June 09, 2010
In a recent post on his blog Musings, Ken McLeod discusses two familiar terms: faith and belief. How he understands these terms, however, might not be so familiar. He argues that belief is a closed system in which we rely on past conditioning and ideas to interpret our experiences. Faith, he says, is a much more open way of operating where we still allow past conditioning and ideas to arise, but we are not bound by them: We remain open to both mysteries and new ideas.
In ordinary English usage, the words "faith" and "belief" are often used interchangeably and the difference between these two ways of meeting experience is confused or lost. One of the results is the pseudo-tension between science and religion, where science is presented as the willingness to open to new information in the form of experimental evidence (i.e., faith) and religion is portrayed as relying on fixed tenets that are held no matter what evidence is offered to the contrary (i.e., belief).
Belief kills both science and religion while faith is necessary for both.
I think that it’s skillful for Ken to use the word faith to talk about living a life of openness. When we think of the faithful as narrow-minded it gives many open-minded, spiritually inclined people a bad rep. Presenting “religious” terms in a way that is palatable to “secular” folks might bridge an unnecessary, made-up gap between the two “groups.”
Read the rest of Ken's post here.