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The Nature of Faith

Powerful Essays
The Nature of Faith

Faith is an essential aspect of religious experience. Events can often be understood by some people as aesthetic or pleasant [1] rather than religious because their frame of reference rejects the spiritual connection for a more temporal one. However, of course, there are experiences that people have that by-pass any effort on their part to explain them naturally and clearly demonstrate a spiritual situation. One British scholar described his experience, like those of many others, that convinced him of the reality of God. He had "no religion," no "real sense of personal relationship to God." He went for a walk alone one day, without particular thoughts or intentions, when he "became conscious of the presence of someone else" and realized a feeling that the "being of God" surrounded him. "It was no longer a matter of inference, it was an immediate act of spiritual... apprehension." The experience changed his whole perspective of the world and himself. "I had not found God because I had never looked for him. But he had found me; he had, I could not but believe, made himself personal to me" [2]. The man could interpret this experience because faith had been "awakened" or become functionally directed in him.

Some people, and many psychologists, deem faith to be something akin to wishful thinking. The great philosopher-psychologist William James defined faith as a "belief in something concerning which doubt is still theoretically possible," that the believer acts in faith by taking steps which are not guaranteed to turn out as he thinks they should [3]. If faith is not wishful thinking, or acting in hope that the right thing will happen, then it is non-rational self-affirmation. "Religious assertions... r...

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