I just posted a more in-depth article on the Prop 8 findings for the Milwaukee Examiner- California’s Proposition 8 is found unconstitutional by Judge Vaughn Walker.
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I have posted a new article for the Milwaukee Examiner titled “My faith (part VII) – Conclusion.
In this seven part series I have tried to cover as thoroughly as possible the primary influences to my spiritual path so that you can see where I have come from and, pill potentially, myocarditis to assist you to more easily see where I will be going with my writings. I have a wide variety of influences from civil rights and globalizisation to games and a visceral desire to takecharge of my spirituality.
In retrospect I am very thankful that my parents were not very religious. This has allowed to me have a very open mind about religion, dermatologist morality, and spirituality. I have not had the ‘benefit’ of being indoctrinated into one belief set so as to potentially blind me to learning of and from other spiritual paths. I have been very thankful for this freedom to choose my own path… more than you can probably imagine.
Associated and important labels
I think I can safely say that I am a sex positive soft agnostic deist with strong secular humanist tendencies as a member of a Unitarian Universalist and Free Thought Congregation. Below are some of these labels (and more) that I ascribe to myself in some fashion and my interpretation of them:
Deist: believing in a divine or supernatural creator of sorts, whether actively present or not.
Evolutionary Creationist: believing that if a divine or supernatural entity did create all of existence then evolution could very likely be its engine for life.
Logical: finding that having degrees in computer programming/networking and training as a reactor operator/electronics technician in the military has made logic, science, and reason a heavy part of my spiritual needs. If something does not make sense, then it does not make sense…. or I may just not understand it yet. =)
Other Religious Interests: learning of Yoga and Buddhism, which my wife teaches and knows of, is an interesting path. Paganism/Wicca have been quite interesting to read about, as well the history of Christianity and of the Bible.
Secular Humanist: believing, very strongly, in the separation of church and state, and the inherent strength and necessity for humanity to take charge of saving itself for no one or nothing else can. We are in charge of our destiny and and we alone have the choice to do good or evil in this world, which is the mixed blessing of free will. The absolute freedom to make that choice – to do good or to do evil – can be overwhelming and powerful, almost too much for some to deal with. To some the path to the dark-side can seem the easiest to follow, even though the ramifications are not pretty..
Sex Positivist: believing that our sexuality is a very natural part of our existence and there is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of. Our sexuality is a beautiful thing that allows us to grow closer together and to celebrate our humanity, and possibly even our faith.
Skeptic: skeptical of the possible existence of a divine being, but the possibility of the big bang and our self-awareness gives me great pause and reason to believe otherwise.
Without evidence in the supernatural I find it hard to believe or consider it. Believe me, I love fantasy, science fiction and the supernatural. I love playing Dungeons and Dragons and watching sci-fi and fantasy movies, and nothing would give me a greater sense of awe and wonder than if any of that was just a tiny bit true.
Soft Agnostic: acknowledging that their may be a divine creator but are skeptical of the possibility barring proof, but I am still comfortable in my assumption that there is one and working forward, in some manner, from there. The creator might be on his 7th day of rest which may be several hundred million years long, so it is in our best interest to work together to make things happen instead of waiting on some deity (or his minions) to do it for us. If ‘he’ exists then ‘he’ has faith in us to do the right thing, so perhaps we should have the strength to try to prove ‘his’ faith correct.
I hope this helps to give you some perspective on my spiritual path. I am still learning and I am still growing in my path. I hope that I do not ever stop for I wish to always be a student.
I have posted a new article for the Milwaukee Examiner titled “My faith (part VI) – The influence of Unitarian Universalism, denture Free Thought, cheap and the ULC.
Unitarian Universalism (UU)
Assuming you believe in a creator at all, cost we Unitarian Universalists believe that there is only one creator regardless of your polytheistic or monotheistic leanings. We are all praying to the same entity called by different names.
Unitarian Universalism is a non-dogmatic faith that has but one small set of principles with which to pursue your spiritual or aspiritual journey. Outside of that, where you go and what you believe is up to you. We gather together reveling in the different paths that we walk and look forward to learning something from each other. My congregation at the Free Congregation has those of the Buddhist, Zen, humanist, secularist, atheist, Christian, deist, naturalist, and others as well as a token Republican about.
