"May Adonai bless you and protect you! May Adonai deal kindly and graciously with you! May Adonai lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace!" (Torah, Numbers 6:24-26) And Jesus said, "Allow the little children to come unto me. Forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly, I say unto you, unless you receive the Kingdom of God as a little child does, you shall not enter therein." (New Testament, Mark 10:14-16)
Sojourning at an Oasis Paradise
Most of what you will see here is the result of extensive personal study, combined with some careful speculation. Occasionally, I may simply offer some Scripture or an inspirational text. I am a wide reader, and the connection of some topics and ideas to matters of faith and religion may not seem immediately obvious, but perhaps I may spell it out in the end... or maybe, you will decide that it was just a tangent. Anyway, I hope that you will find my meanderings to be spiritually enlightening, intellectually stimulating, or at least somewhat entertaining.
In the coming weeks and months, I intend to transcribe a series of essays that I wrote about 20 years ago in the hope that I might get them published. They represent the nucleus of my spiritual life and the focal point around which my wanderings revolve like an electron in an atom. I hope that they might eventually serve as a springboard for discussions about the common spiritual heritage of humanity. May we come together and embrace each other in peace.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
There is in this world a fundamental clash between those who believe in a God who created the universe, and those who adamantly refuse to believe in any spiritual dimension beyond the simple meanings for living that we devise for ourselves. It is for everyone who has an opinion on this issue an unending vexation that there are others who not only disagree, but would seek to change one's settled opinion. For many, it is a matter of faith, either from family background or personal experience as interpreted through one's expectations; this can be true of either viewpoint. The opposing view can seem to be a non-viable alternative presenting a chaotic and relativistic cacophony of competing claims to exclusive loyalty, a situation soluble only by a stance of radical individualism. That is not a step many are able to take, no matter how brave, for it denies one's innate desire for intimate society. But neither can we rest content with the “peace treaty” maxim of “don't ask, don't tell” which would condemn us to silence, for then the world around us would be rife with hidden agendas and conflicting aims that could never be acknowledged and brought into consensus.
Rather, I would propose another alternative. Let us seek to imagine a class of meanings, purposes, aims and agendas consistent with both viewpoints simultaneously. Entirely aside from the choice of either opinion on the issue, we can seek agreement on certain practical concerns, tracing out a sort of middle ground that very few would be able to oppose on non-prejudicial grounds. Success in this endeavor will become an invaluable legacy, for which our posterity will forever bless us.
In the very beginning, I encountered an unavoidable imperative to declare my own choice of opinion and viewpoint. I have asserted that we are created, and that there is a Creator. This is not merely conventional language, but a considered stance. And yet, I have not advocated any particular establishment of religion. It is rather a philosophical and mystical variety of theism, consistent with the values of the “Founding Fathers” of the United States of America, the perennial philosophy recognized by Gottfried Leibniz, the Noachide faith proposed as an acceptable minimum for gentiles, the Sufi mystical tradition in Islam, Socrates' assertion of a personal God, and my own peculiar construct of practical idealism. Nor is the acceptance of any of these viewpoints a prerequisite to understanding or supporting either the conclusions or the consequences of the self-evident postulates that form the main ideas of the opening paragraph. However, that declaration was and remains a necessary step to take as I offer the hand of fellowship to those who on all other occasions would refuse it on dogmatic grounds.
Indeed, I have borrowed (some might say “stolen”) one of their own words denoting the skeptical and humanistic rationalist viewpoint of atheism, only to combine it with this stance of theism (and again some would say “inappropriately”) to create the desired middle ground. But let the naysayers hold their peace, however impatiently, until they see where I am going, before they refuse their consent. I have chosen to use the terms “theistic eupraxsophy” specifically because it disavows any allegiance to religion, as such, and as a point of controversy to intrigue the proponents of atheism and bring them to the table for a hopefully fruitful discussion of the aforementioned meanings, purposes, aims and agendas. Let me therefore set forth my basic outline of what I presume to consider essential in the discussion.
I. Fundamental Assumptions
A. God exists, creates, sustains, knows, cares & speaks.
B. God desires companions.
1. the universe was created to evolve intelligence.
C. All intelligent creatures have a soul.
1. functions through the faculties of the body.
2. is sustained indefinitely by God.
D. Humanity is a paramount creation.
1. commissioned as steward over our world & solar system.
E. The universe can be understood with human reason.
F. Critical thinking, empirical science, skepticism & rationalism are useful tools.
1. advancing humanity's understanding, knowledge & capabilities.
G. God desires for us to create the conditions for the good life here & now.
1. supports us to realize & fulfill all of our capabilities.
II. Practical Agenda
A. To build a global ethical consensus.
B. To grant sanctuary to all species of life.
1. preserving their natural conditions & behavior.
2. utilizing them as needed for our own benefit.
C. To reverse ecological degradation & rebuild an earthly Eden.
D. To explore, colonize, develop & utilize the solar system.
E. To create multiple models of ideal societies.
1. cognizant of universal human rights.
2. given semi-sovereign spheres of influence.
F. To discover whether humanity is the sole steward species in our galaxy (angels).
G. To become worthy of companionship with God and the angels.
III. Mystical Aspects
A. The human soul can transcend a single lifetime.
B. Our individual existence is a learning experience.
C. Humans by nature seek knowledge & experience of God.
1. using intuition, meditation, prayer & philosophy.
2. consistent with conventional means & models of knowledge.
D. God feels compassion & mercy, as well as judgment.
1. toward societies & individuals.
E. God desires our trust in Him & our compassion for each other.
F. God communicates at will to reveal His guidance.