Faith, derived from ''fides'' and ''feid'', is confidence or trust in a , thing, or In the context of , one can define faith as " in or in the doctrines or teachings of religion". Religious people often think of faith as confidence based on a perceived degree of , while others who are more tend to think of faith as simply belief without .Russell, Bertrand

''Human Society in Ethics and Politics''. Ch 7. Pt 2. Retrieved 16 August 2009.


The English word ''faith'' is thought to date from 1200–1250, from the Middle English ''feith'', via Anglo-French ''fed'', Old French ''feid'', ''feit'' from Latin ''fidem'', accusative of ''fidēs'' (trust), akin to ''fīdere'' (to trust).

Stages of faith development

(1940–2015) proposes a series of stages of faith-development (or ) across the human life-span. His stages relate closely to the work of , Erikson, and regarding aspects of psychological development in children and adults. Fowler defines faith as an activity of trusting, committing, and relating to the world based on a set of assumptions of how one is related to others and the world.

Stages of faith

# Intuitive-Projective: a stage of confusion and of high impressionability through stories and s (pre-school period). # Mythic-Literal: a stage where provided information is accepted in order to conform with s (school-going period). # Synthetic-Conventional: in this stage the faith acquired is concreted in the with the forgoing of personification and replacement with in individuals or groups that represent one's beliefs (early-late adolescence). # Individuative-Reflective: in this stage the individual critically analyzes adopted and accepted faith with existing systems of faith. Disillusion or strengthening of faith happens in this stage. Based on needs, experiences and paradoxes (early adulthood). # Conjunctive faith: in this stage people realize the limits of and, facing the paradoxes or of , accept the "mystery of life" and often return to the sacred stories and symbols of the pre-acquired or re-adopted faith system. This stage is called negotiated settling in life (mid-life). # Universalizing faith: this is the "enlightenment" stage where the individual comes out of all the existing systems of faith and lives life with universal principles of compassion and love and in service to others for upliftment, without worries and (middle-late adulthood (45–65 years old and plus). No hard-and-fast rule requires individuals pursuing faith to go through all six stages. There is a high probability for individuals to be content and fixed in a particular stage for a lifetime; stages from 2–5 are such stages. Stage 6 is the summit of faith development. This state is often considered as "not fully" attainable.

Religious views

Baháʼí Faith

In the , faith is meant, first, conscious knowledge, and second, the practice of good deeds, ultimately the acceptance of the divine authority of the . In the religion's view, faith and knowledge are both required for spiritual growth. Faith involves more than outward obedience to this authority, but also must be based on a deep personal understanding of religious teachings.


Faith in Buddhism ('' pi, saddhā'', '' sa, śraddhā'') refers to a serene commitment in the practice of the Buddha's teaching and trust in enlightened or highly developed beings, such as or ' (those aiming to become a Buddha). Buddhists usually recognize multiple objects of faith, but many are especially devoted to one particular object of faith, such as one particular Buddha. In , faith was focused on the , that is, , his teaching (the ), and the community of spiritually developed followers, or the seeking enlightenment (the ). Although offerings to the monastic community were valued highest, early Buddhism did not morally condemn peaceful offerings to . A faithful devotee was called , for which no formal declaration was required. In early Buddhism, personal verification was valued highest in attaining the truth, and sacred scriptures, reason or faith in a teacher were considered less valuable sources of authority. As important as faith was, it was a mere initial step to the path to and , and was obsolete or redefined at the final stage of that path. While does not imply "blind faith", Buddhist practice nevertheless requires a degree of trust, primarily in the spiritual attainment of . Faith in centers on the understanding that the Buddha is an Awakened being, on his superior role as teacher, in the truth of his (spiritual teachings), and in his (community of spiritually developed followers). Faith in Buddhism can be summarised as faith in the : the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It is intended to lead to the goal of enlightenment, or , and . Volitionally, faith implies a resolute and courageous act of will. It combines the steadfast resolution that one will do a thing with the self-confidence that one can do it. In the later stratum of Buddhist history, especially , faith was given a much more important role. The concept of the was developed, as devotion to Buddhas and ''bodhisattvas'' residing in s became commonplace. With the arising of the cult of the , faith gained a central role in Buddhist practice, which was further amplified with the development of devotion to the in . In the Japanese form of Pure Land Buddhism, under the teachers and , only toward the Amitabha Buddha was believed to be a fruitful form of practice, as the practice of celibacy, morality and other Buddhist disciplines were dismissed as no longer effective in this day and age, or contradicting the virtue of faith. Faith was defined as a state similar to enlightenment, with a sense of self-negation and humility. Thus, the role of faith increased throughout Buddhist history. However, from the nineteenth century onward, in countries like Sri Lanka and Japan, and also in the West, has downplayed and criticized the role of faith in Buddhism. Faith in Buddhism still has a role in modern Asia or the West, but is understood and defined differently from traditional interpretations. Within the communities, taking is defined not only as a religious, but also a political choice.


