Thursday, April 13, 2006


Some thoughts on belief and faith

I have been reading Alan Watts “The Wisdom of Insecurity”, wherein one of the things he talks of is the difference between belief and faith.

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines the two words this way:

Belief - a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing

Faith - firm belief in something for which there is no proof

They are strangely (to me) similar in the dictionary, yet Watts and I would make this distinction: belief is the insistence that the truth is what one would “leif” or wish it to be, while faith is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be.

The distinction is this, that with respect to the questions that matter, belief defines what that answer must be, while faith requires only that there BE an answer and that the answer be true.

This difference between belief and faith is important because in these polarized times, it is belief that is in ascendance, while faith gets short shrift. We all view the world not as it is, however hard that may be, but through the lens of how we want it to be. We have lots of beliefs and little faith.

The proof is simple, and it is found in one very common thing – how much time we spend discussing, arguing, the bits and pieces of ongoing events, such as the Libby trial, putting a spotlight on our beliefs in post after post, knowing all the while that there will be an answer (probably) and that one side will be bitterly disappointed and one side will rejoice.

Why all the angst? If we are uncovering the truth for all to see, should that not be our article of faith? That whatever the outcome, the truth was discovered, faith realized?

Any time we argue for an end in which we have no part, we prove yet again that belief is not quite the foundation of stone we wish it were. Belief is little more than the shifting sands of our current desires.

Believe what you will. The truth will out.

Eventually. :)


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