An important tradition in the UU churches is lay led “worship” or discussion within congregations led by the lay person, and this is powerful and empowering tradition that invites congregational wide discourse and participation on topics via our individual (a)spiritual journeys.
Many UU’s are active in the various civil rights movements from gay rights to opposing war actions. A UU minister was the first to hold a legally recognized same-sex marriage. These are all reasons why Unitarian Universalism is important to me and my faith.
Free Thought (German)
In coming to the Free Congregation I knew they were a Unitarian Universalist congregation, but I did not know that they were a German Free Thought congregation as well. I had never even heard of the movement until I started to go there.
The German Free Thought movement, which was crushed in the mid 1800’s in Germany by the Catholic church, promoted critical thought and analysis of spiritual matters as well as relishing its debate and discussion. They value introspection and the individual journey that each person travels while basing individual beliefs on reason, evidence, and logic – dismissing the supernatural for there is no evidence or proof of its existence. Free Thought is a non-dogmatic and more secular and humanist approach to religion or spirituality. The Secular and Humanist movements do find some of their roots in the Free Thought movements.
The key points for me about the Free Thought movement requires evidence based reasoning verses the deciding issues on dogmatic religious stances that are counter to facts and the interests of humanity. The logic and the separation of secular and religious matters are exactly what the doctor ordered.
Universal Life Church (ULC)
Being ordained as minister of the non-denominational Universal Life Church is more of an affirmation of me taking charge of my faith and spirituality. No one can tell me what to believe, because I am responsible for my journey and beliefs. I am more than happy discuss and consider other view points and ideas. I am minister of my own faith and some may choose to listen, and perhaps there might be something to learn from each other. The ULC’s motto ‘Do only that which is right.’ is very appropriate, though highly subjective, for making a difference in this world.
I have posted a new article for the Milwaukee Examiner titled “My faith (part V) – The Influence of Micronationalism and Esperanto.
Micronationalism and Esperanto are both apart of the civil activism facet of my faith. Micronationalism reinforced my political needs as well as fostering thoughts of globalization. Esperanto had a similar effect as well providing a mechanism for bringing the world together and breaking down borders.
In seeing flaws in our current system of government, troche especially in light of our gay rights (as well as other civil rights) failings at the hands of conservative religion, I wanted to see if I can be a part of making changes and practice politics myself. Years ago while I was working in a call center I remember a web article the mentioning of something called a micronation.
I started to research micronations and in the end I choose the Republic of Talossa to be my safe vehicle of political practice. I found most micronations were very small and unestablished, and either a monarchy or had a state assumed/sponsored religion, neither of which were at all appealing to me or my sense of justice and equality. The Republic of Talossa had none of these failings and even has its own constructed language to boot. The Republic was a thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening experience with a lot of great people there. I learned a lot about the political process and debating from my experience with them.
In working and thinking in micronational terms I also considered things that we could institute micronationally, or even within the United States (or globally), that would make our lives so much simpler if they were applied. Possibilities such as the International Fixed Calender, the 24 hour clock, decimal time, and the metric system were things I thought about and proposed. With all of this, what was important to me is making our lives and or world a better place; not just for us Americans, but on a global scale.
The WSA brought me to Esperanto, since their Passport and other documents are also in Esperanto. I had never heard of the language before that point, but in having researched it quite a bit, its goals are very compatible with my faith and desires in wanting to bring down borders and set people free. I have even written extensively about Esperanto on my BLog. Esperanto is comparatively a simple language to learn and it is a wonderful thing to help bring the world together and to easily break-down the language barrier. It is a constructed language made to be easy to learn and speak, lacking almost all of the failings of natural languages. It can be learned in a few hard months of dedicated learning.
The Baha’i Faith has taken Esperanto up in earnest to help to spread its word, and there is a growing community within the Unitarian Universalists to work with it as well. The Roman Catholic Church publishes and speaks in Esperanto and has for quite a while.
I have posted a new article for the Milwaukee Examiner titled “My faith (part IV) – The influence of civil rights and globalization.
