Faith, Belief and the Limits of Knowing

I have faith in God, one man says; I have faith in the non-existence of God, another man might say but does not. There are devout monotheists; there are devout atheists. Both are persons of faith. A picture falling off the wall signals an impending doom, someone’s downfall, the demise of something, I’ve been told. The superstitions of my youth I no longer believe, but then, neither can I disprove them. To believe in the veracity or the falsity of this falling picture as a harbinger of doom, or of any superstition, shoes on tables, hats on beds, rocking rocking chairs with no one in them, all of these are based on faith–one degree or another is not essential. Any belief in them is a matter of faith. It’s interesting, though, how anyone of a particular faith can have so little respect or reverence for the faith of another when that faith is other than the one the former holds to be true. How God-like we become in our faith for God, in God; we do trust more than God, though. We trust our faith, although we carry a marked infidelity to that particular religion that holds our imagination. You do need imagination for faith, firstly, and to maintain it imagination must be engaged. (I suggest you read Sir Thomas Brown’s Relgio Medici, that is, if you are disposed to reading 17th treatises on religious toleration, particularly in my opinion because he makes more sense and says more intelligently what everyone needs to understand, particularly the Pakistani Muslim children in my neighborhood who must have been taught by their parents to have no respect for western Christians or others because they openly taunt and mock verbally western women and girls for how they dress, and this I do find disgusting as the children follow them with impunity, this horridly narrow minded orthodoxy an example of intolerance [yes, Muslim intolerance] that cannot be tolerated–no hypocrisy in that. I ask them if that’s what their parents teach them to do, and if that’s why they left Pakistan, to colonize and force conversions on western Christians and Jews? [and I do ask them this, to their plain to see horror and fear])

We are fickle in our faith. The lack of proof may have something to do with this. How can something we believe without proof maintain itself indefinitely? It can’t, can it?; or can it? What would one have to have in order to hold fast to one’s faith indefinitely? A man or a woman need faith to survive a relationship, no? Trust of the kind necessary in love is in itself what the best kind of fait is. Without faith, which is what feeds the kind of trust we talk about when we say relationships need trust–what is there without faith. The more we learn, the more we understand what we do not know. The more we know we do not know only necessitates degrees of faith to continue living normally. Faith breeds trust. Trust breeds respect; mistrust is disrespect. With trust we see again the person we love; we see the love once more, gaining a view of not only who we love, but why we love. With trust born of faith we continue to engage life even though we do not know the future and cannot know the future. However, faith without reason is not even faith. A parrot parroting what has been spoken to him is not an act of faith, belief or reason.

It’s faith that Daniel walks into the Lion’s Den with. It’s faith that Job holds onto through his trials and tribulations. I don’t know if it is faith with which the Hebrews enter the partition in the Red Sea–the parting of the waters is proof. No one needed faith. Faith is necessary for belief when reason should raise doubt, at least doubt and not anxiety yet. But faith, once more, must not be allowed to displace reason.

Faith leads to a kind of knowledge; the knowledge that proof leads a person to is not a rational knowledge. The inferences of faith are rooted in the evidence of things not seen, if I can paraphrase Paul. Again, we are not talking about rational proof. Yet, we must acknowledge that the atheist disbelieves in God on faith as well. He does not have proof of the non-existence of God. His so-called rational proofs for God’s non-existence are rooted in faith-based reason.  There are always leaps in any atheistic logic when it comes to God. Aristotle’s prime mover does not have to be God or a god or gods. Any argument against infinite regression does not have to equal a creator. Yet, neither can the atheist reductio ad absurdum himself to an uncreated universe.

Faith is complete trust; faith is necessary to perpetuate belief in facts. Facts do need belief; all beliefs need faith. But in response to the Muslim children mntioned above who felt, who believed they could act with impunity and collectively openly taunt and mock and insult young women for how they were dressed is indicative of what a society ruled by Sharia Law would be like–I have no illusions that it would stop with childish insults, not when those childish insults could not have come from their supposedly innocent minds. Sharia Law has no place in America, anymore than does Nazism, fascism or Jim Crow. Sharia Law is not for America, nor is for Americans, any American who wants to live in an open, tolerant, free and democratic society–and yes, I do know that the Germans voted for the Nazis, which is what anyone choosing Sharia Law would be like. Muslims are welcome, but their Sharia Law in place of or next to the Constitution of the United States is an enemy impulse, and if the President were serious about his oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, he would address how Muslims could live in peace in this society, which would be to address how Sharia Law cannot persist when it denies free and unimpeded access to the Laws of the land and rights guaranteed by the Constitution and/or Federal and State laws. Misogyny is not a religious freedom protected by the First Amendment.

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