Monday, December 21, 2009

Briefly Introducing the Duelling Deist

My name is Bill Baker(Aka: The Duelling Deist).

 I am a 31 year old Deist from Canada. I have set up this blog to promote well, what the description says. Part of my agenda is to also challenge both theism and atheism. While I believe that atheism is far more logical than theism, I believe many atheists are dogmatic and I also obviously personally believe the existence of a deistic force{which most call 'God", but which you may call whatever term you like that fits what a deistic force is} is more likely than that it does'nt. I also believe that "Strong" Atheism is faith-based, as is "Strong" Deism. I argue that Agnosticism right between Atheism and Deism is the logical or rational default. I, however lean towards Deism myself, and I therefore hold that Agnostic Atheism and Agnostic Deism(of various degrees; and by the way with Agnostic-Deism this also includes Agnostic-PanDeism/PanenDeism) are reasonable or rational belief "leanings". Yes I argue that Atheism is a belief, not a lack thereof, I say that the Agnosticism of which I speak is a "lack of belief"( I am aware that it means "without knowledge"}. I will shortly say this, Atheism comes from the greek 'atheos" which means "without the gods/godless", not 'without belief in..." or "believe there is no". The traditional defnition could include both agnostics and deists, and even lapsed theists. Atheism has been wittled down and redefined, and that is good, however Agnostics have basically redefined agnsoticism to be of the sort I mentioned, and Deists have been redefining their view as seperate from theism{which it originally was a companion of, but it has become all it's own, many deists today are much more like atheists and agnostics than theists}. Atheists can redefine Atheism, Agnostics and Deists can redefine our terms and philosophies. All these redefintions however puts agnosticism in the de-fault psoition and atheism as a belief leaning{leaning towards the belief that no gods exist}. I have more refined arguments for this position, but I do not wish to drag this out too long here.

 Let me more clearly define my terms here.

 I define 'faith" as "100% unquestioning complete and absolute belief in or trust in a proposition, idea, person, or thing with a strong lack of evidence and logical/rational argument for such or even in defiance of mountains of evidence and logical/rational argument". Faith by this definition, which is how "faith" usually operates and is defined by most through the world{and by the way, it exists outside the so-called religious paradigm as well as in and I think a case can be made that not all religions demand or require faith and that religion itself does'nt necasserily}does not and cannot have degrees or percentages. It is absolute by definition & tradition. I define
"belief" as an intellectual and/or emotional leaning towards a given proposition or idea, but one which is not absolute or unquestioning, just as I said- a 'leaning", and it has degrees and percentages; 100% belief is faith if it is in that which lacks alot of evidence and rational/logical argument and blatantly contradicts mountains of the same.

 I might also note that I define "faith" and "trust" differently. Many say "well you must have faith in your loved ones or yourself or thyat the ground will not give way beneath you,etc". I can only speak for myself here, but I have no "faith" in any of the above. I have degrees of "trust". I think that we have more appropriate terms for the things we often use the term 'faith" in. Even when it comes to sexual/romantic so-called "faithfullness" or "Unfaithfullness". Why not just use the terms 'trust" and "fidelity/infidelity"? Faith is such a strong word that, lets face it, is used in specific contexts more often than not that refer to ideas,propositions, and concepts- most often in referance to religious faiths{though not exclusively}.  By my definitions above, the phrase "blind faith" is redundant.
 I define Atheism as the leaning towards the belief that ther are no gods, deism is the leaning toward the belief there is a non-personal or transpersonal creative/calculating{intelligent}force of some otherwise unknown and undefined sorts, variously called a fine tuner and/or prime mover and/or first cause and/or the sum of all the laws of the cosmos and/or the overarching law, Theism is the belief in personal{usually, though not always, anthropomorphized & anthropocentrized and/or animal-like}god or gods

 Atheism, Agnosticism, and Deism are just categories, as for that matter is Theism. Being Atheist or Deist or Agnostic does not neccaserily mean one os a rationalist, materialist, empiricist, skeptic, non-religious, without faith, non-spiritual, not supersititious,etc. Some religions are even Atheistic or Deistic. And some religions don't necaserily include faith, superstition, dogmaticism, hierarchacal authority, belief in personal gods or any gods,etc.  These terms are usually employed as a persons view on the god question and does not neccaserily imply anything more. Yes, most self-desceribed Atheists, Agnostics, and Deists are of the more rationalist and non-religious sorts{don't mistake rationalism for non-religion and visa versa}, but the terms don't neccaserily mean such or preclude all these things. i myself am more of the rationalist sorts, but I am open-minded somewhat towards so-called spirituality,etc.