The issue that was the formative impetus for my exploration into my spiritual and, cure by extension, try my political beliefs was the gay rights movement, and which I have supported for a long time, although not always vocally or even through my BLog. Researching this issue has shown me how intertwined religion and politics are and what a detriment conservative or fundamentalist religions can be to civil rights and social progress.
What does civil rights and globalization have to do with my spirituality you might be asking? Well, in seeing the tie between religion and politics I have civil activism as an inherent part of my spiritual beliefs, which tend to be more secular in nature. I want to keep the veil of separation of church and state in tact so as to protect those who have different spiritual or aspiritual beliefs than mainstream society, and I also want to protect our inalienable civil rights – which I also see as a spiritual issue, because it is a matter of caring for man-kind’s free will and well being. For me, serving others by setting them free from religious and political oppression can be the most rewarding and spiritual of actions.
This gay rights issue had me look into and be interested in civil rights and then the effects that conservative religion has upon them. I have written at length about gay rights on my BLog. This also brought me to Thomas Jefferson, who was the primary hand of the Declaration of Independence, and strong believer in the separation of church and state. Jefferson, a self-proclaimed deist, created, what is deemed the Jefferson Bible, which is the the life and morality of Jesus Christ with all of the supernatural stuff taken out. I found this an intriguing action for one of our most influential founding fathers.
This research also brought me to the issues of polygamy and polyamory too, which are fascinating issues to research. They are also directly relevant to gay rights movement in that they are fundamentally the same issue with different casing. All three of these topics of gay rights, polygamy, polyamory, and even prostitution fall under the category of adult consensual crimes. I have also written at length about prostitution on my BLog. The book “Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do: The Absurdity Of Consensual Crimes In Free Society covers the consensual crime topic with zeal and thoroughness.
What is the limiting factor to all of these civil rights movements? The conservative religions that have a stranglehold on the moral compass of our socio-cultural values. Yes, they do think that they are doing what is right, but they are causing severe damage to our civil and inalienable rights by holding us to antiquated dogma without regard to the damage caused to our humanity.
In thinking about making the world a better place for all I have come to appreciate and support globalization. The world is getting smaller day by day, especially with the Internet pulling borders down and allowing people to communicate across international and cultural borders. The European Union and the United Nations are two active national and political aggregating organizations, which, to me, are the stepping stones to a world government. With these possibilities in mind it is even more important to think globally and work towards freedom for all so that none are oppressed or live in fear. We Americans can take for granted the incredible amount of freedom and safety we have here that many in the world do not have, but duly deserve.
With increasing levels of globalization there is the responsibility to protect the civil and religious rights of all humans on the planet and in light of the still remaining communist, fundamentally religious, and tyrannical states out there crushing civil and religious freedoms, this is even more important to work for. Countries such as Iran, Cuba, China, and Belarus are great examples of countries who trample the civil and/or religious rights of their citizens. Control of their people and maintaining power is what is important to them and not the welfare of their citizens.
My research on globalization had me happen upon an non-governmental organization (NGO) called the World Service Authority (WSA), which lobbies for a freedom loving world government based off of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (UDHR @ Wikipedia). The WSA was started by an America soldier named Garry Davis in 1954 following World War II. He renounced his US citizenship in 1948 and became a stateless human, taking charge of his personal sovereignty. The WSA, based in the District of Columbia, is the fruits of his effort for global freedom.
Think globally. Act locally.
I have posted a new article for the Milwaukee Examiner titled “My faith (part III) – The influence of Dungeons and Dragons.
I know some people will roll their eyes at this, pharm but role playing games have been very influential on my spiritual growth. I see some peoples’ hackles being raised at this and having flashbacks to the era of D&D hate’n in the 80’s, but Dungeons and Dragons has helped in forming my spiritual beliefs. I am sure that this is not going to be in the manner that some of you might be thinking, so please, at least try to keep your snickering and/or abject terror for the end. =)
Theism and Philosophy
Dungeons and Dragons has listed the historical or mythological pantheons of the cultures of the world from Egyptian, Greek, Norse, Celtic, to Chinese and even Indian, as well as some of their belief systems. This has exposed me to polytheism and to religious belief systems that are very different from our modern day Christianity.
