Religion is not what you believe

is a fascinating essay by the philosopher John Gray (who is not religious) about the relative triviality of belief to religious adherence. Which picks up very neatly on my blog post of August 5th about Steve Hollinghurst's take on client based religion – which is about behaviours which attach to value which leads on to a change in identity if you take it seriously enough.  I'm still thinking this one through. John Gray is very entertaining on the naivety of the new atheists who treat belief systems as if they are all that matters and can only be assessed inductively. And the idea that science is a myth free zone when religions are packed with myths (so are primitve by comparison). All of this he blows out of the water. Scientific belief is as provisional as religious belief. And religious belief IS provisional – and has changed consistently throughout the centuries. Hence Grays argument that its not what you believe or the correctness of that belief but the transforming effect of what you practice.

The implications of this are about creating more opportunities for faith explorers to do and follow rather than set up classes to drill them in what to believe and why it is true. Do it - find out how it feels and see where that takes you.  Interesting that Christ called fishermen to follow him – to observe and imitate – he doesn't issue a call to believe for a couple of years when he finally asks the question What do others say about me?

At Greenbelt festival as I walked out of the Icon service someone gave me a sticker with their twittername on it, a hashtag with the name of the christian group for me to keep an eye on what they were up to. And this was what was written on the rest of the sticker: Saved from being, doing, attending. Now I just love following, listening, talking, learning and living.  Not a word about believing. As I said – interesting.




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