Thursday, March 13, 2008


In many of the world's major religions, belief in the existence of God is incidental or, in some cases, non-existent. For example, Taoism, Confucianism and the Theravada or Hinayana strains of Buddhism contain no concept of God whatsoever; moreover, there is no inconsistency in a Jew's being agnostic or atheistic but, at the same time, deeply religious. How is this possible? What is "religious faith" in religions where theistic belief is insignificant?


Eurydice said...

Atheist believe there is no God. One could even say the atheist has FAITH in the fact that there is no God. Agnostics find themselves disbelieving in God, while at the same time conceding that (although highly improbable)it is not impossible for the Judeo-Christian God or any other God to exist. I find nonbelief in God to be analogous to nonbelief in Santa Claus. Yet, those who believe in the existence of Santa Claus, for example, usually don't base their belief on faith. Those who believe in Santa think there is good eveidence for their belief. Those who don't believe argue that the evidence is neither strong nor conviencing. Therefore, such a belief does not deserve assent to the proposition that Santa Claus exists. Those who don't believe in Santa are not disbelievers as an act of faith. Rather, they simply don't find the evidence presented by the "believers" to be persuasive. Belief in God could be either an act of faith or a belief based on conclusions from evidence and perhaps argument.If the theistic belief is an act of faith then the one holding the belief either thinks the evidence against belief is greater or equal to the evidence for the belief, or the belief may be held without regard for evidence. If this is not the case one could argue that the belief is not an act of faith but of belief that the evidence presented is stronger for the belief than against.

Eurydice said...

Sadly, when most people hear the word "faith" they think in terms of believing in God. Having faith can be defined as, "having sincerity of intentions." Therefore, it is possible to have religious faith without believing in God. Other synonyms for the word faith include: constant, steadfast, staunch,loyal,and resolute. With this in mind, all that would be required for one to have "religious faith"-according to Merriam-Webster would merely be a firm adherence to whatever one owes allegiance. I have a feeling that the aforementioned religions can and do meet this criteria.
More than anything I believe faith is a matter of how we choose to live our lives. It is possible to question whether or not God exists while at the same time living as if He did.

Athanasius said...

It is clear that religious faith is not a product of a god or God. The Buddhist's and Taoist's put faith in their philosophical ideals rather then a divine being. Both religions still, despite not believing in a "god" still believe in a sort of energy or a sort of force (not a being).

Orpheus said...

Reply to Athanasius:

You miss the point (you should read the Orphic Journal for a better understanding). In non-doxic faiths there are NO required beliefs of any kind: no dogma, no doctrine, no creed. That is not to say that members of non-doxic faiths do not agree on many subjects (e.g., most Jews believe that Jesus is a person of no religious significance); however, the point is that there is no REQUIREMENT to believe this, or anything else. (You, conversely, are required to believe certain things; you cannot be a "Christian atheist," that would be a contradiction in terms.)

In non-doxic faith, there are no demands placed on cognitive states in general; it does not matter what you believe, doubt, hope for, etc. Non-doxic faith is a matter of living as-if God existed; hence, it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists, and a matter of indifference what one does or does not believe. In Judaism, for example, one lives as-if there were a God by following the Law of Moses; in Buddhism, by observing the Eightfold Path, etc. You should not assume that your kind of faith -- doxic faith -- is the only kind. Nor should you assume that your kind of faith is somehow superior to dissimilar kinds. That is the sort of close-mindedness that marks all religious fundamentalism as a form of ignorance.

Your sort of faith -- doxa -- assumes that the all-powerful master of the universe gives a flying damn about what you believe, and is going to punish you horribly and eternally for making a mistake, and getting one (or more) of those beliefs wrong. What you are worshipping, Athanasius, is not a god but a totalitarian monster.

Can't you see that religions based on doxa are (and have always been) driven by a political agenda? Given your fundamentalist beliefs, I'll bet I can predict with great accuracy your political beliefs. That's because doxic religions are really little more than forms of mind-control aimed at justifying what amounts to (otherwise indefensible) right-wing political ideologies. Doxa reduces religion to the handmaiden of politics.

No wonder people who hold such faith are the sworn opponents of civil liberty (for example, a woman's right to sovereignty over her own body). Your god allows no freedom, or, rather, he gives you "free-will" but punishes you for exercising it. So naturally you ask yourself, "Why, then, should the state allow civil liberty?" See entry 19 of the Orphic Journal for my view on this matter.