Kevin J. Rice, Kevin@justanyone.com, http://JustAnyone.com
Religion Paper 1, Operative question: What is "Being Religious"?
The state of "Being Religious" is a nebulous term, which each person must define differently. I find no right under my code to dictate that state to others, but I can explore what that state means to me.
I have had great deal of difficulty with being religious, especially since I realized that the questions that were occurring to me were outside the realm of the sciences. At the time, "Being Religious" meant that one was a member of an organized religion. Therefore, either that person had a set of beliefs imposed on them by conditioning, or a set they adopted purposefully (with the purposeful independent thought being a far more rare event).
My nature is that of an exceedingly rebellious skeptic. As a child I had a difficult time with the readily apparent attempts to condition me into believing unprovable ideas, especially such silly things as predestination (rebellion became impossible) and the self-serving prejudicial inequality inherent in the hardworking, probably devout (in their own tradition) Kalahari Bushmen not going to heaven while spoiled suburban brat kids from the suburbs "looked down from on high".
Over the years I have come to see my "Being Religious" as a dualistic task. First, it is a state of being, that emotive believing part of me that needs to sense some higher power as a creative force in my life as I attempt to break free from the constraints of logic. Second, it is an intellectually questing role to play. I must search for answers (because the questions keep coming back seemingly of their will) to the questions of ultimate nature upon which I have thrown myself for such a long time: (1) Is there a God (and if so, why only one)? (2) Is consciousness independent from matter (thus enabling an afterlife)? (3) How are personal ethics (thus societal ethics and thus behavior) related to questions one and two?
So far, I have attempted to be religious in the following ways. First, I rather constantly attempt to achieve the state of being sensitive to creativity by noticing the beauty inherent in nature through both the created (arts) and the natural (sciences). For example, to watch an erotic dance by Christie Brinkley is sexually stimulating (thus appreciating the creative forces shown both by the dance and by any deity that could make something so beautiful as Ms. Brinkley). The sciences are just as beautiful (although usually less stimulating), insofar as one can remain in rapturous amazement that strings of hydrocarbons suspended in water (her) can seem beautiful to another bunch (me).
The second, more logical way I understand the idea of being religious is that of questing for the unanswerable truths, or at least attempting to refine the quest to fundamentals. My fundamental assumptions may be different than other people's, just as my taste in women might be, but other's lines of reasoning must be valid for me to accept them as plausible. There is some role here for logic, but only in the line of deriving consequences of fundamentals. To state this less generally, I first wondered (with monotheistic assumptions) if God were (my terms) a Macrointerventionist or Microinterventionist. This is a logical reduction of how does God intervene on Earth (assuming he does). The point is that while this questioning occurs, its conclusions must be self-consistent. Nature's laws are consistent, and it makes intuitive sense to me that any conception of a God and his actions must also be.
Thus, the state of Being Religious means to me that while others define their sense of being religious in their own terms, I cannot begrudge them that. I must, however, continue to to pursue those goals I have stated: To attempt to appreciate creative beauty, and to attempt to apply logic and intuitive sense to the world as I see it. Hopefully, by the time I'm 90 I'll be more at ease about the questions, but I hope I never stop wanting to chase Ms. Brinkley around "the Home".
Me and Ms. Brinkley:
A Quest for Life
by Kevin J. Rice
Tuesday, September 25th, 1990
Introduction to World Religions
Tues & Thurs 9:30 am
Fall Semester, 1990
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