Religious Practice Precedes Religious Belief?

published on July 20, 2020

Religion is a belief system this is one of the most common quick and dirty definitions of religion that I see around but it's also one of those definitions that's so reductive that it obscures more than it helps to call religion a belief system is to assume

That belief is the primary component of religion that religion is all about an individual's cognitive assent to certain propositions about the supernatural and the universe I disagree with this take because it over emphasizes interior

Thought over and above external action and social connections religion is not just what people think religion is something that people do quoting one of my favorite scholars of religion dr Kelly Baker belief doesn't quite explain

What religious people do or even why they do what they do it cannot encapsulate the messy richness of religious practice let's try to visualize this what you're looking at here are a bunch of different Orthodox

Christians celebrating the Ascension of Jesus at the chapel of the Ascension on the top of Mount of Olives in Jerusalem I took this footage last year and it's one of the cooler experiences I had over there

I'm arguing that these people aren't here just because they believe Jesus literally ascended into heaven 40 days after his resurrection I'm sure many if not most of these people do believe that I'm sure some of them don't or don't

Care but the point is they aren't here believing religion right now they are here doing religion the sacred space the ritual objects their bodies there is so much more implicated here in the doing of religion rather than what's going on

In their heads it's a communal activity it's a cultural activity in other words we need to look beyond what is going on in our heads if we want to understand religion in a more complex way than a belief system we need to look to

Communities to explain religious action and identity because even our beliefs don't come from our own rational interior thought as a tribal species we evolved to accept beliefs based on the behavior of our community we evolved to

Mimic each other so in some respects religious practice precedes religious belief I'm basing this off of a theory of religious belief called credibility enhancing displays developed by anthropologist Joseph Henrich the theory

Posits that people are more likely to believe a religious proposition if they see someone acting in a manner as if that belief is true these are called credibility enhancing displays thus a child is much more likely to believe

That Jesus will rapture all Christians if they see their parents acting as if the rapture will really happen for Henrichs this is an evolutionary theory natural selection favoured a reliance on credibility enhancing displays in

Determining how much to commit to or believe in a particular representation learners evolved to look for displays often actions that indicate a model's degree of commitment to or belief in verbally expressed representations to

Hammer this point home in the words of the scholar of religion Lesley drew Smith becoming a productive member of society largely depends on our internalization of things we have been trained to do before we ever pair them

With an accompanying belief so notice the words I keep using practice actions community society focusing on individuals beliefs as the primary component of religion and religious identity misses these enormous

Ly important social aspects of action and community so to conclude I've always avoided defining religion as a belief system I'd rather call it something along the lines of a mode of living that is comprised of certain beliefs

Behaviors and identities shared among a community now even that definition has holes in it but if your definition stops with belief system you are only defining one small sliver of religion that prioritizes individual thought over

Societal influence and conditioning I have some further research in the description below from scholars of religion a lot smarter than me and if you'd like to check my research as always thanks for watching and

Subscribing and I'll see you next time

Related Videos

Does religion affect public health well I'm going to read for you a list of health care related issues and you tell me if they have anything to do with reli...
Tell me if you've heard this before Blanc is not a religion it's a cult people have filled in this blank with all types of groups whether Scientology Wi...
Hey everyone so I just wanted to make a quick video celebrating that we have passed 6000 subscribers it's a little crazy to think but back at the beginning ...
We live in an increasingly automated world automated cars automated baristas but what about automated priests a Japanese company nice a echo has programmed a ro...
Can you teach about the Bible in public schools short answer yes but do you see that asterisk that's what the rest of this video is about starting with the ...
Exorcism it's a scary word that conjures scary images and you've seen the movies demons possessing helpless children in the most perverse ways screaming...
I've always been jealous of academics who have fancy job titles like sociologists or archeologists they just sound so cool but what do you do when you study...
Is Coca-Cola a religion? Um... What?? How could this lovable, fizzy soft drink - the perennial beverage at parties and Warren Buffet share holders' meetings...
During my second year in graduate school I almost fainted during class while watching a video of an animal sacrifice see I was taking a greco-roman religion cla...
If you remember from part one of this series animal sacrifice seems to have originated some time after humans started to domesticate animals so the question rem...
Hey everyone so I'm in Jerusalem conducting research for my dissertation project but while I'm here in my free time I'm gonna be visiting different ...
Hi my name is Andrew Henry and I'm dr. Hussein Rashid and this is religion for breakfast intro to Islam with over 1.8 billion followers around the world tha...
Star Wars Canon explains the formation of the New Testament Canon why well consider the similarities both the Star Wars franchise and early Christianity have an...
There is not enough quality educational material about religion on YouTube so imagine how excited I was when I heard that crash course the educational channel s...
What you're seeing is an otherwise unassuming intersection in East Jerusalem like any major city it's a drumbeat of diesel engines motorcycles sirens an...
In the 5th century hey geography the life and miracles of st. Tecla the author records a terrifying account in the middle of the night the priest Dexy honest wa...
So I'm currently hiking up the Mount of Olives outside the old city of Jerusalem and it's here that it's believed that Jesus ascended into heaven af...
So I'm standing at a little tourist complex on the Jordan River it's the site where Jesus is believed to have been baptized by John the Baptist's bu...
In 2011 the philosopher Charles Taylor wrote everyone can agree that one of the big differences between us and our ancestors of 500 years ago is that they lived...

What is Satanism?

9 months ago
When you hear the word Satanism what comes to mind for many a conjures scary images of cloaked figures orgies and blood sacrifices conducted in basements or may...