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What is Faith?

Faith is the firm belief in something for which there is no proof. We act on faith for many decisions in our life because we do not have enough data to make an informed decision and because we cannot predict the future.

Faith is the basis of all religions. The belief in God, an afterlife, and the practice of a system of religious beliefs is based on faith because it cannot be proved that God exists or that there is an afterlife. People disagree about the concept of God and this has resulted in the creation of hundreds of different religions. Throughout history, people have believed in many gods. The Romans had a polytheistic religion that included gods for war, love and many other specialties. The Aztecs offered human sacrifices to their gods in the belief that these sacrifices sustained the Universe and made it possible for the sun to rise.

In the Bible, the gospel of Matthew describes faith in terms of a challenge. After Jesus casts out a demon that had been causing a boy to have seizures, the disciples asked him why they had not been able to do it. According to Matthew 17:20:
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Science, which is based on logical proof or material evidence, assumes that there is an order in the Universe that may be discovered and explained logically or mathematically. All physical phenomena are assumed to have a scientific explanation when sufficient data is obtained to create a model or hypothesis that can be incrementally refined through the scientific method. This expectation has been called a faith-based belief system, but the difference between religion and science is that religious beliefs are based only on personal convictions whereas scientific theories can be physically verified through experiments and observations.

How do we know what to believe? We are imprinted with many aspects of our faith and belief systems by our parents and our social environment when we are still young. These belief systems may change when we mature and become capable of independent thought, but social pressures may not allow us to express our ideas freely. A large percentage of the population retains the belief systems adopted in youth and never ventures outside of the comfort zone provided by these traditions.

Exposure to new environments and different cultures can provide perspectives that shake the foundation of our beliefs and may lead to the adoption of new philosophies. In the modern world, where international travel is relatively easy, we are exposed to immigrants and travelers with different customs and religions. An introspective person will start to analyze misconceptions accepted in youth and modify his beliefs to encompass a broader perspective of the world.

Faith supports the guiding principles of how we live, whether it is a reliance on the methodology of the scientific method, or a belief in God and an afterlife.

© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora