Faith and Apologetics

The Story of Vedanta, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Once in a tree there were two birds, one at the upper branch, serene, majestic and divine, and the other at a lower branch, restlessly pecking fruits, sometimes sweet sometimes bitter. Every time, when the restless bird ate a bitter fruit, it looked at the upper bird and climbed a branch up. This occurred a number of times and eventually the bird reached the topmost branch. There it was not able to differentiate itself from the divine bird, and then it learned that there was only one bird in the tree, the upper bird, which is described as divine, the real form of the other restless bird.

One thing that I have faith in is that I can be better than I am. I've learned a lot from past mistakes, and it's my hope that I can keep on learning. Thus there is some factual evidence in support of this faith, but not enough to prove it unequivocally to anyone, which is what makes it faith.

I feel that apologetics often gets a bad reputation, claiming that it's missing the point of faith or that it's focusing on the wrong things. But I wonder, is it possible to have faith without being apologist in some way? I don't think so.

My breed of apologetics tends to be inclined toward defending faith (and religion) as a mechanism for personal change and as a lens for understanding the world.  While traditional apologetics focuses on more physical and historical truths, how is this side of apologetics much different?  It's still defending faith with reason.

We're mostly rational creatures.  Even though faith is supposed to be belief that is not based on proof, individuals still cite spiritual experiences as the reason for belief.  I had this feeling at this time, thus this belief must be correct.  Isn't that the basis of faith for most believers?  I live this way and I appear to be blessed.  Is this not the evidence, or "proof" that believers show themselves?

My question is: what role should faith and religion play in a society and for an individual?  Teaching morality requires instilling faith in a system of rules, be it secular or religious.  Likewise, coping with death and sorrow, and achieving other kinds of healing (e.g., getting over one's own mistakes or being wronged) requires faith.  But all of these examples can be achieved without religion.  Is the biggest distinction between religion and faith organization?  Does that make religion just mass perpetuation of culture?  I think to some extent yes, but there are lots of advantages to having an organized, unified community, which religion tends to provide.

I think it's interesting to note that teaching religion requires apologetics, because you can't teach without justification and reason.

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