Monday, July 29, 2013




Theologically I am a non-theist, that is, I live my life without a need for a personal God (or gods).  I don’t pray but I do hope, worry, and celebrate depending on the events that happen in my life and the world. I am also religious in the sense that I have, like Socrates, tried to know myself (a difficult task) and I do believe we need what can be called “ideals to live by.”  For me those ideals are simple—do as little harm to others as possible and accept a premise that people prefer to be decent than to be mean and treat them with that respect and expectation. Find what gives you meaning and try to do as well as you can in that talent or interest.  For me that is learning, teaching, and writing.  If possible I try to contribute something that will last longer than my lifetime.  I think some of my books will still be consulted generations from now. I hope that what I have taught in my courses has helped my students both in their careers and in their individual lives.   I accept my mortality and expect no afterlife exists.  I prefer reason to revelation for my behavior.  I am not very interested in proofs of God’s existence or non-existence or which of hundreds of religions is the best for humanity.  I liked being a Unitarian when I first went to the Unitarian Fellowship in Westwood, California in 1960.  Nedra and I have been Unitarians (now Unitarian-Universalists) ever since.  Why would someone who is a non-theist take an interest in a religion that has no fixed creed?  I like to be around people who seek to serve others, especially by working for human rights and social justice.  Unitarians were leaders in the abolition of slavery.  They were leaders in getting women the right to vote, to divorce, to own property, and to work for a decent living in whatever professions or occupations suited their talents.  They opposed child labor.  They supported workers who tried to form unions.  They favored peaceful uses of taxpayers’ money and have sought ways to generate more peaceful resolution of conflicts and less resort to war.  Those go with my Humanist leanings and my liberal philosophy of life which is simple to describe.  Live your life but accept those enacted regulations that protect the public from abuses of ignorance, greed, or neglect.   Reason, I believe, provides more beneficial things to humanity than does a belief in the supernatural.  Surgery, antibiotics, public health measures, and the germ theory are more effective than prayer to preventing disease or in treating patients.   Our infant mortality has shifted from 50% to less than 1% in the United States over the past 150 years because of pasteurization of milk, chlorination of water, the preservation of foods, and refrigeration to keep food fresh.  A balanced diet with sufficient vitamins and essential nutrients has been more effective in getting us to live into our 80s or 90s than the erratic and nutrient deficient diets of our ancestors 100 or more years ago.  What brings this about?  I say it is the use of reason and a reliance on science to solve and prevent the threats that curt short our lives.  Is it perfect? No.  Is it better than praying for deliverance from plagues?  I think so. 

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