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Faith: The Cleverest of them all

February 8, 2009

I think that when many nonbelievers try to make accounts of religion, they fail to realize that for most practitioners and believers, the benefits of religion are very real. I like to think that there is a genuinely felt sense of faith, but some nonbelievers can simply discount the possibility of such a thing. Without taking an account for a genuine belief and trust in religion, it’s easy enough to assume that all religious people must be deluded or deceived…but this kind of view is unfair and uncharitable.

…I can’t just believe that the vast majority of people are deluded or deceived (even if that may end up being the case). I dunno, even if people are capable of great terrors and horrors, I just can’t paint everyone with a broad stroke. So when referring to the lasting appeal of religion, I have to think that there is a genuine sense of faith and that some people have it.

However, when I refer to the idea of faith, I have a very specific idea in my mind. Faith, in my mind, is a predisposition to trusting in religious matters. This predisposition also allows people to be fulfilled spiritually — to feel blessed when appropriate, so to speak. Faith is not chosen, in my mind (which is going to cause problems when I link to someone else’s idea of faith). It is a personality disposition to choose, but this personality type isn’t itself chosen.

Someone who lacks faith cannot believe easily because he cannot feel comfortable trusting in whatever it is he is asked to trust. Not only does he not see any reason why, but he isn’t fulfilled by the realm of faith and what it entails. I guess that there’s been enough said about how flimsy manifestation-based and feeling-based testimonies can be, but even for a life-tested testimony, the prerequisite is to have the desire, and of course, your studying, living of Gospel teachings, and offerings of prayer must yield something meaningful. If they do not, then spirituality is and feels dead for you.

…of course, my brand of faith isn’t the same brand of faith that most religions would refer to as faith. Their brand is a much cleverer tool. See, my brand of faith allows for some people to realize that a certain religion may not be for them — if they don’t “feel” it. But realistically, religions have to fit all people.

So faith has become the tool that completes all circles for religion. If you can’t be disposed to believe (my brand of faith), then this is where the more commonly known variety of faith comes in: you should just force yourself desire to believe and consciously believe (the clever religious brand of faith).

And of course, that can clear up anything. Can’t believe because of some doubtful proof (or no proof at a ll)? Just bridge the gap with faith! At this time, someone would post that we need to be using God’s parameters for “proof” and faith, instead of our own.

I guess this could be taken in a negative way, but in fact, most theological views will make this as a positive reality. That believing in the absence of full proof is made to be a virtue of itself. For example, this Mormon Matters post highlights the necessity of doubt with faith because the choice to follow the commandments should be difficult, it seems. If it were not, then there’d be little room for progress and growth. And of course, with the MM-esque characterization of faith, if you lack my idea of faith, then you’re just in luck! Your lack of faith predisposition means your suffering will be greater in this life, but you’ll have much more opportunity to grow! Just like how those homosexuals have that much more opportunity to grow from their afflictions.

When I was reading this MM post, I became aware (as happens usually) about the vast divide between those with faith and those without. As one of the latter, this post rubbed me the wrong way…just as my above line about homosexuals rubs me the wrong way whenever I see it in one way or another (e.g., the church position that gays should be celibate and just wait faithfully for the day in the next life when they too can be straight and married!). How is anyone supposed to accept this? Well, the answer is simple: have faith! Yet, the people who accept this reasoning are those who are predisposed to accept this. Those who have my formulated brand of faith.

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