The Bullet and the Foot: May 8, 2010
Quote of the Day
There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter. -- Ernest Hemingway
That Need for Something More
I just finished watching "The Atheism Tapes". All 6 episodes, over 3 hours, featuring some of the greatest minds of Theology, Science, Art, Philosophy. It was actually cutting room floor footage of interviews conducted for another project at the BBC, but they were so interesting the powers that be put them together as their own program.
I'd recommend them, but, I have peculiar taste in listening to old men contemplate existence. Or Non-existence. Kind of reminds me of being a kid and overhearing the grown-ups talk at the dinner table. But I digress...
Great minds at work tending to think alike, many cited Darwin's theory of Evolution as the great stepping stone at history that allowed a rational mind to contemplate a Universe without a creator.
But, with several of the interviews, the troubling question for many Atheists that Theists often asks is "and what are you guys offering to the average man?"
Disclosure. I am not an Atheist. Call me brain damaged, but I did have many a spiritual experience both as a child and as an adult. And contemplating the very improbability of my existence leads me to believe that there must be some order to the universe. And the delusion that I must somehow be special. You know, just like everyone else.
The question is, if Atheists really think they have a "truer" approach to divinity by leaving faith out of the equation, is it safe to say that religion ...
Nope... getting too high minded and technical. Let's try again.
Let us assume that for whatever reason, some Jesus/Mohammed/Sidharta like figure were to come down from on high and tell us that the truth and the light was in fact that there was no God. What would he/she/it propose as a foundation for whatever new religion...er...belief system. Something simple enough that a cave man could do it. Something that provides that meaning that Religion provides today.
And all of them were stumped.
And it occurred to me that the answer to that question would be as profound as Darwin's discovery of Evolution.
Now, while I am a Theist at heart, I do feel that many denominations in this day and age are glorified scams. And I'm fairly skeptical of any system that proposes that God likes any of his children more than others, and will grant them favors if they pray hard enough, or fly airplanes into buildings, or whatnot.
So my own interest is in setting up some alternative system of faith that would be considered every bit as legitimate as anything else people attend on the Sabbath. Something that could go on census forms, go on military dog tags, maybe even produce a lucrative bumper-sticker and book sales empire around.
But, like the many great thinkers before me have pointed out, to do all that I must first offer something. Some new way of thinking that provides the discontented with the status quo something new to adopt.
So here goes...
My new religion will be based on the idea that the seat of wisdom is understanding the rules of the Universe. Through seeing, observing, guessing, and even being wrong, we get closer to understanding how things work. And for some practitioners, the pursuit is to get closer to the mind of God. For others, it's to show that far more important than understanding the impossible is to appreciate the practical.
And in all things, the ultimate value of a theory comes down to: "Does it work in a provable way?" Not to discount the impossible, or lock God away in a vault. But to simply clear the cobwebs out of conversation and focus us all on the real problems we have at hand. God, or no God, (or some incorporeal entity that defies labeling) there should be no argument that certain actions on the part of individuals benefit society. Certain actions damage society. A healthy adult has to learn to strike a balance between what benefits him or herself, what benefits his or her family, and what benefits his or her society, and humanity as a whole, the ecosystem, and finally the workings of the Universe.
It is a balancing act. It can't be taught. But it can be practiced. And it can be practiced in many different, equally valid ways.
At the same stroke, there are behaviors that benefit few, if any, at the expense of many. Those behaviors disrupt polite society, and those that engage in them need to be excluded until they agree to "get with the plan."
Obviously, this is just a high level summary. And yes, this approach has been attempted before. I've attended a few meetings with Ecumenical and Unitarians.
My issue with them is that they are not normative in any way. They provide the convenient social functions, but they don't provide, ugh... there's a word on the tip of my tongue... substance. It's like buying a house with no floor plan. Someone looking for a faith needs a map. Even at tentative one that will likely be altered as they grow and develop.
So my goal is to create a religion of healthy skepticism. Take a cross section of beliefs and traditions from faiths that have come before. Analyze what works, and what doesn't. And synthesize from that analysis an amalgam of what humans are looking for in Faith.
Just the parts you need, without any of the extra stuff.
So I guess, what I'm really looking to design is the VW bug of religions. Not thrilling. But, if you judge it by sales, perhaps the greatest of it's kind ever made. It's not designed to replace anyone's current belief. It's just there for a part of the market that's never been served properly before.