I have also participated in philosophical discussions about how evils, as we define them, can be performed by a well meaning and ‘good’ society. It also helped me to see that ‘evil’ can be very relative to your society and upbringing. What is evil for one society may be normal or acceptable in another (i.e. aboriginal cannibalism). This has also had me question the very meaning of good and evil, and right and wrong, and what they really mean in such subjective and relative terms.
There was also a passage in novel from the Dark Elf series by R.A. Salvatore that stuck with me. The main character, Drizzt, who is a good-hearted dark elf coming from a society of well known evil elves worshiping a female demonic deity. He disavowed religion and the gods due to the evil he has seen that their worship has wrought with his people. Drizzt met a kind and wise woodsman who said (paraphrased from memory) that the name of the gods are just specific labels for the beliefs in peoples’ hearts. Their labels and tenets are not commandments for their faithful to follow, because the faithful have already chosen the label that is true to them.
The trick is to find the right label for what is true for you, then you will not be following a deity’s dictates, but you will be living your life with a label for your belief system and you will know when you have like-minded people about when they have the same or very similar label.
The thought that you have to find the name for your spiritual label, even one that might be be counter to the one that your society subscribes to, was a rather mind blowing concept for me when coming from the perspective of our definitely monotheistic Christian culture.
The Faltering Path
Another thing that I have pulled from Dungeons and Dragons is that even people within the same religion may not agree on what ‘their’ religion means or what is right or wrong within the dictates and tenants set forth. One person’s interpretation can be wildly different than another’s.
There is always the literary archetype of the pious cleric, priest, or leader of the faith going in the wrong direction to get things done, but for the right reasons – shifting from ‘means justifies the ends’ to ‘the ends justifies the means’ which can have serious ramifications for the individual, their faith, and for the public at large, where they often losing sight of what their faith is about in the process.
I have posted a new article for the Milwaukee Examiner titled “My faith (part II) – The influence of a ‘A Chosen Faith’”
In the book titled ‘A Chosen Faith: an Introduction to Unitarian Universalism‘ the authors describe something that resonated very strongly with me. They described all of humanity as being inside a cathedral where each person had their own window which was unique to themselves. Some windows were large or small, viagra approved some were dirty or clean, about it some were colored, help or thin or thick; some were circular, square or of other shapes, or clear or opaque; and some were decorated and some were stark. Each person’s window was unique to them and through these windows shines the light of universal truth like the sun at full day light.
Some people get more light and some people get less light. Some people have the full brilliance of the light and some people are in the shadows, but in all cases their individual windows modify how they see that light. A person could be in a place with the light of truth shining directly on them but have a basically opaque window and only have the benefit a modicum of the universal truth even though it shining directly at them. Some people have completely clear windows and are but in the shadow of the light though they are soaking in as much as they can with what little they see. Many, many people have strangely shaped and colored windows so that they receive a filtered and/or warped light of truth. Each persons exposure is different and it is reflected in their personal journey and understanding of their faith and the universal truths.
For me this really spoke to how we are all human and that each person’s spiritual beliefs are unique, and that there is something to learn from all people, because we never really know what our ‘window’ looks like. We may think we have seen the full light of truth, but we really cannot know for sure. Perhaps arrogance and pride will blind us, or perhaps self-doubt and fear will cow us. We have no way of really knowing one way or the other. We are all in the same boat.
The trick is to remain open to be able to receive our lessons as they come and to learn from them what you can. When you stop being open – when you stop being the student – then you stop growing and learning, and close yourself from the shards of truth wandering around in all of us, and in all situations that life presents us.
Yesterday, find the prominent Unitarian Universalist minister and writer, Rev. Forrest Church, has passed away from esophageal cancer. Rev. Church was the Minister of Public Theology at the Church Of All Souls in New York City. He was a prolific author of 25 books such as ‘A Chosen Faith – an introduction to Unitarian Universalism‘ and ‘So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle Over Church and State‘. This is a sad day for many Unitarian Universalists, since he was such a clear voice for liberal religion and separation of church and state.
