"Faith." We use this word so often. Yet most of us haven't given much thought to what it means.
I enjoyed browsing through a bunch of definitions of faith submitted by commenters to a New York Times online piece.
This is the first submission.
This is the second submission.
Reality is wrong. Other people are wrong. Why can’t they see what I see? It’s all about failures to re-interpret one’s original misinterpretation of experience. Faith is blind,
and that’s a problem.
Faith is not calm, it is heated, sure of itself, and prone to be unrealistic.
And this is the third, which led me to a short essay (and recording) that stimulated me to title this post the way I did.
Dude is a Franciscan who acknowledged that faith is not knowing what you can’t know… and being okay with it. Perhaps the opposite of so many that we consider to be Faithful today.
Seriously, please give it a listen.
I did. Along with a simultaneous read. And liked what the Catholic priest had to say. Nicely churchless, though coming from a churched guy.
Here's Richard Rohr's concluding words:
They are utterly humbled before mystery. They are in awe before the abyss of it all, in wonder at eternity and depth, and a Love, which is incomprehensible to the mind. It is a litmus test for authentic God experience, and is — quite sadly — absent from much of our religious conversation today.
My belief and comfort is in the depths of Mystery, which should be the very task of religion.
The word "faith", like so many others, has both technical and colloquial meanings. The technical meanings come from epistemology. Basically it is any claim accepted as a true proposition without evidence. Any "axiom" considered "self evident" would require faith. of course, that is debated by may because of the pollution of the technical term by the colloquial meaning. The definition of the colloquial word would be similar to the technical. But the practice and implication is different. Someone says they have "faith" in their religion or simply that they are "a person of faith", but the vast majority of them will still do things in their lives that are evidence that they allow for propositions contrary to their faith. Most christians would offer faith in the ten commandments, but will also happily watch commercials on TV and covet.
Making the distinction between real, effective technical faith and the way it's used casually by religious followers is important to any rich understand of the word and the concept.
Posted by: jptxs | June 28, 2009 at 06:23 AM
Say I am adopted and I have lived with my adoptive father all my life. I would say that I have faith in him to act in a certain manner in regard to me. Then suppose I meet my real father, who I have not met or conversed with up to this point. If I were to trust this person or have faith in this person, I would certainly not call it the same faith I have with my adoptive father, but rather a blind faith.
In my understanding faith is trusting that humans or objects will act in accordance with their previous actions.
Blind faith, on the other hand, doesn't make any sense...perhaps its based on hope...like winning the lottery kind of hope.
Posted by: j.tucker | June 28, 2009 at 08:24 AM
I've always liked Alan Watts' def. of faith:
" Faith is a state of openness or trust. To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. The attitude of faith is the very opposite of clinging to belief, of holding on. In other words, a person who is fanatic in matters of religion, and clings to certain ideas about the nature of God and the universe, becomes a person who has no faith at all. Instead they are holding tight. But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be."
Posted by: GFB | June 28, 2009 at 01:51 PM
Faith (Healers)...(Amazing) Grace...Salvation...Holy Spirit...Birdie Num Nums...-Fundlementalist buzzwords used to impress the gullible and hoodwink laypersons like myself.
Posted by: DJ | June 28, 2009 at 04:58 PM
Quoting from Tillich:
"faith is that which comes upon a person, deeply moving and taking hold of him or her, such that no conditions or limitations can be placed upon its seriousness."
Posted by: phil Risby | June 28, 2009 at 10:44 PM
Phil, it sounds like the LSD trips I had back in college. Sure, faith can be fun -- "ooh, reality is like this, so cool!" -- but even though faith in a deeply moving experience that has taken hold of us can seem real, really real reality is a whole lot better to live in most of the time.
LSD trips and faith need to be taken in moderation, and infrequently.
Posted by: Brian | June 29, 2009 at 08:12 AM
Paul Tillich was a great thinker, even though a theologian. I posted this quote because it has a measure of value
Faith does come upon a person, we are not born with faith (I presume?)
It does deeply take hold of someone, even overpowering rationality (as I am sure you will know - re RSSB)
Not only does it take hold of a person, but we refuse to accept the limitations, faith is usually unquestionable, rather like your premises around which you have built this blog.
Posted by: phil Risby | June 29, 2009 at 10:29 PM
Faith is a manifestation of complete surrender and it emanates from a hidden/latent feeling which does not require a reasoning. Faith has a power which is beyond any comprehension. It gives a soothing sense at heart and has no scope for developing fissure/fault between masses.
It is related purely to an individual (imo).
Posted by: Rakesh Bhasin | June 30, 2009 at 09:11 AM
If we observe our reactions, which come from our deep-seated programming to see what triggers them in us and then let go of the programming as much as we possibly can it may then be possible with a more "unknowing" mindset to take that "leap of faith" into the unknown.
For those who believe that everything is just as it is, once again "what is" will be the way each person perceives it to be and how do we know we have the right view? Our own personal point of view is only one of so many points of view so who has the right view, what is the right view? Its good to question one's self "am I right?"
We can learn from others but should we depend on others such as gurus or scientists... maybe in this mysterious game of life we should just simply take that plunge and find out for ourselves?
Posted by: Jen | June 30, 2009 at 04:31 PM
In mathematics, there are certain axioms if we do not take them as such we can not proceed further. For proving or disproving a hypotheses axioms are must.
So is faith in mundane or spiritual pursuits. Faith is beyond confidence. Confidence allows a conditional acceptance whereas faith puts to a realm beyond it. Faith allows you to work and leads you to either ultimate success or failure. People, who work incessantly with faith on a certain task for a time frame and ultimately meet failure, can not reconcile.
Faith has a vital parameter of no time frame as a preset condition. Success of a faithful person in any field is a boon otherwise a bane.
Posted by: rakesh bhasin | July 01, 2009 at 01:52 AM