Faith Religion Term Paper

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As most religious philosophers would agree, "there can be no conclusive evidence either way" regarding the existence of God (63). Faith is thus an essential compensation for the lack of any conclusive evidence that God exists. For the Catholic, faith is construed as a virtue; for others like Blaise Pascal, faith is simply a good bet. Philosophers like Paul Tillich phrase faith more gracefully, noting that faith is "the state of being ultimately concerned," (66). Like some Protestant theories of faith, Tillich suggests that faith involves an intimate relationship between human beings and the divine. Therefore, faith can generally be conceived of as a state of being (prepositional faith), an act of will (volitional faith), or a sacred relationship (ultimate concern and non-propositional faith). My own personal idea of faith fluctuates. However, because I feel closest to understanding and believing in God when I realize the miracle of motherhood, I would characterize my faith as being mainly non-propositional. Through a perception of divine presence in my personal life as well as throughout human history, I have established a sensible and personal faith.

On the other hand, the two main problems many agnostics have with faith include the condition of suffering, and the wide variations in the ways people perceive of divinity. Regarding the first: human suffering, many individuals deny the existence of God based on the fact that human beings suffer greatly. From war to famine to disease, evil seems an inherent part of the human experience and such negativity can easily negate faith. On many occasions I struggle with the concept of faith because of problems in the world or problems in my personal life. One of the reasons why faith is considered to be a "virtue" in the Catholic tradition may be because it is so difficult to reconcile evil and suffering with divine goodness. Faith is virtuous if one can believe in God in spite of great pain and suffering. Because I do not base my idea of faith on unconditional belief, I cannot categorize my idea of faith as being prepositional. On the other hand, I have on occasion felt stirred to believe in God in spite of pain and suffering.

The problem of evil is even less easily reconciled through the volitional approach to faith. Because suffering exists it would be illogical to believe that God is by nature good. On the other hand, philosophers like Pascal and William James propose that even though human life is full of suffering and even though God might actually not exist at all, that it is a better bet to have faith than not. Having faith, for the volitional philosopher, represents not virtue but rather, reason. The volitional approach also accounts for the apparent self-interest that characterizes the human experience: for our own best interest it is better to believe in God than to not believe in God. My idea of faith is least related to the theories of philosophers like Pascal because I do not feel that faith can be a truly logical step. Faith, I believe, is an emotional leap until hard evidence…

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