 I touched on "religion" above. I define "religion" as an ideology that may or may not include faith, belief in god or gods{personal or non-personal}, superstitions, dogmas,etc. There are so many things we call 'religion" in this world, and many of these have little in common, some belief in personal gods[some not personal}, some believe in magic or miraces or superstition and some don't, some are theistic and "revealed religions" and some are'nt. Some are rational, some mystical, some philosophical, some merely symbolic. The term religion comes from the latin "religio"(meaning "to bind over/together"}. Now obviously this term could therefore apply to basically any grouping or movement ot culture or subculture or ideology. So it is logical to narrow it down a bit. Looking at the different kinds of religions that exist, what are the common elements to all? Well, my readers may feel free to challenge me on this, but I think it really can be narrowed down to:

 {1} a group of people{organized or not so organized} that share common beliefs and/or values and/or preferances and/or a set of basic principles or doctrines. {2}Symbolism, and {3}ritual(which may or may not be required). That's it. The religion may or may not be inherently dogmatic about these 3 things, it really depends, some are and some are'nt. Thus, my personal beef is not with religion in and of itself, nor all religions. Though I do think most religions have done harm or are capable of it, I don't think this is neccaserily true of ALL of them. Though I also believe all should be open to challenge,question, criticism, and having to explain themselves; but I also believe the same for Atheism{strong or weak/agnostic} and Deism{strong or weak/agnostic. My main beef is with the so-called "revealed religions"{especially the 3 Abrahamic ones}, "faith" in and of itself{religious or otherwise}, and ones with ideas that defy any kind of logical argument for existence or usage{so a symbolic religion may explain psychological usages for ritual or symbolism for example, I think those are logical arguments, because emotion and psychology are part of what the human animal is, it really comes down to choice however}. Of those religions I do oppose or critisize, I do so to different degrees or for different reasons depending on the religion at issue.

 In short, I do not buy the common atheism vs religion{visa versa}dualism, nor the simplistic views most of either side have. My views and arguments are more nuanced and I make more important distinctions than most of those fighting the culture war. For me however if it could be narrowed down, I think it could be narrowed down to reason vs. faith. But 'reason' does not mean simply atheism and "classic" materialism or cold hard borg like logic{though certainly logic plays a part in my views, just that I see logic as also encompassing the logical natural fact that we are a social species and have emotions}, I see "reason" as meaning what it meant to the thinkers of the enlightenment, and it encompasses ALL enlightenment values and ideas, it more about balance or finding what ancient greek philosopher Aristotle called "the golden mean".

 I also touched on "skeptic". I define "skeptic" as beeing cautiously open-minded and ratioanlly questioning; it's not neccaserily the same thing as closed-minded cynicism .  "Radical" Skepticism{or absolutist debunkers} is not a logical or rational viewpoint, at least not when in referance to things which are as of yet not proven nor disproven and for which things really are up in the air; nothing is certain either way, but some things are so incredibly improbable that they are very, very close to impossible, there are many things that so-called skeptic debunkers toss into one basket when some of those things do not deserve quite the same ridicule as other things. If something is logically plausable, but just can't yet be proven or disproven, then we should approach the idea ot concetp with a cautious open mind.

 A brief history of me.
 As I said before I am a 31 year old Deist. To get very accurate about my beliefs, I am an Anti-theistic Agnostic-Deist{tending towards PanDeism and/or PanenDeism; undecided, to me it really dfepends on which cosmological scheme turns out to be the right one or what existed prior to this particular big bang, if anything- ie: eternal singularity till then, oscillating universe, multiverse, etc}. However I was'nt always such. I was born into a Christian home, and was raised such. I always believed what I was told, and when I was around 16-17 I became a willing born againer evangelical/fundamentlaist non-denominational though protestant{pentecostally inclined} Christian. I was devoutly so for allmost a decade. When I was in my early 20's I started questuining and challenging certain dogmas and doctrines. When I was about 24 I became a little more of a liberally inclined christian, and when I was 25 I apostasized from the faith{this was January of 2004}, from theism in general, and from faith in general, as well as from revealed religion in general, and habve never gone back since and never will.  I have been a Deist since, except for a brief stint as an Agnostic-Atheist for about 5 months in 2007.

 I am a proud contrarian freethinker. I am a devoted metalhead. My socio-political values are nuanced, as a realist I am a "Left Libertarian" in general, as an idealist I am a "Libertarian Socialist" or "Social Anarchist" and what I call a "Panocrat"{which essentially means "direct democracy"}.
I may end up sharing more about myself and my values or views in upcoming articles. but For now, I think this introduction should suffice.

 So let the games begin.
 : )

 In Reason:
 The Duelling Deist
 (Bill Baker)

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