Doctrine without Premise

Recently a friend of mine was baptized at his local church. This wouldn’t be interesting but he’s someone who I would have considered to be on the cusp and definitely leaning towards atheism than theism.
I, of course, had to wonder if he simply did it for his wife. He assures me that he didn’t but even so it got me thinking.

Can one believe the doctrine, the basic principles, of a religion without believing in their god?

I feel the answer should be a resounding “NO” but then I see proclaimed Christians picking a choosing what parts of the doctrine they believe in. Some say the bible is allegory. Some say it should be taken literally as written. Some just spout off John 3:16, claim Jesus as their savior and from there everything else can be forgiven. So why couldn’t I do the same while maintaining my disbelief in any god?

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4 thoughts on “Doctrine without Premise

  1. “Can one believe the doctrine, the basic principles, of a religion without believing in their god?”

    What part of doctrine would you want to believe in without believing in a god?

    As for basic principles, I see atheists often saying they can believe all that stuff (do good to others; forgiveness; love of enemies) without a god telling them to do so.

  2. I’d say no, but maybe it’s the Catholic in me. There’s definitely more of a sense of unity of doctrine (believe it all or reject the Church entirely) in Catholicism than in Protestantism because Catholicism claims infallibility. But to join a religion without believing its most basic tenet? I can’t imagine thinking that was logical.

    Of course, faith (much like its object) can’t be seen. Perhaps he had some great conversion. Or maybe he thinks it’s likely that there’s a God and desires faith, so he’s living like there is even if he doesn’t *believe* per se. Or maybe he loves his wife a lot and doesn’t much care about whether there’s a God and wanted to make her happy. Who knows?

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