Rational Religion

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tuppennyprofet - at - aol - dot - com
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What I believe.


†This foreword is intended to both warn and interest the reader, depending upon his own beliefs or her convictions.


You will possibly save yourself a great deal of aggravation by identifying me as a heathen, a blasphemer, a kook, and reading no further.† You are hereby warned!†† If you come across an idea which disturbs your concept of the Universe I am not even obligated to be sorry.


If you are more open to my conclusions you may find yourself seduced into exploring further, only to discover that what I have to say is too mundane or superficial to hold your interest.† To you I apologize for not being smarter, or a better scholar, or a more logical thinker.


I have no illusions that my out-of-the-mainstream musings will attract any great groundswell of New Believers to start construction of a Better World.


These essays are intended for those (few) souls who have come at least part-way down the same intellectual and spiritual path as I, but who have not yet formulated a coherent system of belief which is broad and deep enough to see them through the confusions, contradictions, trials and tragedies which the process of living until they die has in store for them.†


In this vein, it will probably appeal most to young people whose natural questioning of The Things They Have Been Taught has revealed that Truth is elusive and Authority is often blind and more than occasionally stupid; but who are still searching for something to replace what their questions have destroyed.†


It may even have value to some of those questioners who have already decided that - because so much of what they were Led to Believe is patently untrue - Belief, itself has no currency.† And therefore one might as well submerge oneself in sensation and self-gratification and slide on out of a purposeless Universe on a cushion of mind-numbing chemicals.


Like all my species, I am woefully ignorant.† I donít really know much.† But even thus, I am better informed than all those people who (with a nod to Sam Clemens) know a hell of a lot that ainít so.


I am well into my Eighth decade.†† I have had a small cancer and a slight heart attack, both of which required major surgeries, 40-odd years apart.


At the moment I seem to be relatively healthy, for my age; but because of my age I am aware that this situation cannot obtain for a great many more years so I am in the process of preparing myself to die.


I have spent this lifetime thinking about what I believe, and coaxing it into a coherent pattern.† In the process I have learned a few things and come to a few conclusions which seem to fit the life I have lived and might even carry me successfully through the end of it.†††


Here are some of them:


I believe that the human race is most provably a gene pool of vigorous, highly adaptable mammals who have evolved an alarmingly complex central nervous system which may or may not have a great deal of long-term survival value.


I believe that, because we are members of the human race, everything that we think, and learn, and do is from a human viewpoint and for human reasons. (Protagoras was right.)†


I believe that, since we are inextricably trapped in our humanity, and whether we like it or not a part of the gene pool, it behooves us to take some responsibility for the health and continued well-being of our species.


I believe that, since we are demonstrably very closely related to - and dependent upon - the millions of other gene pools on the small planet we must share, it is logical to treat our relatives with respect and as much kindness as possible, given the necessity of feeding, sheltering and protecting ourselves.


I believe that, although an immortal human soul is most probably a megalomaniacal fiction, there is apparently an individual human spirit which is fed - variously - by aesthetics, the acquisition of knowledge, accomplishment, recognition, religious belief, the accumulation of property, the sheer recreations, occasional altruism, love, and - regrettably - aggression and the manipulation of power.


I believe there is such a thing as objective physical reality, and that - especially given the observational and measurement techniques developed in the last couple of hundred years - we can obtain some† fairly reassuring glimpses of it.


I believe that my individual grasp and understanding of that physical reality is so unique to my own central nervous system that it can only approximately - and imperfectly - be shared with any other person:† and theirs with me, or either of ours with any other intelligent creature.†


I believe that, although we can observe our own existence, and some portion of the matrix of the Universe in which we exist, there is no proof or logical way to demonstrate that any of it has any purpose.


I believe that there are, nevertheless, rational and ethical ways to behave, towards each other and the rest of the Universe.


If we do, indeed, exist, then here we are!


And we're all we've got, so we'd damn well better take care of it.†