“I believe in intuitions and inspirations . . . I sometimes feel that I am right. I do not know that I am.” – Albert Einstein
Too often, Christians feel that they have a kind of spiritual monopoly on faith. But, we are wrong. While it is true that God gives us a measure of faith according to our trust and belief in Him, it is possible to receive faith in things outside of God.
Many atheists choose to place their belief in humanity, in our own ability to reason, to understand, and the common desire to better ourselves, along with those around us. Many atheists understand that there is evil in the world, a lot of them have experienced it first hand. And yet, despite evil and all off its many appearances in our lives, the atheist chooses to believe that human beings are mostly good, or at least we have the capacity to do enough good. In the end, good, in human form, will triumph over ignorance and myth.
Christians, for the most part, fear mankind. Deeply rooted in our ethos is a fear of humanity’s influence by the devil. We cannot explain why there is so much evil, for evil’s sake alone; we can only assume there is a malevolent, and external, influence on mankind. We too believe there are acts of kindness, and love, and goodness in the world, as well. We, for the most part, believe ourselves to be good (in the most general sense). And yet, there are those of us that have used the name of God to justify their cruel and sinful actions.
It is difficult for the atheist to disassociate the evil deeds of Christians with Christianity itself. Those who have been ambassadors of Christ have too often disgraced His holy name in pursuit of worldly ambitions.
There is a saying I’ve heard many times that goes, “The greatest trick the devil ever performed was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” But, I feel there is a far more damaging feet that the devil has been able to achieve, that is: convincing someone they were doing God’s work, when all the while they were doing the exact opposite. How many men have done what they thought was right, with all of the best intentions, but in actuality they were doing the work of the devil?
And so, we Christians place our belief in an all powerful God, our creator. We believe He is our creator because we observe the world around us and its organization and precision must have had a precise organizer. And we choose to believe that Jesus was his Son because He taught us how to be our best selves, despite what evil may do to us in this world. He taught us to love ourselves and others, even if they are our worldly enemies.
So, in the end, what is faith? Is it something we exercise or is it something given to us?
The answer is very simple. Faith is the result of placing our trust in something (e.g. an idea, a person, in God, etc), and that “something” reassuring us that our selection (or placement of trust) was correct. Now, a lot of times, that reassurance that we feel after we have placed our trust can come from God, or it can come from our own minds. For example, the atheist who places their trust in a scientific theory feels good about their decision, and many times will encourage others to feel the same way. In the end, I believe that that feeling of “reassurance” is, in essence, faith.
But, you might ask, how can the faith that God gives us be the same as the reassurance an atheist feels about their decision?
In reality, it is not the same. But, at first glance, it feels the same.
The reason these types of faith are not the same is because there are in fact different degrees of faith. The Bible speaks of “. . . a measure of faith,” that is given to all men (Romans 12:3). However, the Bible also speaks of great faith (Matthew 15:21-28), unwavering faith (Romans 4:20-21), and also faith without works (James 2:18). Although there are even more types of faith mentioned in the Bible, these are the main ones referenced.
Thus, the “measure of faith” that is given to everyone, regardless of their belief in God, is our gift from Him. It allows us to seek out truth and satisfy our desire to understand our reality. But, when we truly place our trust in God, our degree of faith is larger than a mere “measure,” even to the point that our faith can become a perfect knowledge of God (Hebrews 6:1).