Madeleine Bunting is having a go at the new atheists and their 'inner glow of complete certainty'. OK, part of the way with that. But here she makes life easy for herself:
[Karen] Armstrong and [John] Gray converge again on where they pinpoint the key mistake. Belief came to be understood in western Christianity as a proposition at which you arrive intellectually, but Armstrong argues that this has been a profound misunderstanding that, in recent decades, has also infected other faiths. What "belief" used to mean, and still does in some traditions, is the idea of "love", "commitment", "loyalty": saying you believe in Jesus or God or Allah is a statement of commitment. Faith is not supposed to be about signing up to a set of propositions but practising a set of principles. Faith is something you do, and you learn by practice not by studying a manual, argues Armstrong.
If it's not about conclusions reached intellectually, then so be it; but be it in that case definitively so, not merely during the time you take to say it. Bunting wants that it's about love, commitment and loyalty, but she also wants that to argue as if it were about intellectual reasoning is a profound misunderstanding. She goes on to quote approvingly Armstrong's claim that 'Certain forms of knowledge [my emphasis] only come with practice'. Love, commitment and loyalty are not to be sneezed at but they don't in themselves validate what they attach themselves to. Love can be of a person who betrays you, commitment can be to a rotten cause, and loyalty, to a false idea of national glory. Understanding and knowledge do not come automatically from any or all of these three states of being. You still need to think, still need reasoning to try to tell the better commitments from the worse ones.