What Is Religious Belief?

Sunday, May 5, 2019

What is it

Many people profess to believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent God. Yet psychological data shows that people often think and reason about God in ways contrary to their professed religious beliefs. So, are these so-called religious beliefs genuinely held? Or are “believers” just playing an elaborate game of pretense? Is there a difference between ordinary factual belief and religious belief? And what role do people's religious credences play in shaping their social identities? Josh and Ken get real with Neil van Leeuwen from Georgia State University, author of Imagination, Belief, and Religious Creedence (forthcoming).

 

Comments (1)


Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, April 15, 2019 -- 10:35 AM

Just a few musings on the

Just a few musings on the matter of belief, generally. Belief is a bit like the opinion side of the old philosophical dualism, opinion and knowledge. (It might also be paired with 'appearance', in appearance and reality.) John Dewey had two short descriptions of belief: 1. "Hug some special belief and one fears knowledge" and, 2. "Beliefs are personal affairs; personal affairs are adventures; and, adventures are, if you please, shady."
Neuman's Corollaries are, 1. Belief is what someone said that someone said, in some other place and time. It may remain relevant, but I would not count on that. 2. Faith is for skydivers, bungee jumpers and kindred souls possessing only a dubious reverence for life; or those who feel they need it, just to get past another day (and are worse off than they thought).

Dewey, James, Rorty and other pragmatists were atheists before it was fashionable to be so. Religion, to them, was not one of the things which hang together (see: Sellars). Still, it has been around a long time and has led to both good and bad acts behaviors, creeds and decisions(the ABCDs of human existence). Blaise Pascal made his wager and I must seriously doubt that his sitting on the fence got him any points---but I could be wrong. This is not something in the realm of 'know-ability'--- many faiths stress the unknow-ability of God and that such is merely an ineffable fact of life. We pragmatists find such unknow-ability disturbing, if not downright absurd. But, yes---we could be wrong...

 

Neil Van Leeuwen, Professor of Philosophy, Georgia State University

 

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