Is faith really a virtue? Is faith something we should present to our children as something good to have? So many books and movies are devoted to the idea that if someone doesn’t believe in something because there’s no evidence, then somehow that’s a bad thing… and that people should be able to believe in things “just because”.
But why is that a good thing? Why is it “good” when people are able to believe in something even though they haven’t seen it, heard it, felt it, etc? Why do we continue to promote this idea to our children? And here’s the big question: what good comes from this teaching?
Faith is universally defined as “belief without evidence”. And, as students of the scriptures, we would often glory in the idea that someone was capable of truly believing something even though they couldn’t possibly see it with their physical eyes or experience it with their senses. In fact, didn’t we all try to convince ourselves and one another that we “knew” the church was true?
I still remember saying… “I’d like to bear my testimony. I KNOW the church is true. I KNOW God lives. I KNOW Joseph Smith was a prophet…” etc etc.
And for many of us down in the congregation, looking up at the speakers, we would watch them carefully and marvel at how wonderful it was that someone could actually have a perfect knowledge that something was real, in spite of the fact that there was absolutely not a shred of evidence to support that knowledge. And sometimes we were so swept away by the idea it would literally bring tears to our eyes.
Was that a waste of time and energy? Should we have spent our time and efforts more concerned about the things that we COULD see, feel, hear and see? Would it have been a better use of money and energy to concentrate on the things that we knew were real because those were things that were actually a living, physical part of our everyday lives?
Since leaving religion people have asked me… don’t you have faith? Don’t you believe in anything?
And here’s my answer… of course I have faith. Of course I believe in things. But instead of having faith in an invisible man in the sky who helps me find car keys and arbitrarily decides to spare one trailer house over another in a tornado, or here and there decides to cure some forms of cancer for some while never, ever helping anyone’s amputated limbs grow back… I choose instead to believe in things I can see, feel, hear, and touch for myself.
I believe in my abilities and intellect. I believe in my family and friends to be there if I ever need real help. I believe in my government and participate in voting to help ensure my own social security and the welfare of my neighbor. I have faith in all those people who have shown they love me throughout the years. I have faith in those who are in authority over me, and in the good benefits that being a good citizen brings. Yes… I have faith in many, many things.
Every single day, alcoholics somehow give up drinking without Jesus. Every moment somewhere, an atheist gets good news about a loving family member or a job promotion. Every day, babies are born to loving parents who never stopped to thank the Lord, but being madly in love with one another, are every bit as grateful for their marriage and family.
Faith exists. Faith is real. Faith is waking up every day knowing that the success of your family and children rests on your shoulders and you go forth into the world and carve out a living using your mind, work ethic and determination. That’s faith… real faith. In yourselves and in one another. And that’s something that you can touch, see, and feel.