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A creed (Latin credo: I believe) is a general or precise set of religious beliefs which (apparently) are written in unambiguous language.

The philosopher of religion Thomas McPherson maintains that saying

I believe in God

is quite different from saying

I believe that God exists

The former statement, he argues, avows an attachment, commitment and basic trust in the subject matter. It’s a statement of faith. The latter statement is simply a neutral opinion or, if not perhaps neutral, it’s certainly a cooler, less emotionally involved statement.

By way of contrast, consider

I believe in my country

as compared to

I believe that my country exists

McPherson says these statements are similar to the pair of statements about God’s existence. But he also claims that saying you believe in your country doesn’t entail the same degree of involvement as saying that you believe in God.

McPherson’s claim that saying “I believe in God” reveals the most passionate of all beliefs is questionable. Dialectical materialists forwarding in the work of Karl Marx, for instance, sometimes seem tremendously passionate about their “faith” in the object of their belief.

Roland Barthes
Roland Barthes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A good example of a dialectical materialist who seems to “believe in” Marx’s ideas with great intensity can be found in J. D. Bernal, whose Science in History, Vols. 1-4. follows the Marxist ideology pretty closely.

But not only Marxists can get passionate about their beliefs. Social thinkers like Roland Barthes have argued that American patriotism, particularly during the 1950s, arguably had all the intensity of a religious faith. That is, the idea of the American Spirit connoted a intense set of beliefs about the superiority and moral goodness of America.

Related Posts » Doctrine, Dogma

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