The word translated as "faith" in English-language editions of the New Testament, the word ''πίστις'' (''pístis''), can also be translated as "belief", "faithfulness", or "trust". Christianity encompasses various views regarding the nature of faith. Some see faith as being persuaded or convinced that something is true. In this view, a person believes something when they are presented with adequate evidence that it is true. The 13th-century theologian Saint did not hold that faith is mere opinion: on the contrary, he held that it represents a mean (understood in the Platonic sense) between excessive reliance on science (i.e. demonstration) and excessive reliance on opinion. Numerous commentators discuss the results of faith. Some believe that true faith results in good works, while others believe that while faith in brings eternal life, it does not necessarily result in good works. Regardless of the approach taken to faith, all Christians agree that the Christian faith (in the sense of Christian practice) is aligned with the ideals and the example of the life of . The Christian contemplates the mystery of and his , and seeks to know and become obedient to God. To a Christian, the faith is not static but causes one to learn more of God and to grow in faith; Christian faith has its origin in God. The definition of faith given by the author of the at Hebrews 11:1 carries particular weight with Christians who respect the as the source of divine truth. There the author writes: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." — King James Version "Now faith is the assurance that what we hope for will come about and the certainty that what we cannot see exists." — International Standard Version In Christianity, faith causes change as it seeks a greater understanding of God. Faith is not only or simple obedience to a set of rules or statements. Before Christians have faith, they must understand in whom and in what they have faith. Without understanding, there cannot be true faith, and that understanding is built on the foundation of the community of believers, the scriptures and traditions and on the personal experiences of the . In English translations of the New Testament, the word "faith" generally corresponds to the Greek noun πίστις (''pistis'') or to the Greek verb πιστεύω (''pisteuo''), meaning "to trust, to have confidence, faithfulness, to be reliable, to assure".

Strength of faith

Christians may recognise different degrees of faith when they encourage each other to and themselves strive to develop, grow, and/or deepen their faith. This may imply that one can measure faith. Willingness to undergo indicates a proxy for depth of faith, but does not provide an everyday measurement for the average contemporary Christian. Within the tradition the degree of prosperity may serve as an analog of level of faith. Other Christian strands may rely on personal self-evaluation to measure the intensity of an individual's faith, with associated difficulties in calibrating to any scale. Solemn affirmations of a (a statement of faith) provide broad measurements of details. Various tribunals of the , however, concerned themselves with precisely evaluating the orthodoxy of the faith of those it examined – in order to acquit or to punish in varying degrees. The classification of different degrees of faith allows that faith and its expression may wax and wane in fervor - during the lifetime of a faithful individual and/or over the various historical centuries of a society with an embedded religious system. Thus one can speak of an "Age of Faith" or of the "decay" of a society's into corruption, secularism, or , - interpretable as the ultimate loss of faith.

