Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A More Accurate Definition of Faith

We have no control over what we believe. As the famous quotation goes, "you can do what you want, but, you can't want what you want". What we believe takes no effort. It is not dependent upon science or reason or willpower or anything. It just is. A more accurate definition of faith would be 'the process of trying to believe or not believe what one does or does not believe'. Faith is struggle. It is intellectual and spiritual effort to change an internal state of mind and soul. In a sense, faith is the only active state of mental or spiritual being. Yesterday I posted the following update to Facebook: In light of the above definition, it may be more appropriate when discussing one's move from religion to use the phrase 'my faith has lost', rather than 'I have lost my faith'.

Yesterday, I posted the following statement to my Facebook page:

"I struggle with my attitude towards religious people. On the one hand, I am very sympathetic to those who use their holy texts as motivation to do good, or to just hang on in a world that can be very tough. On the other hand, I become furious when I read or listen to most theology or apologetics. I'd like to be able to live in peace with my religious brothers and sisters, but the rising indignation I feel when wading through religious thought is tough to ignore."

I am at a point in my atheism where faith is completely inactive. At first it was active--I think--because in my heart of hearts I wanted someone to convince me I was wrong in jettisoning religion.

Now I am one with my unbelief and feel no stress about the belief of others. I feel--having once had belief myself--I can empathize with it. I can also understand it from a sociopolitical and psychological perspective. That's why mere belief doesn't bother me. How can I be bothered by something that is beyond someone's control?

I am still, however, bothered by the public reasoning people put forth for their religious faith, and by other conclusions that assumes the truth of their faith. They are intrusive. They are arguments by people who are trying to bolster their own waning or uncertain belief, either by propagandizing themselves or by convincing others to buy into their mythmaking in the hopes that there is truth in numbers.

There are certain things I have faith in, and certain ideas I hope to promulgate, so I have to understand the mechanics of what is going on here, too. But I do feel obligated to confront faulty thinking and corrosive conclusions wherever they appear. This will probably remain one of my vices.


Jeff Elliott said...

i prefer this definition of faith.
"faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see"

Steve Perry said...

Hey Spencer,
Where do you get the idea that we do not choose our beliefs?