Rather, “practice — ritual, meditation, a way of life —

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Senior Member
He points out that in many cases — for instance, “polytheism, Hinduism and Buddhism, Daoism and Shinto, many strands of Judaism and some Christian and Muslim traditions” — belief is of little or no importance. Rather, “practice — ritual, meditation, a way of life — is what counts.” http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/22/does-it-matter-whether-god-exists/
How to best interpret rather here?
Instead of is my bet out of its rather contradictionary multiple explanations of rather.
  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'Rather' here means 'Instead of belief'.
    The sentence is clearer as written, since it avoids the risk that 'belief' might become associated in the reader's mind with 'practice' and the other elements in the list.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    You don't want 'instead of'. That would mean that what follows should be not be done. But the sentence means that those things should be done.

    You might use 'instead'.
    Instead, “practice [..] is what counts." [= Practice is important.]
    This is a list of things that are included in 'practice': ritual, meditation, a way of life.

    Added: Here is a previous thread on the difference between rather and instead.
    Instead vs rather
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - British
    Pace Cagey, I don't agree that 'instead of' implies 'belief' should not be practised. The writer is not excluding anything.
    He is discussing what is most important. He says the most important element is not belief, but (instead) one of the other elements listed.
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