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Featured Is it even proper to use the verb "to believe" as an indicator of adherence to religion?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by LuisDantas, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    I have recently written an answer elsewhere for a question about why some people insist on attempting to declare atheism a "religion".

    Sometimes writing such a reply enables me to put things together. This time, I realized that far as I am concerned it is just weird to expect someone to "believe" in a deity, let alone in a presumed religion.

    Christianity and, above all, Islaam do. Which is why they actually have words ("Infidel" and "Kafir") that hold the twin meanings of "liar" and "unbeliever".

    Those are very disparate meanings, but within the scope of their doctrines they end up meeting and perhaps fusing.

    Christianity and Islaam expect people to believe in the validity and "truth" (in the sense of correspondence to the reality of facts) of their respective doctrines, barring impediments of lack of awareness or mental or moral failure to grasp those doctrines.

    Frankly, that expectation does not speak well of either doctrine. Not in the slightest. Their continued reliance on such an unreasonable expectation may well have doomed both, even. At the very least, it strongly compromises their very ability to function as (presumed) religions.

    If nothing else, they are certainly unique in their relationships with their god-concepts. Generally speaking, deities tend to be abstractions or idealizations. Not so with YHWH and/or Allah, who is presumably fit for an entirely different treatment, perhaps even as the backer of a supremely exalted bet that is nonetheless presented as being somehow religious in nature.

    That is a very exotic proposal for the relationship between a religious doctrine and its own deities. And I fear that as time went by, the efforts of many to attain dialog with those doctrines with a penchant for raising armies with a desire to take arms "for God" may have taught the wrong lessons elsewhere. In seeking common ground for a mutual understanding, some measure of cultural contamination may have occurred, spreading some of the self-inflicted confusion about the nature and role of deities from the Abrahamics to other groups.

    That is very unfortunate.

    The way I see it, it makes literally no sense to purport to believe in a deity. One either has use for a deity, or one does not. And when we use a deity, there is no question of whether we believe in it. Any concept that we use is real for the purposes of that use, even if it is self-contradictory or insane. Deities are no exception, nor do we have any reason to want them to be an exception.

    Yet it would appear that, for many Christians and most Muslims, religion should be mostly about proclaiming the belief in the truth of their God. That is a wasteful and often harmful goal, which at best keeps them occupied when they could better use their energies for religious pursuits proper.

    Because religion is not really about belief, except perhaps by a very cynical and heavily politized view. Belief is something that happens, but does not deserve to be nurtured. Religion at its best is not about belief, but rather about values, goals, and the means of nurturing and expressing them.
     
    #1 LuisDantas, Jun 19, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
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  2. AT-AT

    AT-AT Well-Known Member

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    I finally figured out what direction I should go, when I studied the revelations of the Baha'i faith
    I only see in a deity the ways they can help me. Otherwise, it's a real one-sided relationship. For example, why should I worship a deity if they don't do much for me? I don't even go so far as to worship a person in a two-sided romantic relationship.
     
  3. oldbadger

    oldbadger Skanky Old Mongrel!

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    Well...... you've got that wreong, methinks.

    All the Christian Creeds that I have read claim belief and Faith, and maybe this is why Christians have Christian Faith?

    And in Islam, as you've already ;pointed out, there are believers........ and unbelievers.

    In Theism there does not seem to be certitude.

    As for atheism, I claim to be a kind of atheist because I DO NOT BELIEVE in THEISM, I'm a Deist.

    So that's one opinion of many..... :)
     
  4. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Religion (Christianity and Islam included) is much more about who we become and what we do as opposed to what we believe. The beliefs and practices such as prayer are to enable us to become better people more able to serve the community.
     
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  5. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I wish that were true, but unfortunately I don't see it for many, maybe most. When people refer to belief in God as a virtue, one has to wonder. There would also be far less talk of belief, and more of action, but there isn't.
     
  6. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    The fundamentalists give both Islam and Christianity a distorted image. Even a short time on RF will have as encountering someone with the extreme views we are both familiar with.

    There is no point in believing in God if it does not result in a changed character for the better and someone more able to contribute. Of course the Christian fundamentalist will tell us that only through faith in the Christian God we are saved. Efforts to have a meaningful dialogue with such a person often feels frustrating and futile.
     
  7. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    With a couple of exceptions, I get that from several Baha'is here as well, and perhaps some folks of my religion. You and I at least can agree that it's in works, not in belief. But let's face it, changing one's character is no easy task, and gets more difficult with age, given the nature of the mind, being like an aging tree. Harder to dig up the older it gets.
     
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  8. AT-AT

    AT-AT Well-Known Member

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    I finally figured out what direction I should go, when I studied the revelations of the Baha'i faith
    I think you not only hit the nail on the head, but drove it into the wood without splintering it. It's why I don't feel I can be Christian.
     
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  9. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    this piece of work reduces belief to a practice
    and participates are little more than ants following a common need

    even ants go to war

    hornets destroy beehives

    sea mammals encircle schools of fish

    all for the common good and working together
     
  10. Stevicus

    Stevicus Well-Known Member
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    Whenever I hear the phrase "I believe," I interpret it as meaning "I hope (this is true)." It clearly does not mean or imply direct, verifiable knowledge.

