The purpose of this blog is to formulate ideas - and as ideas can be molded and refined please feel free to comment with agreement or disagreement, as long as it is thoughtful.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Both Religion and Faith are real, but not correlated to the degree Believers believe

When thinking about religion, particularly in the context of the relationship between religion and science (for the record, I think they are distinct - it is possible to consider all of the multiverse to have been set in motion by a creator, and science is a mechanism to understand and describe this creation) I often run across a disparity between "religion" and "faith".

I'd never argue faith with anyone.  Faith is feeling-based, generally quite strong, and underlies a belief system regarding religion and/or other large-scale psychological structures.  Faith is not typically logical, and does not rely upon explanation - it is because it is.  It is difficult to imagine "learning" to have faith or to "unlearn" faith - it seems that only life-affirming or life-changing events (e.g. death of a loved one; birth of a child; near-death experience) can affect people to such a degree that they alter their core values.

Religion I consider to be a different animal.  Religion is the transformation of a belief system into an interpretative, political body.  The degree to which a particular religion clashes or agrees with one's underlying faith is the degree of adherence one has to one's religion.

Thus, there is a correlation between faith and religion, but it is not causal - Religion is built upon faith, but not through direct construction - it is an interpretive, political layer that relies upon the believer's underlying strength for support, but is separate and distinct.

The distinction may not seem to be important in a fully matching faith-religion bond, but is critical when religion  goes into the worlds of politics, science etc.  In these cases it is dangerous for a believer to confuse faith with religion, particularly if the religion is straying too far from the ballpark - terrorism is an extreme case of religion/faith distinction - it is difficult to imagine that faith is driving fanatics to these ends, but it is not difficult to believe that the faith is being perverted to use the strong, core feelings and drive them to unfaithful ends.  In the U.S., is there really a "match" between Christian conservative values and the Republican party, or are both perverting strong faith to political ends (e.g. does conservative Christianity automatically support smaller government and lower taxes, or does underlying faith deal with different issues - taking care of disadvantaged, or dealing ethically and morally)?

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