You're saying it wrong: Misusing the word "Faith"
What is Faith?
Far too often I hear people misusing the word “faith.” Here are a few ways I have heard people commonly use abuse this word.
“Faith isn’t good enough for me, I need reasons.”
"You have faith and I have science."
“Why have faith when you can believe what’s real?”
Take these phrases at surface value and anyone would wonder why we even bother with faith.
The problem with these phrases is that they mischaracterize faith. They assume faith is opposed to things like reason, science, and reality. Ultimately, they simply have a bad definition of faith.
Speaking of bad definitions, Dr. Peter Boghossian defines faith as “pretending you know things you don’t know.”
Dr. Boghossian and others are defining something, but it’s not faith. It’s blind faith. The idea of blind faith gained popularity when Kirkegaard defined faith as “a leap in the dark.” But does the Bible teach or recommend any sort of blind faith?
Search the New Testament and you will be hard pressed to see anything like blind faith. Anytime there is a call to faith, there is never a call to have faith blindly. There is always plenty of good reasons to have faith.
The common Greek word for faith, “pistis”, is simply defined as "trust" which differs greatly from blind faith.
When you want to go somewhere you get in your car and you turn it on. But wait! What if there is a car bomb rigged to blow when your engine starts? This is a very real possibility. There are many documented cases of this happening throughout the world. It is actually possible.
After considering the threat of a bomb being rigged to your engine, are you going to start checking your car for bombs anytime you drive somewhere? I doubt you will. Why? Because it’s not likely.
You have probably started your car thousands of times and it has never blown up before. You probably haven’t offended any gangs or terrorist groups in your area that regularly use car bombs, nor do you probably know of any.
You have every reason to believe there is not a bomb rigged to your engine. So the next time you go for a drive you are just going to get in your car and start it like normal.
Let’s be clear. You don’t know that there isn’t a bomb attached to your engine, but you implicitly trust that there is not. You have faith and it is justified by good reasons.
In fact, you use faith every day. You sit in a chair having faith that it won’t break. You set your alarm having faith that it will actually work and go off at the designated time. You eat your lunch expecting it to nourish you rather than poison you. You trust chairs, your devices, and your food because you have good reason to.
Faith isn’t believing without reason. Faith is believing with good reason.
Faith isn’t trusting without evidence. It is trusting because there is evidence.
Can this definition of faith as trust be applied to religious belief? Absolutely. Religious beliefs can and should be tested and analyzed to see if there is any good reason to believe them or not.
One thing I love about the Bible is that it practically invites scrutiny. It consistently references locations, dates, and persons in power. That means we can actually look at the evidence and determine whether or not the Bible is reliable or trustworthy.
Personally, I have found the scriptures and the Christ they speak of to be very trustworthy and I have every reason to have faith in them. Not blind faith, but a faith backed by evidence.
The point is, faith is not an insistence on believing without evidence or reason. Faith is not blind. Faith is trusting with good reason to do so.
What about you? Are your beliefs backed by good reasons?
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