Faith

Any time I’ve talked about Christianity not having enough evidence, I’m told that I’m trying to take faith out of it. Well, I guess I am. That accusation puzzles me a little, because aside from the Bible’s teachings (the thing we’re trying to verify), what makes us think a supreme deity would require faith of us at all? If he wanted a relationship with us, why would it be so taboo for him to speak to us directly? Or even meet face to face? It’s also important to remember that the Bible claims God did speak directly to people like Moses, Abraham, Peter, Paul, and Jesus. People like Moses and Gideon were even allowed to test God in order to make sure he was who he said he was. So did those people no longer have faith?

I think the breakdown comes from the way we use the word “faith”. Even though I’m an atheist, I still think faith is important. For instance, I have faith in my wife. I have faith in my friends. This faith has nothing to do with whether or not they exist, but in their character. I can feel confident about how they would react in certain situations because I know them intimately.

In contrast, when religious people say that too many evidences would jeopardize faith, they’re talking about a simple belief in God, not a relationship. In other words, they’re talking about a being whose existence is still up for debate. How can you have a real relationship with an entity whose existence you aren’t certain about? I know my wife exists — the fact of her existence requires no faith at all. Instead, the faith I have in her is much more real. It’s built on a real relationship with real experiences.

If the god of Christianity actually made himself known to each one of us, we would still need faith. We would need the kind of faith attributed to Jesus — the faith of someone involved in an intimate relationship. Faith that means you can trust what someone says, that you can anticipate what someone will do or say. That kind of faith comes from truly knowing someone, and it’s the kind of faith that is sadly lacking in all religions because at the end of the day, they can’t be certain that the object of their “faith” is even there. It reminds me of the following quote:

The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.
— Delos Banning McKown

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6 thoughts on “Faith”

  1. Hi, I guess Nate will get this. I enjoy your emails. A few days went by, I did not get one, but they are coming again. I had forgotten that I had, or where I had, ordered this from, but I knew that I must have. I plan to go back and re-read all of them. I know what you are talking about, in referance to some of your previous emails. I grew up in a very traditional denomination very similar to the one that you were in, I used to tow the line, been there done that. I know every thing your talking about in these. Thanks.

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  2. Hi Joseph, thanks for the comments! I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts here, and it’s nice to hear from someone who can identify with what I’ve been writing about. And thanks for subscribing to the email feed!

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  3. You make a point that you are unable to have faith in something that is not present. My beliefs allow me to believe in things, outside of religion, that are not present or that I cannot see. For example, I have a large amount of faith in justice. It is something that has been taught to me, something I cannot control, but I have faith it will be present and a constant in my life regardless of what I do.

    I am not sure if this is the best example, but I feel that my faith is something that is demonstrated beyond a physical substance. This could be, to your point, how our viewpoints differ.

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  4. Hi Jeff — thanks for the comment! I think you bring up a good point, and it’s one I didn’t really think about. But yes, I would agree with you that faith also applies to invisible principles. You mention justice as something you have faith in — I agree. I look at truth the same way too. So while I personally view faith in deities a little differently, I agree that having faith in principles (and relationships, etc) is a vital part of our natures.

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  5. I think in this post Nate, without realizing it, you have described the difference between someone with a relationship with a God, and someone with a relationship with a rule book, or set of believes. Faith is very different for the two situations.

    I once had a penpal in WI. Never met her face to face, but over a few months had several letters, emails and even a phone call once. Never met the person to be sure she was who she claimed to be, but my interactions were enough for me to have faith that she was infact a chick that lived in WI and not some creepy old man writting letters to a young teenage boy. But hey you never know, it could have been.

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