A Guest Heresy from my Friend Danny Coleman of Seattle
After having spent 35 years in religious circles (mostly Evangelical Christian, but also in recent years Buddhist and non-Evangelical Christian) and after having earned a Master's degree in Religion, studied and read and researched extensively, I've ultimately concluded that the most honest form of religious belief is agnosticism: to humbly say, "I don't know." Agnosticism doesn't require letting go of beliefs but it does mean holding those beliefs loosely, knowing they are merely beliefs--not facts; being cognizant about what is actual and what is speculative. A danger I've observed in nearly every religion is the tendency to treat beliefs as facts. From that error flows a tremendous amount of foolishness and harm.
Hmm...agnosticism as a not-knowing SEEKING for what is true, good, and just could be a wise way of being human. The caps on seeking is the key. Obviously, you have done a lot of sincere seeking, but 'agnosticism' as a life stance is dangerous and almost always harmful.
Usually agnosticism, not-knowing as a life stance, means not only not "KNOWING" the Ultimate Nature of Reality, but also a skepticism about anything except hard facts and for matter and energy:-(
It seems that a better way is to start with our day-to-day moral encounters and decisions. Even if humans don't or can't discern the ultimate nature of existence and the cosmos, every moment we live, we need to make moral decisions based upon what we think is true about existence.
Start with what is probably true: moral realism is true; humans have inherent worthless humans are morally responsible, human rights exist, compassion is far better than cruelty, generosity than selfishness, seeing one's nation as a humble ideal, not putting it FIRST, etc.
From that moral foundation, then one can make tentative, educated guesses as to ultimate questions. Check out Oxford professor Keith Ward's books such as The Big Questions in Science and Religion.
Thanks Daniel. Interesting thoughts.
I find that having a ground of "I do not know" for some very basic theological things like miracles, and afterlife, angels, demons, and salvation, Holy Writ, etc,
Liberates me to BELIEVE. I can dive much deeper into the undertow of belief, if I do not feel any compulsion to defend my belief or promote it as true to any one else.
The examples you give are worth defending and promoting and do not require a belief in God at all.
"humans have inherent worthless(sic) humans are morally responsible, human rights exist, compassion is far better than cruelty, generosity than selfishness, seeing one's nation as a humble ideal, not putting it FIRST, etc."
love, and respect. Peggy