So then. I got to thinking about the matter of faith and all of its implications after a stirring debate I engaged in not long ago, and it led to some research into the matter.
The question that arose in my mind was: What is the difference, if any, between faith and wishful thinking. It later occurred to me that hope should enter into the matter also. So what then is the difference? It surprised me not in the least that there were no cogent answers to be found. Oh, for sure there was a lot of religious assertion that faith was in no way on the same level as wishful thinking, but every one of the arguments I encountered was simply opinion. No one had any facts to back up that assertion. I did come across one explanation that wishful thinking was believing that one would win the lottery and that faith was what one had that the chair one had just pulled out would hold one when they sat down, but that seemed flimsy at best.
In reading various arguements, however, I encountered the claim that first hope was needed in order to attain faith. Now that I really can’t disagree with. It’s an innocuous enough claim, but it doesn’t address the matter of whether or not faith is intrinsic to human nature. Because if it isn’t, then it can only be yet another construct of the human mind, which is certainly what hope is. Or at least I’ve seen no evidence that hope isn’t such.
So then, if one needs hope to attain faith, and hope is a construct, then does it not follow that faith is also? And if that’s true, then it’s fair to draw the conclusion that faith and wishful thinking are on an even par, inasmuch as wishful thinking is beyond a doubt a construct of the human mind.
To the best of my knowledge there is no evidence to support the notion that any other mammals besides man do engage in wishful thinking. Animals desire things they see, but that’s not the same thing. They live entirely in the moment, and therefore do not have the ability to project those desires into the future, which is what wishful thinking is, in essence.
So, at this point it occurs to me that the matter of faith, and indeed, its necessary forerunner hope, are also both activities that involve being outside of the moment. They are both things that concern themselves with the future. As we all know, we cannot discern what will actually happen at any given point beyond the present moment. We can only wait and see what happens.
Is it not sensible then to think that hope and faith are simply constructs of the human mind? If they do not have any relevance to the present moment, and only humans, as beings that project into the future engage in hope and faith, then how do they differ in any concrete way from wishful thinking?
I for one can see no difference. The main thing to note here is that wishful thinking is usually thought of as being a waste of time and fanciful at best, whereas hope and faith are considered noble and important. That begs the question of why.
I invite feedback on this matter, especially from anyone who can point to a real difference between them without reference to the supernatural or tautology. The above is in no way intended to denigrate any chosen beliefs, it is merely an intellectual exercise. Back to storytelling tomorrow.