An Update

This blog’s usefulness seems to be reemerging, so I should update my explanation of what I believe. It has solidified, pending new information, into the following:

  • For daily decisions, I am essentially atheist;
  • When interacting with Christians, I summon my former Christian self as a veil;
  • Philosophically, I am agnostic and a utilitarian specist;
  • When pressed, I admit to deism, as I think the universe implies an outside influence that could rightly be called God.

I still have some things to research, such as the feasibility of evolution and the historicity of the Christian Bible. But for now I’m reasonably confident that any sane God will be fine with how I direct my life. Given an insane God, I can’t conceive how I could adjust my life – other than to despair that a lunatic is in charge.

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10 thoughts on “An Update

  1. auntyuta

    “But for now I’m reasonably confident that any sane God will be fine with how I direct my life. Given an insane God, I can’t conceive how I could adjust my life – other than to despair that a lunatic is in charge.”

    These are interesting statements. I kind of equate God with nature. So I ask myself how can nature be insane? I do not believe that this is possible. I do believe that it is wrong for us to go against nature. We ought to respect the powers of nature. We should not ignore our natural instincts, however we should let them be guided by rational thinking. We should be rational, but not like a computer but guided by our hearts.

    Aunty Uta

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    1. mihipte Post author

      First, hi! Obviously, I’m not blogging lately (I suppose I’ve graduated from that therapy), but I do enjoy conversations in the comments.

      While I respect nature, I don’t think it can fit my idea of deity, except perhaps as a sort of avatar or puppet. That may be because I’m from Christianity, but see my fourth point:

      … I think the universe implies an outside influence that could rightly be called God.

      My definition requires that “God” be an outside influence which caused our universe. Cosmology offers two ways for our universe to exist: as a perpetual motion machine, or as an event with a beginning but no cause. Both ideas violate my understanding of what is allowed by physics. I conclude that the answer cannot be found within the system in question (our universe), and I appeal to some unknown super-system with different rules. Within that super-system, perhaps what caused our universe could be called God.

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      1. auntyuta

        I do enjoy conversations too, and I like very much to have a conversation with some bloggers.
        I am a late convert to Christianity. However, I do not believe Christianity is superior to any other religion or to people who call themselves atheists. (My husband Peter calls himself an atheist). It all depends in what sort of society we live, who are your contact persons and whether you’re willing to follow a moral code. In our immediate contact field is now a philosopher and his friend, a computer programmer, meaning Peter and I at times have some opportunity for interesting conversations. Our somewhat younger friends do lead very busy lives, so conversation time has certain limits, whereas Peter and I belong to the very old age group and have all the time in the world!! However, in old age one becomes so much slower. Everything we attempt to do takes a very long time. So this sets significant limits . . . . None the less, we both enjoy old age. Especially the internet gives us vast opportunities to stretch our minds . . . .
        But to come back to religion. Whether you believe in a God or not, I believe it is beneficial to have some moral guidance in our lives. It does not really matter where you get it from. The guidance might come from your inner self. Believers might say then that God is with them . . ..
        In Christianity we have the ten commandments. I would think every moral person, whether Christian or not, could try to acknowledge these. Also, I think we should all try to love our neighbours. Jesus loved everyone, even a sinner. He did not love the sin, but he still loved a sinner. My belief is that every person deserves to be shown some love. And if people or countries commit sins, one should aim at offering them help to in future stay away from sin . . . .

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    2. mihipte Post author

      When I meet non-American Christians online, I tend to be impressed at how inclusive their orthodoxies are, and you are no exception. Conservative American Christianity tends to be very rigid, and deviations from The One True And Very Specific Doctrine are either heresy, or reason to attend a different denomination, or both. (If I still believed, I would probably attempt to convince you of some different theology.)

      I’m curious: Would you say that you believe in pantheism? It’s intriguing to me because I don’t think I’ve ever seen the two mixed. From Wikipedia:

      Pantheism is the belief that the Universe (or nature as the totality of everything) is identical with divinity, or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent god. Pantheists thus do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god.

      I agree that we need a moral framework, but in my experience examining it damages it. These deeply human topics (such as religion, morality, and love) seem to work best when we don’t understand how they work. Which is infuriating to me, as I want everything to be measured and well-defined. But the more I understand these things, the harder it is to consider them authentic when they happen. And then I become more callous and ruthless in my decisions, calculating a moral mathematics. It’s a very unpleasant and counter-productive experience.

      I agree that loving your neighbor is a decent approximation of what seems to be a universal morality shared between the various belief systems. The Ten Commandments are a much more problematic candidate for that role; in particular, see the first two.

      At the end of your last comment, you seemed to hint at your personally preferred foreign policy as an application of loving your neighbor. I’m curious what you meant by “offering them help to in future stay away from sin”? I suppose that a country “in sin” should not simply be given monetary aid, as it would fund the sin. What is help in this context, and how far would you go to give it?

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      1. auntyuta

        Hi, I first of all just want to say something to what you referred to in you last paragraph. Who needs monetary aid? Well, I do not know much about what economists study. I mean to say I do not really know much about how the monetary system works. However I would think a system with more social justice would benefit all mankind. Here is what it says at the top of your blog:
        “explorations of truth, ethics, and justice”
        It is great to be able to talk about these subjects. More or less I look at all this more from the standpoint of someone with certain life experiences due to a long life. I cannot claim that I am academically minded. But I am very interested in all these subjects
        I got to send if off now, I’ll come back to it a bit later . . .

