First Question: what is faith?
I recently read a definition of "faith" that called it "the unknowable promoted to the irrefrutable."
(9 Chickweed Lane by Brooke McEldowney, April 3 2007)
I've spoken with a lot of Christians about their definition of faith, and this seems to encapsulate it quite nicely. I've been told by several people "faith is something you choose to believe," and they readily acknowledge that you cannot know for certain the thing you believe in, hence the need to believe, rather than know, it.
So, if we accept that definition of faith, my
Second Question is: Why is faith a good thing to have?
In the Gospels there is a bit after the Resurrection where Jesus appears to the apostles who are cowering behind a locked door. Everyone is ther except Thomas. Jesus appears, everyone's amazed and happy, and when Tom gets back they tell him what's happened. He announces that he won't believe it until he sees it for himself. Next week, same deal, except this time ol' Tom is in the room when the Big JC floats in, and he pokes his fingers into Jesus's wounds and delcares "My Lord and God!" And Jesus utters the famous sentence, "You have seen and believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and believed." (John 20: 19-29)
Why??? Why is it good to believe anything without good cause? Why is it a good idea to be utterly convinced of something you openly acknowledge you don't actually know to be true? The concept of faith, espeically in America, is held to be a great virtue. I remember during the 2000 presidential election there was great speculation as to whether Joe Lieberman's (Gore's running mate) religion (Jewish) would be a negative factor for Christian voters. It wound up not being an issue. The vast majority of people polled said they didn't care what he believed in, they were just glad he was a religious man.
I find it strange that as a society we think that believing things we know are unknowable is a good way to go about life. It just doesn't make sense me. If I were to say to you "I believe there are giant, invisible bunnies hopping around the streets of Bristol. There is no evidence for this idea, but it cannot be disproven, and so I choose to believe it," you would think I was nuts. You would say there's no logic in it, and just because I want to believe something that doesn't make it true. And you would be absolutely right.
So why is the very concept of faith held to be so virtuous? Why do we think it's a good, noble, reasonable thing to believe in things we cannot know?
I'm not trying to be arguementative here. I'm genuinely curious to know what you think about this. I'm really struggling with this idea.
Lastly, continuing along the theme of things that baffle me, while I was out with my mate yesterday for a couple drinks and a flick, we went into the ladies' loo at the Arnolfini and discovered, much to our amusement, that there was a couple in one of the stalls having sex. Very loud sex, complete with heaving breathing, moaning, grunting, the periodic and cliche'd holy exclaimation, and of course the ever-popular skin slapping. I admit it: I giggled. It was pretty funny.
One or more of you lot was involved in that encounter (Spinny??), give a shout out!