Theology for the Masses

November 16, 2006

My confession

I am getting ready to start my first year of grad school at MU. In light of this, I wanted to give a sketch of my worldview, if not for the sole purpose of looking back and seeing how my ideas have changed over the years.

I believe in a dualism, with a basic structure materialism infused with something like Schopenhauer’s idea of will. Most of the universe is deterministic, but there are pockets of free will, i.e. the wills, the souls, the minds that are to a degree separate from the materialism and the determinism that follows. I am a Christian, so I think that there is a supreme will that is God.

I believe almost whole-heartedly the consensus of science. I try not to, but often sketch in a god-of-the-gaps into my religious/scientific worldview. For instance, I think that while there was a big bang, that God set the spark, or that while evolution has and is occurring, it is directed by God. While I think that there is a God and as the creator He has a connection to science, I am hesitant to say that he often divinely saves science from our lack of understanding. After all, we as a race are constantly improving our scientific worldview.

In the realm of metaphysics and religion, I am a Kantian(ish). I think that the world/universe/everything is divided into the noumenal and phenomenal. Because we are bound to our senses, we cannot enter into the noumenal realm to see what it is like. Only that which is already in the noumenal can venture into our phenomenal world and let us know what is going on behind the scenes. I think that part of us lies within the noumenal world, but that we cannot accurately sense that part of us. We can see the effects of the noumenal in the phenomenal world after the fact. I do have a sneaking suspicion that maybe some of the mystics are not crazy, but have had touches with that that is behind the curtain of our senses. However, I do recognize that unless there are supernatural occurances outside the visions or perhaps prophetic statements that come true, there is no way to verify those experiences.

I think the best way to describe reality is the Aviditie analogy. To put it shortly, God is a master computer programmer and the world is a gigantic software simulation.

Back to what I said above, I am whole-heartedly and unabashedly Christian, so I buy into that worldview, for the most part. With that said, I think that Christians could do well to look and listen to what the other religions have to say about things and incorporate that which makes sense into their own worldview. Examples of this is the Eastern (Hindu, Taoist, and Buddhist) view of interconnectedness, or Pratitya-samutpada (that is hard word to say, but I think I got it), and the idea of non-attachment. Now, this does not mean that one need to buy into the rest of the other religions, but just to not consider the source when evaluating ideas. We would not want to be guilty of the genetic fallacy would we? Of course not.

Ethically, I favor a literal ethical relativity where deontology determines what is right and wrong and consequentalism determines what is the most right behavior. It recognizes that there are sometimes no clean choices and that we have to decide between the choices in front of us.

The above is a sketch of the way I view the world. I don’t have a good, well explained and reasoned systematic approach to this, just a jumble of ideas that seem to work well in describing certain areas. We shall see how my ideas and views develop in the coming years.


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