This is Faith in Play #41: Faith, for April 2021.
Recently somewhere on the Web a discussion arose that suggested that if you build a world in which God or the gods manifest visibly frequently and work wonders regularly, there is no need for faith in such a world. I am persuaded that this is a serious misunderstanding of the concept of faith, and that we should understand it aright not only for our games but for our lives.
Abraham is said to have entertained God face to face, and yet is also given as the prime example of what it is to have faith. How can Paul say that Abraham had faith in God, when Abraham had absolute proof of God’s existence?
Faith ultimately means trust, and it is actually the most common thing in the world. It is, in fact, the way we know most of what we think we know.
How do I know that George Washington was the first President of the United States? Someone told me; I trusted both that they were correct and that they were honest. That’s faith. How do I know that the earth is eight light minutes from the sun, and that the earth goes around the sun, and not the sun around the earth as it appears? Again this is faith, that I believe what I was told. Why do I hop out of bed onto a floor, believing that it will be there, and will support my weight? Once again, that’s faith.
How do I know that my God is concerned about me, even when life is not going according to my plans? That’s faith—I trust Him.
We have faith in people, that is, we trust that our friends and family are not going to harm us or abandon us. Sometimes our faith is misplaced, but it is still faith. So even when the proof of one God’s or many gods’ existence is incontrovertible, faith is a critical part of that—or any—relationship.
It was also asked whether to have one God or many gods in your fictional world, whether for game or story, but I wrote about that decades ago in Faith and Gaming #8: In Vain (link to more recent republished copy).
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