What is Faith ? (1)
Any “faith” is based on unverifiable “beliefs”, which I will simply call “mental constructs”. Thus, if the beliefs can only be believed and not factually known, the conclusions based on those beliefs are suspect also.
We can “know” that the shirt I am wearing is a guayabara and that I am wearing a panama hat and if you were here, we could easily agree that the shirt is a dark blue and that my hat is a brilliant white, with a dark blue band of cloth around the crown.
But, we cannot “know” that “all is the Will of Allah” or that to the Christian, a “nonbeliever will spend eternity in hell”. This is but one small example.
The point is that if the initial “faith beliefs” are wrong, then how can anyone say that “it can never mislead?”
Faith is the ultimate evidence for the one who believes and no evidence for the one who doesn’t. However, faith or the lack of it has to be maintained for justifiable reasons.
Acquiring faith and sticking to it without genuine reasons is as bad as rejecting it without justification.
Faith by its definition has to do with the realities that belong to the domain of the unseen world. Therefore comparing it with the example of a shirt is comparing without any common basis.
There are enough reasons in our life to look for faith. This world is a wonderful place; we humans have tremendous potential; our environment is sustaining us by providing us with what we need; this world paradoxically also carries many problems too. Man understandably looks for answers to questions like these: Who created us? Why were we created? What are we expected to do? What is going to happen after death? And so on. When one looks for answers to these questions, one gets a faith. I am sure good faith too needs to be constantly reviewed. Bad faith must be criticised into extinction. However, no faith is no option at all. At best one might say that I am trying to find answers but I haven’t been convinced by any that have been offered as yet.
Having no faith means that the individual is saying that he is not interested in knowing the answers which is a very strange position.
We, the religious people, are claiming that once the questions are seriously probed by an individual, God, our creator, steps in Himself and begins to provide answers. He provides opportunities to learn, responds to prayers, enables us to go through faith-strengthening experiences.
How can someone who hasn’t gone through these experiences even comment on them? And how can this form of knowledge be compared with the knowledge of a guayabara shirt?