4Bs: Belonging, being, believing, behaving

4Bs: Belonging, being, believing, behaving 

The conversation around religion and non-religion, belief and non-belief, theism and atheism sometimes treat these terms as interchangeable. I don’t think they are.

  1. Religion / non religion is about participation in and commitment to organised communities of expression and the extent to which a person identifies with individualistic ideologies. This is a matter of identity and belonging.
  2. Faith – speaks to the extent one lives a life of trust in some idea beyond themselves (human rights, compassion, humanism, love/charity,  etc). This is a matter of being.
  3. Theism/atheism is a shorthand for doctrines that are assented to in some way or rejected. This is a matter of believing.
  4. And then there is the fourth B – behaving.

Note that these each wash over each other in different ways.

  • A person may live along and avoid all others yet hold very strong doctrines which drive what she does or doesn’t do ( 2,3,4). Hence a person may refuse to tick a religion box and yet hold and follow certain beliefs and practices viewed as religious.
  • A person may attend a religious community for the companionship and fellowship and feel this is the heart of his faith (1,2&4).
  • A person may have strong convictions that affect choices she makes in life at a personal level (3&4).
  • I think sometimes that 2&4 manifest in people who have this simply trust in life and live good lives for others, without much time for 1 and 3 conversations. They just get on with it.

This 4 fold categorisation is experimental – what do you think? Can it be improved?

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