Hope, Faith, Love

Hope is openness to the possibility of greater happiness, which is the goal of life. Hope is passive and by itself leads nowhere. However, without hope, normally nothing happens, so hope is essential.

Faith is belief that a particular path will result in greater happiness, and thus motivates us to follow that path. Faith is thus active, while hope is passive. Very little faith is required if the path results immediately in greater happiness. Rather, faith is most important for paths that only result in greater happiness in the long run, with a reduction in happiness in the short run.

Love is the emotion of attachment to that which increases happiness. Love is required to remain on a path indefinitely, since faith has its limits. For example, if an exercise program is initially painful, we can push through this painful period with faith alone. But in the long run, the exercise program must increase our happiness, and thus generate love, or we will abandon it.

The famous discussion of hope, faith and love by Saint Paul is botched in a number of ways, but as elsewhere in the New Testament, there are intimations in his writing of higher truths than what the author himself was aware of (same story for other holy books). The notion that love is ultimately more important than faith and hope, for example, is correct.