Sunday, August 12, 2007

What is Faith? Part 2

I haven't gotten much response to my video question "What is Faith?". I've been giving it a bit more thought, and have come to what I consider a surprising conclusion. I think this is a Unitarian Universalist side coming out...

I've decided to give the word "faith" a bit of reconsideration. Now, don't get me wrong, I still hold the idea of faith as absolute belief regardless of and even in spite of evidence to the contrary in as much contempt as any atheist out there. However I also find that, outside of fundamentalist and evangelical circles at least, this is not what is meant by the word. But like lots of English words, this one is rather, well, ambiguous. It has lots of different meanings that don't necessarily have anything to do with unsupported belief. Quite often when people use the word faith, the intended meaning is more like "trust" or "hope"--even if the evangelicals and fundies want to twist that meaning back into "trust" in a god or "hope" for life after death, which just pushes us back to the old contemptuous meaning of the word. So, are we just going to concede the word to the fundies and evangelicals then, since they are so attached to it?

I'm still debating in my mind on this one. Maybe it's just because the word is in such use in the language. And maybe I just want to still use the word because it makes it easier for me to accept that my fellow UU's are using the word in the rational sense--and it seems to me that they usually are. Is there anything wrong with an atheist saying they have faith in human compassion? Or in reason itself, for that matter?

What do you think? Is it still a useful word to use, or not, or is it just too likely to invite confusion?

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