In religion, faith often involves accepting claims about the character of a deity, nature, or the universe. While some have argued that faith is opposed to reason, proponents of faith argue that the proper domain of faith concerns questions which cannot be settled by evidence. For example, faith can be applied to predictions of the future, which (by definition) has not yet occurred.
The word faith is often used as a substitute for hope, trust or belief.
The English word is thought to date from 1200–50, from the Middle English feith, via Anglo-French fed, Old French feid, feit from Latin fidem, accusative of fidēs (trust), akin to fīdere (to trust).
Faith in world religions 
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Bahá'í Faith 
In the Bahá'í Faith, faith is ultimately the acceptance of the divine authority of the Manifestations of God. In the religion's view, faith and knowledge are both required for spiritual growth. Faith involves more than outward obedience to this authority, but also must be based on a deep personal understanding of religious teachings.
By faith is meant, first, conscious knowledge, and second, the practice of good deeds.
Faith (Pali: Saddhā, Sanskrit: Śraddhā) is an important constituent element of the teachings of Gautama Buddha— in both the Theravada and the Mahayana traditions. The teachings of Buddha were originally recorded in the language Pali and the word saddhā is generally translated as "faith". In the teachings, saddhā is often described as:
- a conviction that something is
- a determination to accomplish one's goals
- a sense of joy deriving from the other two
While faith in Buddhism does not imply "blind faith", Buddhist practice nevertheless requires a degree of trust, primarily in the spiritual attainment of Gautama Buddha. Faith in Buddhism centers on the understanding that the Buddha is an Awakened being, on his superior role as teacher, in the truth of his Dharma (spiritual teachings), and in his Sangha (community of spiritually developed followers). Faith in Buddhism can be summarised as faith in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It is intended to lead to the goal of enlightenment, or bodhi, and Nirvana. Volitionally, faith implies a resolute and courageous act of will. It combines the steadfast resolution that one will do a thing with the self-confidence that one can do it.
As a counter to any form of "blind faith", the Buddha's teachings included those included in the Kalama Sutra, exhorting his disciples to investigate any teaching and to live by what is learnt and accepted, rather than believing in something simply because it is taught.
Faith in Christianity is based on the work and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christianity declares not to be distinguished by faith, but by the object of its faith. Rather than being passive, faith leads to an active life aligned with the ideals and the example of the life of Jesus. It sees the mystery of God and his grace and seeks to know and become obedient to God. To a Christian, faith is not static but causes one to learn more of God and grow, and has its origin in God.
In Christianity, faith causes change as it seeks a greater understanding of God. Faith is not fideism or simple obedience to a set of rules or statements. Before Christians have faith, they must understand in whom and in what they have faith. Without understanding, there cannot be true faith, and that understanding is built on the foundation of the community of believers, the scriptures and traditions and on the personal experiences of the believer. In English translations of the New Testament, the word faith generally corresponds to the Greek noun πίστις (pistis) or the Greek verb πιστεύω (pisteuo), meaning "to trust, to have confidence, faithfulness, to be reliable, to assure". The Bible says that faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Śraddhā (ITRANS: shraddhA) is translated as faith in Sanskrit. All schools of Hindu philosophy posit that consciousness (ātman) is distinct and independent from mind and matter (prakṛti). Therefore, Hindu faith is based on the premise that logic and reason are not conclusive methods of epistemic knowing. Spiritual practice (sadhana) is performed with the faith that knowledge beyond the mind and sense perception will be revealed to the practitioner.
In chapter 17 of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna describes how faith, influenced by the three modes (guṇas) lead to different approaches in worship, diet, sacrifice, austerity and charity.
Swami Tripurari states:
Faith for good reason arises out of the mystery that underlies the very structure and nature of reality, a mystery that in its entirety will never be entirely demystified despite what those who have placed reason on their altar might like us to believe. The mystery of life that gives rise to faith as a supra-rational means of unlocking life's mystery—one that reason does not hold the key to—suggests that faith is fundamentally rational in that it is a logical response to the mysterious.
In Islam, faith (iman) is complete submission to the will of God, which includes belief, profession and the body's performance of deeds, consistent with the commission as vicegerent on Earth, all according to God's will.
