Very recently these thoughts have come to my mind. I find them personally enlightening, though don't consider them to necessarily speak to any and everyone. I would still be deeply curious as to how people would respond to them.
These thoughts I feel are connected. Sometimes logically, but sometimes more intuitively. I feel that there is some sort of succeeding order to them, so they are not merely arbitrary in their arrangement.
So, without further ado, here goes:
In any given circumstance (in this life at least) there is not a perfect environment conducive to the flourishing of faith, for then faith would cease to be faith – it would be replaced by absolute knowledge. One must have faith in spite of the environment one is situated in, and go against the grain of defeaters.
A defeater is not a doubt. It is a circumstance that has the capacity of engendering a doubt.
If faith is a form of knowing, then how can it withstand the assault of defeaters? Since knowledge in the stricter sense of knowing beyond the need for faith is not prone to such defeaters it’s knowledge is thus assured. However, what is it in the act of faith that would maintain itself as knowing or knowledge in the face of defeaters? Would it be the will itself and it’s assertion of faith? How would this differ then from mere credulity?
What about in the case of two or more faiths that are contradictory? To maintain that the concept of faith is valid it would seem one would have to dismiss other faiths which are opposite in content as being other than faith (i.e., credulity). Properly speaking, faith, it would appear, can only be directed at something true. There cannot be such a thing as “false faith” as opposed to true, because then one could be in possession of a form of knowing that is incapable of knowledge, but this is absurd.
Perhaps everyone who has faith, properly speaking, only believes in essential truths, and this is the case in all religions wherein faith plays a role. Unessential, or false ideas, may also be believed in, or dovetailed together with essential truths, but this would not be faith in the proper sense but something else; credulity, or maybe an instinctive mechanism whereby one is compelled to connect such ideas with the verities which are believed in by faith, or even to take them as one and the same, due to a defect in intellectual reasoning wherein one mistakenly tries to be consistent.
An act of faith is not the same as we might imagine an act as being whimsical or spontaneous. Rather, the action of faith is a constant thread underlying all peripheral mentations. One does not have to “force” faith – it exists of it’s own accord, as a symptom of the soul or an attribute of the will.