Faith is a complete trust in someone or something without requiring proof. Infants have complete trust by dint of the actions of their parents. No baby wonders whether he or she will be fed, under normal conditions. It just happens, no proof needed. Is being fed, in the world of a baby equivalent to the daily sunrise in the world of the adult? Is this the same as faith? Does every infant have this trusting quality?
If every infant does indeed begin life with trust, not as a concept, but rather as an expectation that a need will be met, what happens as he or she becomes more self-sufficient. Parents must tackle the transition of their children from helplessness to independence. Does the child lose faith in the parents during this process? I would say so in many cases, with the onset of the rebelliousness teenage years, if not before then. Faith in good parents usually returns later in life of the child. Realizations that, “They did the best they could,” or “They were so young they didn’t know what they were doing,” might restore any faith the child may have lost.
People are people
What happens to faith when children realize that their parents are merely human and cannot or will not respond to all their needs and desires? Some transfer their faith to friends, cult societies or become lost and confused.
I imagine that children raised in families that have a strong faith in a god, will be able to view their parents in perspective, in light of an all-powerful entity that they can trust without proof.
Loss of trust
One typically hears this phrase about some depressed people: “He has lost his faith.” This must be devastating, after a lifetime of faith, to find trust is not there or more proof is needed. The entire landscape must look different to a person who has experienced such an earthshaking experience.
Being the skeptical, questioning person I am, I feel much more comfortable with proof. I identify with the follow dialog from the movie Cool Hand Luke (George Kennedy is Dragline; Paul Newman is Luke):
Dragline: “Knock it off Luke. You can’t talk about Him that way.”
Luke: “Are you still believin’ in that big bearded Boss up there” You think he’s watchin’ us?”
Dragline: “Get in here. Ain’t ya scared? Ain’t you scared of dyin’?”
Luke: “Dyin’? Boy, he can have this little life any time he wants to. Do you hear that? Are ya hearin’ it? Come on. You’re welcome to it, ol’ timer. Let me know you’re up there. Come on. Love me, hate me, kill me, anything. Just let me know it. ” “I’m just standin in the rain talkin’ to myself.”
What about a parent’s faith in his or her child? My Dad never gave up on my older brother, although Mike was profoundly retarded, autistic and nonverbal; Mike never improved no matter what Dad did. Dad never seemed daunted. Perhaps instead of characterizing this as misplaced faith, I should call it love. My Dad reminded me of Cool Hand Luke: he just never quit. Here is an apt quote from the movie where Dragline was beating the crap out of Luke:
Dragline: “Stay down, you’re beat.”
Luke: “You’re gonna have to kill me.”