Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Theism Deconstructed

< This was probably written some time in 2000 >

I am a religious naturalist who holds that classical theism cannot be proven rationally. At most, we can claim that the universe has some sort of causal origin.

We cannot know whether there was a unified originator. In fact, much of modern cosmology is heading to the conclusion that just as we now know there are many galaxies, there may also be many universes, perhaps an infinite number of them. If so, were all of them caused by the same unified cause? I think we can admit agnosticism regarding that question.

I would further argue that there is no reason to hold that the unified cause of this universe is a person or even a unified impersonal cause. Rather, I think science has identified a complex structure of causative forces that work together to produce everything in the universe. This causative structure could be called "god" but it is unlikely that it is conscious.

However, throughout human history, people have claimed to discover "spirits" or "gods" that speak to them and which guide them in their lives. Some of these claims are clearly self-serving, but others, such as Moses delivering Israel or Buddha teaching compassion, seem to possess a nobility deserving of careful attention from even skeptical persons.

Cutting to the chase more directly, I perceive two kinds of religious claims that are independent of each other. One is that there is cause of the universe that is divine and worthy of worship. The second claim is that a divine being or beings have guided human beings throughout history.

Can these two claims be joined into a single theological claim? The evolution of the universe prior to human existence seems to have only the barest hint of the potential of humankind. We don't know whether there are other planets with life on them, but the course of evolution on this planet has a character that is at the very least crucial to our own existence. This evolution from non-life to life to consciousness does form a remarkable trajectory if not outright purposefulness or design.

This implies that even among the non-living forces and components of the universe, there must have been some potential for life and humankind even from the earliest conceivable moments of this universe's evolution.

It is this potential and trajectory that I call sacred and divine. It is neither magic nor miracle, but it is still spectacular and extraordinary.

peace - Charley


Posted at 06:08 pm by charley63

 

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