowledge them.

I read somewhere about a theory, that the psychological state was the driving force behind physiological ability, that a weightlifter was not physically capable of lifting a weight until he already lifted it, that is, until he attempted a weight that he knew without a doubt he could succeed in lifting, despite the fact that he had not lifted that much weight before. The greats have this science developed to like the Nuclear Age. Everyone else is still basing it on ancient religious texts where sticks turn into snakes.

There's a difference between pulling the bar up, and a good first and second pull. If you're just worried about getting the bar off the floor, you're going to adopt the positions that allow you to do this with the greatest mechanical advantage. You obviously want to get upright as quickly as possible, so your chest is going to rise faster, and you're going to want to get your shoulders behind the bar, so that you're actually pulling, rather than standing with the weight, it makes it a lot easier to move the weight this way.

If you want to throw the weight up, snatch or clean it, you've got to do the exact opposite: keep the shoulders over the bar, maintain your back angle, and this just happens to be a lot harder than moving the weight as efficiently as possible.

I sit on a bench for a few minutes, let my heart rate drop, get my head right. I tell myself, Stay over the bar. Wait it out. When I feel ready I stand over the bar again, get into my start position, and take a big breath. Pull.

It feels heavy again, but I keep my hips pushed back and my chest where it is in relation to the bar. But it feels fucking heavy, there's no way I'm going to be able to pull this -

My coach is yelling before the weight hits the platform again, I almost can't hear him as the blood rushes out of my head, "For fuck's sake, just trust the fucking technique. Hold your positions, and when you get under there, get under it like you mean it."

You get frustrated when shit like this happens, when you know you're just being a pussy, when all you've got to do is take a real, legitimate swing and it's yours. You think of about a dozen things regarding your inescapable inadequacy you don't need to be thinking about right now, and it's in moments like these that you lose a little bit of your sanity.

I say fuck it, I might die trying this weight today, it might crush my wrist, elbow, and shoulder in quick, merciless succession on the way down, but I'm going out swinging. I say this, but inside I'm thinking, this is the minute in which I die. This is when I lose the use of my left arm. This is the fucking end.

But I chalk up again, get back onto the platform and get into my start position. I take a big breath, slow, and a million thoughts turn to zero, what if what if what if into nothing, and I pull against an immovable object that miraculously starts moving. Keep the chest over the bar, pull it in with the lats, get the knees around it and keep the hips pushed back, slow, slow, slow, it's grinding up my thighs, now, I pull, there's no way I pulled hard enough but I'm getting under anyways and it's there, overhead, right where it needs to be and I stand.

I drop the weight and Coach says, Let's see what another five-k looks like.

I say, "Sure," my A-game just took over, this is where I get my shit together. I sit on the bench, let the sweat dribble down my body a minute or two, like residue fear leaving my system. Wipe my brow, it's go time, let's fuckin roll.

Another 5k on the bar, two black discs added to the plates already loaded. Big breath, pull, and it's the same fuckin story, it's heavy, a lot heavier than 5k should feel, but I trust the technique, that's what it's all about, adhering to form, holding my positions -

I miss it. Almost get crushed underneath the weight but I push myself away and roll onto my ass. "Fuck," I say, "What'd I do wrong?"

Coach says, "Nothing, it was a good pull."

My wrist is already getting sore, either from pushing myself out from under the weight or from falling back shortly after. I'm going to feel this for a week and I've got nothing to show for it. "So what happened?"

"Trust the technique," he says. "Too much weight."

Faith (?), n. [OE. feith, fayth, fay, OF. feid, feit, fei, F. foi, fr. L. fides; akin to fidere to trust, Gr. to persuade. The ending th is perhaps due to the influence of such words as truth, health, wealth. See Bid, Bide, and cf. Confide, Defy, Fealty.]

1.

Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting solely and implicitly on his authority and veracity; reliance on testimony.

2.

The assent of the mind to the statement or proposition of another, on the ground of the manifest truth of what he utters; firm and earnest belief, on probable evidence of any kind, especially in regard to important moral truth.

Faith, that is, fidelity, -- the fealty of the finite will and understanding to the reason. Coleridge.

3. Theol. (a)

The belief in the historic truthfulness of the Scripture narrative, and the supernatural origin of its teachings, sometimes called historical and speculative faith.

(b)

The belief in the facts and truth of the Scriptures, with a practical love of them; especially, that confiding and affectionate belief in the person and work of Christ, which affects the character and life, and makes a man a true Christian, -- called a practical, evangelical, or saving faith.

Without faith it is impossible to please him [God]. Heb. xi. 6.

The faith of the gospel is that emotion of the mind which is called "trust" or "confidence" exercised toward the moral character of God, and particularly of the Savior. Dr. T. Dwight.

Faith is an affectionate, practical confidence in the testimony of God. J. Hawes.

4.

That which is believed on any subject, whether in science, politics, or religion; especially Theol., a system of religious belief of any kind; as, the Jewish or Mohammedan faith; and especially, the system of truth taught by Christ; as, the Christian faith; also, the creed or belief of a Christian society or church.

Which to believe of her, Must be a faith that reason without miracle Could never plant in me. Shak.

Now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. Gal. i. 23.

5.

Fidelity to one's promises, or allegiance to duty, or to a person honored and beloved; loyalty.

Children in whom is no faith. Deut. xxvii. 20.

Whose failing, while her faith to me remains, I should conceal. Milton.

6.

Word or honor pledged; promise given; fidelity; as, he violated his faith.

For you alone I broke me faith with injured Palamon. Dryden.

7.

Credibility or truth.

[R.]

The faith of the foregoing narrative. Mitford.

Act of faith. See Auto-da-f'e. -- Breach of faith, Confession of faith, etc. See under Breach, Confession, etc. -- Faith cure, a method or practice of treating diseases by prayer and the exercise of faith in God. -- In good faith, with perfect sincerity. <-- faith healing, faith healer = faith cure. -->

 

© Webster 1913.


Faith (?), interj.

By my faith; in truth; verily.

 

© Webster 1913.

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