    One can say "I believe the New York Yankees will win the World Series this year," but that expresses more of a hope than any actual knowledge. It might also imply confidence in something or someone, such as when people say "I believe in you," even if there's no doubt about the person's actual existence.
     
  11. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    I believe that Man was once an animal both body and mind
    I believe we made a leap in evolution

    I suspect a Greater Influence was involved

    so of course I believe
    that Greater Influence has been around for a long time

    but I can't prove we evolved
    I should have posted.....I suspect

    I cannot prove Man's transition was sudden
    I should post....I suspect

    and I suspect (believe)…..you will rebuttal the grammar
     
  12. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Quick question. The phrase "believe in" can mean different things depending on context, and in my experience all of these are more or less used when discussing religion. Those meanings include:
    • "Believe in" as a way of declaring one accepts something as ontologically real or existing (e.g., "I believe in ghosts").
    • "Believe in" as a way of articulating adherence to a particular value or a principle (e.g., "I believe in freedom of speech").
    • "Believe in" as a way of expressing trust in the designated subject (e.g., "I believe in my friend").
    Which of these do you mean, @LuisDantas ? Do you mean all of them? Some of them? Something else entirely? Would this nuance impact your assessment?
     
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  13. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    They don't seem to do much of that, and in addition, create/have created friction.
    I agree it was not sudden. We passed through these stages:
    Kingdom: Animalia; Phylum: Chordata; Class: Mammalia; Order: Primates; Suborder: Haplorhini; Infraorder: Simiiformes, Family: Hominidae; Subfamily: Homininae; Tribe: Hominini; Genus: Homo; Species: H. sapiens; Sub-species: Homo sapien sapiens.

    TreeofLife.png
     
    #13 Aupmanyav, Jun 19, 2019
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  14. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Honestly, I just can't tell whether you are disagreeing with me or agreeing instead.
     
  15. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Let's see.

    How does that counter my post?

    Actually, I pointed out that there are unbelievers, and that Islaam does not know how to accept that simple fact without resorting to serious deviant behavior.

    My claim is that certitude of existence is not really fitting for what I understand to be proper use of god-concepts.

    Well, theism exists. And it can even be very valid, although some mainstream versions seems to want to go out of their ways to avoid that.
     
  16. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    I thought that the OP made it clear, but since you ask: it seems to me that the second meaning would be valid for religious purposes, the third would be dicey at best, and the first brings with it a responsibility of definition that tends to be glossed over (even by critics), making it even more problematic than the third in practice.

    Much or most of my criticism of the Abrahamic Faiths centers on the frequent use of what appears to be a form of Theism based on a fusion of the first and third meanings. From all appearances, that usage tends to collapse under its own weight and confuses their doctrines often to the point of malignance.

    It does not help that the second meaning of "to believe" is often implied or assumed, not always with a clear indication of what the object of that belief would be.

    Come to think of it, I wonder how often Abrahamic theists realize that the attributes and will of the God that they believe in are at odds with those of other, equally sincere such Abrahamic theists. It must be difficult to deal with.
     
  17. oldbadger

    oldbadger Skanky Old Mongrel!

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    I was not replying to your post, but to your thread title, I guess.

    How Islam reacts to unbelievers is irrelevant to your thread title, I reckon

    And your claim about Certitude in no way addresses your thread title about beliefs.:)

    And , yes, I know that theism exists, but it's all about believe for theists.

    If you don't like the word Belief then there's no help for it.
     
  18. pcarl

    pcarl Well-Known Member

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    For me the first one has to do with belief 'in' God or whatever wholly Other one believes 'in'. Whereas other uses are more belief 'of' a statement, creed, doctrine.
     
  19. Nakosis

    Nakosis crystal soldier
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    I see belief in general as belief in the founder/prophets of a religion or philosophy. Belief is for the ignorant, which is not meant as something offensive since we all start life being ignorant. One's first belief usually lies with one's parents. We look to them to guide us towards a successful like. We listen and accept what they say because we really have no other options.

    So we do not start out believing in a God, we start out believing in a messenger. We believe their words, their claims because without direct experience with God, we are ignorant. We really have no way to know whether the claims of this messenger are true or not.

    When you first learn anything you have to believe in the one teaching you. You have to believe they have knowledge you lack. You have to believe what they tell you since you lack the experience to be able to judge the truth of what they tell you.

    People who "believe" are ignorant of the truth. They believe Jesus or they believe Muhammad because they lack the experience or knowledge of the truth. Being a believer is a claim of ignorance.
     
  20. osgart

    osgart Nothing my eye, Something for sure

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    The word belief is like the word faith, it expresses confidence, and trust in the knowable truth. Religious adherents use those two terms just that way. Ultimately religious adherents are know certain that they have the truth and the facts to support it. Then they express confidence and trust in their truth, and that is where belief, and faith come in.

    Anti religious people tend to twist the definition of faith, and belief to mean accepting things without knowledge. That is a false depiction of religious belief.

    So it may very well be that religious knowledge is erroneous, but they consider it knowledge. The Bible says that knowledge of the holy is understanding for example.
     
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