Some important things in life cannot be proven, or, what amounts to the same thing, cannot be proven right now. Recognizing that we need to push on into the unknown and commit ourselves without proof, is faith. At the right time and in the right context, faith is great — it provides the path out of a conceptual or emotional or existential tangle, for a person, or a group. The importance of faith is just a corollary of the importance of new stages of growth; sometimes we don’t need to get more information, we actually need new concepts or ways of being in the world.
However it is wrong to say “faith is important therefore it is correct to follow my guru” or “faith is important therefore the Bible is correct in all things” or “faith is important therefore the voice I just heard in my head was God telling me what to do and I should listen to it.” It is wrong because these are all examples of proofs, and therefore not examples of faith.
The second we try to think too hard about the importance of faith in our lives and use it to justify ourselves — we need faith therefore I will have faith in this book, or person, or feeling — we are evading the principle insight of faith, which is the need to move on without any way of justifying ourselves. I would call this move “faithism.”
Here is a comparison. Sometimes we are judged wrongly and we need to explain why a mistake was made. Sometimes we are judged correctly — we actually did something bad — and in those cases we can make a humble plea for forgiveness. Humble pleas for forgiveness are sometimes the only way forward. If a humble plea for forgiveness comes with a proof that what I did was actually not so bad, it is not a plea for forgiveness at all: it is an argument that I was judged wrongly. However, it is also wrong to say “Sometimes humble pleas for forgiveness are necessary. Sometimes I need to be forgiven for no reason at all. This is one of those times. Therefore you must forgive me.”
Because that wouldn’t be a plea for forgiveness at all. Would it?