Re: Welcomes & Introductions
I am a physics teacher and science fiction author. I am also interested in philosophy and religion.
I judge beliefs by the following criterion:
1. logical coherence is the requirement for a belief to be meaningful.
2. Consistent with the objective (scientific) evidence is the requirement for a belief to be reasonable.
3. Compatibility with the ideals of a free society is required for a belief to be moral in the kind of society I want to live in.
Together these are the conditions for rational belief and they are far from determinate. In other words I defend a great diversity of human beliefs as rational, and I consider that diversity to be both healthy and an asset for human civilization. Indeed, I would compare it to the genetic diversity of the human species, which makes us more adaptable.
I would divide evidence into two categories.
1. objective evidence provides a reasonable expectation that others should agree.
2. subjective evidence provides compelling reasons for your own personal beliefs only.
With regard to the first I am a scientist and a secularist, which means I think the force of law must be restricted to what can be objectively (scientifically) established. Of course I have my own conclusions with regards to issues where there is no objective evidence either way, for my own subjective reasons. Where these regard moral behavior I would consider these to apply to my own behavior and choices only.
I am a liberal evangelical Christian who agrees with the Eastern Orthodox on a couple of doctrinal issues like original sin and the atonement, and with the likes of John Polkinghorne on the issue of open theism. Though, be careful, I attribute no authority to any of these to dictate what I believe and I will express what I believe quite differently than they do.
I was not raised in any religion unless it is psychology (both parents majored in the subject at university). I searched for the truth first in science, then in philosophy and only then in religion. I was and remain a scientist before Christian. Science is an inseparable part of how I perceive the world, which is very much according to a methodological naturalist, and so my approach to religion could never be a question of choosing between science and religion but one asking myself if there is any value to religion when science is a given. By science now, I very much mean modern science as a well defined method of inquiry AND the consensus of the scientific community. SO that means I am very much an evolutionist and an avid opponent of creationist pseudoscience. Of course I believe that God is the creator of everything but I actually think that evolution is MORE compatible with the Christian idea of God and His involvement with the world, than is design (the watchmaker conception of a creator).
I came to see value in Christianity by a very circuitous route, starting with the existentialism of Albert Camus and Kierkegaard. Other influences include the Pragmatism of Charles Sanders Peirce, the writings of Scott Peck, and Aristotle. I find myself rather surprised at this point to find that I am Trinitarian Christian, but I suppose that is the limits of my "orthodoxy" because I am also an open theist, and have I highly pluralistic interpretation of the Bible and Christianity. My educational pursuits include a masters in physics and a masters of divinity.
In my explanation of many things, I find myself constantly drawing upon examples and metaphors from biology and the nature of living things. I would compare the diversity of religion and culture to the diversity of the species, saying how the wolf, the bear and the eagle all have very different ways of life and from these differences they all have their own advantages and limitations, so too when we choose our path in life, our choices make us wise in some ways and blind in others.