The Importance of Faith
Faith has gotten a nasty wrap over the last thousand years.
With armies charging off to crusade in the name of God and modern churches damning gays to hell it's pretty easy to see why.
Religious faith, of course, encompasses much more than negative examples like these. Similarly, faith itself holds much more significance than can be seen solely through it's effects on religion.
Faith is not a piece of religion. Religious is just one expression of faith.
Faith is important, (Whether you are religious or not) it hasn't always has been.
Back when we were more monkeys than men, I would speculate that there was little need for faith. If you got hungry, you ate the food in your environment. There was no 'faith' that food would be there. Your stomach would rumble and you would then look around and find what you needed.
There was a problem with this 'easy going' lifestyle, however. If there wasn't any food around... you died. This was a risky way to live, but in the world of our ancestors it was the best course of action.
Today we have this idea of 'long term planning' to avoid problems like dying from starvation. To our ancestors, however, this idea would have sounded downright funny.
We can see the benefits of long-term planning by taking actions such as saving for retirement. Over a period of 50 years it is possible to save enough money to live care-free for the rest of your life.
Benefits like these, however, weren't available to our ancestors. Trying to save one apple every month for 50 years would just lead to a tree full of rotten apples.
Trying to plan too much for the future could actually get you killed. With our best form of storage inside our own bodies, forgoing resources in the present meant a higher chance of dying from a lack of some kind.
With no certain way to 'save up' you were also unlikely to see the benefits of your long term planning once the day for 'cashing in' arrived. If a bear attacked your camp you'd probably lose everything. If it rained, everything might rot. There was a high level of uncertainty and long term planning generally didn't work that well.
A major change occurred, however, when plans actually began... going to plan. One of the first examples of this was the agricultural revolution.
This phase of human development required massive amounts of long term planning never before seen in human societies. For the first time in history you could place something into the ground, care for it, and then reliably retrieve something of value after months of persistent effort. This value (of course) was massive, and has since allowed portions of human society to focus on areas of life other than self preservation; (little things like art, science, and philosophy)
To put it simply, faith made it all happen.
Without the enduring faith that crops will grow they will never be planted. If crops crops are never planted it will be impossible to escape living hand-to-mouth. Without faith, therefore, it would have been impossible for humans to receive any of the benefits that farming has given us.
Farming is one example of the importance of faith. As the need for long term planning continues to grow, faith continues to become more and more necessary.
If you want to become a doctor you need to have faith that you will continue all the way through your schooling. You need to have faith that many years from now you will be still taking your exams and moving closer to your degree.
If you want to start a company you need to keep working towards your goal for years. If at any point you 'lose the faith' and go off course everything will be lost.
Faith always comes into play when you want to bring something into reality that isn't there. It is easy to have believe in something that you can see in front of you. This is just intuitive. If I see a dog in front of me I believe that it is there. No faith necessary.
Without the proof ('I see the dog') that something is there, it takes faith to bring it into existence. Creating something simple takes just a little faith, and creating something big takes more. (you only need faith for a minute if you want to make a paper airplane.)
Planting crops and bringing a field of grain into existence takes more faith. Building a company or becoming a doctor takes even more.
If the creation of a new reality will benefit an individual then the difference between the person who succeeds and the person who quits is mainly a matter of faith.
Faith is important because it is necessary for the accomplishment of all long term plans.
It is said that 'faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains'.
It can build them as well.