A recent post on Facebook I saw read “Let Faith Arise!” A cheer for Faith, a hope for Faith to grow and dominate. I am sure a great many people of Faith feel this is a great inspiring phrase, “Let Faith Arise!”
To myself however it reads very differently.
Faith, as a term, is often misused by people of faith. It has different definitions.
- Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
- Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
The first definition is about trust. I have faith (Complete Trust) my car will start when I get in it. I do not have this for no reason but because I know my vehicle and how I have maintained it. If it did not start my faith (Complete Trust) would be broken.
The second definition is about religion. It is often called “Blind Faith” because religious claims have never been proven, but people believe because they have been raised in the religion’s traditions or because they were convinced by argument of its truth. It is not complete trust in a thing because of the evidence supporting it.
The first definition everyone has, the second is reserved for people of a given faith or religion. The first is a claim of trust based upon evidence, the second is belief in a religion’s ideas without evidence. It is the second definition I have issues with because I am not convinced of the truth of any religion’s claims. The fact that people constantly conflate these differing uses of the term faith causes great consternation and sometimes conflict in the world we all share.
Take the phrase “Let Faith Arise!” If the person speaking this means definition (1)`, then I wholeheartedly support it, as this type of complete trust is earned and supported by evidence. It requires reason and critical thinking, and most importantly evidence.
If the person intends definition (2) then it is religious bigotry. Whomever is speaking it is not speaking of any religion, but whichever one they believe in. People would not want an increase in religious or blind faith unless it was their own religion. Christians are not saying “Let Faith Arise!” meaning Muslim faith, they mean Christian faith. In this fashion it is anti-liberty and seeks to make their religion the dominate one, with no concern for those of other faiths or their beliefs.
It looks to me as if people of faith have created a new meaning for faith, a definition (3), which would be “a complete trust that my religious belief is correct because I have faith (2) in it”, and this is what they want to arise. They want everyone to have a blind faith, just like them, because that is so much easier. If everyone believes in the same fashion then no thought about why they believe is ever needed. This is anti-liberty and stands against the ideal of religious liberty enshrined in the Constitution.
Faith (3) Is unsound because no person of faith has the evidence to show what they believe is real, because they believe it without evidence. They have faith instead, they believe the tale. It is unsound because it is bigoted against any and every other faith or lack of faith entire. Yet the people of faith who use such terms see this a good thing.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This verse is a very common interpretation of what faith is by Christians. So let me take a look at this very poetic verse. Faith is the substance of things hoped for . . .
- A particular kind of matter with uniform properties.
- The real physical matter of which a person or thing consists and which has a tangible, solid presence.
What does substance mean in this sentence, a type of matter? Faith has no matter, it is a either complete trust (which has no substance) or religious belief (which also has no substance). Is it the “real physical matter of which a person or thing consists”? Again Faith has no real physical substance.
Yet this poetic line is falsely equivocating faith as the substance (real actual physical evidence) of hope, another intangible emotion. Religion is said to give people hope, of an afterlife, of salvation from an inevitable eternal torture. and so forth. This sentence is telling people their own faith is evidence of their religious hopes, of an afterlife or salvation.
It is re-defining the term faith. A definition (3) “a complete trust (because their faith is evidence) that my religious belief is correct because I have faith (2) in it”. That is utter circular reasoning. “I have complete trust because my complete trust is evidence of my complete trust”. It is literally saying “I have complete trust (in my religious ideas) because my belief (in those religious ideas) is evidence (of those very religious ideas).”
Yet that is not enough for the poet of Hebrews 11, they also claim “the evidence of things not seen” in the very same line! Let us examine this line, “the evidence of things not seen”.
something which shows that something else exists or is true
: a visible sign of something
: material that is presented to a court of law to help find the truth about something
Faith is evidence (Hard, tangible,visible) of things not seen, which is a blatant falsehood. Faith in a thing is not a tangible evidence of that thing. Faith cannot be evidence of things not seen, by definition. This line of poetry is attempting to define the religious faith into hard physical, visible. existence.
“Now faith (an intangible belief or trust) is the substance (hard material proof) of things hoped for (but not proven to exist), the evidence (visible proof) of things not seen”. IN this fashion it is the Bible itself which is redefining faith to fit its ends. It has created faith (3) “a complete trust that my religious belief is correct because I have faith (2) in it”, which is utterly circular and dead wrong by definition.
Faith can never do this, it is simply not hard visible evidence that what a person of faith believes is true. If it were then EVERY religion would be correct simply because someone believed it, their belief in it would make it true by re-defining faith as evidence. Faith is not evidence, it is belief without evidence.
Now apply that cute little line from Facebook, “let faith arise!” in light of Hebrews 11, “Now faith (an intangible belief or trust) is the substance (hard material proof) of things hoped for (but not proven ), the evidence (visible proof) of things not seen”. An appeal to let this notion of faith arise, is an appeal to no longer use the brain you believe God gave you. To simply believe whatever anyone tells you about God or reality because that person’s belief is now evidence of the truth of that belief. It is a direct appeal to be gullible and not think, in a fine poetic form.
Thus Hebrews 11 does not properly define faith as we use the term, and in fact seeks to re-define the term and thereby define God into existence. It’s a nice bit of poetry with a fine ring to it, but it makes no sense at all. It is just plain wrong. This is yet another reason why I find the Christian faith unbelievable.