WHAT IS FAITH?Program 155 by Ernest O'Neill LISTEN
What is faith? What do you think faith is?
The reason that we're trying to discuss it is because we think that
faith is a superstitious attempt to believe something that you know isn't true.
What we've been sharing is that that's an utterly wrong definition of faith. Because faith is belief based on reasonable evidence and action stemming from
that belief. So it is something that we exercise almost every day of our lives.
We turn the faucet on and we have faith that we're going to get hot water from it; this in spite of the fact that often hot water doesn't come from it. We go down into the garage and we turn the ignition key, having faith that the engine will spring into life and we'll get to work, even though often it doesn't spring into life. Yet we still keep having faith that we'll do it. In other words, faith is something we operate on in our ordinary everyday lives. We operate on it increasingly in regard to our finances in these days. I don't know about you, but if you're like me your bank account is probably kept by some computer in some basement of a bank. And yet I have faith that they will continue to keep my balance properly and that they will have my money when I need it. It's the same when we lift the phone. We have faith that when we call a certain number we'll speak to a certain person that we're wanting to get in contact with.
So, in regard to faith we all need to realize that we practice it whether we like it or not everyday of our lives. Indeed, most of the things that we do in our everyday life are based on faith rather than on any scientific, precise knowledge. It's amazing how few things are based on precise, scientific knowledge. Even when we talk about measurements we're always talking in approximations at least to the nearest hundredth of an inch or to a thousandth of a centimetre, but we're normally talking in terms of estimates. So it is really amazing how many things we run by faith and how many things in our lives are done by faith, that is, by our belief based on reasonable evidence that certain things are true and our actions stemming from that belief.
What we discussed previously was the good sense of having faith that this universe of ours, and particularly this world in which we live, did not come about by some wild explosion, nor just by evolution. It was very much reasonable to believe that however much evolution there was in the world, it is sensible to assume that it all evolved from something. Evolution alone does not explain how the single cell amoeba was created. Indeed, it is very reasonable to have faith in the whole idea that even this first single cell amoeba was programmed to develop in a certain way.
So, what we've been sharing preivously is that it's not unwise or ridiculous to have faith in the idea that an intelligent mind created the universe in which we live.
Now of course that becomes much more reasonable when you consider the kind of people you and I are. You begin to analyse the minds that we have -- minds that are capable of not only mathematical calculations, but minds that are capable of holding a number of facts on a kind of memory drum that we have and selecting the facts that we want from that memory drum when we engage in argument or discussion with someone else. But our minds are able not only to perceive mathematical or logical relationships--but they're also able to perceive relationships of colours and shapes--so that our minds are able to perceive beauty and shape and aesthetic qualities. Not only that, but our minds are able to make very shrewd, intuitive judgments about other people's characters and about situations in regard to the atmosphere in which we find ourselves. So very often you know you make judgments on a certain person's character or suitability for a job by utterly invisible, intuitive feelings about the atmosphere surrounding them or surrounding their home or surrounding their office. So our minds are very subtle instruments - much cleverer than simple computers. They are able it seems to perceive sentiments that cannot be set down in mathematical formulae.
Then, of course, look at our bodies and how complicated they are. You remember we did mention how the blood itself, for
instance, is unique, because it is able to carry 64 or more substances around
in it without turning into sludge. And, of course, it travels hundreds of miles every day through the arteries and veins of our bodies. And then you look at
the heart and you realize what a clever instrument it is. You begin to see the
amount of money we have to spend to substitute someone's kidney for our kidney,
or the amount of machinery or the equipment we need to do the kind of dialysis
that our kidneys do. It's very reasonable to have faith that some other person
at least as personable as a human being created the kidney that we have or
created the mind that we have. In other words, it's extremely difficult and
illogical to have faith that, for instance, a dog made you. It's very difficult
to believe, isn't it, that your little dog or your little cat actually created
you? Because you are very much more complex than a dog or a cat.
Indeed however devoted you are to your dog, you know that you would prefer to spend time with a human being whose mind could discuss politics or music or art or baseball with you, than just your dog. Your dog is great and can certainly appreciate going for a walk and certainly appreciate chocolate chip ice cream, but he can't really appreciate the finer perceptions of life that make life interesting for you. It's reasonable to have faith that we were made by someone at least as personable as we are and who has a mind at least as intelligent as our mind and who had a will as purposeful as our will. It's certainly very difficult to have faith in the idea that we spun off from a piece of stone, an inanimate object or that we were created by a monkey or an ape or something that was less than we ourselves are. We see in our own lives that when a beautiful piece of carpentry is created it's only created by a carpenter who has a mind and ability either to do it himself or to set a robot to do it. So, it seems reasonable to have faith in the idea that we are personable and were made by someone as personable as we are.