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Friday, November 21, 2008

Religion or Faith

Faith and religion are very related. But for the organized theology, the tradition and practices, the reverred texts, I would almost certainly not have the beliefs that make up my faith today. As I put it once before, "One can find truth without adherence to a religion. Particularly in matters such as learning kindness and empathy, as well as behavioral derivatives. However, I believe achieving a greater understanding of our world alone, without reference to great leaders in this area would be as difficult as deriving Newton's laws of motion without Newton."Statement of Faith

Similarly, without faith, without the love and hope and passion that adherents bring to a religion, religion becomes an empty set of rules and rituals. It becomes the thing you study in a comparative religions class.

It has been my experience that people are usually pretty willing to throw religion under the bus if it allows them to feel okay about faith. I know some people who describe themselves as spiritual but not religious.

Here's my question: Are Religulous and Sam Harris and others questioning the value of religion or faith?

(*BTW, I've changed my own mind three times while typing this post, so I it is a serious question for me.)

3 comments:

Matt Dick said...

Well both Harris and Maher describe themselves as spiritual, in the vague way that term is used. Harris actually believes in several of the Buddhist claims that are supernatural in nature.

JimII said...

Which leads to the interesting comparison between faithfulness and spirituality.

Harris suggests that only religious faith can cause people to carry out terrible acts. I don't know if the real problem is irrationality or blind allegiance.

Seems like if it were blind allegiance, he would have come to tribalism (or even nationalism) as another example of something that could lead to the terrible acts.

That suggests to me his real issue is with irrationality.

Matt Dick said...

I am not sure he would say, or has ever said, that religious faith is the *only* way to come to violence. In fact I'm sure I've heard him argue otherwise. But he also points out that all religions are not created equal.

He likes to use Jainism as an example of a faith that no matter how radical and fundamentalist you take it, really can not lead to suicide bombing. It's the Abrahamic religions, with the stories of Joshua, Sharia law, etc. that can get you to a place of violence.