Faith or No Faith?
Here is a simple definition of faith:
Faith: Belief in something that has not been directly observed.
Based on this simple definition, let’s consider some things that involve faith:
- When I drive through a green light at an intersection, I generally have faith that there is a red light displayed to cross-traffic (which otherwise might collide with my car). This involves faith since I usually cannot directly observe the red light which directs the cross-traffic to stop. It doesn’t take faith to believe that the stop light exists (since it can usually be seen), but it does take some faith to believe that it is working properly.
- When I sit down in a chair, I usually proceed without hesitation because I usually have faith that the chair will support me and not break under my weight. Faith is involved regarding the strength of the chair, not the existence of the chair.
- When I go over a bridge, I have some degree of faith that the bridge will not fall down. If I didn’t have some faith that the bridge would support me, I would not go on it. Again, faith is involved regarding the integrity of the bridge, not the existence of the bridge.
- When I wait at a bus stop for a bus to take me somewhere, I have at least some faith that a bus will come (even though I can’t directly observe it coming until it is nearby). If I had no faith in the bus system, I wouldn’t wait for a bus to come.
- People who follow the philosophy of naturalism generally have faith that everything that happens in the universe can be explained with natural scientific principles. This involves faith since no one can directly observe everything that happens, much less explain it all.
- People who believe in supernatural things generally believe that natural science can’t explain everything they observe and experience. They have some level of faith in someone or something that is supernatural, which cannot be directly observed (at least not directly observed in a consistent, repeatable way).
You may object to some of my examples. Many people have never associated “faith” with things like traveling through stop lights, sitting on chairs, and traveling over bridges. You may be so sure of the integrity of such things that you don’t consider faith to be involved when you rely on them. However, if you haven’t directly verified the integrity of such things, then it seems to me that you have a “belief in something that has not been directly observed” when you rely on their integrity. I would call such strong confidence “strong faith” rather than saying faith is not involved.
We can see from these examples that the strength of our faith in various things often depends on our previous experience with similar things. People who have had a chair fail under them, or a bridge fall down under them, or who have been injured due to the failure of a stop light generally have less faith in such things than those who haven’t experienced such failures.
From the above examples, I think it is clear that everyone has faith in some things to some degree in many areas of life. This leads us to another self-evident truth:
Everyone has some degree of faith in some things.
For Further Reflection:
- What are some things you believe that involve faith?
Contents | Next