22 July 2008

"Faith" The Multi-Shaped Piece

We are talking about character qualities of the Spirit and there are nine in all. Each one represents only one piece of the puzzle. The last blog talked about “goodness” and I referred to it as the missing piece. It is rarely evident. Unlike goodness the next piece, “faith,” is found in everyone.

Religious people are proud to claim this quality and non-religious people like to consider themselves above it but everyone has faith. People who claim to have no faith are only rejecting a particular kind, e.g. Christianity or Hinduism, but faith is still a part of their reasoning process.

No one has all the facts. Every time you draw a conclusion before you have all the facts you have exercised faith.

What you think about origins, for example, is really a matter of faith. Some people believe the universe is the outcome of evolution and others believe God is our creator but neither idea has been proven absolutely. Both sides have little tolerance for the other, claim the academic high ground, come across as condescending and at times arrogant but faith is still the common denominator. Don’t be fooled by all the intellectual posturing. You cannot draw a conclusion about origins without a good dose of faith.

What about life after death? Do you believe in heaven and hell, reincarnation or does life just end? Take your pick but please don’t assume you can prove it. The outcome you adopt has a large element of faith.

We weren’t there when everything got started and if you are reading this you haven’t been to the afterlife yet. There are many things we just don’t know and faith is what every person uses to fill the gaps.

When a young man proposes to a young woman, he is acting in faith. If his proposal is accepted, she is acting in faith. Both start out thinking the relationship will be wonderful the rest of their lives. But, some marriages have been known to go sour and eventually break up even after long drawn out courtships. Why? Because what each “believed” would happen wasn’t substantiated by reality and the contradiction couldn’t be reconciled.

To ask a person if they have faith is like asking if they breathe. The real question is what shape does their faith take? What assumptions do you begin with? What would you like to be true?

Many will try to argue that their particular set of beliefs is based in fact but that isn’t fair or reasonable. Everyone is dealing with the same set of facts. A person’s belief system represents their interpretation of those facts. All facts are neutral until interpreted. Geological findings and scientific observations don’t come with explanatory notes attached.

Court rooms and legal procedures are necessary because facts (evidence) do not speak for themselves. Evidence is only circumstantial and never conclusive until everyone on both sides has carefully scrutinized it and even then, the wrong conclusions are occasionally drawn.

Legal verdicts are based on findings which are beyond reasonable doubt. When reasonable doubt cannot be cleared, no verdict is rendered. If science were subject to legal restraints then there would be no verdict. The conclusions you come to either way would involve an element of faith.

In a court setting, just like life, everyone starts with an assumption. The prosecution “believes” the accused is guilty and works hard to prove it. The defense “believes” the accused is innocent and works to prove that. Until all the facts are in hand and thoroughly considered, what you assume to be true is a matter of faith. If facts are missing and arguments are inconclusive, what you believe remains a matter of faith.

What shape does your faith take? Have you included God or ignored Him? Is your faith self-centered, government-centered, science-centered, business-centered, God-centered or what? ThinkAboutIt.

Next blog: “What faith is not”

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