Blind Faith

blinddriver

We live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

This is just plain scary. Don’t get me wrong; faith is a swell thing when it comes to things like God, heaven, prayer, angels, congress, health care, and other stuff that has no connection with reality. But when you’re talking genuine hard core in your face wake up and smell the coffee REALITY, the faith thing can get a little shaky.

According to the Bible, faith is believing in what’s not there. If something is really there, then faith has nothing to do with it. Faith only works when what you believe in isn’t really there. That’s what makes faith faith. Otherwise it would be reality, which is not even close to a religious issue. Faith and reality don’t go together at all. There is a wall of separation between them, kind of like church and state, ying and yang, or Sonny and Cher.

Belief is a big deal in the Bible. This is probably because God is the biggest thing not there that is. In fact, without belief, you can’t even get to God. Again, the Bible is specific about this. It says that “anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists.” In other words, to get to God you have to believe he’s there. If you don’t believe he’s there then you can’t get to him. This seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you ask me. If I applied that to something else, say, a pink elephant, I could find that pink elephant anywhere I decided to believe he was. (I tried it with Angelina Jolie one night but I don’t think I believed hard enough.) Anyway, you can see how this might be a problem. The Bible nips this issue in the bud by sending anybody who doesn’t believe only in God straight to hell.

From God’s point of view, faith is absolutely necessary. Unlike  a human who can get along just dealing with reality (food, traffic jams, and electric bills, etc.), God has to have faith in order to exist at all. If humans stop believing in him he’ll have no choice but to not exist. This would be a major bummer for him since he’s put so much work into the universe. But even if one person believes in him he can stick around. That’s one of the values of theology. If you think about it, seminaries are a kind of job security for God.

On the whole, faith is relatively harmless. It makes God possible, for one thing, which is what gives religion a reason to be religious. Faith also means that we aren’t limited to reality. By faith we can even ignore reality altogether if we want to. This is a plus for poor and sick people as well as for people who lived through the sixties.

This brings me, finally, to atheists. Atheists don’t believe in God. Why? Because, they say, he’s not there. They don’t want to believe in something that’s not there. Well, that’s exactly their problem. If they would just believe, they’d end up with God. Done deal. Why do people have to make things so complicated?

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3 Responses

  1. Good article. Faith is a tough one. I don’t believe, however, that it is belief in something that isn’t there. It’s not that there is NO evidence – belief in God is not a leap taken into the dark – rather the evidence is strongly suggestive, rather than definitive. If it were definitive there would be no need for faith. I wrote on this same subject last week. See my amazing blog at:
    http://smallsharpobjects.com/?p=472

  2. I too have to take issue with the statement that “faith is believing in things that are not there.” Faith, both by the Bible’s definition and most other faith communities’, is belief in something that IS there, but is not directly perceivable, usually.

    I think Ken and I are dancing around the same thing, only I’m going to go further: The thing you have faith in is as real to you as your hand in front of your face, but not as tangible. Where atheists and agnostics come in is your insistence they have faith in that thing too.

    This where Ken’s idea of “strongly suggestive” comes into play. If you wish to persuade someone else of the rationality of your faith, you’re going to have to make the case that the evidence strongly suggests what you have faith in is there for another person too. To a deeply cynical and suspicious generation, that’s a hard sell.

  3. Probably my favorite excerpt from Kierkegaard:

    To have faith is at the same time to have doubt. So, for example, for one to truly have faith in God, one would also have to doubt that God exists; the doubt is the rational part of a person’s thought, without which the faith would have no real substance. Doubt is an essential element of faith, an underpinning. In plain words, to believe or have faith that God exists, without ever having doubted God’s existence or goodness, would not be a faith worth having. For example, it takes no faith to believe that a pencil or a table exists, when one is looking at it and touching it. In the same way, to believe or have faith in God is …to know that one has no perceptual or any other access to God, and yet still has faith in God

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