What exactly is faith and is it valid?
This is a question I asked myself in my mid-twenties. I consider my conclusion to the question a crux in my personal success and well being.
My understanding of faith, is to act on something you believe in, even though you are not completely sure about it. If you believe, but it does not change your actions, or your actions do not show your belief, then it is not faith (only belief). There is a spectrum of faith. The greater the unknown, more faith is required.
A few examples…
When you start a new job you will work for a period of time before you get paid, often between two weeks and a month. This requires faith in your employer, that they will actually pay you. The longer you work for free the greater the faith you are demonstrating.
When you agree to live with another person (roommate, spouse, etc…) you believe that they will treat you and your property in a certain way; by moving-in with them you are showing faith in your ability to live together.
I had a medical procedure done a few years ago. This procedure required that I get put completely out. From my perspective I was sitting in a bed with an IV and then I woke up in a different position. My life was in their hands, I believed that they would perform the procedure agreed upon and that I would come out unscathed; faith was shown when I showed up at the hospital. I had no ill effects from the procedure, but to this day the only reason I know they performed the procedure is because they said they did. I was completely knocked out! That required faith in the medical staff.
This reasoning caused me to ponder, is faith necessary, is it good? Should we try to avoid acting on a belief as much as we possibly can?
What if I applied absence of faith to running my business? Without belief in success or belief that what I’m going to do or am doing will matter, I wouldn’t work on my business. Would anyone? What would our country and world be like without new businesses?
Then I wondered on the scientific process, which requires a hypothesis, an educated guess. Why would anyone perform hours and years of grueling study and research based on a guess? Faith I discovered, is the answer. Faith in the hypothesis, in one’s own abilities, and/or in divine guidance, colleagues, a system, or something else.
Is faith unreasonable? Sometimes it might be, yet it is paramount to any effort. This brings to mind a quote by George Bernard Shaw, “All progress depends on the unreasonable man”. Does this suggest that logic and reason are pointless? From my experience, no; logic and reason are are valuable tools. I do think this means: we must have some kind of belief in a vision, to improve the world. This can be enlightening, we need not be surprised or upset, when our vision and belief seems unreasonable to those who do not share our belief.
Developing an understanding of faith has given me great strength and determination. The things I have faith in, God, myself, my Wife, my family, community, and country have all brought me success and joy.