Why Indiana Jones is Wrong About Faith

I love a good action movie. The original trilogy of Indiana Jones is no exception. There is good acting, a wonderful score and plenty of chutzpah. Together, these elements great an entertaining movie. There is more to them than explosions though. Indy, as an archeologist, has interactions with the supernatural in all three films. He sees the power of the ark of the covenant. He witnesses the power of the occult. He sees the consequences of drinking from the Holy Grail.

Each movie begins with his dismissal of the supernatural and ends with his respect for it. This culminates in his “leap of faith” at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. To achieve his goal, Indy is compelled to walk across an invisible bridge.

The Leap of Faith

This scene underscores the common understanding of what faith is. By walking onto an invisible bridge, Indy trusts what he cannot see and cannot know. This is an irrational faith which is not based upon knowledge. His emotions compel him press on, and to do so, he suspends all rational belief. Faith is an irrational trust compelled by emotion.

This is the common understanding of faith.

Faith is our interface with the world

Driving a car is an incredibly dangerous endeavor. You may end up dead any time you take to the road. One person swerves over the center line and hits you head on. KABLAMO! You’re dead. Yet we drive in cars everyday. We trust that everybody else is going to obey the laws and be responsible drivers.

This trust is the essence of faith. Though bad things happen, we have trust that most drivers are responsible. We have this trust because of our experience in cars. We drive everyday, and we do not get in accidents. We confidently drive without fear because of a knowledge we have gained through experience. This is faith.

Faith is essential to living. We trust that our alarm clock will work. We trust that our food is safe. We trust that our car will start. We trust that we will get paid. Our relationship with the world is based upon our faith in it. Indiana was wrong. We do not have faith in what we cannot know, but rather in what we know through experience.

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