Art of Faith: A Guide to Understanding Christian Images

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God, in short, isn't one very impressive thing among many things that might or might not exist; "not just some especially resplendent object among all the objects illuminated by the light of being," as Hart puts it. Rather, God is "the light of being itself", the answer to the question of why there's existence to begin with. In other words, that wisecrack about how atheists merely believe in one less god than theists do, though it makes a funny line in a Tim Minchin song , is just a category error.


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Monotheism's God isn't like one of the Greek gods, except that he happens to have no god friends. It's an utterly different kind of concept. Since I can hear atheist eyeballs rolling backwards in their sockets with scorn, it's worth saying again: the point isn't that Hart's right. It's that he's making a case that's usually never addressed by atheists at all.

If you think this God-as-the-condition-of-existence argument is rubbish, you need to say why. And unlike for the superhero version, scientific evidence won't clinch the deal. The question isn't a scientific one, about which things exist. It's a philosophical one, about what existence is and on what it depends. But too often, instead of being grappled with, this argument gets dismissed as irrelevant. Sure, critics argue, it might be intriguing, but only a handful of smartypants intellectual religious people take it seriously. The vast majority of ordinary folk believe in the other sort of God.

As Hart points out, there are two problems with this dismissal. First, you'd actually need to prove the point with survey data about what people believe. But second, even if you could show that most believers believe in a superhero God, would that mean it's the only kind with which atheists need engage? If a committed creationist wrote a book called The Evolution Delusion, but only attacked the general public's understanding of evolution, we'd naturally dismiss them as disingenuous.

We'd demand, instead, that they seek out what the best and most acclaimed minds in the field had concluded about evolution, then try dismantling that. Which is also why atheists should read Hart's book: to deny themselves the lazy option of sticking to easy targets. Perhaps you'll come away convinced. But even if all you do is clearly articulate why you think he's completely wrong, you'll be helping to lift the discussion far above what usually passes for debates about religion.

In a post at The Week, Damon Linker sums up this second version better than I can: … according to the classical metaphysical traditions of both the East and West, God is the unconditioned cause of reality — of absolutely everything that is — from the beginning to the end of time. Topics Religion.

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Atheism blogposts. Roy attempted to modernise and reform Hinduism, from the idea of Universalism. After the Second World War, spirituality and theistic religion became increasingly disconnected, [23] and spirituality became more oriented on subjective experience, instead of "attempts to place the self within a broader ontological context. The distinction between the spiritual and the religious became more common in the popular mind during the late 20th century with the rise of secularism and the advent of the New Age movement.

Meeting at the Table - Images of the Christian faith.

Paul Heelas noted the development within New Age circles of what he called "seminar spirituality": [38] structured offerings complementing consumer choice with spiritual options. Among other factors, declining membership of organized religions and the growth of secularism in the western world have given rise to this broader view of spirituality.

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Rabbinic Judaism or in some Christian traditions, [ which? It is characterised by the belief that the Written Torah "Law" or "Instruction" cannot be correctly interpreted without reference to the Oral Torah and by the voluminous literature specifying what behavior is sanctioned by the law called halakha , "the way". Judaism knows a variety of religious observances : ethical rules, prayers, religious clothing, holidays, shabbat, pilgrimages, Torah reading, dietary laws, etc.

Kabbalah literally "receiving" , is an esoteric method, discipline and school of thought of Judaism. Its definition varies according to the tradition and aims of those following it, [42] from its religious origin as an integral part of Judaism , to its later Christian , New Age , or Occultist syncretic adaptations. Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal and mysterious Ein Sof no end and the mortal and finite universe his creation. While it is heavily used by some denominations, [ which?

Hasidic Judaism , meaning "piety" or " loving kindness " , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspect of the faith. Hasidism emphased the Immanent Divine presence in everything and has often focused on optimism, [ citation needed ] encouragement, and daily fervour. This populist emotional revival accompanied the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical Divine Panentheism , through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of mystical thought.

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The Musar movement is a Jewish spiritual movement that has focused on developing character traits such as faith , humility , and love. Stone , has encouraged spiritual practices of Jewish meditation , Jewish prayer , Jewish ethics , tzedakah , teshuvah , and the study of musar ethical literature.

Catholic spirituality is the spiritual practice of living out a personal act of faith fides qua creditur following the acceptance of faith fides quae creditur. Although all Catholics are expected to pray together at Mass , there are many different forms of spirituality and private prayer which have developed over the centuries. Each of the major religious orders of the Catholic Church and other lay groupings have their own unique spirituality — its own way of approaching God in prayer and in living out the Gospel.