I have 3 of his books, both of the above mentioned books + one other, one of which I still have to read. Many of his sermons dating back to as far as 1995 are posted on the All Souls site. Forrest Church’s website has a listing of his books and more of his other writings.
I have posted a new article for the Milwaukee Examiner titled “My faith (part I) – The beginning”
I was brought up Methodist, caries but my family stopped going to church when I was probably 8 or 9. Of course, like any child I was happy about not going anymore, because I had better things to do, like play with my G.I. Joes or watch TV, than to sit still while listening to adults talk about stuff that was not interesting or fun. At home we never talked about religion. It was not a topic we avoided or anything, but it was just not a topic of real interest for our family.
For most of my life religion has had not much of a place in my daily life or thoughts. It was not that I actively avoided it, but I just never had any interest or immediate need for it. When I was in the navy on the USS Enterprise and in the middle of the Mediterranean I went to a few non-denominational services, but that was about the extent of my interest in religion until I was in my very, very early 30’s (being that I’m 36 now).
It was not until I became more interested in supporting gay rights in the last 6 or so years that I became interested in religion. The fundamentalist and uber-conservative religions being its most vocal opponents made studying Christianity more of a priority. Once I started to do that I started to question things such as morality, religion, sexuality, evolution, creation, marriage, God, faith, organized religion, our calendar and all sorts of other things. I also came to wonder what exactly it is that I believe about these sorts of things since I had never really thought about it before. I had the default Christian theological and socio-cultural values handed to me by virtue of being an American growing up in the southern Wisconsin. In thinking and reading about all of this I have come to find out that I had a lot of catching up to do.
Finding my way through a self inquisition of my personal beliefs has been a very educational and enlightening experience. Half of my journey has been figuring out what it is I think or believe, and the other half is finding the appropriate label for it. We, as humans, need labels for things, so we know where we stand in reference to others and so we know which group we are similar with and belong too. It is that ‘descriptive word to concept’ need as well as the baser need for tribal membership pushing me ahead. I have come up with the concepts of evolutionary creationism, Age-Day Creationism, and the International Fixed Calendar on my own and found out that someone else had already done the work for me. It was wonderful to know that I was not alone, or off my rocker, as I have many times thought.
In my search for understanding of my beliefs and the world in a moral and/or secular/theological manner I have found a home of like-minded individuals and of a theology that is amenable to my beliefs as I explore them. I have found that home in at Park Hall with the Free Congregation of Sauk County which is a Unitarian Universalist and the German Free Thought congregation.
I have posted a new article for the Milwaukee Examiner titled “Sacred Sexuality”
Sexuality is too often something that is thought of as sinful and something to be ashamed of. Sexual liberation is equated with perversion, youth health moral weakness, traumatologist or even in some places, a psychological illness. The United States, with its socio-cultural values deeply rooted in sex negative Western European Christianity, has a problem with us enjoying and embracing our sexuality, especially, and almost specifically, for non-procreative means. This sexual repression is the cause of much guilt, self doubt, as well violent sexual crimes, especially against women, since they are the supposedly the cause of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.
To those religions and spiritual movements who believe in the sacredness of sexuality you will find that they believe that our sexuality can be a tool of healing and spiritual enlightenment when used properly and with the right intentions. Embracing and enjoying our sexuality can be a spiritual and moving experience that allows love to prosper and healing to begin. Connecting with another human being in such an intimate way can foster great feelings of love, contentment, self-value, and confidence, as well as emotional stability. Those wonderful world altering sexual moments can be a powerful spiritual experience that can reinforce our faith with the creator and another person.
Sacred Sexuality in the Past
All of humanity was not historically always sex negative. If you look to the past at some non-Christian paths you will find that some other religions have found something divine or sacred in humanity’s sexuality. There was even a sacred sexual Christian movement as well.
In Biblical and pre-Biblical days in Egypt, Greece, and Mesopotamia, there were religious sects dedicated to Isis and Bast, Aphrodite, and Ishtar/Inanna and Asarte respectively (and others) that held sexuality sacred and whose temples had women and men that were what we refer to today as sacred prostitutes, even though that is arguably not the correct translation for their title and position. These sacred or temple prostitutes were priests or priestesses that were trained and specialized in sacred sexual religious rites, and the use of sexuality as a tool for healing and spiritual enlightenment. These sacred sexual priests and priestesses held a prestigious place in their societies for their knowledge and abilities. They revered sexuality as a method of healing, enlightenment, bonding and pleasure.
