FAith Belief and Culture Change

As a Cultural anthropologist I wander: what makes one culture dare to change more than another?


In Dutch we use frequently the term “geloof” the difficulty is how I can translate it in English “belief” or “faith”. This Are two different charges. With belief we can divide the meaning into three stages

  • 1. Observing a fact -> objective;
  • 2. Recognizing a specific fact, there is some doubt here;
  • 3. Imagining that a fact is true, this is no longer objective as in the first step.

Especially that last step has evolved into “having an opinion” which is far away from faith. You could view Faith as the sum of “belief + action + confidence”. Faith holds confidence and action in what can lead to change or innovation.

“Is doom thinking in our nature, culture and can we change it?”


Culture is influenced by religious traditions. In the quote below we can replace “religious traditions” with “culture”.

Religion traditions are misunderstood if one does not grasp “the faith” which they express. That this traditions are not static but fluid and that as a result of greater knowledge and increased contact between members of different traditions. We have entered a period in which it is no longer possible for traditions to develop in relative isolation. 
Wilfred Cantwell Smith ( Faith and Belief – comparative religion 1979)

We tend to preserve our culture, especially if it ensures that we survive. “Nobody likes to change only a baby with a wet pamper”. It is sometimes said and this illustrates when a culture is willing to change.

Cultures only adopt eachothers elements that fit into the own culture’s survival strategy.

For example, in Voodoo traditions in Brazil, elements of Christianity are integrated with their own traditions. One condition: those Christian elements add value to the existing tradition. In Christian churches in Africa animism (belief in spirits or in this case sometimes extended to Saints) is still very much alive.

To what extent do we not recognize the above when we talk about corporate culture, intersectoral work and innovative thinking?


Furthermore, it is always interesting for a book to see who wrote it: age, gender, nationality, education, faith … all this makes the writer who he or she is and influences his / her view.

Everybody lives their own subjective reality, which can be influenced and changes according to the degree of being open-minded and the encounters that you experience and incorporate into your experience. Evelien ;-)
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