Saturday, October 2, 2010

Where I Stand....for now

So, I'm in a philosophical mood...possibly due to the fact that I'm taking two philosophy classes at the moment. I've been musing over where I stand on the God question. Well knowing that these things are quite fluid, constructed and in constant evolution I've been musing over and re-vamping or perhaps an extending my stance as an agnostic. This has taken me a few years to get to and I'm quite sure it will change again but here it is...

I am a humanistic agnostic deist.

You may be thinking, wtf Jordan? I shall explain.

First let's get some definitions down...

Someone who neither believes or denies the existence of a God/gods/transcendent being etc.

Someone who believes there is a creative and organizational power/being in the universe. This being is not a personal god nor does it intervene in the affairs of humans. It simply created the world and keeps it running. This idea came out of the Enlightenment and was actually popular with many American founding fathers. The best analogy of this belief is that God is a clockmaker. A clockmaker builds the clock, winds it and lets tick with no other interference. The key here for us is that this Being/Force is impersonal. It takes, or possibly cannot take, any interest in human affairs ie. no prayer listening/granting, no miracles, no interjection at all such as commandments, salvation, redemption, wrath etc.

This is someone who isn't necessarily religious, but can be. Regardless of this persons belief in God etc. their focus is on human affairs and their own life. This person is primarily more concerned with the advancement and sustaining of themselves and society. A more specific definition of the humanist I'm speaking of would be a secular humanist, one who removes religious beliefs from their humanistic philosophy to life and society. Think, separation of church and state.


For quite a while the term agnostic is the title I've given myself. However, it needs to be nuanced after a class the other day when my professor corrected what I viewed as agnosticism. His definition was an agnostic who is neutral, or does not have an opinion as to whether or not there is a God. I knew instantly that this general definition no longer applied to me and needed to be nuanced.

I do have an opinion, however. My agnosticism is based on the idea that there is ample evidence to argue both for and against the existence of God(s) But we, as humans, have not the capacity or ability to answer this question definitively.  Therefore, without enough proof to say either yae or nay I cannot fall strongly on either side. This is my agnosticism.

However, I do vehemently reject the notion that there is a personal God. This is where the deism comes in. I shall use the most obvious example of why I believe there must be some sort of working force, evolution. It seems nonsensical to me to suppose that the process of evolution didn't start somewhere, somehow. This, for me, is based on probability. The rules and the patterns of the universe from which evolution is based are indeed mathematical in nature, most obviously with probability and physics. Bringing in agnosticism again, I simply cannot claim for sure that some force did not put those rules and patterns into motion. I don't believe for one second that a being created this for the pleasure and enjoyment of either it or human kind. If there is such a creator force humankind has personified it and created it in OUR image, not the other way around. The evolutionary history of religion bares witness to this personification rule. This is my deism.

Thus, with the ideas that we cannot prove or disprove the idea of a transcendent force and with the belief that such a force, if its exists, is most certainly not a personal one but rather a deistic distant administrator (the clockmaker or the auto pilot) our focus must then be humanistic. My humanism lies in the idea that this being/force is indeed impersonal and any personification of it is the work of humankind based upon our innate (probably evolutionary) spiritual needs. Indeed, for some reason evolution has not seen fit to rid our species of the need for spirituality, and I believe this is key. I do not reject religion, I reject it as transcendent and see it rather as earthly, as human, as humanistic. My view is that we, humankind, are responsible and in charge our own personal and societal destinies. While not denying the need for the emotional and mental advantages of personal religions these can and are found among earthly things. However, we must stop comparing our earthly spiritualism to a transcendent one. Indeed, a fantasy is always much more sweet than the truth. However, the truth doesn't have to be bad. This is a matter of perspective. I find my own spirituality in a number of ways in things earthly, in things human, in things that are indeed temporal. Just because something is temporal does not make it inferior. This is my humanism.

You ask for meaning in life? Our meaning in natural, rooted in evolution and the rules and patterns of the universe. Our evolutionary meaning is the continuance of our species and looking to God for help will not, and has not, solved our earthly problems. I urge to, as Dan Dennett writes, to break the spell. Find your own spirituality and put it to work in your life and the lives of others.

I am a humanistic agnostic deist...for now.

JK right away I found this. Random eh? It pretty much explains where I stand except for the humanistic part. Supposedly I could fit somewhere in the area of an agnostic thesist and an agnostic creationist. Truly, labels mean nothing and cannot ever encompass the complexity of the human life and thoughts.