Faith and conviction are too large a subject to be contained within the scope of one treatise. It is a vast domain. Exploration of it must range far and wide. Like the study of every quality in human nature, no single treatise can cover the entire sphere of their causes and effects.
The rich storehouse of the treasures of faith and conviction cannot be inventoried in any single treatise; no more than can any of the deepest movements in the human heart. No single definition can cover any one of them. For instance, 'love' is more than affection for another, 'attraction by beauty', 'altruism' or even a combination of all three. What treatise can probe the depths of the reality of what love is in its entirety? How much less, then, can it explain the universe of existence and the reality of its entirety?
The science and art of medicine progressed from superstition and magic into becoming a useful craft. Chemistry progressed from alchemy and fantasy to modern science. Inevitably, research starts with erroneous hypotheses, and by trial and error seeks and finds truth.
"Religions have been erroneous", many say. True, but that is not an adequate argument - despite its use by enemies of God - to disprove God's existence. The errors are merely mankind's stumbling steps in its search for truth.
Bertrand Russel says that religion is rooted in human fear; fear of the unknown, of death, of destruction, of mysteries. [Why I Am Not a Christian, p. 37] He gives no reasoning to support his contention nor can he answer the question: "If fear was the only motive that prompted man to turn towards the Creator, does that prove that no Creator exists?" Even if it was in search of a refuge from fear that man discovered God, does that invalidate His reality? Would it invalidate the reality of any other truth that man should discover under the impulse of fear? If it was fear of lightning which drove man to discover the secrets of electricity, is electricity any less real for that?
It is true that faith in an omniscient, omnipotent Providence which is very apparent in time of trouble. That is one subject. Whether man's first impulse towards seeking some such refuge sprang from fear is a different subject. The two questions must be handled quite separately.
Seeking God is of the Essence
Man is born with a number of axiomatic assumptions. They are instinctive. No outside instruction gave rise to them, though later may have reinforced them. This is true of both educated and uneducated individuals. For example, the axiom, "the whole is greater than the part," requires no special instruction to make that clear. Erudition, science, and philosophy are secondary results of the application of that and similar axioms. It is only when man forgets his axiomatic precognitions that he starts to doubt basic truths. Some philosophic schools deny the society of violated meanings. Faith in God is one of man's innate senses. This becomes plain if a person empties the mind of all religious or anti-religious prejudices and then opens his eyes to gaze upon the universe of creation. He finds himself at once contained within the sphere of beings in motion. He has started willy-nilly from a point he did not choose and is moving willy-nilly towards a destination he did not choose. Without his own consent or comprehension, he is part of a universal orderliness and procession of entities. Observation leads him to deduce from the manifold a connection between its orderliness and himself. He senses that behind the scenes of the world of being there reigns an invisible power which controls the course of all entities according to a will with order and accuracy. Himself, an infinitesimal particle in the vast manifold, possesses knowledge, power, and will. Hence he deduces that a knowledge, a power, and a will - though of a totally other dimension and wholly invisible - makes, preserves, and finally removes every living being without permission or agreement.
That this is an innate axiom of mind is confirmed by man's observation that there is nothing made without a maker, nothing done without a doer. Even the newborn infant, fresh from the womb, which has never before heard a sound or seen a movement, instinctively turns towards the source of a sound or movement. Likewise, practical living and experimental science assume that a cause exists for each observed effect.
The principle of causality admits of no exception. All the sciences - geology, physics, chemistry, economics, and the rest - observe phenomena to determine their causes, operative factors, interrelations, and interactions. Likewise mathematics, the most exact of the sciences, formulates theorems, adduces their proof, and draws their consequences as equations, interrelations, rules, differentials, and integrals. A scientist who arbitrarily replaces a plus with a minus in an equation, or inserts an intrusive number, confirms his own incompetence and ignorance. In fact, all human progress has been due to research uncovering causes of observed effects and adapting these natural laws for the use of man.