Faith without belief I: religious feeling
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Faith without belief I: religious feeling book
First of all, let me say what I intend to argue. I am in no way trying to play down the role of emotion in religion or in life in general. Emotions are the stuff of human life, and a religion without emotion is a withered up religion. What is at stake is what emotions are. Are they blind feelings, uncriticisable and needing no justification; or do they involve beliefs, which can be true or false? My view is the latter: I am afraid of a Rhodesian Ridgeback since I believe that they are dangerous (one having nearly killed my wife and son). I am angry about the government’s pension policy since I believe it is inhumane in its effects. I love God since I believe he first loved us, and showed it in the person of Christ. All these emotions are challengeable and need justification, since all involve beliefs which might be true or false. If someone disagrees with me about pensions, they will provide arguments: that it is possible to live very well on a pension, or that the effect of raising pensions would be some unthinkable disaster, like making well-to-do younger people spend less on cars and mobile phones. If I am not convinced, that is not because my anger is self-justifying, but because I believe the arguments against me are bad ones. If religious emotions are like this, then it is arguments about cognitive beliefs that decide whether they are rational or not. To avoid this cognitivist conclusion, one has to strip emotions of the beliefs that make them the emotions that they are. My argument is against this reduced conception of emotions, and more particularly against views which oscillate between a reduced ‘blind feeling’ conception of emotion and one which involves beliefs.