This is one part of an essay about Faith, Religion, and Gods. It is presented here by itself, because it is so important at the moment. The other topics are important, but not as important as Faith.
Faith is one of the most important topics related to survival there is. The trouble is that the meaning of faith has been intentionally obscured. Faith is defined in the dictionary a few ways, primarily in a religious context, but also as an unsupported belief. So, if religion didn't exist, would faith? I assure you it would. Without faith, religion would not exist. The second definition is far more important than the first, because you have faith in many things including yourself. Understand it's real meaning and you can understand so much.
When I first started my study about how humans could survive into the future, I had to confirm one premise and that is that our survival instinct is powerful and pretty much overrules all the rest of our behaviors. (In biological terms for humans, that may not just mean personal survival. It's more complicated than that.) This is obvious in terms of biological and evolutionary theory, but I needed to confirm it and I was able to. Interestingly, it was usually expressed as creativity. So, have you ever heard of a name for human survival instinct though? Probably not. They talk about animal survival instincts, that an animal may chew off its foot to escape a trap, but we never mention human survival instincts though we know at least someone will cut off their arm to escape a rock. For that matter humans can be awfully hard to kill and survive under ridiculous circumstances while some animals just give up when they are in a strange situation. My guess is that "survival instinct" has been the primary target of human evolution since we started agriculture and cities, maybe before that. So what is the name of "human survival instinct"? That is the key. Mostly why we don't have a name for it is because the Western Church basically declared that humans do not have instincts because that would mean we have an animal nature rather than that we are divine. I'm not sure about that conflict exactly, but that is a bias built deeply into our culture. I also know we have powerful instincts. Our survival instinct is like an emotion and can be seen in a person like love or anger. Like other emotions it can grow slowly or flower suddenly. You would think though that there has to be a name for something that basic and powerful. Well, there is. It was just stolen. If you know its name you can see it in yourself and others more clearly and easily. You can see its effect in every human thing.
Morality is how we tell right from wrong. In this story, right is what is good for survival. Wrong is what is bad for survival in the evolutionary sense. We have moral instincts that can guide us a fair amount, but while they are deep, they are very limited especially in terms of dealing with change, so we have learned moral systems which are learned survival strategies. Part of moral instinct is to find and even create these moral systems. The instinct to use moral systems is shown by that people fight to the death over them. Religion was created by them for their preservation. Interestingly and problematically, part of moral instinct includes not examining them real closely after they are learned, though that is not an absolute. It's easy to figure that our basic survival instinct is tied to our instincts about survival strategy. Our morality tells us right from wrong. It is our survival instinct that makes us choose and follow our moral direction. The name of that survival instinct is Faith. It is why we make choices about right and wrong. Morality is how we decide, but faith is why we decide. Think about it in yourself and others you know. You can see it materialized in the work of an artist or crafter. The rightness of their work, often recognized as beauty, is an expression of their faith. It is why they did it right. Think about it and more and more you will be able to recognize it. The better you understand it, the better you will be able to make decisions about right and wrong yourself. The importance of this cannot be underestimated. Don't ask me. Look within yourself. Look at others and see their choices about right and wrong. There are some people that you just know to be very good. Look at them and you will see their faith. It drives their moral choices, that is, every choice they make. There are few things more important you can learn besides being able to recognize faith in yourself and others. It is your most basic nature.
The thing is that religion has stolen the word and claimed they own it. It's one of the main things I criticize religion for. It does not belong to them. You may have faith in God, but that doesn't do much for God. Actually, faith in a God can aid survival, especially when religion is the main repository of moral strategy and law. It can help with group cohesiveness too which can be so important to survival, but there was little reason to steal the word faith and claim that human's best instincts belong to a God, when it is so important to people and it is theirs.
Some people believe God made humanity. Some people say evolution made humanity. I think some even say God used evolution to create humanity. What I don't think is contested is that we have powerful survival instincts including moral instincts and that is what is important here. It means whether God is driving this or evolution, it's all about survival. Faith is far more about that than any God. Whether you believe in a God or evolution, our purpose and drive seems to be the same, survival. It is also about development into far more than we were and far more than we are now. That describes our history and it describes the aspirations of our minds and instincts, including faith.