What Is Faith? (A Definition)

Blind Folded Woman

There are far too many interpretations of the term “faith” then is possible to deal with in a single conversation, so I think it’s important to set what we mean on when we use this word. Faith by almost all definitions is a powerful entity; this is an almost unquestionable fact. It leads people to actions that they otherwise may have had little incentive of committing (these may be harmful or beneficial). Yet one of the most interesting things about personal faith is that often the details of its origins lie completely unquestioned by the individual or society.

Now let’s be clear here, when we speak of faith we are talking about the term “faith” used in a particular context; namely faith as the possession of beliefs without reliance on evidence. This doesn’t necessarily mean no evidence is available for that belief, but when the individual feels no need to justify his belief with evidence or if in fact he believes that evidence is not a fundamental requirement for these beliefs, than this is faith in the context that we are discussing here.

It’s important not to confuse faith with trust. Trust may also be held in the absence of evidence though I’m of the opinion that this is rarer. However for the purpose of our discussions we may differentiate the two on one key quality. Namely that almost all of us are readily prepared to break trust in something or someone if sufficient evidence is presented. You may trust your spouse with your life, but walking into your house to find him or she in a compromising position with the gardener quickly changes that state of trust, and usually not for the better! Faith however can withstand the most concrete of evidence; in fact, having faith is often taken axiomatically as a measure of one’s nobility and moral goodness; as such holding on to a belief in the face of evidence to its contrary is often regarded as a morally superior position by many. This is rarely the case with trust, which can easily be broken even when it is incredibly strong.

We should also note that the term “faith” is sometimes used as a synonym for “trust”. Take as an example a mother who tells her son that she has “faith” that he will take his responsibilities seriously; this is in actual fact a statement of trust. It is conditional on observations to come and is most likely predicated on previous behavior –which is a form of evidence. It is important to make this distinction, and on this site at least, when we speak of faith- unless otherwise stated -we will mean faith in the following spirit:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

One thought on “What Is Faith? (A Definition)

  1. Pingback: Flying Spiritually | Scievangelist

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