What does it mean to say you believe something or “believe in” something? Would a child say they believe in Santa Claus? Or would they simply act and react to situations as if Santa Claus existed? That is, if their parents took them on the Polar Express would they expect to meet Santa Claus tucked away in a cozy brick house at the North Pole checking his naughty/nice list and getting fist-bumps from Mrs. Claus before he gave rousing speeches to the elves?
Is belief as expectation the best way to understand religious belief in general?
Here’s a concrete example:
To be completely frank, I would no sooner expect to see the scene above in the Second Coming painting than I would expect the Polar Express to whisk me off to the North Pole to get a peek at Santa Claus in his workshop. That’s not to say that I don’t believe in Jesus Christ or His divinity. I do, as far as I can understand the concept of divinity, which is not very far. But I don’t ever expect to see a scene like this.
Nor do I expect any number of other things, including a physical Second Coming, the presence of multitudinous spirits hanging out with me every day influencing me for good or evil, or that the devil is sitting around thinking of how he is going to ruin my family’s picnic.
I expect that there is a residual influence from Jesus Christ which exerts an example on me and others to reach out to others in service, in compassion, and in the hope of eternal life.
I suspect that my expectations may have a greater influence on my behavior than my beliefs.
If you don’t have an expectation of something, can you be said to believe in it? For example, if Mormons are supposed to believe in the Second Coming in some form, but we are also told not to expect it (or not to expect it in our lifetimes, though the practical value is the same to me), do Mormons still believe in the Second Coming?
What things do you expect, or not expect?
Are their other ways to analogize belief besides as expectation?