Iman has two aspects:
- Recognizing and affirming that there is one Creator of the universe and only to this Creator is worship due. According to Islamic thought, this comes naturally because faith is an instinct of the human soul. This instinct is then trained via parents or guardians into specific religious or spiritual paths. Likewise, the instinct may not be guided at all.
- Willingness and commitment to submitting that God exists, and to His prescriptions for living in accordance with vicegerency. The Qur'an is understood as the dictation of God's prescriptions through the Prophet Muhammad and is believed to have updated and completed the previous revelations that God sent through earlier prophets.
In the Qur'an, it is stated that (2:62): "Surely, those who believe, those who are Muslims, Jewish, the Christians, and the Sabians; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve."
Faith itself is not a religious concept in Judaism. Although Judaism does recognize the positive value of Emunah (generally translated as faith, trust in God) and the negative status of the Apikorus (heretic), faith is not as stressed or as central as it is in other religions, especially compared with Christianity and Islam. It could be a necessary means for being a practicing religious Jew, but the emphasis is placed on practice rather than on faith itself. Very rarely does it relate to any teaching that must be believed. Classical Judaism does not require one to explicitly identify God (a key tenet of faith in Christianity), but rather to honour the idea of God.
In the Jewish scriptures trust in God - Emunah - refers to how God acts toward his people and how they are to respond to him; it is rooted in the everlasting covenant established in the Torah, notably Deuteronomy 7:9 (The Torah - A Modern Commentary; Union of American Hebrew Congregations, NY 1981 by W. G. Plaut)
"Know, therefore, that only the LORD your God is God, the steadfast God who keeps His gracious covenant to the thousandth generation of those who love Him and keep His commandments"
The specific tenets that compose required belief and their application to the times have been disputed throughout Jewish history. Today many, but not all, Orthodox Jews have accepted Maimonides' Thirteen Principles of Belief. For a wide history of this dispute see: Shapiro, Marc: The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraised (Littman Library of Jewish Civilization (Series).)
A traditional example of Emunah as seen in the Jewish annals is found in the person of Abraham. On a number of occasions, Abraham both accepts statements from God that seem impossible and offers obedient actions in response to direction from God to do things that seem implausible (see Genesis 12-15).
"The Talmud describes how a thief also believes in G‑d: On the brink of his forced entry, as he is about to risk his life—and the life of his victim—he cries out with all sincerity, 'G‑d help me!' The thief has faith that there is a G‑d who hears his cries, yet it escapes him that this G‑d may be able to provide for him without requiring that he abrogate G‑d’s will by stealing from others. For emunah to affect him in this way he needs study and contemplation."
Sikhism, the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, was founded in 15th-century Punjab on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev and ten successive Sikh gurus, the last one being the sacred text Guru Granth Sahib. The core philosophy of the Sikh religion is described in the beginning hymn of the Guru Granth Sahib,
There is one supreme eternal reality; the truth; imminent in all things; creator of all things; immanent in creation. Without fear and without hatred; not subject to time; beyond birth and death; self-revealing. Known by the Guru's grace.
Guru Nanak, the founder of the faith, summed up the basis of Sikh lifestyle in three requirements: Nām Japō (meditate on the holy name (Waheguru), Kirat karō (work diligently and honestly) and Vaṇḍ chakkō (share one's fruits).
Faith in other spiritual traditions 
Meher Baba 
Meher Baba described three types of faith, emphasizing the importance of faith in a spiritual master:
"One of the most important qualifications for the aspirant is faith. There are three kinds of faith: (i) faith in oneself, (ii) faith in the Master and (iii) faith in life. Faith is so indispensable to life that unless it is present in some degree, life itself would be impossible. It is because of faith that cooperative and social life becomes possible. It is faith in each other that facilitates a free give and take of love, a free sharing of work and its results. When life is burdened with unjustified fear of one another it becomes cramped and restricted....Faith in the Master becomes all-important because it nourishes and sustains faith in oneself and faith in life in the very teeth of set-backs and failures, handicaps and difficulties, limitations and failings. Life, as man knows it in himself, or in most of his fellow-men, may be narrow, twisted and perverse, but life as he sees it in the Master is unlimited, pure and untainted. In the Master, man sees his own ideal realised; the Master is what his own deeper self would rather be. He sees in the Master the reflection of the best in himself which is yet to be, but which he will surely one day attain. Faith in the Master therefore becomes the chief motive-power for realising the divinity which is latent in man."
