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Faith: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

March 4, 2013

Faith is a powerful force in human psychology. It gives us a sense of purpose and conviction in the things we do. And having such a purpose has been shown to have beneficial physiological effects in our body. Helping us keep our immune system strong. And helping us get through physically challenging times.

The problem is that it can be used for bad purposes as well as good. If my faith leads me to adopt strong opinions about certain things for which I can provide no proof, then I am liable to come in conflict with someone who holds a different and equally strong opinion. We need to find a way to retain the benefits of faith at giving our lives a meaning and direction, whilst avoiding the dangers of being opinionated and quarrelsome about things we may have faith in, but can provide no proof for, other than the force with which we assert it.

Jesus bid christians to go into a closet to pray to, and worship their god. To prove that their faith was an inner conviction, rather than an outward show. The danger can come if the conviction lessens, but the desire to maintain an outward show remains. And when I think of faith, this is normally what I have in mind. As this is the side of it we tend to see. Faith without an inner conviction becomes more and more desperate for the agreement of other people in its faith, to help provide a certainty that is now lacking in themselves. This is when the ugly side of faith comes to the surface. The judging of others, the bullying of others.

Even Jesus questioned his faith at one point, when he was on the cross and cried out to god his father, why had he forsaken him. And I think all of us at some point would do well to step back and question some of the things we have faith in. There is nothing so sweet as a sense of purpose and certainty in your convictions, but then there is nothing so bitter as the conflict which will develop with others if we don’t keep things in perspective and acknowledge the limits and boundaries to our faith in the surrounding world.

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