Making sense of faith.
The title was a question posed in a discussion forum for a history course I followed. It raises an interesting discussion, one that will never be answered definitively but has prompted me to try to set out my own fourpennyworth on the subject, so here goes:
Firstly, I think it is necessary to separate religion and faith. Secondly, who or what do we mean by God? I know I’m treading on dangerous ground here but I am excluding man made gods and idols, whether that be a statue like a golden calf or things we ‘worship’ today, like fashion, football and technology. So what are we now left with for God? Again treading on dangerously controversial ground, I dare to suggest that all religions’ ‘gods’, at least of the monotheistic religions might nall actually be one God, given different names by different peoples. And that probably gives a clue already to my thinking on the original question.
Before going any further, I will state an assumption I make that: any/all atheists would argue that religion is man made. As an interesting aside, that I will not pursue here, is it faith to believe that God does not exist or, put another way, does that mean that atheists have a kind of faith, which is not provable than that God does exist?
Having already separated religion and faith, I can say that I believe firmly that faith is God made, or perhaps better expressed as made available by God. Whether we choose to accept it is another matter entirely, as God does not force it on anyone. Man has, on many occasions throughout history, tried to.
Is it faith man has tried to force on man, or religion? Whilst the instances of man forcing religion on man is less prevalent today, and probably more secretive, it still goes on. What clearly does go on, and has been reported on in news, is attempts to prevent apostasy, leaving a religion. So, whilst faith is made available by God, religion is, I think, man made and God inspired.
The need to answer questions in such a vast universe, that we inhabit a tiny corner of, has lead at least some humans to conclude that something or someone greater than they, is responsible for the creation. Religion then is perhaps humankind’s way of trying to make some kind of sense of the unimaginable by our imperfect human mind. Man, not God, though perhaps inspired by Him, wrote the books about Him and devised the practices and rituals that we use to worship and glorify Him, Such practices are different for each religion.
God gave us free will and the ability, often poorly or selfishly used, to think for ourselves, so we come up with wrong or incomplete answers. That is probably why there are different religions and even different sects within the same religion.
“Sometimes I believe 6 impossible things before breakfast”
“This is impossible” said Alice …..
“Only if you think it is” replied the Mad Hatter.
– Lewis Carroll’s, Alice In Wonderland.