Christian apologetic views

In contrast to ' view of faith as "blind trust, in the absence of evidence, even in the teeth of evidence", quotes the Oxford Anglican theologian (1861–1924), who states that faith is "not blind, but intelligent" and that it "commences with the conviction of the mind based on adequate evidence...", which McGrath sees as "a good and reliable definition, synthesizing the core elements of the characteristic Christian understanding of faith". American biblical scholar (1863-1934) stated that the Greek word ''pistis'' used for "faith" in the New Testament (over two hundred forty times), and rendered "assurance" in Acts 17:31 (KJV), is "an old verb meaning "to furnish", used regularly by for bringing forward evidence." Tom Price (Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics) affirms that when the New Testament talks about faith positively it only uses words derived from the Greek root istiswhich means "to be persuaded". British Christian apologist argues that "faith conceived as belief that lacks warrant is very different from faith conceived as belief that has warrant". He states that "the use of the adjective 'blind' to describe 'faith' indicates that faith is not necessarily, or always, or indeed normally, blind". "The validity, or warrant, of faith or belief depends on the strength of the evidence on which the belief is based." "We all know how to distinguish between blind faith and evidence-based faith. We are well aware that faith is only justified if there is evidence to back it up." "Evidence-based faith is the normal concept on which we base our everyday lives." Peter S Williams holds that "the classic Christian tradition has always valued rationality, and does not hold that faith involves the complete abandonment of reason while believing in the teeth of evidence". Quoting , faith is defined as "a trust in and commitment to what we have reason to believe is true". Regarding in John 20:24–31, Williams points out that "Thomas wasn't asked to believe without evidence". He was asked to believe on the basis of the other disciples' testimony. Thomas initially lacked the first-hand experience of the evidence that had convinced them... Moreover, the reason John gives for recounting these events is that what he saw is evidence... Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples...But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that believing ye might have life in his name. John 20:30,31. Concerning , Michael R. Allen wrote: "Thomas's definition of faith implies adherence to conceptual propositions for the sake of personal knowledge, knowledge of and about a person ''qua'' person". Kenneth Boa and Robert M. Bowman Jr. describe a classic understanding of faith that is referred to as ', and which is part of a larger tradition called ''classical '', which is accompanied by ', which holds that humans have an obligation to regulate their beliefs in accordance with evidentialist structures. They show how this can go too far, and deals with it. While Plantinga upholds that faith may be the result of evidence testifying to the reliability of the source (of the truth claims), yet he sees having faith as being the result of hearing the truth of the gospel with the internal persuasion by the moving and enabling him to believe. "Christian belief is produced in the believer by the internal instigation of the Holy Spirit, endorsing the teachings of Scripture, which is itself divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit. The result of the work of the Holy Spirit is faith."


The four-part ' (CCC) gives Part One to "The Profession of Faith". This section describes the content of faith. It elaborates and expands particularly upon the . CCC 144 initiates a section on the "Obedience of Faith". In the of , faith is understood in personal terms as a trusting commitment of person to person and thus involves Christian commitment to the divine person of .


In , faith plays an important role in , which occurs during the . The , a Methodist denomination in the , teaches:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The of (LDS Church) states that "faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" is the first principle of the gospel. Some alternative, yet impactful, ideas regarding the nature of faith were presented by church founder in a collection of sermons, which are now published as the '. # Lecture 1 explains what faith is; # Lecture 2 describes how mankind comes to know about God; # Lectures 3 and 4 make clear the necessary and unchanging attributes of God; # Lecture 5 deals with the nature of God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost; # Lecture 6 proclaims that the willingness to sacrifice all earthly things is prerequisite to gaining faith unto salvation; # Lecture 7 treats the fruits of faith—perspective, power, and eventually perfection.


Bhakti ( sa, ) literally means "attachment, participation, fondness for, homage, faith, love, devotion, worship, purity".See , ''Sanskrit Dictionary'', 1899. It was originally used in , referring to devotion and love for a personal god or a representational god by a devotee.Bhakti
''Encyclopædia Britannica'' (2009)
In ancient texts such as the ', the term simply means participation, devotion and love for any endeavor, while in the ', it connotes one of the possible paths of spirituality and towards , as in ''bhakti marga''. , also referred to as , is the fundamental tenet of Hinduism which advocates harmonious and peaceful co-existence and evolutionary growth in grace and wisdom for all humankind unconditionally. In Hinduism, most of the Vedic prayers begins with the chants of Om. is the symbol that amazingly resonates the peacefulness ensconced within one's higher self. Om is considered to have a profound effect on the body and mind of the one who chants and also creates a calmness, serenity, healing, strength of its own to prevail within and also in the surrounding environment.


