Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Everyday faith-

People act on faith every day. They go to bed every night expecting the sun to rise in the morning. They plan for it as if it had already occurred.

They get into cars and hurtle at dangerous velocities on narrow pathways with other humans operating other cars, trusting in the rules of the road and the capacity (and willingness) of those other humans to follow them. As far as I am concerned, that is a huge leap of faith.

They use money. Now there is faith! I go to work, investing my time and effort in somebody else's interests, in exchange for pieces of paper that are no more than a promise. I trust that everyone else with whom I deal will also believe in that promise. These days I don't even get a piece of paper all that often. Sometimes I just get numbers recorded in electronic devices I have probably never even seen.

Faith is a part of life. It is believing a certain outcome will occur from a certain action. It is believing in effect following cause. Even those who know enough to doubt the veracity of cause and effect still live as if it were true. Faith can be a funny thing.

They sit in chairs without even thinking about their beliefs about chairs. Though I would hazard that most people have had at least one chair failure in their life, yet they still tend to sit as if there could be no doubt that the chair will chair and hold them up from the ground.

They choose to believe and act this way because life would be very difficult to manage without fundamental assumptions and beliefs. Such faith, such belief, is practical. It makes life work. We just don't have time to test every chair upon which we might sit. We can't afford the time and expense of seeing every chair certified and regularly tested to insure our safety.

What defines the cut-off? After all, we don't regularly trust ourselves to cars because they are absolutely safe. Accidents happen all of the time, yet we run that risk just to go to the mall, even when we don't really need anything. We get out on the road sometimes just for the experience of driving, even though there is some probability that we won't survive the adventure.

I recall a television program which featured a woman who could make herself drive after an accident, but would only make right turns. She would plot her whole journey to insure that she could make right turns all of the way to her destination and back. This behavior seems psychotic to most of us, and by definition it is. However, is it that much more crazy than the rest of us running the risk just to get a loaf of bread?

Faith, by whatever degree, is still faith. Trust me.


Harvey said...


So that you don't feel left out...

"Such faith, such belief, is practical. It makes life work. We just don't have time to test every chair upon which we might sit. We can't afford the time and expense of seeing every chair certified and regularly tested to insure our safety."

I tink that you here express the major difference between day to day "faith" and the "faith" we are told that people have in a Deity for whose reality there is not one shred of evidence. The day to day variety is based upon personal experience, knowledge of the world gained by reading, upbringing, etc. Most of us have, as you say, experienced at least one chair failure, but, we have also experienced many thousands of times in which our faith that the chair would hold up has been vindicated. Religious faith is also based upon upbringing and reading, but none of us has had multiple experiences in which either our every prayer was answered or our failure to "observe" as we have been taught has resulted in any demonstrable bad effects in the here and now. Furthermore, as you point out, day to day faith is necessary to living. Religious "faith" (at least in the predominant Christian view) is about what may or may not happen to us after this life has ended. Although it is apparent that many people "need" some form of this religious faith to cope with the realities of living in an often frightening and cruel reality, the absence of such belief is repeatedly demonstrated to be perfectly feasible to a happy, productive life.
I think that these two different meanings of "faith" are as different as the proverbial "apples and oranges". They are both types of fruit and more or less round, but thereafter their differences are quite obvious.

mac said...

We have faith in the sun because it is a quantifiable thing.

I'm with ya on driving, though :-)
It is scary at times. I ride this pink motorcycle. Trust me, that gets scary, too!
But, the fear is part of why it's so damned fun. It's fun being out on the edge sometimes.

Harvey has summed up my feelings here again. Thanks Harvey :-)

Maybe if a god were to come see me once in a while, call, or something, I would have faith in him too ;-)

Michael Lockridge said...

Mac, have you tried asking God to visit you? Do you actually want that? If you do, ask Him. Requests like that can become.... interesting.

Harvey, the people who have faith in God believe they have ample evidence of His existence. They accept evidence you choose not to accept.

What would be your criteria if God were to prove Himself to you? You can reply here, or perhaps build a blog on this. That, too, would be interesting.

Oh, and thanks for reading and commenting. I find that encouraging.


Harvey said...


As I think you may know, I am an agnostic who has studied most of the "major" religions, as well as extensive reading in Philosophy. Until now (age 71) I have failed to find any manifestation or evidence for the existance of a Deity/Creator that seemed to me to have any intellectual weight, other than the fact that every culture we know of has seen fit to create God(s). As I am still alove, I have not been able to totally rule out the possibility of such a creator, but, as yet, have not been able to rule one in either. Were it not for the unavoidable day to day impact upon all of our lives (at least in the Western world) of Christianity, I suppose that I would no longer feel any need to keep looking. I find that the absence of religious faith in my own life has left no "holes" or doubts about what may or may not occur after I leave this existance. It seems to me not particularly terribel or frightening that I will cease to exist in the present sense and return to the same state of non-existance that I presume was true for me before I was conceived. As a result, I cannot imagine how or why any Deity might choose to manifest itself to me, nor do I particularly care, at this point in my life.