The Faith Frame: Or, Belief is Easy, Faith is Hard

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
Author: T.M. Luhrmann1
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This paper argues for thinking about religious commitments as different in kind from everyday ordinary understandings of the world. It argues against the straightforward assertion from the cognitive science of religion that belief in the supernatural is easy. That is, there is a way in which intuitions of invisible presence come very easily to people. Yet to sustain that belief commitment is hard, especially when the invisible other is omnipotent and benevolent. Here I suggest that it makes more sense to understand faith commitments as a kind of frame that coexists with everyday commitments. The approach shares much with Neil van Leeuwen’s understanding of religious commitments and factual commitments as being held with different kinds of cognitive attitudes. Here I suggest that people engage the faith frame the way engage play and fiction—except that in the case of faith, the commitment is a serious claim about the world.

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