What is faith?


I liked this statement from the "Progression of Faith" blog so much that I am quoting it here:

The goal of faith is not to believe the unbelievable. The development of a robust faith cannot not be measured by the level of absurdity in things we will believe to be true.
Yes, yes, yes! In a nutshell, that summarizes in my mind a common misconception about faith. For many people, including both Christians and militant atheists, "religion" is simply another word for believing the unbelievable. A "leap of faith" is defined thus as ignoring one's common sense and accepting as true what no sensible person could possibly otherwise believe.

If that were what religion were all about, then I would have no use for religion myself. But belief in the absurd is not the same as religion. Belief in God is indeed a leap of faith into the unknown; but that is a belief in a deeper, more fundamental reality that undergirds the commonsense everyday reality that we see around us. That is quite different than a belief that certain depictions of miraculous events in the Bible are historically accurate, or belief in the literal truth of the Genesis creation accounts. In my view, the literal resurrection of Jesus falls into that category--something that I cannot believe in, because it is unbelievable. And when Christianity tries to make belief in something unbelievable an essential tenet of the faith--as many Christians claim it is--it makes faith into something it shouldn't have to be. Believe in literal resurrections if you must, but don't tell me that this is essential to my faith in God.


Heather said...

**In my view, the literal resurrection of Jesus falls into that category--something that I cannot believe in, because it is unbelievable.**

The unfortunate thing is that I don't think those who do take this literally understand why it's so hard for others to find it believable. And those that explain it literally inevitably seem to fall back on "God is mysterious." That's fine if one believes it, but you don't base faith on 100% mystery. Faith is based on some mystery, but you need something firm as well. Otherwise, we could start believing that God must have polka-dots, or God is not God. What do I base that on? God is mysterious, and beyond my finite mind. AT what point is a line drawn?

Mike L. said...

Thanks for the reference. I really feel like this one point is something that could help many people. Unfortunately it is the voice of a small minority which is largely ignored and rarely presented as an alternative.