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Towards a Modern Regime of Believing

Towards a Modern Regime of Believing Towards a Modern Regime of BelievingBy Ethan H. ShaganIn modern, Western societies, we are routinely asked whether we believe inGod – a recent Gallup poll found that more than 90% of Americans do. We arelikewise asked whether we believe in global warming, evolution, and ghosts. Weare expected to believe some things and disbelieve others, because in a world ofderacinated, rights-bearing individuals, our beliefs define us. Beliefs locate usand make us legible in a vast, multidimensional matrix of free choice. So whenthe pollster calls, we never ask, “What do you mean, ‘believe?’” We never wonder whether people believe in the same way, or whether believing in science,religion, and society might be qualitatively different operations. We ignore thepolysemia of belief – it can require absolute certainty or mere probability, itcan trust reason or reject reason, it can imply that something is true or that it isgood, it can signify the unassailable heart of the zealot or the fickle passions ofthe consumer – because to disaggregate belief and challenge its coherence as aclass of human experience would threaten an important mechanism by whichwe engage with the world.But it was not always so; belief has changed its meanings dramatically overtime, encompassing different objects, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte - Archive for Reformation History de Gruyter

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
© 2017 by Gütersloher Verlagshaus
eISSN
2198-0489
DOI
10.14315/arg-2017-0106
Publisher site
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Abstract

Towards a Modern Regime of BelievingBy Ethan H. ShaganIn modern, Western societies, we are routinely asked whether we believe inGod – a recent Gallup poll found that more than 90% of Americans do. We arelikewise asked whether we believe in global warming, evolution, and ghosts. Weare expected to believe some things and disbelieve others, because in a world ofderacinated, rights-bearing individuals, our beliefs define us. Beliefs locate usand make us legible in a vast, multidimensional matrix of free choice. So whenthe pollster calls, we never ask, “What do you mean, ‘believe?’” We never wonder whether people believe in the same way, or whether believing in science,religion, and society might be qualitatively different operations. We ignore thepolysemia of belief – it can require absolute certainty or mere probability, itcan trust reason or reject reason, it can imply that something is true or that it isgood, it can signify the unassailable heart of the zealot or the fickle passions ofthe consumer – because to disaggregate belief and challenge its coherence as aclass of human experience would threaten an important mechanism by whichwe engage with the world.But it was not always so; belief has changed its meanings dramatically overtime, encompassing different objects,

Journal

Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte - Archive for Reformation Historyde Gruyter

Published: Oct 26, 2017

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