The Plasticity of Blind Faith

The first challenge to blind faith comes with the acute realization that blind faith is aimless... you can believe in anything you want, you can take anything on faith, any scripture, any prophet, any ideology. Belief is plastic. If you have to believe, why restrict yourself to what you are being told? Make your own beliefs, be heretics. People don't do so, because they share the beliefs with a community, and there is an unconscious pressure of conformity. However, the realization of the plasticity of pure belief is a potential step towards its dissolution.

Apart from dissolution, there are two ways in which people respond to this. One is that they begin to say that their faith is not blind but rather based on reasoning. The off-side of this for the believer is that bad reasoning can actually be analysed and pointed out. To avoid this, the believer of 'rational faith' usually keeps switching from reasoning to faith during argumentation as and when it suits the purpose, and yet remains in denial about faith being essentially blind.

The second reaction to plasticity is to resist it strongly and become a fundamentalist. You over-react and adhere so intensely to a limited set of beliefs that you begin to see followers of other variants of your own faith as heretics and apostates.

[Edit: After reading F's comment. I realized I had over-looked another possibility, the one of living with faith while at the same time recognizing its plasticity. This position allows for greater tolerance.]


F. said…
I don't know where I stand on this, not because I disagree with what you said but because I don't agree with what you said it about.

I don't think blind faith is always bad. For example, sometimes you need to have blind faith you're going to make it through a natural disaster or a bad relationship even if reason stacks the odds against your favor. Other times, in the course of a life, you may need to have blind faith that your existence is meaningful in order to exist at all, even though there's no proof of that. Blind, benign faith isn't really such a bad thing, is it, if it builds bonds and empowers people to change their life for the better--simple because it lets them believe there IS something better?

There you should some way to distinguish blind faith per se from dogma.
Awais Aftab said…
@ F.

Yes, blind faith is not always bad. Often it is necessary even. Much of our higher moral, aesthetic and existential values are taken on belief by many people. However, there are pragmatic reasons for such beliefs, born out of their need for psychological and social well-being. Blind faith becomes pathological when it has no regard for consequences and human well-being.
uzair said…
Blind faith in my view is always baseless (well because of the very nature of being blind faith). I guess it varies from person to person. For me, I don't think I resort to blind faith. Yes, when life is a struggle I hope for things to work out and since I know there is a probability that things will be fine, I hope they will. But that's the extent for me. I am still very aware that bad things can happen. I see good outcomes as a potential outcome but not as a necessary outcome -> hence no blind faith.

Ofcourse that's just me. I am not even sure whether this kind of approach is even applicable in general.
Rekhaa said…
The first challenge to blind faith comes with the acute realization that blind faith is aimless.

A faith is blind not because it is aimless (or baseless) in nature but precisely because it is overly sure of its aim as well as its result. Faith always knows what it wants and also often ends up achieving what it wants. For example, statements of conviction like 'I shall pass my exams', 'I shall get a job soon' or 'I shall realize God' are all statements of faith where each one of them has a particular aim. Also, faith possesses a touch of goodwill to it and a beautiful expectant quality of hope which perhaps can be mental but could also sometimes emanate from a deep source within oneself. This could be the reason why faith helps one surmount difficult circumstances in life because it is founded on strength and resilience and reason. Belief, on the contrary, is mental, dry, wavering in nature and often carries within it a strong tendency to be dogmatic. For example, statements like 'If I blow up the infidels, I will get 72 virgins from Allah' or 'If you take a dip in the Ganges, all your sins will be washed away' are statements of belief. Even if these actions are carried out the truth value of the beliefs can never be verified. Such is the nature of belief. Vague, uncertain and pestering. From this we might as well infer that belief rises out of bad reason or no reason perhaps.

In short, faith implies surety without plasticity whereas belief implies plasticity without surety. That's how it could be put.
RH said…
Awais, I'm glad you added that edit at the end. This is the category in which I would describe myself.