In our daily life, we can hear people say that they have faith in something. But what on earth is faith? Generally, people may consider faith as religious beliefs. However, does having faith just mean believing in god? Or perhaps it has deeper implication? Do people voluntarily have faith or not? Throughout the history, many scholars and philosophers have tried to define the exact meaning of faith.
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Based on their solid foundation, I argue that faith is a kind of volitional belief, emotion of admiration and feeling of trust. Having faith means people use their volition to believe in and admire evidence that they think is true. On the other hand, it is about trusting our senses, emotions and perceptions so that we can continue to believe in other things in the world.
Before getting straight to my point, let’s start with the very beginning. Does having faith merely mean believing in God? In 1200s, a philosopher named Aquinas explained the existence of God in a rational way. He raised five ways, arguments from change, causation, contingency, degrees of excellence, and harmony, to demonstrate his statement. Let’s go deeper into some of the ways he claimed. At first, in the argument from causation, Aquinas said that nothing can cause itself. There is no infinite causal chain in the universe. In this condition, there must have a first cause because there will be no intermediate causes or ultimate effect without the first cause. And there is necessarily a first cause that is called God. On the other hand, the argument from harmony, or design, is more controversial.
According to Aquinas, nature is not intelligent but seems to behave in regular and goal-oriented ways. Everything is governed harmoniously. Why? He explained that it is because nature must be guided by something with lots of intelligence and that intelligent leader is God. Opponents drastically refuted that the universe or nature forms randomly. There is also a multi-universe theory that there thousands of universe and our universe is only one of them. Anyway, we can’t really judge the authenticity of Aquinas’s arguments, but they can really make us ponder what faith is exactly. For a long time, people equated faith with religious beliefs. From his point of view, there are rational proofs of existence of God. It’s really odd that by the time we believe some sound arguments and conclusions we have faith. Thus, it looks like faith is something other than belief in God.
If faith doesn’t mean belief in God, what can it be? Maybe faith is simply the same as belief? But what is belief? Universally, philosophers consider that belief has some special traits. First, belief is dispositional. It is similar to our unconscious behavior. For instance, we have the belief that water can quench people’s thirst.
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