In early Christian times we had the Christian Gnostic movement, which was present in pre-Roman Emperor Constantine‘s conversion to Catholicism and pre-Saint Augustine Christianity (200’s A.D), and had a similar attitude towards sexuality as a sacred and visceral part of our faith. This path was lost when Catholicism was made the official religion of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine and they moved to stamp out all of the other Christian movements to solidify their position.
Modern Sacred Sexuality Movements
Gnosticism is a current, and very much unknown, sex positive Christian movement that concentrates on the Christian Gnostic Gospels of Thomas, Mary, and Philip which were found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945, These gospels mention the Bridal Chamber and its ability for man to transcend through our sexuality.
If you look outside modern Christianity there is also the Pagan/Wiccan paths which also hold sexuality as sacred and some sects do have sacred prostitutes as well. We also have the Tantric and Taoist movements who also revere sexuality in a very similar way. In todays sexually oppressive society you still have a few options to explore, grow, and heal spiritually via your sexuality.
In the past our sexuality was seen as thing of healing and enlightenment and as time passed and philosophical and religious movements went on, they have become more and more sex negative much to our detriment. Fortunately there are movements which have retained a sex positive mentality and spirituality. Shifting our thinking and socio-cultural norms to revere, embrace, and respect our sexuality instead of loathing it will only help us to solve some of our problems such as our high rates of divorce and violent sexual crimes, as well as to increase our spirituality.
For More Info See:
Sexuality and Christianity
- Historical Roots of Sexual Oppression
- Christian Sexual Morality: A House of Cards Built on Stoic Philosophies?
- Christianity and Sex (The Christian Digest)
Gnostic Bible (Nag Hammadi)
- Nag Hammadi (Wikipedia) or Nag Hammadi Library
- Gnostic Gospels (Wikipedia)
- Sexuality and the Sacred in Gnostic Literature
- Gnostic Christianity: The Sacrament of the Bridal Chamber
- Open Letter Gnostic Scholars
Sacred Sexuality or Prostitution
- Internet Sacred Text Archive: Sacred Sexuality
- Introduction to the New Holy Erotics
- Sacred Prostitution (Wikipedia)
- Sacred Prostitutes (Johanna Stuckey)
- The Whores of Babylon via the Temple of Ishtar
I first heard about this in the UUA World magazine a while ago and I was really, thumb really, buy more about reeeaaallly excited about it. The United State’s sexual education for kids and adults has never been really good or really comprehensive and this is a wonderful and liberating step forward. The UUA‘s Our Whole Lives (OWL): Lifespan Sexuality Curricula spans from kindergarten to older adults.
My next article on for the Milwaukee Examiner as their Liberal Spiritual Examiner will be about sexuality so I will be mentioning the UUA‘s wonderful new curricula there.
I have posted a new article for the Milwaukee Examiner titled “Christianity’s Heaven/Hell model not conducive to altruism?”
For the purposes of this article I have ignored the fact that Christians are rewarded in the afterlife for good deeds and therefore there is technically a reward, visit web albeit spiritually. I am also choosing to ignore the fact that feeling good about doing a good deed is a reward in and of itself. I am choosing a definition of altruism that relies on an purely external and Earthly reward system to negate the existence of altruism in an individual’s action, however in the context of this article the former will be seen as a challenge to the existence of altruism in Christians.
If we take into account the above two arguments it would mean that only people who do not enjoy helping others and whose belief systems does not have a reward for good deeds would be technically capable of altruism – which, in both cases, potentially negates the possibility of altruism in Christianity and most Americans. These arguments might be a bit pedantic or annoyingly philosophical, but I am mentioning their place for completeness…. and now on to the article…
Christianity’s preaching potentially teaches the individual to be very self-serving and selfish – do good deeds so you can get into Heaven. Now, keep in mind that this is a really broad and sweeping generalization that most assuredly does not apply to all Christianity. It might not even apply to most, but this is just an observation on my part.
