Mahatma Gandhi reflected this sentiment when he said, “Without faith, I should have been a lunatic long ago.”
Without faith, life becomes burdened with doubt, worry, anxiety and fear. Psychological studies have demonstrated that people with strong faith suffer less depression and stress-related disorders, and cope better with loss. Carl Jung found that all his patients in the second half of life fared much better, had less illness, and had greater coping skills if they possessed a faith.
Without question, I, too, have found that those who possess genuine faith not only move toward death with greater peace and acceptance, but also move through life with a greater appreciation of life itself. Life takes on more meaning, more depth, and greater joy.
Genuine faith does not come easily, especially in our day and time. We live in a time when many question the existence of God. God, many claim, is a fabrication created to ease our anxieties about our own mortality. In other words, we create God because we are afraid of death and want to believe that somehow we will continue to live even after death.
In response to such thinking, many attempt to prove the existence of God. Some wage arguments concerning how ludicrous it is to believe that God does not exist. For example, some argue that no one would readily believe that a computer or a skyscraper or an automobile was formed over millions of years during which time bits of metal and wood and plastic and an assortment of chemicals linked together. Such a belief defies logic.
Obviously, these objects were created by a power beyond itself. Such reasoning leads some to argue that the human body couldn’t have been formed over time by chance. Because the human body is much, much more intricate than anything manmade (just one human eye alone has more than one billion parts) there seems to have to be a creative power for life to exist as it does.
But claiming there must be a God just because of technological achievements, the complexity of the human brain, or the workings of a single eye places our faith on very thin ice. Should we ever be able to create a working brain that matches the complexity of our own or an artificial eye that sees as well as our own, then many would argue that God is a fabrication that we create as a substitution for all the things about our world we do not yet understand.
Such reasoning is misdirected. Faith was never meant to prove anything about our world. Faith goes beyond science. Where science tells us how, faith tells us why. For example, if you were to travel to Lookout Mountain this afternoon and watch the sunset over the surrounding mountains, you could think about everything that composes those mountains. And if you were a fine enough scientist, you could break each mountain down into all its parts, right down to the last molecule.
So, if you were a scientist, you could tell us how the mountain is formed. But what you could not tell us as a scientist is why the mountain was formed. Why is a matter of faith. Not only for the presence of mountains, but also for our own presence. Even if we could figure out how we got here as humans on this earth (a scientific question), we still would not have answered the question why we are here (a faith question).
When we become focused not on how we got here but why we are here, then our lives take on a faith that provides a much greater potential to find purpose, meaning and of course, happiness.