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Strengths and Weaknesses of Faith Essay

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Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of faith as a basis for knowledge in religion and in one area of knowledge from the TOK diagram. It is said, “When you have come to the edge of all light that you know and are about to drop off into the darkness Of the unknown, Faith is knowing One of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or You will be taught to fly.” For as long as man has been known to exist, there has been a development of belief systems formed to explain unknown concepts, explain emotion and reason, deliver purpose, and/or promote happiness.

Over time, the belief systems have been constructed into organized religions around the world, which about 85.5% follow. With these belief systems comes the aspect of faith. In this day and age, faith has adopted a variety of meanings and connotations; however, our understanding of faith can be defined as a determined and strong belief/trust, often without proof or evidence.

Faith as a whole requires a great amount of emotional and logical proof confidence; I will be exploring the ways in which faith as a basis of knowledge in religion is derived, in addition to extending this exploration into the role of language and sense perception in faith. Thus, I will also be paralleling the role of human sciences, (i.e. psychology and philosophy) as an area of knowledge. As a result, the several weaknesses and strengths of faith will be identified in this analysis. Many modern individuals, isolated from the depth of religion, have come to the false conclusion that faith is the belief in a certain individual or identified entity. However, they have overlooked the main foundation of many religions around the world. With Christianity, the main belief is faith in God and the claim that Jesus is the son of God sent from Heaven to salvage those who believe in Him. Hindus and various other eastern religions believe in dharma, the universal truth and harmonic law of nature and the inner and outer world of the soul and consciousness. Judaism is focused on Moses and the scriptures such as the Holy Torah as sent by God.

Buddhism believes in the purity of the consciousness as a path to enlightenment. The word “God”, itself can be ambiguous and flexible, as many believe God to be a human-like divine figure, while others believe God to be a state of mental elevation within the self. God in totality can be concluded as faith in a higher form. Faith then is stimulated by two processes; follow then faith, and faith then follow. The first process has been the most common throughout history and present day. Most children are born into the religions of their family and lead their lives following, thus possibly developing pure faith for that religion as they are taught the different principals and beliefs, and align their life accordingly. If you look to any rural Indian village, the individuals still conduct the same rituals they did hundreds of years ago, they chant the same mantras, and conduct the same pujas. In consequence, religion itself does not become a separate entity, but a wholesome foundation and structure to their lives.

Religion has also created the social norms they live by, affecting aspects such as marriage, children, food, and code of conduct and therefore has withstood the test of time and continues to thrive today. One dilemma however in this situation is blind faith. Blind faith can be classified as ignorance. Blind can often be consequence to nurture and parental force. While I was living in America, I had many friends who attended church every Sunday, as well as went to Christmas mass, and celebrated Easter. However, in church they would be on their cell phones, during Christmas they would look for presents, and Easter would be a childish search for candy hidden by the Easter bunny. Now, the glorification of the pagan rituals intertwined is of no deflecting from the essence of Christianity.

However, if one questioned these teenagers what religion they follow, they would recite- “Christian.” In contrast, if one asked them the history of their religion or the basic teachings of Jesus, most would stare blankly. As the many distractions in our life increase, we draw less attention to that which has been taught in generations before us, however, neglect to put those feelings in action, and blindly follow the traditions set before us. However, in later stages of children’s lives, after they have follow their religion for many years, it is common that they turn to religion in interest and necessity, often when an emotional event takes place, or a life-changing experience. In that way, the notion of blind faith is then destroyed, as the individuals reconcile themselves with what they’ve grown up in. The second way of the formation of faith is faith then follow- stating that one develops a faith for that realm of thought and then begins to follow it.

In our world today, there is knowledge pulsating from over corner. With help of developed technology and the internet, individuals have access to all kinds of ideas and famous thinkers who proposed them. Beginning with Socrates vision of the dream world and real world, as well as the new agnostic ideals present. Therefore, people have the capability of aligning their own personal belief and actions with the religion they most hold true. For example, a man named Bill Joy, now extremely active in PETA and other animal rights organizations, rebelled against the religion he grew up following. As a child, he attended church as well as different camps that his parents sent him to. Among one of those camps, was a farming camp in which the children were taught to milk cows as well as kill pigs and cows for meat to be sent to the industries. Because he was only exposed to one single belief, Joy never questioned his surroundings.

As he grew older however, he opened himself to the different ideas people presented about animal cruelty and the science behind the emotion of animals. In hearing and learning this new information, his journey began on the path of eastern thought and ultimately is currently following the Hindu religion whole-heartedly. In this respect, blind faith is thus avoided. However, the system of discovery may also be flawed as well. In many western schools, such as in the U.K. and Britain, students are taught free-thinking, individualism, and questioning of the world around us. These ideals were derived from history’s many incidents of society under the victimization of social norms and absolute powers. America, in its glorification of freedom and justice for all, schools urge students to delve into the knowledge they a given and find their own truth, as well as stand up for that truth in leadership and government.

While these ideals seem justified in practice, they have lead to a western bubble created in many minds. This consequence can also be seen in our school system as well in the subject of Theory of Knowledge. In Theory of Knowledge itself, students are trained to question- question their surroundings, question the knowledge that they obtain, question their daily actions, as other classes have taught in the modern educated world. However, in creating a mindset of questioning, we’ve created a society of rejection. We’ve rejected our government, rejected our surroundings, rejected our identities, and rejected our history. This process, of course, is necessary for progress, however disregards a human entity that many believe in- spirituality. Spirituality itself is extremely supportive of acceptance of the self. In questioning and placing emphasis on the logic of our education and minds, they have disregarded the emotional aspect of faith and religion.

Psychologically, we’ve placed more emphasis on our reason than our emotion. Therefore, disregarding this significant human entity, it has refrained the modern educated world from engaging in emotional connection to the divine. Emotion as a way to connect with religion has been criticized and “disproved” however; many do not give the aspect of emotional connection to religion validity. For example, the Hindu religion represents an eternal love for Krishna. With this love, comes trust in him. Krishna is represented as a beautiful blue figure or a baby, tapping into of course the maternal instinct of woman. Most Christians long ago, have a loving connection towards Jesus, their savior. In the study of human sciences, scientists have defined that the spiritual consciousness is essential and true in human life, and religions have been a pathway to that connection.

In a study conducted recently, it was concluded humans use only 10% of their capable minds, in the other 90% lays abilities our world classifies as supernatural. Most religions ranging from Buddhism to Christianity to Taoism, place emphasis on meditation, glorifying the spiritual aspect of human life. With emphasis on logic however, spirituality is mostly rejected, regardless of the proof given by many scientists. Overall, faith as a way of knowing can be a gateway to knowledge of the world and to the self, but can also give humans an opportunity to engage in blind faith, and disregard knowledge in ignorance. Psychologically, humans are prone to both, but in the modern day are urged to reject many essential aspects including the emotional divine connection.

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