Some sermons go on about fire and brimstone and how being sinful will send you to eternal immolation in Hell, or that being virtuous will send you to the white and pearly gates of paradise in Heaven. Christianity seems more concerned with keeping itself from Hell and trying to get itself into Heaven than purely teaching that doing a good deeds with a level of self-sacrifice because it is the right thing to do.
Some people do the right thing just because they are trying get past the big pearly gates by ‘attempting to keep score’ and not because it is necessarily what they really want to do, potentially fostering a begrudging insincerity in their actions, or even self-contempt, guilt, or feeling a lack of worth at not being able to live up to Christianity’s idealistic and virtuous lessons. This guilt driven methodology is counterproductive to the individual and society in general, because it is driven by a negative by emotions – guilt and fear.
Does fear as a motivator get results, especially in the short term? Yes it does, but it is not necessarily one that can continue to get results without significant emotional and psychological breakdown, and is very, very hard to sustain in the long term due to a results in the forms that I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
The way that Christianity is sometimes taught puts its followers at odds with altruism, which I find an interesting paradox due to the virtuousness they espouse. Now, I am not saying that no Christians exhibit altruism, but it seems to me that Christianity’s preaching and motivational methodology being based on a punishment/reward system is not conducive to altruism being a cornerstone to its adherents’ primary internal motivations – gaining reward in the afterlife and preventing damnation is.
In some ways I think that the reason we do things is almost more important than the action itself. Now, I did say almost. If someone does a good thing then they could have done it because if they did not then they would be punished (later in Hell), or if they did it they would be rewarded later (in Heaven), or they did it because they wanted to and it was the right thing to do without consideration of potential positive or negative spiritual rewards. To me the later is the most pure and preferable form of altruism.
I do not want to necessarily say that Christianity and altruism are mutually exclusive, because I don’t believe they are, but I think the emphasis in teaching needs to shift to doing the right thing because it is the right thing, and not because you will be punished or rewarded with damnation or salvation. Such a shift might help to breed more tolerance and acceptance allowing us to potentially work more quickly through contentious civil rights issues such as same-sex marriage. Grass-roots movements as ‘random acts of kindness’ or ‘pay it forward’ are not punishment/reward based altruistic movements, and the action is its own reward are great examples of what could be done.
For more info see:
I have just posted a new article for the Milwaukee Examiner titled “Science as a method of faith affirmation or spirituality.”
Consider science as a method of pursuing spirituality or affirming your faith no matter what your path – Christian, read atheist, store or something else. I alluded to this idea in my previous article titled “Do we have options in the religion vs science debate?” by saying that:
Scientists of all sorts have the job of trying to understand the very things that the hand of the creator has created – geologists, illness biologists, and psychologists to geneticists and quantum physicists. For some, their scientific study and exploration can be an awe inspiring and faith affirming exercise.
Science and religion are both pursuing truth – science in the physical world and religion in the metaphysical world. What more glorious and spiritual a journey can there be than to explore and understand the mechanics behind the wide variety of our seemingly miraculous existence? In exploring and understanding how living creatures and matter work you can find an awe and reverence for all of existence due to the inherent complexity and the delicate balance that is required to make life possible: atoms, molecules, elements, proteins, DNA, RNA, synapses, electrical impulses, muscles, and nerves, to temperature, gravity, atmosphere, crystal lattice structures, strong and weak nuclear forces, chemical reactions, inverse square law, quantum entanglement, fusion and fission, and and the list goes on an on.
As science understands more and more about how everything works, it makes our existence even more implausible and so very small as the known universe gets larger and larger – in the billions of billions of universes and trillions of trillions of planets. New galaxies and cosmological discoveries are found each week as our technology allows us to peer farther and farther into deepest reaches of the cosmos putting the possibility that life existing on any single plant as being statistically improbable due to inappropriate conditions to support life as we know it. Perhaps all of this is helpful in reaffirming the belief in humanity’s favor with the creator, or perhaps reaffirming the glory of evolutionary happenstance and serendipity as the conditions happen to be just right for life as we know it to form on this insignificant little planet called Earth.
