I am still quite uncomfortable with calling myself a theist, as I detailed in my last post. I think this is because declaring myself a theist feels a lot like making a conclusive statement about the universe that I honestly cannot prove. Why believe in gods at all?
It is my belief that religion is a tool to be used for improving oneself and enriching one’s life. It should not, as it is so often, be used to control the thoughts and actions of others, or to make conclusive, all-encompassing statements about the universe. I do not believe there are any divine or absolute truths to be found by exploring religion and spirituality. The diversity of religious experience is so vast that we can find only personal truths there.
I have no interest in convincing others that my gods exist, or persuading them to live by my rules. That is not my place. My beliefs are for me only, to enrich my life and fulfill my spiritual needs. I can share my experiences with others, but ultimately those others must come to their own conclusions, their own personal truths. Someone may find their peace in heathenry or another form of paganism, while someone else is drawn to Christianity. Or Hinduism. Or New Age spirituality. Some people may find that they do not need a religious or spiritual belief at all to feel fulfilled! It is completely valid to come to your own conclusions about these topics and find what works for you personally.
However, what isn’t acceptable is trying to force one’s personal truths on others, either by social norms or by way of the law. It is all right and good for someone to believe that, say, premarital sex is wrong. That is his personal truth, and he has chosen to live by it. But when he starts trying to prevent others from having premarital sex because of his beliefs, it’s an issue, and it’s not right. Everyone deserves the right to live their lives as they see fit, and to believe as they wish, provided they aren’t harming anyone or impeding the rights of others. This includes the right to education, which should be the foundation of one’s beliefs about the universe, regardless of the path one follows. Pseudoscience or just plain bad logic is prevalent in far too many religious circles.
Religious belief is better for self-improvement and personal fulfillment than uncovering the truths of the universe. That is something better left to science, because science is testable, changeable, and deals with the tangible. Religious beliefs are changeable, too, but nothing conclusive can be said about the universe based on them alone. Cheesy as it is to say so, religion is a matter of faith.