Is Faith A Virtue?

by John

I contend it is not. And I will defend this conclusion. Ask yourself if "trust" is a virtue. If you think about it, the act of trusting has probably resulted in some bad memories in your experiences, such as:

1. trusting someone would remember something
2. trusting someone would act responsibly, when previous behavior didn't merit such trust
3. trusting that a salesman for a service or product would deliver such a service or product in a timely manner
4. trusting that your broker was an expert on the stockmarket

So perhaps trusting someone, or in some institution is not a virtue. Perhaps trust is often just the lazy, easy response, to avoid doing a painful research project, or to avoid facing the fact that someone who aught to be trustworthy, is not.

What is a virtue is trustworthiness. Being responsible, being honest, behaving such that people can count on your actions to meet a certain standard of conduct. That is virtue. But the act of trusting is not a virtue.

And isn't faith a form of "trust"? A spiritual trust? A trust that a god will take care of you, give you the right answer to your prayers? And isn't this trust misguided, if this god does not respond, does not perform miracles in behalf of good people for good causes? Funny how the miracles have tailed off as the media has become global and instantaneous, exposing any fraudulent miracle as just that, before foolish people in need of a miracle turned over their life savings to charlatans.

So if faith is a form of trust is there another parallel here, that being "faithworthy" is a virtue? And is god faithworthy? Not if you read the newspapers and see bad things happening to good people on a daily basis.

The god that most people worship in our US culture is invisible, silent and unavailable for interview. Shouldn't that be clue that perhaps this god is not faithworthy or trustworthy? And that perhaps this god falls into the category of mythology. Look at the parallels between the commonly worshipped god in our society versus the characteristics of ancient myths:

1. The deity was never available for direct consultation, a "spokesman" was always required to explain the deities intentions, laws, wishes, etc. Today's spokesmen are priests, monks, ministers, and witch doctors. This would not apply to people so gullible as to be convinced that a statue was indeed the deity, and was directly listening to their prayers.

2. While it was difficult to demonstrate that the deity was fair, and could make things right, there was always the promise that in another world, after you died, things would get better. But sacrifices, such as material assets were required to accommodate the process.

3. In ancient culture, the children were taught that belief in the deity was a good thing in and of itself, alas, it was a virtue, and that challenging this conclusion was dangerous and bad. Not much has changed, has it?

Therefore if we do live in culture, that is caught up deeply in mythology, would it not be a mythology sustaining action to teach very young children that faith is a virtue?

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