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      2. auntyuta

        This is a continuation of my recent reply. I said earlier: ‘if people or countries commit sins, one should aim at offering them help to in future stay away from sin . . . ” Maybe I should have said support . . . .
        With help I did not mean monetary aid. To my mind it is a priority to give monetary aid only to people or countries that are desperately poor. My hope is, that eventually just about everyone may be able to live in peace with some share of the earth and with some clean water as well as clean air. This to me would look like justice on earth for all people. I believe with our present knowledge and advanced technologies this ought to be possible if only we would learn to refrain from fighting wars all the time. My morals would not allow to send off drones to kill any number of people. But I know, people who permit such actions would justify this with all sorts of arguments. I am sorry, but things like this to me just are not justifiable. Or do World War Three rules apply already? I have not heard yet, that we are fighting World War Three. Who are we fighting against? Do we feel that our survival is threatened? Do we feel we cannot defend ourselves anymore? Do we feel all the time that our lives are threatened? Who or what makes us so fearful? On the other hand what do we do to prevent domestic violence? Should we perhaps rather be fearful of domestic violence that kills so many people?
        Coming back to the matter of drone attacks: How can these be stopped? Could people in authority perhaps be persuaded to refrain from using them? Maybe if more people would object to these weapons? But then most people do not want to get involved with protests. And so wars like this go on and on. I think everybody has to decide for himself or herself where he or she stands in this matter. After all we all want to survive somehow, don’t we?
        Sorry, I raise here a lot of questions about the world we live in. I believe not everything is in black and white. And fundamentalism to my mind does not contribute to peace in the world. I cannot understand why it has to come to wars all the time. I reckon justice is something we all should aim for for peace in the world. Ask any truly spiritual leader from any religion or denomination: Given half a chance, they all want justice. This is what I believe.

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  2. auntyuta

    You say: “I’m curious: Would you say that you believe in pantheism? It’s intriguing to me because I don’t think I’ve ever seen the two mixed. From Wikipedia:

    Pantheism is the belief that the Universe (or nature as the totality of everything) is identical with divinity, or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent god. Pantheists thus do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god.”

    I just looked again at this question of yours about pantheism. Reading the explanation from Wikipedia I do not find it difficult to mix the two, I mean to mix some kind of pantheism with a belief in Jesus Christ. To me Jesus was without sin at all times. This makes him pretty unique, wouldn’t you think? So I believe God is in all of us, but we do not always follow God, meaning we can give in to sin at times. If we regret our sin and do not want to sin again and ask honestly for forgiveness, we know we can be forgiven. God loves all of us, always, always. We can be sure of this. If I love God and know about Jesus, I cannot help but loving him. He is my guide and my savior. It is true, in other religions I might find similar moral guides. If my love for Jesus makes him a personal or anthropomorphic god, so be it. If my belief that God is in “nature as the totally of everything” makes me a pantheist, so be it too. I reckon the two beliefs can be one.

    The trinity to me has to do with mythology. It teaches us to pray the way Jesus did.

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    1. mihipte Post author

      Sorry I’ve taken so long to respond. That article you linked is good, and addresses a topic I’ve thought about recently. I’ve concluded that science never really stopped being (natural) philosophy, but those parts of philosophy which are sufficiently defined get their own names, industrial fields, and college classes.

      But more than that, I liked that it gave me a name for something: decision theory. Before I knew the name, I had decided that this is the more interesting part of ethics, for my purposes. I’m more interested in how I can best stay true to my values, than in whether those values match some normative set. I can’t think of anything that could give authority over values, but decision theory lends itself somewhat to the tools of logic and science.

      Although, as I mentioned before, I have mixed feelings about examining morality.

      War is messy and terrible, and I think it has become (nearly) the only tool used to enact America’s foreign policy. When all you have is a hammer… Drone killings might be worse, just because in practice war is never declared and no form of accountability is being observed.

      Would I be OK with drones used in war? Probably, with all of the caveats and regulations that apply to human soldiers. I can’t think of a reason that it would matter whether someone dies by a human or a robot; killing doesn’t seem like a particularly intimate act or anything. But, if we would have a problem with a human killing them, then we should have a problem with a drone killing them.

      Recent drone killings are similar to “black ops” missions performed by humans, which ideally shouldn’t be happening either. Or, if they must happen, they probably shouldn’t be common knowledge. That does all kinds of damage, from (arguably deserved) diplomatic incidents to growing cynicism.

      But I don’t know whether black ops ever must happen. I am convinced that some number of them would be heartily approved of by the vast majority of whatever population they were in the interests of, so they’re not really possible to stop.

      For what it’s worth, “help” and “support” mean the same thing to me, and I still would have asked the same question if you had swapped the words. But I have an example that might flesh some more of the details out.

      Mexico, to America’s south, has a major crime problem, partially (if not primarily) due to American drug laws. As I understand it, the problem is so big that the cartels are in the same league within Mexico as the Mexican government. I’m curious what you would think if America were to offer Mexico this?

      Let us send in several military troops, accompanied by your own police or army, along with investigators. We’ll clean out the cartels and jail the people pulling the strings, and our army doctors might be able to help your people with illnesses.

      Does that count as support?

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