Epistemological validity of faith 
There is a wide spectrum of opinion with respect to the epistemological validity of faith. On one extreme is logical positivism, which denies the validity of any beliefs held by faith; on the other extreme is fideism, which holds that true belief can only arise from faith, because reason and physical evidence cannot lead to truth. Some foundationalists, such as St. Augustine of Hippo and Alvin Plantinga, hold that all of our beliefs rest ultimately on beliefs accepted by faith. Others, such as C.S. Lewis, hold that faith is merely the virtue by which we hold to our reasoned ideas, despite moods to the contrary.
William James believed that the varieties of religious experiences should be sought by psychologists, because they represent the closest thing to a microscope of the mind—that is, they show us in drastically enlarged form the normal processes of things. For a useful interpretation of human reality, to share faith experience he said that we must each make certain "over-beliefs" in things which, while they cannot be proven on the basis of experience, help us to live fuller and better lives.
Fideism is not a synonym for religious belief, but describes a particular philosophical proposition in regard to the relationship between faith's appropriate jurisdiction at arriving at truths, contrasted against reason. It states that faith is needed to determine some philosophical and religious truths, and it questions the ability of reason to arrive at all truth. The word and concept had its origin in the mid- to late-19th century by way of Catholic thought, in a movement called Traditionalism. The Roman Catholic Magisterium has, however, repeatedly condemned fideism.
Religious epistemologists have formulated and defended reasons for the rationality of accepting belief in God without the support of an argument. Some religious epistemologists hold that belief in God is more analogous to belief in a person than belief in a scientific hypothesis. Human relations demand trust and commitment. If belief in God is more like belief in other persons, then the trust that is appropriate to persons will be appropriate to God. American psychologist and philosopher William James offers a similar argument in his lecture The Will to Believe. Foundationalism is a view about the structure of justification or knowledge. Foundationalism holds that all knowledge and justified belief are ultimately based upon what are called properly basic beliefs. This position is intended to resolve the infinite regress problem in epistemology. According to foundationalism, a belief is epistemically justified only if it is justified by properly basic beliefs. One of the significant developments in foundationalism is the rise of reformed epistemology.
Reformed epistemology is a view about the epistemology of religious belief, which holds that belief in God can be properly basic. Analytic philosophers Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff develop this view. Plantinga holds that an individual may rationally believe in God even though the individual does not possess sufficient evidence to convince an agnostic. One difference between reformed epistemology and fideism is that the former requires defence against known objections, whereas the latter might dismiss such objections as irrelevant. Plantinga has developed reformed epistemology in Warranted Christian Belief as a form of externalism that holds that the justification conferring factors for a belief may include external factors. Some theistic philosophers have defended theism by granting evidentialism but supporting theism through deductive arguments whose premises are considered justifiable. Some of these arguments are probabilistic, either in the sense of having weight but being inconclusive, or in the sense of having a mathematical probability assigned to them. Notable in this regard are the cumulative arguments presented by British philosopher Basil Mitchell and analytic philosopher Richard Swinburne, whose arguments are based on Bayesian probability. In a notable exposition of his arguments, Swinburne appeals to an inference for the best explanation.
Bertrand Russell noted, "Where there is evidence, no one speaks of 'faith'. We do not speak of faith that two and two are four or that the earth is round. We only speak of faith when we wish to substitute emotion for evidence."
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins criticizes all faith by generalizing from specific faith in propositions that conflict directly with scientific evidence. He describes faith as mere belief without evidence; a process of active non-thinking. He states that it is a practice that only degrades our understanding of the natural world by allowing anyone to make a claim about nature that is based solely on their personal thoughts, and possibly distorted perceptions, that does not require testing against nature, has no ability to make reliable and consistent predictions, and is not subject to peer review.
See also 
- Crisis of faith
- Faith and rationality
- Faith, Hope, and Charity
- Fowler's stages of faith development
- Lectures on Faith
- Life stance
- Major world religions
- Pascal's Wager
- Religious belief
- Religious conversion
- Simple church
- Spectrum of Theistic Probability
- St. Faith
- There are no atheists in foxholes
- World view
- faith. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith (accessed: December 01, 2011).
