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Social Sci LibreTexts

14.5C: Beliefs

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    8401
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    Religious belief is a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Examine the complexity of belief and the categories of belief within society

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • Religious adherents often distinguish religious belief from superstition. The term superstition refers to what are seen as excessive or false religious behaviors as opposed to proper or accepted religious standards.
    • People with pluralist beliefs make no distinction between faith systems, viewing each one as valid within a particular culture.
    • People with syncretistic views blend the views of a variety of different religions or traditional beliefs into a unique fusion which suits their particular experience and context.
    • People with exclusivist beliefs typically explain other religions as either in error, or as corruptions or counterfeits of the true faith. In monotheistic faiths, references to God are used in constructs such as “God’s Chosen People”.
    • People with inclusivist beliefs recognize some truth in all faith systems, highlighting agreements and minimizing differences, but see their own faith as in some way ultimate.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • pluralist beliefs: Religious pluralism is an attitude or policy regarding the diversity of religious belief systems co-existing in society.
    • superstition: A belief, not based on human reason or scientific knowledge, that future events may be influenced by one’s behaviour in some magical or mystical way.
    • supernatural power: The supernatural is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature.

     

    Belief

     

    Religious belief is a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny. Such a state may relate to the existence, characteristics, and worship of a deity or deities; divine intervention in the universe and human life; or values and practices centered on the teachings of a spiritual leader. In contrast to other belief systems, religious beliefs are usually codified.

     

    Belief and Superstition: a Matter of Perspective

     

    Religious adherents often distinguish their own religious beliefs from superstition. Both superstition and many traditional religions are non-materialistic, do not see the world as being subject to laws of cause and effect, and presume that there are immaterial forces influencing our lives. Both religion and superstition seek meaning in otherwise random and chaotic events. However, the term “superstition” refers to what the speaker sees as excessive or false religious behavior as opposed to belief or behavior within a proper or accepted religious standard.

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    Praying Hands: Praying is an act of belief in many religious faiths.

     

    Categories of Belief

     

    People with pluralist beliefs make no distinction between faith systems, viewing each one as valid within a particular culture. People with syncretistic views blend the views of a variety of different religions or traditional beliefs into a unique fusion which suits their particular experience and context. Adherents of particular religions deal with the differing doctrines and practices espoused by other religions in a variety ways.

    People with exclusivist beliefs typically explain other religions as either in error, or as corruptions or counterfeits of the true faith. Throughout history, various groups of people have considered themselves as chosen by a deity for a purpose, such as to act as the deity’s agent on earth. In monotheistic faiths, like Abrahamic religions, references to God are often used in constructs such as “God’s Chosen People. ” By contrast, people with inclusivist beliefs recognize some truth in all faith systems, highlighting agreements and minimizing differences, but often see their own faith as in some way ultimate.