Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Some Observations on Faith

Faith. It plays a crucial role in the life of every person. There are far too many variables for any one person to know or understand, so we must each have faith that laws, customs, mores and principles consistently will apply to the various situations in our lives. As has often been stated, each time we go out on the road in a vehicle, we need to have faith that other drivers will stay on their side of the road and will not run the next stoplight.

By definition, faith means to hold a "confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing" and to acknowledge that said beliefs "do not rest on logical proof or material evidence". In other words, faith is a belief in the validity of something without knowing for absolute certainty that this something is valid.

While faith is encompassed in all human interaction and institutions, it is most closely associated with religion. The followers of any given religious system have faith that their understanding of the world and beyond is THE correct understanding and, by virtue of this correct understanding, such followers will be in some way rewarded for holding to this faith.

By and large, the fundamentalists of any given religion -- those who cling to the old teachings and tend to not believe that changing circumstances necessitate changing time-honored doctrines -- place great emphasis on faith. In my estimation, however, the faith that they speak of is very shallow and one-dimensional.

For such fundamentalists, faith provides the key to salvation. They hold strongly to the belief that THEY will be pardoned for any earthly transgressions and will thus be welcomed into the halls of heaven or nirvana. They hold to a faith that the righteous will be rewarded when the end time comes by their deity or deities.

Yet, far too many of these very same people are the ones who most favor war, oppression, discrimination and hatred. It seems that their concept of faith only pertains to themselves, their family or group. In other words, their faith is exclusive, not inclusive.

They don't have faith in other people. They don't have faith in Mother Earth. They don't have faith in the collective consciousness. In actuality, they don't truly have a deep abiding faith in their own God because this entity created all of us and so all of us are part of that entity.

If you genuinely believe that humankind is created in the image of God, then how can you turn around and preach the destruction of some of those images? How can you show the steadfastness of your faith in the absoluteness of love by advocating for the misery and repression of some of God's children?

The simple answer is that you can't. To do so, contradicts the very faith you say you hold so dear.

8 comments:

  1. Faith is also a matter of will. To believe, you have to want to believe. If you cannot bring yourself to want to believe, you cannot believe.

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  2. Trey,

    it happens to be that today we discussed the issue of faith during antrolpology. I agree with your vision as it was the vision of my teacher.
    By coincidence, I posted something about catholic faith on my site, and although I don't say what you say, it implies the same thing.
    If it's okay for you, I would like to link your text to it?

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  3. A beautifully simple and irrefragable statement about one's faith.
    I agree and am genuinely happy to read things like this on the blogosphere for a change.
    I'd love to see you do a post about the personal rewards of faith in your life. :)
    Enjoyed your blog.
    ~Shephard

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  4. Bert,
    Sure you can link to it. Actually, you can link to almost anything on the web, whether or not you get permission.

    Shephard,
    As a Taoist, faith doesn't play a big role in my life. I'm not saying I'm devoid of faith, but I no longer use that word as something important to me.

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  5. ok, thanks Trey, I've added a permalink in my article

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  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on faith. I'm on a self-imposed reading curriculum right now and reading God Without Religion, The Battle for God and Faith No More (oh, and Freethinkers (about American secularism) so this stuff is right up my alley : )

    I'm here by way of Jaquandor at Byzantium's shores and have bookmarked you; your voice is refreshing.

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  7. 'I am an agnostic; I do not pretend to know what many ignorant men are sure of.'
    Clarence Darrow

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  8. Cool guestbook, interesting information... Keep it UP
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