in the Modern World
he fact that religions in general are anachronisms causes one to wonder what place "faith" might have in the world of the future. Is there any meaningful basis to religion which can (or should) endure? What does it really mean to say that an individual has faith? Faith in what exactly?
We each have within us an intellectual capacity far beyond anything available to our conscious understanding. I estimate that capacity to be at least three orders (1000x) of magnitude greater than conscious deliberation. Perhaps even as high as six orders. This latent capacity is composed of all the data properly integrated by the subconscious mechanism which is withheld from conscious apprehension ... by that mechanism ... because of ... moral-ethical failings of the overall entity we refer to as our consciousness.
In other words, any 'reasonable' puzzle is solved without our conscious knowledge of the solution. We "get it" when that subconscious mechanism deems the total being to be worthy of the answer.
What is this particular mechanism? What is its nature?
As I have given it before, the mechanism is the integrating action of one's soul. Recall that the soul, as I theorize it, is our greatest achievement in the area of 'forced induction' generally acquired within the first year or two of life. This experience is used as a guide or template with which to validate and categorize the value and truth of any new experiences, percepts, and concepts. It continues to operate in the background at all times and if little conscious attention is paid to it ... it makes itself known as conscience. Thus, if you "lose your soul", your conscious mind has lost direct knowledge of it. Since nothing you can do consciously, even remotely compares to the accuracy and facility of your soul ... your life fumbles along without proper direction.
Here is what faith really is ...
It is the conscious belief in the above process whether one consciously understands it or not. Those who do not understand it simply call it by another name ... often God. Your consciousness senses this as 'something' (or someone) always watching your behavior and judging its moral-ethical value. If you are generally doing the right thing, it would seem to be supportive of your thoughts and actions. If what you are doing is mostly wrong you will sense something more disapproving (a conscience).
Faith is also a communal philosophy. Whenever we look into the eyes of another human being, we take in information about the internal states of that being which are not analyzable by the conscious mind. That other individual also takes information from you as well. The comparison of self to many others serves to blend personal philosophies into just one ... the culture. However, if the culture at large is wildly different from the individual philosophy integrated by one's soul, it is rejected as a whole or in part. A properly functioning soul never relinquishes its autonomy.
Faith is not about success or failure. It's about 'trying'.
The word which properly applies to our personal ideas of success or failure is hope. We 'hope' that we will obtain this or that goal. To the young, faith and hope are about the same thing. If youth fails, his hope is lost and he becomes lethargic and can no longer function properly until something or someone outside of himself restores hope.
To an experienced adult (those who have experienced many failures), hope is a kind of toy like a football. We toss it up in the air and it falls down ... it is an amusement. We are not moved to action by hope. We are moved by faith ... faith that what we are doing is good. Therefore, no matter what hopes are dashed, we continue on anyway. To cause an experienced adult to stop trying requires that one destroy his faith. This in turn requires that an extreme internal pressure be brought to bear against faith. One can imagine such pressure in a WWII concentration camp.
If we lose our faith, our personal subconscious philosophy is deemed to be false ... our soul is therefore no good ... and ... there is no longer any reason to continue living. Thus, if the very core of our being is devoid of worth, what is left? "God" has abandoned us. The End. This is the internal state of a suicide.
We cannot imagine what hope the men may have had at the Alamo. It must have been none. Yet they stayed because they had faith that what they were doing was righteous. Leaving would have been a betrayal of the core of their beings (souls). Lose that and you are as good as dead. So cases like this are not the same as suicides.
We have now located the one, true God
That personal God of which so many Christians speak is after all ... real. It is that heap of data integrated by one's soul within each individual in combination with ... and interweaved with ... all the other individual data heaps. In some it has the face of Jesus. In others a different face. In an atheist it has no face at all. It is the underlying philosophy developed throughout one's life. And ... when you die, you are reabsorbed into that philosophy by way of the people who knew you.
There is a proof of sorts of this. We are not significantly different from Cromagnon man genetically ... but we are exceedingly different in our general outlook on existence. We would not, in general, fit into their culture nor they into ours. The difference consists of all those individuals whose life experiences have been reabsorbed into a shared "God". We carry their essential existence around with us. To a large extent they are us.
There are excesses in everything ...
"You can't always get what you want.
One can have too much faith. If you rely on that internal data to help you out of difficulty instead of helping yourself, you will be disappointed. It will help you when you need it ... if and only if ... you have done all you can consciously. You must be worthy of assistance to get it. Get it?
But if you try sometime, you might find
You get what you need."
Many people see the ornaments of their faith as having great importance. These are the incidental facts or beliefs that act as a cultural "house" in which to put a basic shared philosophy ... things like the "real" existence of Jesus or bowing to Mecca. Such incidentals are insignificant in comparison to the philosophy which they represent and constitute stumbling blocks to further, wider integration of the underlying philosophies. Their can be one God only when there is one religion. And this will only happen when all the ornaments have been shorn off leaving just the base of that one philosophy ... the only one fit for man.
It will set us free.
Have faith in it.