In Islam, a believer's faith in the metaphysical aspects of is called ''Iman'' ( ar, ), which is complete submission to the will of God, not unquestionable or blind belief. A man must build his faith on well-grounded convictions beyond any reasonable doubt and above uncertainty. According to the Quran, Iman must be accompanied by righteous deeds and the two together are necessary for entry into . In the Hadith of Gabriel, ''Iman'' in addition to ''Islam'' and ' form the three dimensions of the Islamic religion. referred to the in the : "Iman is that you believe in God and His Angels and His Books and His Messengers and the Hereafter and the good and evil fate rdained by your God" The first five are mentioned together in the Qur'an The Quran states that faith can grow with remembrance of God. The Qur'an also states that nothing in this world should be dearer to a true believer than faith.


Judaism recognizes the positive value of ''Emunah'' (generally translated as faith, trust in God) and the negative status of the ' (heretic), but faith is not as stressed or as central as it is in other religions, especially compared with and . It could be a necessary means for being a practicing religious Jew, but the emphasis is placed on true , true and practice rather than on faith itself. Very rarely does it relate to any teaching that must be believed. Judaism does not require one to explicitly identify God (a key tenet of , which is called in Judaism, a minor form of , a big sin and strictly forbidden to Jews). Rather, in Judaism, one is to honour a (personal) idea of God, supported by the many principles quoted in the Talmud to define Judaism, mostly by what it is not. Thus there is no established formulation of which are mandatory for all (observant) . In the Jewish scriptures, trust in God – ''Emunah'' – refers to how God acts toward his people and how they are to respond to him; it is rooted in the everlasting covenant established in the , notably Deuteronomy 7:9: The specific tenets that compose required belief and their application to the times have been disputed throughout Jewish history. Today many, but not all, s have accepted ' Thirteen Principles of Belief. A traditional example of ''Emunah'' as seen in the Jewish annals is found in the person of . On a number of occasions, Abraham both accepts statements from God that seem impossible and offers obedient actions in response to direction from God to do things that seem implausible.
"The describes how a thief also believes in G‑d: On the brink of his forced entry, as he is about to risk his life—and the life of his victim—he cries out with all sincerity, 'G‑d help me!' The thief has faith that there is a G‑d who hears his cries, yet it escapes him that this G‑d may be able to provide for him without requiring that he abrogate G‑d’s will by stealing from others. For ''emunah'' to affect him in this way he needs study and contemplation."


Faith itself is not a religious concept in Sikhism. However, the five Sikh symbols, known as Kakaars or (in Punjabi known as pañj kakkē or pañj kakār), are sometimes referred to as the ''Five articles of Faith''. The articles include ' (uncut hair), ' (small wooden comb), ' (circular steel or iron bracelet), ' (sword/dagger), and ' (special undergarment). Baptised are bound to wear those five articles of faith, at all times, to save them from bad company and keep them close to God.

Epistemological validity

There is a wide spectrum of opinion with respect to the validity of faith - that is, whether it is a reliable way to acquire true beliefs.


Fideism is an which maintains that faith is independent of , or that reason and faith are hostile to each other and faith is superior at arriving at particular s (see ). Fideism is not a synonym for religious belief, but describes a particular philosophical proposition in regard to the relationship between faith's appropriate jurisdiction at arriving at truths, contrasted against reason. It states that faith is needed to determine some philosophical and religious truths, and it questions the ability of reason to arrive at all truth. The word and concept had its origin in the mid- to late-19th century by way of thought, in a movement called . The Roman Catholic has, however, repeatedly condemned .


have formulated and defended reasons for the rationality of accepting belief in God without the support of an argument. Some religious epistemologists hold that belief in God is more analogous to belief in a person than belief in a scientific hypothesis. Human relations demand trust and commitment. If belief in God is more like belief in other persons, then the trust that is appropriate to persons will be appropriate to God. American and offers a similar argument in his lecture ''.'' is a view about the structure of justification or . Foundationalism holds that all knowledge and are ultimately based upon what are called . This position is intended to resolve the problem in . According to foundationalism, a belief is epistemically justified only if it is justified by properly basic beliefs. One of the significant developments in foundationalism is the rise of . Reformed epistemology is a view about the epistemology of religious belief, which holds that belief in God can be properly basic. philosophers and develop this view. Plantinga holds that an individual may rationally believe in God even though the individual does not possess sufficient evidence to convince an agnostic. One difference between reformed epistemology and is that the former requires defence against known objections, whereas the latter might dismiss such objections as irrelevant. Plantinga has developed reformed epistemology in ''Warranted Christian Belief'' as a form of that holds that the conferring factors for a belief may include external factors. Some philosophers have defended theism by granting but supporting theism through deductive arguments whose premises are considered justifiable. Some of these arguments are probabilistic, either in the sense of having weight but being inconclusive, or in the sense of having a assigned to them. Notable in this regard are the cumulative arguments presented by philosopher and philosopher , whose arguments are based on . In a notable exposition of his arguments, Swinburne appeals to an inference for the best explanation. and at has stated, "Faith is not a leap in the dark; it’s the exact opposite. It’s a commitment based on … It is irrational to reduce all faith to blind faith and then subject it to ridicule. That provides a very anti-intellectual and convenient way of avoiding intelligent discussion.” He criticises as a famous proponent of asserting that faith equates to holding a belief without evidence, thus that it is possible to hold belief without evidence, for failing to provide evidence for this assertion.


