I allow myself the luxury of an open mind. I probably wouldn't rate very highly on a scepticism scale, but I am an avid fan of good science and a fierce opponent of bad religion. Hence my title, "Reluctant Theist"
"Too much smiting" is my favourite comment from Bhuddist Jack Kornfield* on old-time religion. Couldn't put it better myself. For those of us reaching out to the concept of an Underlying and Benevolent Consciousness or "God", the 'smiter' of past generations doesn't do it for us. Neither does an emphasis on following rules when you're better off following your heart. Can't be doing with war, hell, revenge, cruelty, intolerance, bigotry, greed or self-agrandissement either. These afflict the good, bad and ugly, including, sadly, myself, and if this is what religion does, then we're better off without it.
That'll explain the 'reluctant' then. So why am I still a theist? Because there are some elements in the cosmos that are not discoverable by the scientific method. Goodness, philonthropy, gratitude, an urge to find a 'being' beyond ourselves, love, kindness, joy... . The list is as long as the first. Not quantifiable or predictable, but nevertheless essential to the well-being and survival of the human family.
My friend Margareta is dying. I sat with her yesterday and we talked of the approaching end. I read to her from a book by a renowned neuroscientist, Dr Eben Alexander, who died ( or his nuerocortex did, which is pretty much everything that makes us human), and on returning unscathed, tells a remarkable tale. A leader in his field, a Harvard professor,he had rejected all thought of Near-Death phenomenum as having other than a natural explanation. He now believes, with reseach to support him, that, "human consciousness is independent of the mind and the brain." Let him tell you the whole story himself. It could change your life by completely removing the fear of death. He emphasises what many Theists have always SAID, even if the living of it proved problematical for most of us:
You are completely and unconditionally loved.You have nothing to fear. You can do nothing wrong.
Here's the interview with Dr Alexander:
* Jack Kornfield source:
I'm listening to "Simplicity & Sympathy" by Jack Kornfield http://www.dharmaseed.org/teacher/85/talk/20247/