Musings on Faith and Finances

It is said that the three things you never talk about in polite conversation are money, religion, and politics. I figure I’ll get two of these out of the way right now, and maybe even touch on a third. I’ve draw a couple of conclusions that even make me uncomfortable. I hope you’ll join in the discussion, both here or on your own blog.

What is faith? Faith is a belief not based on logic, reason, or empirical data, but based fundamentally on one’s own ideas and values. Most people immediately associate faith with religion, but faith is in fact a much broader term. Any time you believe something that you have no evidence for, it is faith.

I’ll offer up an example of my own. I believe without question that every major problem facing humankind will be solved in the next two hundred years. Wars, famine, longetivity: we’ll figure out solutions to all of them by the year 2200, and every baby born then will have an equal chance of success – it will be up to them and them alone to “make” it. Why do I believe this? I have no empirical data for it, just faith.

What about religion? I thought you were going to talk about God. Just be patient, we’ll get there.

We have faith in money. Most of us believe that more money will solve all of our problems. We have faith that better times are ahead, that we will have this great life in a few years full of happiness and things that we want.

But this faith is no different than any other faith. For most Americans, it isn’t backed up by real evidence. Only a small minority of adults have any significant savings for the future or are contributing anything at all to savings.

The American Dream is not backed up by any real action. We aren’t (as a whole) investing money in the American dream; instead, we hope that it comes to us instead. We have faith that it will.

How is this any different than faith of a religious nature? In most religions, there is a belief that we will have a better life after we die. We will go to some sort of heaven and be greeted with some sort of reward. People with religious faith believe this even though, again, there is no empirical evidence for it.

The truth of the matter is that faith of any kind is a false hope if it is not accompanied by a journey. If you are willing to follow the faith, grow in the faith, and build towards a greater understanding of yourself and the world around you, your faith will grow. If you sit idly by without really following your beliefs, the things that you have faith in will never be realized.

As for me, I don’t want to have any faith that I’m not willing to chase with some action, whether it be my belief in God or my belief in the American dream. That’s why I started this site, to build up my faith in the American dream. I want to believe that if I reorganize my finances and meditate on my relationship with money, I will begin to understand the American dream and begin to live it. In the end, it’s the same thing as religious faith – if you follow your faith and build on your beliefs, eventually your faith will grow.

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