wrote: criticizes all faith by generalizing from specific faith in propositions that conflict directly with scientific evidence. He describes faith as belief without evidence; a process of active non-thinking. He states that it is a practice that only degrades our understanding of the natural world by allowing anyone to make a claim about nature that is based solely on their personal thoughts, and possibly distorted perceptions, that does not require testing against nature, has no ability to make reliable and consistent predictions, and is not subject to peer review. Philosophy professor argues that reason and evidence are the only way to determine which "claims about the world are likely true". Different religious traditions make different religious claims, and Boghossian asserts that faith alone cannot resolve conflicts between these without evidence. He gives as an example of the belief held by that Muslims that (who died in the year 632) was the last prophet, and the contradictory belief held by Mormons that (born in 1805) was a prophet. Boghossian asserts that faith has no "built-in corrective mechanism". For factual claims, he gives the example of the belief that the Earth is 4,000 years old. With only faith and no reason or evidence, he argues, there is no way to correct this claim if it is inaccurate. Boghossian advocates thinking of faith either as "belief without evidence" or "pretending to know things you don't know". expressed his criticism of the Christian idea of faith in passage 51 of :Friedrich Nietzsche, H.L. Mencken (Translator), The Anti-Christ, Chicago, Sharp Press, 1999, p. 144.
The fact that faith, under certain circumstances, may work for blessedness, but that this blessedness produced by an idée fixe by no means makes the idea itself true, and the fact that faith actually moves no mountains, but instead raises them up where there were none before: all this is made sufficiently clear by a walk through a lunatic asylum. Not, of course, to a priest: for his instincts prompt him to the lie that sickness is not sickness and lunatic asylums not lunatic asylums. Christianity finds sickness necessary, just as the Greek spirit had need of a superabundance of health—the actual ulterior purpose of the whole system of salvation of the church is to make people ill. And the church itself—doesn’t it set up a Catholic lunatic asylum as the ultimate ideal?—The whole earth as a madhouse?—The sort of religious man that the church wants is a typical décadent; the moment at which a religious crisis dominates a people is always marked by epidemics of nervous disorder; the “inner world” of the religious man is so much like the “inner world” of the overstrung and exhausted that it is difficult to distinguish between them; the “highest” states of mind, held up before mankind by Christianity as of supreme worth, are actually epileptoid in form—the church has granted the name of holy only to lunatics or to gigantic frauds in majorem dei honorem....

See also



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Further reading

* , '': Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason'', W. W. Norton (2004), hardcover, 336 pages, * Stephen Palmquist, "Faith as Kant's Key to the Justification of Transcendental Reflection", ''The Heythrop Journal'' 25:4 (October 1984), pp. 442–455. Reprinted as Chapter V in Stephen Palmquist
''Kant's System of Perspectives''
(Lanham: University Press of America, 1993). * , "Faith/Faithfulness" ''Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary''. Eds. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England. Nashville: Holman Publishers, 2003. *
On Faith and Reason
' by *
San Francisco: Sufism Reoriented, 1967.

Classic reflections on the nature of faith

* , ''I and Thou'' * , ''The Dynamics of Faith''

The Reformation view of faith

* , ', 1536 * , ''Faith Alone'', Baker Books, 1 February 1999,

External links

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Faith in Judaism
Pew Research Center Reports on Religion

Faith News & Religion , ''Times'' Online Articles and comment about faith issues and religion from ''The Times''
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