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Faith without belief

Billy Graham

A still of Billy Graham’s TED Talk: On Technology and Faith.

In the “Believers And Doubters” episode of TED Radio Hour, Anne Graham Lotz talks about her father – Billy Graham – and how he differentiated between belief and faith. Basically, he took the controversial position that James 2:19 means that there is a difference between belief and faith, for even the demons believe in god. Faith requires more than acknowledgement of the existence of something, but the additional step of having confidence and trust in it and loyalty and fidelity to it.


It’s treated as standard: believe in, have faith in, and therefore worship. Except Pagans – and others – like to mess with the system. Some Pagans may believe in gods they choose not to have faith in or worship. Some may worship with neither belief nor faith. And some have faith and worship without belief. Anyone who tries to define Paganism in terms of any one axis – that to be Pagan, one must have Pagan beliefs, for example – misses that we undermine the believer versus non-believer dichotomy and screw with the assumption that belief, faith, and worship must go together.


I don’t believe in the sun, for it just is. I have faith in it – that it will continue to rise and warm and feed – but it doesn’t need my worship.


I don’t believe in the ocean, for it just is. I know it to be the source of life, so I make my offerings and my worship, but I don’t have faith in it.


I do believe that all life is a sacred expression of the universe and I have faith that that means all lives, from the biggest to the smallest and from the highest to the deepest, have meaning, as we are all ways for the sacred universe to perceive itself and learn about itself. And there’s everything and nothing to worship in that.

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