To believe, to have faith and to know

OED definitions:

of BELIEVE:  accept as true; as speaking truth; think; suppose.

of BELIEVE IN:  have faith in the existence of; feel sure of the worth of

of FAITH: reliance, trust: belief in religious doctrine; loyalty, sincerity

of KNOW: have in one’s mind or memory; feel certain; recognise; be familair with; understand

I am not sure how the dictionary definitions are going to be of much use here but then I did use the OED popular version. I was talking with my husband about issues of faith and what the difference was between faith and belief and we came to an interesting conclusion that dictionary definitions notwithstanding, they are not the same thing at all. Someone can believe in God(or the Universe) but not have faith in him. And as for  know, well it all came unravelling even further.

To me(and in the end, that’s what a blog is about, being able you share one’s own thoughts and opinions) I don’t have to believe in something I know. For example, I know that the speed limit in my street is 30 mph. I don’t believe it: I know it. It’s a matter of fact, not opinion. I know that the elephant is the world’s largest land mammal alive on earth at the moment; this is not up for dispute, it’s a simple fact. The fact that larger mammals live in the sea is not part of the statement, or that larger creatures used to live. I don’t BELIEVE that the elephant is the largest land mammal: I KNOW it. This is what makes me such a curmudgeon about matters of belief, because so many matters attached to belief are actually matters of facts, of information: of dates and times and names and so on. When the Christian church was founded, what languages the Bible had been translated from and to, the problems with damaged and missing texts, the issue of ancient agendas (example: until Constantine(I think, but do correct me if I am wrong) reincarnation was an accepted sideshoot of doctrine, but this didn’t suit politics at the time, because peasants who thought they’d go to Hell for ever after ONE life alone were more malleable) and of cultural issues of the times (example: St. Pauls insistance on keeping women submissive was purely a product of his culture. The whole issue of women covering their heads was down to the fact that at the time only prostitutes went bareheaded in public: ergo a matter of decency and not of doctrine) These are some things that I KNOW about the early church and while they’re up for interpretation to some degree, they’re not up for denial. There are whole churches that base their treatment of women on St Paul’s letters; in all honesty, I feel the poor man would be horrified at this. I think also thisis why Jesus never wrote anything down; and the fact that the four gospels have differing accounts of the events of Jesus’ life is simply an illustration of differing witness accounts, that phenomenon that bamboozles cops everywhere. There are other gospels that are not canonical that tell marvellous(and probably totally fictional) accounts of Jesus’s boyhood. I have a copy of a translation of the Gnostic gospels that makes entertaining reading if nothing else!

The thing is for me that we are beings of mind, body, spirit and soul and I hate to see people abandon or neglect one at the expense of the others. Healing is about wholeness and balance and when we neglect one aspect of our being we invite not only imbalance but illness.

17 thoughts on “To believe, to have faith and to know

  1. Once we know, belief is unneccesary. The essence of belief is ignorance and so belief is an hypothesis in search of experience. Problem is we too often tire of the search for experience as a test of belief, and treat belief as fact. This is lazy theology. That’s how wars, prejudice, marginalizations, and stereotypes get started. Paul was right for his time but those who codified Pauline theology magnified it to the level of timeless truth. He was a son of his times. Those that followed turned those aspects unique to a time into immutable law and used it to rationalize neurosis. He was blinded by culture. They were blinded by misguided ideology. It is time to “put away childish things” as Paul advised. Than you.


    • “Now we see as through a glass darkly; then we shall see face to face.”
      One might say that Faith is the product of Belief made Known.
      Thank you for stopping by; I appreciate the comments, Harried Mystic. Do you have a blog?


      • Thanks for that; it doesn’t show up with your avatar, that’s all. I think you have to do something in your control dashboard to make sure it does!!!


      • I have been over and found it a real treasure. So I have added it to my blogroll so others can enjoy it. Is that OK with you? If not I shall remove the link. If it is OK, I shall put up a brief post to alert my readers.


      • Thank you. I appreciate your sharing it. I am also checking on the control dashboard to ensure that the site is linked. Appreciate the heads-up.


      • That would be great! I’ve only been blogging since January and started with a shared blog I still post at sometimes, and the nice people there talked me through the process and how to do things. I’m still learning; I only recently was alerted to the fact that my own avatar didn’t automatically link to the blog, my friend J(esper) here talked me through how to sort this out.
        I intend to do a short intro for a few blogs I have found and am intending(or already have added0 to my blogroll but that might be a few days away.
        By the way, your blog address is now showing up with your avatar!


  2. You either know or you don’t!! I know all, but I sometimes forget that I know all until I have faith in the fact that I know all!! Do I believe what I have just said?? Hmmm


  3. I’ve read some interesting stuff about the ‘Council of Nicaea’. Need to read a bit more before I make my own decisions. As usual a very insightful post Viv.


  4. I am all at odds with everybody here, I think. Maybe coz I trained as a scientist, way back when. Naturally, scientists are into the debate about god/godess/gods uzw. Now in the Gospel according to science [grins] …
    Vivs (quote of OED) definitions were:
    BELIEVE: accept as true; as speaking truth; think; suppose.
    BELIEVE IN: have faith in the existence of; feel sure of the worth of
    FAITH: reliance, trust: belief in religious doctrine; loyalty, sincerity
    KNOW: have in one’s mind or memory; feel certain; recognise; be familair with; understand

    ..and , I think I can say, most scientists would go along with these, being very keen to emphasise the the difference between “believe” and “believe in”. They would, I think, say they “know” eg. that at a standard pressure, water will boil at 100C. They “Believe” that this is true everywhere in the Universe ( and would stack their pensions on it) but they don’t know it for a fact. They don’t tend to “believe in” facts. There is a tendency to substitute “believe in” for the word “faith”. So they build a satellite and launch it into space “believing in” the universality of the Laws of gravity i.e. elsewhere than on earth. See they are not believing (or otherwise) “in” the fact of gravity only “in” the intangible thing called its “universality”.
    Faith involves a “leap” as Kierkegaard says. You can “believe in” God, but the scientists would jump up and down if you say “I believe in the existence of God” because that requires factual evidence. Just like the satellite builder, you have looked at a number of facts and you have made a leap of faith. Note that, to the scientist and to Kierkegaard, the phrase “leap of faith” isn’t a change in your intellectual position, it is rooted in action based on a decision.: “I have faith in God, therefore I will …”
    But I was a scientist and we are renowned for talking nonsense (a la Richard Dawkins) and dressing it up in equations ….


  5. Pingback: Oh ye of little faith ~ Doubting Thomasina faces immense changes « Zen and the art of tightrope walking

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