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Coincidentally, there's a show on tonight (BBC1 I think) with *some bishop* discussing how modern Britain needs religion to fix all its apparent problems. Which made me think that perhaps "religion" is too loose a term in itself and can probably be (in my mind at least) broken down into three components of which a person can have varying levels of pursuit of.

1) *Belief*; I seem to recall a furore over whether Wicca was a legitimate religion. A (rather nice, I've met her) lady over in East Manchester was trying to get the upstairs of her metaphysical shop classed as an official place of worship (and, incidentally, claim for funding to open a "faith school"). It appears that, under English law at least, a religion requires a belief in a "single god". Neopaganism gets around this by claiming that The Lord and The Lady are merely representatives of a single divine force: hence Wicca is a religion. 

OT: Unfortunately, the shop has not received official status and her calls for a Wiccan faith school have not been heeded. The case continues, as they say.

2) *Faith* That is, acting in accordance with the ethical rules of the religion in question. What I assume *this bishop dude* is saying is that the British need to adhere to a certain set of ethical guidelines independent of Law which act in an interdictory fashion; "morals". OT: the thing is, *faith* does not rely upon *belief*, *belief* is merely a very good way to enforce *faith*.

3) *Ritual*, doing stuff which doesn't relate to ethics but relates to a particular set of religious teachings such as going to church, wearing a hijab, wearing your hair long, not eating pork, etc and everything within the particular religion's "mythology" (please don't take offence at this term). As it strikes me, two religions can be pretty much identical (or three, even, such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam) in *belief* and *faith*, but be so different in *ritual* as to cause huge amounts of conflict.

Now, technically, I would say that an atheist is someone who does not possess *belief*, although he might have *faith* in a particular cause, whatever.

Only having *ritual* is only practicing superstition (touch wood, don't step under ladders, etc) or part of a system of beliefs such as the Romani "honour" and "cleanliness".

Lots of people, I notice, have *belief* and usually a large degree of *faith*. They're certainly not agnostics, they definitely believe in a god and know sort of what he wants them to do to be good people, but they don't attend any sort of religious ceremony.

What we *need* are terms for people who have *faith* alone, *belief* and *faith*, *belief* *faith* and *ritual* and any of the other possible combinations.

On 27 Sep 2011, at 13:38, R A Brown wrote:

> On 27/09/2011 13:19, BPJ wrote:
>> On 2011-09-27 06:26, John Erickson wrote:
> [snip]
>>> Atheism doesn't necessitate a belief that there is no god,
>>> only a lack of belief
>>> that there is one. There are people who hold each
> 
> [snip]
>> 
>> And how would a lack of belief that there is
>> a god differ from agnosticism?
> 
> My understanding is that agnosticism is not a disbelief in God/ a god/ gods.  Rather it leaves the question open - there may or there may not be [Gg]od[s] - one has no way of knowing.
> 
>> And why *a* god?
>> Last I checked there were plenty of polytheists
>> around! Certainly one of them could describe their
>> position as lack of belief that there is *a* god.
> 
> Yes, indeed; and we know that one the accusations brought against early Christians was that they were atheists (ἄθεοι 'atheoi') because they didn't believe in the gods   ;)
> 
>> The actual question of the (non)existence of [Gg]od[s]
>> is way into territory forbidden on this list. What interests
>> me is how to define the terms.
>> 
> 
> I don't think the terms are definable in a once & for all time definitive way.  Like all words they tend to shift meanings a bit.  I think the important thing is to define them as precisely ass possible if one is going to discuss these issues to avoid misunderstanding like my recent Platonism/platonism mail
> 
> -- 
> Ray
> ==================================
> http://www.carolandray.plus.com
> ==================================
> Nid rhy hen neb i ddysgu.
> There's none too old to learn.
> [WELSH PROVERB]