I wish there was a church for people like me. I don’t mean that I wish I had a credo or someone to expound on how I should act or what I should believe (though I feel there are plenty of people with adequate authority to present compelling suggestions!). I miss the fellowship of having regular acquaintances and even friends in whose presence I could relax in the belief that we share similar viewpoints. I miss being able to debate minor, relatively unimportant philosophical, moral, and spiritual issues with people who are likely to come equipped with a similar set of “givens”. (Though of course I do still have a very good friend in Todd who more than adequately fills in those roles, its the regular community of such people that I’m trying to describe here.)

I don’t think it’s likely to happen, though – I’m satisfied enough in my feeling that my beliefs are too whimsical and disparate to make a community feasible that it’s not really even worth looking. I have also concluded from some experience that some of the “catch-all” groups like the Universalist/Unitarian church may catch a few too many to suit me (I don’t mean whackos so much as the redundancy of a grouping to which everyone is a member).

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I would fit handily into the Bahai, or some other group of which I’m not aware.

If I were to start a religion (of one), this would be my foundation:

I am an animist, but:
I don’t think every soul or spirit is sacred. Animals eat other animals and plants. Plants eat other animals and plants. People eat everything. Black holes eat people. This is natural. But I think the way we treat other things is important. I don’t think a mailbox has the value of a person, and yes, it is a tool. But I think it is good for the person and the mailbox if the person considers the mailbox with an appropriate degree of respect.

I am a deist with the Clockmaker wrinkle added in for good measure, but:
I don’t think the earth or people were made with any special intention by an all-powerful god. I think it more likely the earth was the result of variety of forces, ideas, and plans, and probably as part of a larger project.

I believe in reincarnation, but:
I’m not so hot on the idea of the Transmigration of the Soul.

The above is mostly a result of a combination of wishful thinking and pattern-building based on limited empirical data.

I have a passion, but no slavish devotion, to the Church of the Real. I believe you should deal with things as you find them, not as you suppose them or wish them to be. (Haha – that appears to undermine what I said before, eh?)

When in doubt, Moderation is a safe fallback.

The purposes of life are, in order:
Advancement/improvement of the species

The responsibilities for each of these exist as a series of soft-edged circles centered on the self (i.e. I am most responsible for my own procreation, and to a lesser degree that of my family, to a much lesser degree my social peers, and to a very minimal degree, that of the wasps in my window; I am responsible for the advancement of humanity, but also to some small degree for that of ants and angels).

Morality is not the law of god handed down to us, but a slowly unfolding pattern of how best to affect the above three purposes of life. It is not relative, but anyone who claims to have a complete understanding of morality or ethics at best knows what they should do at a given time and at worst is a bossy liar.

Death is not an evil – pain is more of an enemy. War, murder, carnivorism, and sickness are not bad because people or things die, but because they are hurt. Some of the hurt is practically unavoidable, and is there to remind us to look after our bodies or our friends and relatives, and the people who cause us pain should be severely punished as a deterrant to further pain-causers and as a reformative measure. God will not punish those who have done wrong with damnation, but if we don’t take care of it, karma probably will. Some pain is unnecessary and can be assuaged or avoided by releasing attachments to ephemeral things (that is, most everything).

Sex is not a vice – it is pleasurable because it encourages us to procreate. Marriage is not a flaw or unnatural. It is a moral improvement that allows us to better accomplish successful procreation and advancement of the species. Marriage and sex, however, are not necessarily as intertwined as some might suggest.

Encouraging the extension of life beyond the point where any of the three purposes of life can be achieved is morally wrong.

Hmm… I’m sure there is much, much more, but it escapes me at 11:30 at night.