Here's to a good time, a good life, and a good death.
So now I’m heading back to the more functional approach of studying Christianity. Just as a reminder, when I say Christianity, I’m attempting to refer more specifically to non-denominational, evangelical sects. Basically, think of Christians with belief systems that are similar to Liberty University, and that generally reflect traditional, conservative values.
The first thing that I want to consider is this question. Why do Christians reject formally quantifying the respective levels of faith in their religion’s adherents?
Christians seem to steer sharply away from quantifying parts of their religion. Generally speaking, Christians feel that they cannot assign mathematical values to respective religious actions based upon Biblical doctrines. I mean the Bible provides no straightforward system to do this. Plus, it is often considered bad form to judge another believer based upon his actions, although Christians do this consciously all the time. They usually refrain from discussing it. This likely comes from the Matthew 7:5, which is the verse that tells the accuser to humble and inspect himself before looking at others. Further, many Christians feel that trying to measure faith redirects the focus away from “God” and onto whatever respective actions that one is measuring. Contemporary Christians seem to carry this hypersensitive sense of trying to always refocus on God and not on things “that pertain to God”, usually resulting in a very minute differentiation. For instance, someone might say “I was really hoping to go on X mission trip to witness about God to impoverished communities, but I realized that I had my heart focused on the trip and not on God.”
One of the core principles coated in Christianity regards a believer’s faith in God. I like Wikipedia’s definition of faith – Faith is defined as confidence or trust in a being, object, living organism, deity, view, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion.
So let’s go ahead and look at an equation that attempts to reflect on how much faith a believer has. This is in units of faith. This is more for experimental purposes than to actually advocate a rigorous model.
The basis of this equation should center around important religious elements such as prayer, worship, religious event attendance, etc. Typically, contemporary Christians place a high value on private devotion times and church involvement. They also view actions that they deem contrary to Christ-like behavior as detrimental towards one’s demonstration of faith. Christians cite particular verses on this: Romans 14:21 & 1 Corinthians 10:31-33.
The equation below is an attempt to quantify these beliefs. It is a linear equation, and well, it could easily be argued for many of these variables that they are non-linear in relationship. For instance, many of these actions have decreasing returns and using a linear function doesn’t capture that effect.
So in the image above, we have a formula to determine the units of faith of a particular person. This is by no means a scientifically defended equation, but it shows how FAM can be applied in measuring the determinants of predicting a person’s faith.
What is important in this equation is the relative values between the variables, the weights. This formula is based upon my subjective view of how Christians weight different activities. It can be different for various individuals, but I would argue that this is a semi-reasonable index model for predicting the units of faith of a particular person.
So, when looking at the weights, I am saying that the effect of prayer/devotion time each week is inversely equal to the effect of doing elicit drugs or having casual sex. In other words, they have equal weight. In the same fashion, I give hours of church attendance and hours of church-related activities equal weight. When I say church-related activities, I am referring to Bible studies, youth groups, church administration meetings, community groups, and other religious functions.
Now someone could look at this model and argue “Wow, so according to this equation, someone could do a whole bunch of “good stuff” so that they could build up positive rankings and then get away with “bad stuff.” Basically, just make sure the good stuff outweighed the bad stuff and you’ll come out in a good spot on the index. This is a completely valid argument with the exception that the agent would have to know the model beforehand in order to manipulate it. In other words, patterns of behavior should emerge naturally where the Christian agent would naturally prefer one to the other, that is consistently doing “good” actions, not doing “good” actions so that they can do “bad” actions.
5.0 and Onward Positively: Highly Religious/Great Amounts of Faith
2.5-4.9: Good Religious/Good Amounts of Faith
1.0-2.49: Probable Christian with Average Religious/Decent Amounts of Faith
0-1.0: Individual with Low Levels of Faith
Negative Values up to 0: Non-Christian without Faith
So maybe if you consider yourself a religious person, plug yourself into the equation and see what you get. You can always post your results down below if you feel so inclined. If you do, please share if you think it is an accurate reflection of your faith and why it is or it is not?