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Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. It has often been connected to mystical theology , especially in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied and range from ecstatic visions of the soul's mystical union with God to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture i. Progressive Christianity is a contemporary movement which seeks to remove the supernatural claims of the faith and replace them with a post-critical understanding of biblical spirituality based on historical and scientific research.

It focuses on the lived experience of spirituality over historical dogmatic claims, and accepts that the faith is both true and a human construction, and that spiritual experiences are psychologically and neurally real and useful. The Pillars of Islam arkan al-Islam ; also arkan ad-din , "pillars of religion" are five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory for all believers. The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith.

They are 1 the creed shahadah , 2 daily prayers salat , 3 almsgiving zakah , 4 fasting during Ramadan and 5 the pilgrimage to Mecca hajj at least once-in-a-lifetime. The Shia and Sunni sects both agree on the essential details for the performance of these acts. The best known form of Islamic mystic spirituality is the Sufi tradition famous through Rumi and Hafiz in which a Sheikh or pir transmits spiritual discipline to students.

Sufis believe they are practicing ihsan perfection of worship as revealed by Gabriel to Muhammad ,. Worship and serve Allah as you are seeing Him and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you. Sufis consider themselves as the original true proponents of this pure original form of Islam. They are strong adherents to the principal of tolerance, peace and against any form of violence. The Sufi have suffered severe persecution by more rigid and fundamentalist groups such as the Wahhabi and Salafi movement. Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as "a science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God".

Jihad is a religious duty of Muslims. There are two commonly accepted meanings of jihad: an inner spiritual struggle and an outer physical struggle. The Prophet Buddhist practices are known as Bhavana , which literally means "development" or "cultivating" [58] or "producing" [59] [60] in the sense of "calling into existence.

When used on its own bhavana signifies 'spiritual cultivation' generally. Various Buddhist Paths to liberation developed throughout the ages. Hinduism has no traditional ecclesiastical order, no centralized religious authorities, no governing body, no prophet s nor any binding holy book; Hindus can choose to be polytheistic, pantheistic, monistic, or atheistic. It defines spiritual practice as one's journey towards moksha , awareness of self, the discovery of higher truths, true nature of reality, and a consciousness that is liberated and content. There is a rigorous debate in Indian literature on relative merits of these theoretical spiritual practices.

For example, Chandogyopanishad suggests that those who engage in ritualistic offerings to gods and priests will fail in their spiritual practice, while those who engage in tapas will succeed; Svetasvataropanishad suggests that a successful spiritual practice requires a longing for truth, but warns of becoming 'false ascetic' who go through the mechanics of spiritual practice without meditating on the nature of Self and universal Truths.

These four paths of spirituality are also known in Hinduism outside India, such as in Balinese Hinduism , where it is called Catur Marga literally: four paths. Different schools of Hinduism encourage different spiritual practices. It involves initiation into the school, undergoing rituals, and achieving moksha liberation by experiencing union of cosmic polarities.

Sikhism considers spiritual life and secular life to be intertwined: [84] "In the Sikh Weltanschauung According to Guru Nanak , the goal is to attain the "attendant balance of separation-fusion, self-other, action-inaction, attachment-detachment, in the course of daily life", [89] the polar opposite to a self-centered existence. In Sikhism there is no dogma , [95] priests , monastics or yogis.

In some African contexts, [ which? The term "spiritual" has frequently become used in contexts in which the term "religious" was formerly employed. Those who speak of spirituality outside of religion often define themselves as spiritual but not religious and generally believe in the existence of different "spiritual paths", emphasizing the importance of finding one's own individual path to spirituality. Lockwood draws attention to the variety of spiritual experience in the contemporary West :.

The new Western spiritual landscape, characterised by consumerism and choice abundance, is scattered with novel religious manifestations based in psychology and the Human Potential Movement , each offering participants a pathway to the Self. Modern spirituality centers on the "deepest values and meanings by which people live". Not all modern notions of spirituality embrace transcendental ideas. Secular spirituality emphasizes humanistic ideas on moral character qualities such as love, compassion , patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, responsibility, harmony, and a concern for others.

Nevertheless, many humanists e.

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Bertrand Russell , Jean-Paul Sartre who clearly value the non-material, communal and virtuous aspects of life reject this usage of the term "spirituality" as being overly-broad i. The man [sic] who can centre his thoughts and hopes upon something transcending self can find a certain peace in the ordinary troubles of life which is impossible to the pure egoist.

Moreover, theistic and atheistic critics alike dismiss the need for the "secular spirituality" label on the basis that it appears to be nothing more than obscurantism in that: [ citation needed ]. Although personal well-being, both physical and psychological , is said [ by whom?

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