A very knowledgeable man, Dr. Hugh Ross, talks in a Youtube video series about Creation as a Science. I do not happen to agree with almost everything he says (at least within the first 3 parts), but the evidence that he points out is exactly what I am talking about – how our knowledge of science and our existence is such an seemingly miraculous thing that it can be affirming of our faith. Many of these numerous reasons are pointed out in the his videos and on their his organization’s website: Reasons.org – a trinitarian faith-science organization.
Andrew Kerr, a speaker at my church, takes a more philosophical approach in two of his speeches to my congregation in 2007: Atheism as a Religious Affirmation and Cosmos: Suggestions for an Atheistic Religion. I have found his words an inspirational and thought provoking approach to possibility of spiritual atheism through science and the physical world.
Both point to, albeit from widely different angles, a similar idea – that the reverence brought on by the wonder and understanding of our what things all had to fall into place to make humanity’s existence possible can be a faith affirming or spiritual experience no matter what you spiritual or a-spiritual beliefs are.
I have published my first article for the Milwaukee Examiner titled “Do we have options in the religion verses science debate?“.
If a single entity created the stars, thumb planets, neurosurgeon time, melanoma space, and life itself then science is the very study of that wonderful and potentially divine creation. Scientists of all sorts have the job of trying to understand the very things that the hand of the creator has created – from geologists, biologists, and psychologists to geneticists and quantum physicists. For some their scientific study and exploration can be an awe inspiring and faith affirming exercise. For others it can be a source and angst and internal conflict.
If science is the study of all that has been divinely created then why is it all too often at odds with religion? Throughout history scientists and visionaries such a s Copernicus and Galileo were afraid to speak their ‘heretical’ idea of (heliocentrism vs the predominant and church accepted geocentrism) or were even demanded to recant their views under threat of being burned at the stake. Even today’s modern evolutionary and geological scientist are under a similar, though less harmful, assault by a religious front.
Take evolution vs creation as a specific example of a modern science vs religion battleground. Evolutionary sciences has modern humanity (homo sapiens) as being approximately 40 thousand years old and the earth at several billion years old, while the counter religious movements have both at less than 10 thousand years. This is quite the significant disparity in age between the two views, and, in this enlightened age there is still much bitterness and vehemence in arguments against each other.
I wonder why this has to be. Why are some religions so afraid of scientific advancement and the furthering our understanding of this wonderful and potentially divine creation that has given us the miracle of life and free will?
For me, such bridge theories such as evolutionary creationism and biblical to geological correlations via Day-Age Creationism help to make sense of things and to bring science and religion together in a non-aggressive and logical manner.
Why could not the creator have created all of life with evolution as its impetus for change and existence? What exactly is a biblical day to a potentially omniscient and omnipotent creator who created time and matter itself? Does the creator live by our Earth centric view of time at 24 hours per day, which may be horribly arrogant of and presumptuous of us, or does this entity who created time itself have a more fluid day in the billions or hundreds of millions of years as geological evidence would have us believe? This is for you to decide with evolutionary creationism and Age-Day Creationism as a good middle ground.
- Topical Wikipedia Links
- Beliefs in the Earth’s age by old Earth creationists, young Earth creationists, and scientists (Religions Tolerance)
- Creation “Days”, The – Literal or Figurative? (Christian Courier)
- Galileo and the Catholic Church (Coburg Atheist)
- Creation Time Line (Reasons to Believe)
- If Science is Right, is Genesis Wrong? (Loren and Deborah Haarsma, 1999)
What exactly does that mean? Well, page I have started writing articles for the Milwaukee Examiner as their Liberal Spirituality Examiner. At least to me, I find it strange and surprising that they accepted. I have a lot of opinions that not everyone will agree with, and it will be good to have a more visible outlet.
I have 2 problems in writing for them. The first being it takes me forever to write stuff, and the second being that keeping my articles to their recommended 500 words or less. If you have seen some of my posts on this BLog then you know that only a minority are that small. I can definitely write bigger posts with no restrictions there, but 500 or less is what they suggest for readability’s sake. Other than that I think that this is going to be a great experience for me and to get feedback from others.