Friday 25 February 2011

Faith in the Dude and Belief in the Geek: The Church of Us

So Faith, in its very essence, is the adamant belief in something with no evidence to support it. The most purported explanation of the concept being that if you need proof to believe in it, you cannot have it. What an amazing stipulation to conceive of, it will always undermine sceptics, as it is frankly an inarguable point. If you question Faith you don’t have it and to not question it is to have it. I’m thinking of this in terms of Religious Faith, but of course Faith is not a narrow concept.
We all have Faith in something, whether it is ourselves, another person, an idea regarding what life is. Even if it is not in the context of a religious belief, you have Faith. But often these ‘Faiths’ are based on experience and evidence. You trust in a person because they have chosen to never let you down, you trust in an idea regarding life because you feel that there is sufficient evidence to support it. So by the very definition of ‘Faith’ put forward above these cannot be Faiths or even Beliefs, but Facts.
But then it is all a matter of perspective. You believe in a person, trust them, because they have never let you down, but what if they have let someone else down? The opposing perspective would be that this person is someone who will let you down, betray your trust. So how can your Faith in them be real? How can it be Truth if it is not the truth for everybody? And so it goes with Faith itself I suppose.
Maybe everyone has some kind of evidence to support their beliefs, evidence that is real to them but not seen or experienced by another. A sign from God. So to say that if someone is sceptical, that they cannot have Faith, is merely to say that they have not seen the proof for themselves and therefore do not believe in that Ideology.
Perhaps there really is no such thing as Blind Faith. Even when we act on gut instinct, what is gut instinct but our developed sense of understanding of the world around us? People say that as they get older they have learned to follow their gut instinct more often. More likely this is reflective of a more developed sense of understanding of their environment. Of course you will have more gut instincts as you get older because you have experienced more. If you are even halfway intelligent you will learn from experience. And your gut instincts will become stronger because they have been positively reinforced. Listening to yourself, being in tune with your ‘gut instincts’, brings about a sense of calm and a feeling of balance that causes us to do it more.
The more I think about it the more I feel that my Beliefs, my Faith, my Morality, my Ideas, could be, and probably would be, so truly alien to so many other people. I surround myself with people who are like me. People who share the same Beliefs, the same Values, the same Morals and the same Ideas. If not always the same, then very similar. So in that sense we all have Faith. We all have our very own Systems of Belief.
Taking that into consideration the definition of Faith put forward by religion has to be false, because Faith is something that we all possess within our Ideologies. I guess that religious groups, being Mass Ideologies, try to spread their Beliefs by maintaining that to not have the same system of Ideology as them is to lack Faith.
We all follow our own Truths. When we run into trouble is when we deny our instincts, our individually developed belief system. Or maybe to fully engross ourselves only in our belief system is also dangerous. To deny any sense of perspective on our ideas through open comparison with the ideas of others is to truly lose our sense of self. If your reaction to a query over your Faith is defensive anger, then you are delving into the realms of insanity. You are distancing yourself so much with your beliefs that you no longer consider them to be just that, Beliefs. The inability to accept that your truth is not the only truth could lead to a desire to enforce your beliefs onto others, for you would wholly believe that you are right in every sense and every context in your ideas. This is how Cults begin. This is how Dictators are created.
I find other people endlessly interesting, and I could never imagine a world wherein I would not want to hear every opinion that I could, especially the bizarre ones. I do not believe that I know everything, nor do I believe that I or anyone ever could. I believe that if I stop asking questions or being questioned that I will stop learning about this world, about other people, about myself. I believe that I have evidence to support this drawn from my own life experience. I have Faith in this idea. So again, I am judging other ideologies by my own ideology, just as religious people do. So maybe there is no difference at all, maybe there is no difference between me and a cult member. It’s just that my ideas seem more logical, rational and reasonable to me because they are mine.
One conclusion I can draw is that we are none of us, to a man, without Belief, without Faith. It is just that there are as many different things to believe in as there are people in the world. Faith is entirely relative to the individual. Your perception of reality is your Truth. My perception of reality is my Truth. It is doubtful that they are the same, but perhaps, they are just a little bit similar.

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