Theorizing Belief: A Holistic, Organic, Seven-Dimensional Model

Abby Day

in Believing in Belonging

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199577873
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731143 | DOI:
Theorizing Belief: A Holistic, Organic, Seven-Dimensional Model

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An interpretive method is proposed to allow cross-cultural analysis, comparing what belief means to different people in different places at different times. The seven-part heuristic developed and explored here employs, content, sources, practice, salience, function, place, and time. Applying that analytical framework helped identify two prominent belief orientations: anthropocentric and theocentric. Traditional definitional boundaries between agnostics and atheists were collapsed in the analysis as each depicted a common state of being ‘functionally godless’.How people describe the source of their beliefs often relates to where they locate power and authority although, even for anthropocentrics, the vocabulary of religion sometimes remains. The ‘Ten Commandments’, for example, are often cited as the source of morality, with the first four religion-focused commandments usually, at least implicitly, rejected. Differences that emerge between anthropocentrics and theocentrics are not so much based on ‘what’ people said they believed in - God, fairies, family, reincarnation, friends, aliens, - but how they believed and what those beliefs meant to them. One belief that appears to connect both anthropocentrics and theocentrics is an adherence to patriarchal norms.Using seven dimensions of content, sources, practice, salience, function, place and time helped complexify and nuance peoples’ beliefs and demonstrate their social nature in what is theorised as holistic, performative, belief.

Keywords: belief; multi-dimensional; holistic; organic; performative; patriarchal

Chapter.  8191 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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