“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).

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3 Comments

  1. You seem to be conflating the idea of faith, e.g. belief in things unseen and trust, belief in something because one has evidence to trust someone. In this context, a theist has faith in their religion. An atheist has reason to believe that most people are humane and that science can be accepting for describing reality.

    “It is difficult for the atheist to disassociate the evil deeds of Christians with Christianity itself.”

    That’s because most of us don’t do this. Christianity advocates harm and truly horrible actions by its god and this is why I, and many other atheists, associate Christianity with “evil” and Christians with “evil”.

    “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.” The problem in this claim for you is that it shows that your god does nothing and is impotent against this character. And before you claim free will, the bible doesn’t support that idea in Romans 9 and with this god controlling people throughout the bible (Revelation 17 and Exodus are prime examples of this). Romans 12 also indicates that faith is something that this god gives, reflecting Romans 9. “3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned”

    “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.”

    Most, if not all, religions make the exact same claim as you do in this first sentence. As for Jesus teaching people to be their “best selves”, this character says that if people don’t accept him as “king”, then believers should bring those people before him and slaughter them (Luke 19). This character also kills every non-Christian in Revelation. Also, in Revelation, this god works with the devil and intentionally frees it to corrupt the Christians that are left after the killing of non-christians. Killing isn’t love.

  2. Atheism in the informal sense is a profoundly religious attitude. An attitude in life of total trust of letting go. When we form images of god they are all really exhibitions of our lack of faith—something to hold on to, something to grasp.
When we don’t grasp we have the attitude of faith. If you let go of all the idols of faith you will of course discover that what this unknown is precisely, the foundation of the universe, which is precisely you.
It is not the you you think you are (it is not your opinion of yourself) it is not your idea or image of yourself, it is not the chronic sense of muscular strain which we usually call “I” You can’t grasp it, of course not, why would you need to? Suppose you could, what would you do with it? You could never get at it!”. 
And so there is the profound central mystery of the attitude of faith—to stop chasing it, to stop grabbing it. Because if that happens the most amazing things follow. All these ideas of the spiritual, the godly as this attitude of “must”—”And we have laid down the laws which we are all bound to follow”. This is not the only way of being religious and relating to the inefable mystery that underlies ourselves in the world—you.
“If we cling to belief in God, we cannot likewise have faith, since faith is not clinging but letting go”—Alan Watts

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