“Faith is the defeat of probability by the power of possibility.”
I heard a wonderful definition of faith on the Canadian television program “Big Ideas” a few weeks ago. It seems in this sometimes secular age we are not supposed to admit that we have faith in something—but this definition, by a Jewish scholar and Rabbi wrapped it up quite neatly for me. Rabbi Sacks said that “Faith is the defeat of probability by the power of possibility.” I love that. We are capable of believing no matter what our particular belief system is. The Rabbi also said that “nothing interesting is probable.”
The word probable is defined as “appearing to be true or accurate” in “The Thinker’s Thesaurus” by Peter E. Meltzer. My computer’s thesaurus comes up with a few more pithy synonyms for probable, such as: likely, credible, feasible, and plausible. In other words, probable has its feet firmly planted on terra firma, but still wants to hedge its bets.
On the other hand, the word “possibility” does not seem to have hard and fast perimeters. And I have found that wonderful if hackneyed saying “anything is possible” has so many delightful derivatives. Here are just a few, from the wise to the famous to the philosophical:
Anything is possible as long as you have the passion. ~ Guy Forget
Anything is possible in this world. I really believe that. ~Liza Minelli
Here’s proof that if you live long enough, anything is possible. ~ Barry Manilow
Never let life impede on your ability to manifest your dreams. Dig deeper into your dreams and deeper into yourself and believe that anything is possible, and make it happen. ~ Corin Nemec
The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance – the idea that anything is possible. ~ Ray Bradbury
Try changing the word possible to probable in any of the quotes above, and the meaning is just not the same, and not nearly as inspiring.
Possibility reeks of hope and aspiration with words like: option, opportunity, potential, and leeway, with a little risk and chance thrown in for good measure. You cannot quantify possibility; you just have to believe in it.
My favourite “possible” quote is found in the words of the Dalai Lama ~ “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
Do you believe in the probable or the possible? Is faith the defeat of probability over possibility?