Doubt

What is faith, really?

There was a time when faith seemed so easy and was easy to pin down. You knew that yes, you were a believer, because food always magically appeared at least three times a day and even though unicorns were too smart to be captured by the zoo, you could occasionally catch them on TV.

You don’t remember exactly when, but somewhere along the way, everything got all confusing and overly inquisitive. People didn’t just stop at “Do you believe?” They kept going and became insatiable, smiling monsters of good intentions that also wanted to know “Do you believe in God? Do you believe in love? Do you believe in free will? Do you believe in potassium? Do you believe in capitalism? Do you believe in grammar? Do you believe in bitcoins? Do you believe in the impossible? and if they were overly ambitious, perhaps “Do you believe in yourself?”

You learn to play the game, and sometimes genuinely enjoy it, especially if you’re playing with someone attractive or just someone that gets offended easily. Sometimes you get so into the game that you find yourself nodding along furiously, because yes, the world would be so much better off without dictators and you can prevent cavities if you floss everyday, you’ve tried it!

Part of you, however, just wants to take a nap right then and there. Truth is, you really don’t know what you believe. You believe in a lot of things, depending on the situation. You believe in pizza when you’re skinny and in headphones when you’re flying. You believe in aliens when humans are boring and in business cards when someone asks you for yours.

And let’s say you did believe in something. Honestly, you don’t know that what you’re believing in actually is something. It could turn out to be a bunch of nothing altogether. It’s enough to make you throw up your hands because, “Enough already! Can’t I just do what I want to do, and not be held accountable for my actions on the basis of beliefs I may or may not have?”

So that’s what you do. You leave your moral compass for someone else to pick up at the corner of Educated and In-Control. You meander into the shadowy depths of That’s Questionable But Why Not. You stop caring so much but start noticing everything. You stop answering questions but start questioning everything.

One fine day, when you’re sharpening your knife as a fully adjusted caveman of the forest, you look up and see these words etched in the sky, “You had not yet sought yourselves, then you found me. All believers do this; that’s why all faith amounts to so little. Now I bid you lose me and find yourselves; and only when you have all denied me will I return to you.”

You wonder what it means, but can’t help feeling quite inspired because it sounds alright. Besides, Nietzche is some kind of philosopher, isn’t he? Either way, it’s still a beautiful day and you return to the little hole in the mountain where your son is trying to make a fire for the first time. He’s giving it all he’s got, rubbing two leaves together. “Is this how you make a fire?” he asks. You laugh and reply:

“You’ll never get the right answers if you don’t ask the right questions.”

And maybe, that’s what faith is all about.

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