We all have faith in something (or things) but what does that mean exactly? What is faith? Well, what it’s not is knowledge. Believing in something is not the same as knowing something. For example, kids might believe in Santa (faith) but only until they discover the facts (knowledge). Having said that, their innocent but misguided belief doesn’t mean their Santa experience is not real because like you and I, children are the creators and inhabitants of their own reality and experiences.
The fat bloke in the red suit is just a story but their experience is real. You only need to watch young children on Christmas morning to see that they have total faith and that despite the non-existence of a sleigh-flying, immortal, toy-making, super-hero, their joy, excitement and happiness is completely authentic. So does it matter that if we have faith in something that may or may not exist? Great question. With no simple answer.
In some ways, it depends.
When it comes to kids believing in Santa, probably not. With adults threatening, hating and even killing each other because of their conflicting and unprovable beliefs, it matters. But more on that another time.
By definition, faith is believing in something that we can’t prove. Something we can’t know for certain. In fact, for faith to exist (belief in a loving creator of the universe, for example), knowledge must be absent because when we have absolute knowledge, then the concept of faith (regarding that particular matter) becomes redundant. And before anyone makes an erroneous assumption or throws a literary stone, no I’m not discounting the possibility of a God. At all. If you think this is some kind of veiled message regarding the existence (or not) of an all-knowing deity then let me be clear… it isn’t. I’m simply sharing my thoughts on faith, knowledge and belief.
Many people believe that we humans have a soul. In fact, some believe it’s the thing that separates us from animals. And while we might believe it (have faith in its existence), none of us can know it. Why? Because we can’t prove it. Yes, we can be emphatic, convincing, compelling and sincere in our “we all have a soul” argument but emotion is not knowledge.
No matter how much we want it to be.
And before anyone writes to ask… do I (Craig Harper) have faith in things I can’t prove or know for certain? Of course I do. Many things. In fact, of all there is to know, I know almost none of it and never will. And I’m totally okay with that. Comfortable, even.
In fact, letting go of my ‘need to know’ was one of the most liberating, anxiety-reducing, ego-destroying and empowering things I’ve ever done. Having to know everything (What happens once we die? Is there a God? How old is the universe? What existed before the big bang or creation? Will Miley Cyrus keep twerking?) is exhausting, unrealistic and ultimately unhealthy. And mostly, it’s a by-product of fear.
You could give yourself a tumour over that stuff.
The older I get, the less compelled I am to know, to be right and to have an opinion on everything. I’m happy to not know. And to be wrong. I’m happy to have faith in things that I can’t be certain of. I’m happy to learn and unlearn. In my experience, faith can be a positive in our lives until it becomes interwoven with ego, intolerance and judgment.
My knowledge is my knowledge.
My beliefs are my beliefs.
And I am neither.