Is faith a belief in something inexplicable? Or a conviction based on knowledge?
The Bahai writings call faith ‘conscious knowledge’ followed up with goodly deeds. How such knowledge gets into ones consciousness is an important question. The Bahai teachings do involve acceptance of some things as fact that can’t be easily proven. Like most religions Bahai has its dogma. But not quite on the level of, say Christianity that usually (depending on the sect) requires belief in the miracles of virgin birth and resurrection, for starters. In Bahai the dogma that stands out for me is the requirement to believe that the Faith’s founder — Bahaullah — was the perfect mirror of all the perfections of God, that he was infallible, was always in touch with God and that meeting him was the same as meeting God. Quite a bit of faith/knowledge is required to have this much faith.
So whether it’s resurrection or infallibility, faith for most people requires a ‘leap.’
But must Faith always involve a leap? Emerson wrote that he believed in miracles because he could move his arm. To him everyday living was a miracle. Emerson didn’t believe in the miracles of the Bible but did think that every breath was a miracle — he had faith in life.
Religion usually requires faith of it believers. In fact belief in religion is synonymous with faith in most respects.
I’ve been learning about the Unitarian/Universalism religion and so far have learned that while the followers of this religion may have differing views from each other, many believe as Emerson did that the true miracles are the ones that occur each day in everyone’s life.
I think this is a helpful idea — one worth meditating on. It proves itself everyday and doesn’t cause anyone to suspend rational thinking. Yet its transcendent and uplifting.
The book that Reverend Cindy (of Westford’s First Parish Church) loaned me to read — “A Chosen Faith” by John Buehrens and Forrest Church — refers to Pascal’s wager regarding religion. Its a wager I’ve thought a lot about. Its mentioned in the Bahai writings (without referencing Pascal if I remember correctly) that I was brought up reading — and the idea has been stuck inside me for 50 years now.
Pascal said — look — why not believe in God and a life after death — be one of the faithful. If you are wrong when you die you’ve lost nothing — you simply turn to dust like everyone else. But if you are correct you reap the rewards of the faithful.
Who wouldn’t accept a bet where you have nothing to lose and everything to gain — just by professing a little faith.
The rub here is that this doesn’t seem to be how faith works. Professing belief and really having faith must be too different things. Rather that hedging one’s bets why not start with the miracle of the present moment and work from there?
Joseph Campbell said years ago that “eternity has nothing to do with time.” And I think faith has nothing to do with leaps or hedging one’s bets. I think it has much more to do with the quality of our moment in time.
What do you think faith is? I’d love to hear from you on the subject!
P.S. I forgot to mention something I feel is important — Gandhi described faith as putting one’s foot on the first rung of a ladder when you don’t know where it is leading. It seems to me that this definition of faith applies to faith of many kinds — and to the human condition — most of us travel on a journey unsure of where it is leading. Is that true of you?