Why Do People Have Faith?

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I was entering a google search a moment ago and noticed this interesting question (you know, auto-filled in by google due to how commonly it’s entered). I have actually thought about this many times, and I have my own thoughts on it, so I thought I’d share.

Why Do People Have Faith?

First of all, there is one obvious reason for this question: people have faith (in God) because this is human nature, this tendency is in the depth of our existence,… because our soul longs for union with God.

However, whether you think that is true or not, we can still look at some more points relevant to this.

1. People from all different religions, philosophies, and belief systems have a tendency towards faith. Some may have faith in “God,” some in “Allah,” some even in “atheism.” Some people may simply have faith in humanity’s ability to improve upon its worldly existence,… or to wreck it.

Where does all this faith, in different things, come from?

I think it comes from two things. One: the tendency towards faith that is inherent in human life, which I think is due to our fundamental need to reunite with our Creator, or Source. Two: once people have an elevating experience, something more eye-opening and uplifting than they have previously known, they are clearly likely to assign importance to it thereafter. However, such experiences often come with regards to abstract, internal, spiritual matters. By association, something humans clearly use and rely on continuously to make sense of the world, we grant great importance to many things linked to that uplifting experience….

So, if a young Muslim has an uplifting experience while studying her or his religion, they are more likely to come away from that with a greater faith in Allah, and in their religion. The same goes for a Christian, or even someone studying a philosophy like atheism, free-market capitalism, or the Colbert philosophy.

Whose Faith Is Right?

The thing about strong faith is that we typically (or, by definition) believe that it is right, while others are wrong. Hence, religious wars (though, those are obviously due to more than a simple difference in beliefs).

One philosophy may stand out as the ultimate, deepest, most true philosophy. (I certainly think mine is that one.)

But the overarching point of faith, in my opinion, is to lead us through what we need to go through, what we need to learn, on our way to that ideal.

Someone adamant that snowmen should be worshiped may very well need to go through a phase of believing in the holiness of snowmen. The same is true for Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Taoists, Colbertists, and so on….

Our faith, even in simple things like “practice makes perfect” or “if you study hard, you will have a better life,” leads us forward. We need it. We need it throughout life.

However, as indicated above, I do have the belief that this all leads to an ultimate faith in an ultimate truth that leads to the wonderful disintegration of an individual self into the source from which they’ve come. That requires much more than faith, of course. That also requires grace, love, perseverance, and an actual method of leaving one’s body and leaving one’s higher “spiritual” bodies.

Faith, alone, just leads us to practice….

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  • Eduard Cherechesiu

    Atheism does not rely on the concept of faith it is a conclusion of what can and cannot be observed by established methods of science. One does not decide to be an atheist, one arrives to that conclusion. It is a concept fairly hard to understand by people that do ”have faith”

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      We all have faith in things — faith that it is good to get an education, faith that it is good to work hard, faith that we should eat a certain way, faith that it is good to follow any number of specific paths in life. Spirituality is really no different. There are spiritual adepts who have gone inside and experienced the same things over and over. It has been documented repeatedly in different cultures, the same things. One must have faith in order to follow that same practice, but yes, eventually, one must experience those same results or they will probably change course.

      That said, an expert pianist, basketball player, chess player, etc doesn’t become an expert overnight. In the realm of spirituality, plenty of hard work also has to go in before one can reach much higher levels. Many, even if they start along a fruitful path, may fall off of it if they give up too early. There is really nothing different here than in other realms of life.

      In the end, we are all pulled to different interests and understandings in life. Our level of spiritual interest and understanding can lead us to those fruitful practices and experiences or not. If we for some reason have an interest in assuming there is no such thing as a spiritual side of things, that is the life we will lead. As one might say, that is the life for which we are destined.

      On another note, I do have to say that it is sort of funny to me when people try to evangelize people in much the same way that Evangelical Christians try to evangelize. :D