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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Cogito ergo sum

I'm not sure that I've ever written about religion, directly, because it seems largely irrelevant.

I'm a Southern Baptist, or, according to some, a deist. The belief I have is sort of a grand unified theory. It's not particularly original, although not many people comprehend it.

Simply, God created the universe and all its logic and such. To a layman the stars and planets and life itself seem to be a huge accomplishment, but the nature of the universe itself is the real wonder. Even if it were completely empty, it would be impressive.

From various sources we have various creeds. Honor your parents, don't eat pigs, slaughter the apostates, suffer not a witch to live. Thou shalt not kill.

Are they truly God's laws? It doesn't matter.

Any of God's commands should be deducible, if his intentions were known. Solipsism and natural rights have managed to reproduce the Golden Rule and several of the commandments. The discovery of animalcules shed light on the food prohibitions. Burkean conservatism, evolutionary psychology and studies of insect sperm can show us much of the reasoning behind the Torah.

So why were we given such conflicting advice from the bronze age's equivalent of the crazy homeless men on the corner?

A stopgap solution. An arrow in the right direction. Maybe.

This line of reasoning is dangerous, of course. It's just as likely to lead philosophers into the gates of hell as to enlightenment. We can eat pork because we have antibiotics and meat thermometers.. by analogy, we can also engage in homosexual orgies, since we have antibiotics and condoms. But that reasoning is flawed. It's just another example of an incorrect assumption (that we understand God's intention) leading to doom.

So why do I seek knowledge? It didn't work out too well for Adam. Aren't we better off with childlike faith, since it will only give us the same results as this wacky deist philosophy?

No. Many Christians seem to think that their intentions are all that matter, and that laziness is fine. For those incapable of the abstract thought here, that's fine. For those of us who can think, it's unacceptable not to do so.

The reason is that simple, childlike faith in an arrogant assumption is blasphemy. It's presumption. It's as bad as total ignorance. And, if you're capable of seeing your error but refuse to correct it because "childlike faith" is easier, then what's the difference between you and those [Mormons/Jehovah's Witness/Druze Moslems]?

Do we excuse Bloody Mary Tudor because she came unto the Lord as a child? She was trying her damnedest to save the souls of her subjects, wasn't she?

Oh, but forcing someone to convert is wrong because they're not truly saved, and anyway the difference between Catholicism and Anglicism doesn't matter.

I know that, and you know that, but apparently she didn't know that. She acted on faith but without putting forth the effort to understand what she was supposed to have faith in. Failure to think is not an excuse.

So we follow this trail further. We find that our secular ruminations on political theory may serve God's will after all.

If God's laws can be discovered through logic, through observation of nature and man, without relying on "supernatural" agency, then those laws are applicable to everyone. Atheists, Methodists and Shintos can be convinced to follow them. They can become a minimalist but universal code of conduct.

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