- Smith, P. (1999). A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications. p. 155. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 383
- The Way of Wisdom The Five Spiritual Faculties by Edward Conze, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/conze/wheel065.html
- "Kalama Sutta, The Buddha's Charter of Free Inquiry" by Soma Thera
- Benedict, Benedict X.V.I. (2004). Introduction to Christianity. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. p. 203. ISBN 978-1-58617-029-5. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- Wuerl, By Donald W. (2004). The Teaching of Christ: A Catholic Catechism for Adults, Edition: 5, revised. Huntingdon, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Pub. Division. p. 238. ISBN 1-59276-094-5. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- Migliore, Daniel L. 2004. Faith seeking understanding: an introduction to Christian theology. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans. pp. 3-8.
- Inbody, Tyron. 2005. The faith of the Christian church: an introduction to theology. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub. pp. 1-10
- Thomas, Robert L.; Editor, General (1981). New American standard exhaustive concordance of the Bible:. Nashville, Tenn.: A.J. Holman. pp. 1674–75. ISBN 0-87981-197-8.
- Hebrews 11
- Tripurari, Swami, On Faith and Reason, The Harmonist, May 27, 2009.
- Islam (Submission). Your best source for Islam on the Internet. Happiness is submission to God.-Islam-Submission-Introduction,definition, discussion, debate, laws, justice, hum...
- Brueggemann, Walter (2002). Reverberations of faith: a theological handbook of Old Testament themes. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 76–78. ISBN 0-664-22231-5.
- The 13 Principles and the Resurrection of the Dead from The Wolf Shall Lie With the Lamb, Rabbi Shmuel Boteach (Oxford University)
- Adherents.com. "Religions by adherents" (PHP). Retrieved 2007-02-09.
- "Sikhism – MSN Encarta". Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- "Concepts of Seva and Simran". Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- Baba, Meher: Discourses, Volume Three, Sufism Reoriented, 1967, pp. 132-133.
- Lewis, C.S. (2001). Mere Christianity: a revised and amplified edition, with a new introduction, of the three books, Broadcast talks, Christian behaviour, and Beyond personality. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0-06-065292-6.
- Clark, Kelly James (2 October 2004). "Religious Epistemology". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- James, William. "1896". New World 5: 327–347. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- Poston, Ted (10 June 2010). "Foundationalism". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- Plantinga, Alvin; Nicholas Wolterstorff (1983). Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 0-268-00964-3.
- Forrest, Peter (11 March 2009). "The Epistemology of Religion". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- Plantinga, Alvin (2000). Warranted Christian Belief. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513192-4.
- Basic, Mitchell. The Justification of Religious Belief. London: Macmillan.
- Swinburne, Richard. The Existence of God. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Forrest, Peter. God without the Supernatural. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
- Swinburne, Richard. Is there a God?. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Russell, Bertrand. "Will Religious Faith Cure Our Troubles?". Human Society in Ethics and Politics. Ch 7. Pt 2. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
- Dawkins, Richard (2006). The God Delusion. Bantam Books.
- Dawkins, Richard (January/February 1997). "Is Science a Religion?". American Humanist Association. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
Further reading 
- Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, W. W. Norton (2004), hardcover, 336 pages, ISBN 0-393-03515-8
- Stephen Palmquist, "Faith as Kant's Key to the Justification of Transcendental Reflection", The Heythrop Journal 25:4 (October 1984), pp. 442–455. Reprinted as Chapter V in Stephen Palmquist, Kant's System of Perspectives (Lanham: University Press of America, 1993).
- D. Mark Parks, "Faith/Faithfulness" Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Eds. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England. Nashville: Holman Publishers, 2003.
- Marbaniang, Domenic, Explorations of Faith. 2009.
- Poetry & Spirituality
- On Faith and Reason by Swami Tripurari
- Baba, Meher: Discourses, San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented, 1967.
Classic reflections on the nature of faith 
The Reformation view of faith 
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- Peter Forrest (Mar 11, 2009). "Epistemology of the religion, article from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy".
- Epistemics of Divine Reality, Studies in Rationalism, Empiricism, and Fideism
- Faith in Judaism chabad.org
- Pew Research Center Reports on Religion
- Faith News & Religion | Times Online Articles and comment about faith issues and religion from The Times