If faith is for you the kind which makes you stand before a God praying for your or anybody's welfare, or to be optimistic that good things happen to good people, or that everything happens for good, or somebody out there created you, loves you and takes care of you, well, consider me an atheist.
And yet, I am sure that there can be no action, no life, without faith. But that faith needn't be only of the above kind.
What is faith? The most important characteristic of Faith is that it is irrational. This is not yet to mean that faith is bad; remember, I just asserted that without faith, life would be impossible. Then? Faith is a meta-physical belief, which means that you believe in a thesis or proposition which isn't yet proved or may be actually unprovable within the framework of scientific methodology. For example, believing that God exists is a faith. Believing that God doesn't exist is also a faith. Not believing that God exists or doesn't exist, is agnosticism, and is not a faith!
An extreme version of faith is blind faith, in which you have decided on your faith a priori, and in order to preserve it, resort to selective observation, misinterpretation, misrepresentation and even manipulation of facts. An even more extreme version of blind faith is fanaticism. If the facts which go against your faith come through human beings, you decide to silence them through intimidation, persecution and even murder.
But I repeat that faith, this irrational belief, is central to anything sentient beings do. Here's a list of some faiths that drive many of us, even those who would claim to be avowed rationalists:
- I am the best.
- Knowledge is power.
- Money can buy happiness.
- Humans aren't an inherently vicious race and can be educated to behave.
- Technology is benign.
- Consumption drives the economy and leads to prosperity.
- Competition, as long as fair, leads to ethical business.
- We are in a mess right now. But something will happen, somebody will do something, to take us all out of it.
- Some animals are crops. It's OK to eat them.
- And this one probably applies to all of us living: It's better to live than to die.
Many of the above are blind faith, and they are kept by very rational people.
I too have a bunch of faiths. Which means that they are irrational. They can't be proved. Yet, I feel as if they were planted in me before I could have decided whether I wanted them or not. They, of course, have evolved and have taken an articulated form over time. And surprisingly, I don't resent them. For me, another of those who swear by rationalism, they form the foundation of my life. Here they are:
- There's something called goodness. Value exists. Beauty exists.
- I am good.
- Life is good.
- Universe is beautiful.
- I am a part of that beauty.
- We all get glimpses of that universal beauty, some in more quantity, some in less.
For me, to remember those glimpses is an act of faith; to forget that is heresy. To try and turn that glimpse into a vision is an act of faith; to ignore, benumb, or kill it is heresy. To contribute to that beauty is faith; to destroy it is heresy.
Would love to hear what your faith is!