It seems there is a significant difference between the kind of "belief" which is taught in many religious circles, and the faith spoken of by the seers, prophets and spiritual masters of the ages. In fact, the modern believism which is practiced by much of organized religion could be equated to a form of atheism which is devoid of life while still wearing the mask of true faith.
Is there really a significant difference between an atheist who says that there is “No God” and someone who professes to believe in God, but whose prayer is an acknowledgement that God is absent?
What is atheism but a belief in the absence of God?
If there is a need to remind God to be somewhere or with someone, or we think that in some way we can enlighten God about something of which God is unaware, how is that any different than believing in the absence of God?
"Your Father knows what things you have need of, BEFORE you ask him." - Matthew 6:8
"All things, whatsoever you are praying for and asking, believe that you HAVE RECEIVED, and they shall be yours." - Mark11:24
"All things are possible to him who HAS FAITH." - Mark 9:23,
"To him that HAS shall be given...." - Matthew 25:29
Can an inadvertent denial of the Divine Presence even be considered “faith,” or be consistent with a FAITH that IS the very SUBSTANCE and EVIDENCE of things NOT SEEN?
In the words of world renowned speaker, teacher, and writer, Jiddu Krishnamurti:
“Belief is not Reality. You may believe in God, but your belief has no more Reality than that of the man who does not believe in God. Your belief is the result of your background, of your religion, of your fears, and the nonbelief of the communist and others is equally the result of their conditioning. To find out what IS True, the mind must be free from belief and nonbelief.” (From The Collected Works, Vol. VIII",294, Individual and Society)
While belief may change the way we perceive our individual reality, it is not Absolute Reality, nor does it create that Reality. Our relative experience is limited, temporary and mutable, whereas, Absolute Reality is Infinite, Eternal and Changeless.
Changing our thoughts (beliefs, perceptions, expectations, assumptions etc..) merely serves the purpose of bringing those beliefs into alignment with Absolute Reality. It may seem to create a different reality within our individual conscious experience, but ultimately it merely reveals the underlying Reality that already exists behind the veil of unconscious appearance. If belief could change Ultimate Reality, then we would not only have the ability to change the Nature of God, but to alter the Higher Laws governing and sustaining the Universe.
The harmony of this paradox is to be found in a FAITH which transcends belief and mere intellectual knowledge. It lies outside the boundaries that have been established by a kind of religious atheism which is devoid of any "demonstration and power of the Spirit of God."
A balance between the relative truth of the material universe and the Absolute Truth of Spirit can only be discovered through the Eye of Faith (Spirit) which is able to behold and Know intuitively that which underlies the visible phenomena.
Even renowned theoretical physicist Albert Einstein said:
"The Intuitive Mind is a Sacred Gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
Further elaborating this sentiment is a quote by German philosopher Immanuel Kant:
"Intuition and concepts constitute the elements of all our knowledge, so that neither concepts without an Intuition in some way corresponding to them, nor Intuition without concepts, can yield knowledge."
As much as science has tried to deny the existence of God for lack of empirical evidence, even consciousness research is now discovering with increasing clarity, through scientific observation, that there is a collective consensus of subjective experience related to the Divine Presence. In essence, there is a communal confirmation of the Reality of the Divine Presence which is validated by the cumulative experience of humanity.
While it seems that religion alone would provide a more straight forward path to discovering the Reality of God, in many instances it only supports a "blind belief" that borders on ignorance without possessing any substantive experience of God-Reality. Experiential knowledge (faith) is far different than mere belief (religion) and is beyond simple objective observation (science). Perhaps that is why Jesus said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation."
“The religions that we have do not help us to understand That which Is the Real, because they are essentially based, not on the abandonment of the self, but on the improvement, the refinement of the self, which is the continuity of the self in different forms. It is only the very few who break away from society, not the outward trappings of society, but from all the implications of a society which is based on acquisitiveness, on envy, on comparison, competition. This society conditions the mind to a particular pattern of thought, the pattern of self-improvement, self-adjustment, self-sacrifice, and only those who are capable of breaking away from all conditioning can discover That which is Not Measurable by the mind." -Jiddu Krishnamurti
Most spiritual traditions claim to believe in an Absolute Deity that is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent: the Source of All things from which all things come and by which all things exist. Many religious observances, however, are like a scientific experiment in their effort to "seek" God. The implication or premise being that we somehow exist separately and independently from God. Why else would we have to "seek God," if we already know by faith that we are One with God?
The Bible declares in the book of Acts that,
"In Him we Live and Move and have Our Being...." - Acts 17:28
Furthermore, it says in the book of Colossians,
“By Him were all things created …. and by Him all things consist,”
And again in the epistle to the Romans,
"From Him and through Him and to Him are ALL things.” [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] - Romans 11:36 (Amplified version)
If the full portent of these few statements alone were known by experiential faith, even "seeking" God would be viewed as a veiled acknowledgement that a person still believes in a God who is somehow separate from them. It is a subtle denial of Oneness with the Divine. It is like a wave of the Ocean "seeking" water, while simultaneously denying the very fabric of its existence.
Compare this to the atheist who says, "There is no God." They must operate from the assumption that they possess ALL knowledge to make such a claim. It is akin to saying that in all the galaxies of the known universe and beyond, there is no intelligent life other than that which exists on earth. A person would have to BE GOD themselves in order to know that, therefore defeating their own argument.
Is it possible that religion creates a similar dichotomy of separation from God?
To even have a belief in an individual identity which exists separate from God constitutes a form of atheism which exalts mental knowledge above the Conscious Awareness of Omnipresence. This dualistic perception of separation denies Oneness with the Divine and perpetuates a false sense of self that believes it possesses an existence apart from God.
If we are not living in Conscious Union with God, or have not come to Know God AS the Substance and Essence of Our Being, then it is possible we only "possess a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof."
If we are not experiencing Omnipresent God AS Our Identity, AS One with our "individual consciousness," then we may want to seriously consider how much our beliefs actually differ from those of an atheist.
Without the abiding Awareness of Presence, or of any manifestation of power to substantiate an experiential knowledge-faith of God-Reality, all our beliefs "about" God are like having ideas about a fire without ever experiencing the warmth of the flame or basking in the radiant light of its burning.