Well, I know this is sounds like a very silly question, but it's one that I've noticed comes up frequently in any discussion about Abrahamic religion.
Within the Bible Christians are constantly presented with the demand of absolute blind childlike faith, come evidence or controversy the only way ones salvation is assured for certain is by complete absolute faith in the son of God and being part of his church (what this constitutes can vary, but I'll use the presumption that his church is exclusively the Catholic Church) . Certainly, Catholicism is somewhat more forgiving of non believers than say Baptists often are (there is the doctrine of invincible ignorance) but the only way one can be sure of salvation is to place total faith in Jesus.
I'm forced to ask, why is faith the most desired quality in humans and yet there's so little given to support it? Religions such as Hinduism don't really have any concept like this; it doesn't matter if you believe in Krishna or not Karma's still going to reward you if you were a good force in the world, and likewise punish you if you were bad. Many brands of Christianity however, Catholics included however veiled and muffled in doublespeak it might be that even the holiest of holy men and women may (some say certainly) will still be punished for not having accepted God or his Church.
This comes for me with a few problems.1) Ego
Like my other thread "The Impossibility of God" suggested on another issue, this obsession with faith makes God appear egotistical at best. Certainly, Catholics are also told to go out and do great works of charity in his name but that's a secondary trait of a Good Catholic. Always, first and foremost comes worship and faith (some of the Athiests I have debated call it "Massaging Gods ego"). The Doctrine of Invincible Ignorance is not a Dogma, and a fairly recent concept in the history of the Church; there is nothing to say it's right. One can be the most miserly uncharitable soul, but so long as you warmed a pew every sunday and went to regular confession you're going to get into purgatory at least in contrast to Gandhi who could be roasting in Hell right this moment. 2) Culture
I know the title of this one might seem odd but it's the best I could think of. If God desires our faith in Catholicism then why is his message essentially restricted to South America, Europe and some sections of Africa? Historically any country that professes the Catholic faith has either at one time been subject to the Roman Empire (Western Europe), Subject to another Catholic military power (Spain in Latin America) or dependent upon Catholic Church funding to survive (Africa). There have been exceptional countries, and in every country you might find one or two individuals take up the cross but on the whole unless forced by military might a country and peoples does not forsake their native traditions; your religion is essentially set by what country you were born in. You may change denomination certainly but your core standard of expectations are near enough carved in stone.
The Catholic Mission to Japan largely failed because while some individuals and the occasional Daimyo did convert, they were under no obligation to like the Mexicans were by the Spanish neither were they dependent on the Church as an organization like the Ugandans are. The Mexicans are in fact a prime example of this; as Spanish cultural norms have vanished from society so has the number of Catholics. More interestingly however is what they are replacing it with. In death-centric MesoAmerica one of the most revered deities was a Cthonic Goddess of Death (Mictlancihuatl); what is now the fastest growing religion in Mexico? Santa Murte, another Goddess of Death albit this time accompanied by iconic Catholic features like mantillas, white communion dresses and crucifixes.
If faith, moreso the Catholic faith is indeed universal, and so important for our salvation why is it essentially restricted to where it took hold by force of might (In the case of Europe it was adopted by countries why had been subjected by Roman military might) or where Church funding is essential just to eat. Faith here appears to be based more on the needs of here and now, if you're going to get put to the sword or starve to death it is something to consider but otherwise the natural instinct is to dismiss it.3) Why 30-33AD?
This is the one most often pushed to me by Athiests. It is often said that God has amply supplied the world with enough reasons to believe in him, and the Church and Bible together posess all the tools to evangelize the world.
Lets look at those tools for a moment; a book of which the canon was only set in the western Church in 393AD, Almost four hundred years after Jesus's death with innumerable other "gospels" floating around (not to mention the books of the Eastern Cannon such as Macabees 3 and 4) and an institution which, sadly thanks to rather poor examples of humanity at the helm of the ship at times has an anything but pristine reputation the world over.
When scientists want to get the word out and make us belive in a new discovery of theirs they give interviews, hop on television, provide irrefutable evidence and make the point as clear as day. In the case of Catholicism however, of all the times in the world to reveal ones plan of salvation to the world, surely a world riddled in superstition, in religious and political conflict and at a time where it was difficult to accurately record history was one of the worst?
If Faith was so central, why couldn't Jesus have...I don't know, waited another 2,000 years so he could have done a live worldwide interview? Then none of us would have any reason not to have faith in him. Clearly that's what we desire4s above all else, so why make it so difficult?4) Miracles
No one has ever questioned me about this, but it is something but I ccouldn't help being skeptical about, even while I was a practicing Catholic. One of the ways Gods will is revealed down the centuries has been the plethora of miracles preformed in his name. From Our Lady at Knock to her appearance to the children at Fatima, we are to understand that God has never been entirely silent. Is it just me, or does she only ever seem to preach to the choir? A choir which...Dare I suggest it, might be rather too keen in seeing her, to such a degree they might even hallucinate the experience?
With perhaps an exception to the Lady of Guadalupe, who is believed to have appeared round about the time Mexico was being forcibly converted Mary has only ever appeared (as far as Church approved apparitions go) to Catholics. She never dropped in on a group of Muslim children to tell them they were mistaken, but to a devout Catholic family who already believed in her. That to me seems bizarre, if evangelization was so crucial would not the primary spot for an apparition be in China or the Middle East?
Then theres also the awkward question about non Catholics who claim to have seen Mary; I read in 2002 the Copts allegedly saw the Virgin floating above a Church in Alexandria bathed in light. Funnily enough they also claim to have received her support, rather than being ordered to convert to Catholicism as well..I'd have expected at least. There's no real evidence either-way, all there is are a few fuzzy pictures of a light over a Church and a few eye witness testimonies as well as a few other Orthodox claims to have seen apparitions. Did she or did she not appear? For a deity who want's consistent unified faith his mothers certainly sending some pretty mixed messages.
This post has turned out far longer than I intended, but it gets across my basic problems on the matter. Perhaps I'm using too secular a standard, but faith does not equate goodness, but it's desired above all else. Certainly, faith without works might be dead but works are still presented as secondary.
Thanks if you could be bothered to read all of this