Thoughts, Feelings & Faith

People don’t like to be told that their feelings are wrong.

Which is understandable. Feeling are, after all, not thoughts. They can’t be proved—or disproved. They just are.

Which is why religion animates us, and philosophy does not. Religion is built of feelings, not thoughts. That’s why we refer to a religious outlook as a “faith”, and insist one must “have faith”. Religion is a matter of feelings.

And feelings are never wrong.

Nor right.

Only thoughts can be wrong or right—and religion, we see, begins with feelings. With the undeniable.

And yet, we interpret. We give meaning. We declare that this feeling—or that one—is of God. (For a thing built on feelings, there sure is a lot of thought put into religion.)

Thoughts, however, are always right or wrong. They are never undeniable.

So religion carries a core which is undeniable, felt but uninterpreted. And a large halo of thought circles around the core.

Like all thought, it is inherently questionable.

Like all thought, it must be questioned.

But it must always be understood that the religious core—felt but uninterpreted—remains untouched.

The halo of thought is what we usually have in mind when we think of religion. But it is important to remember that it is only peripheral.

It is not our thoughts but the reverence we feel toward certain feelings which constitutes religion. When I feel joy at being a mortal body, or fear and awe before the dark vast forest at night, or gulp the wind into my lungs like delicious draughts of water—that is when I am experiencing religion. If I talk reverently about these feelings, then I am being religious.

But as soon as I leave behind my reverent talk about feelings (my talk of faith), and begin to discuss religious meaning and truth, then I have entered the arena of reason: of skepticism, logical analysis, evaluation. And faith no longer applies.

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