It has been an interesting week. I don't know if this is something I can do, but I hereby renounce everything that I've ever written here, before this week. I've said some pretty awful things at times, advocating for ideas I should have known were wrong. I even gave praise to Satan in a recent post. Talk about being a devil's advocate...
All that has changed. I have reunited with God. I am not exactly a Christian, but my understanding of God contains some Christian elements, that I retain from my upbringing. In truth, I don't think there's a single correct religion. I think that all religions contain some truth to them (even agnosticism and atheism), and that we should let people believe whatever they want to believe.
Your beliefs do not hurt me unless I choose to let them hurt me. Your beliefs are the natural product of your experience. They're exactly what God wants you to believe at this moment in your life. The same applies to the ways that we live our lives, the food and drugs that we choose to consume, and other things that are our private business. Our friends and family can and should take an interest in this, but complete strangers should not.
If my lifestyle or beliefs upset you, that's your problem, not mine. Your beliefs do not upset me, for I recognize that you believe whatever you're supposed to. All I ask, and all I wish to convince you of, is that it would be far better if we all stopped caring about other people's beliefs and lifestyles, except insofar as they directly affect our own lives. (And, no, seeing a gay couple kiss does not in any way harm you, unless you choose to let it do so.)
Fortunately, we have this useful common sense distinction between public and private. In the privacy of your own home, so long as you do not endanger anyone other than yourself and other consenting adults, you may do whatever you like. You can eat whatever you want, sleep with whomever consents, take the drugs that you want to take. Give each person a space where they can be in charge of things. I think we all need that.
In public, we have more elaborate rules for conduct, and it is fine to correct people's behavior by punishing them if they stray from these rules. Just because there is no sin does not entail that punishment is unnecessary. Punishment is not itself an evil, but a kind of self-correcting mechanism in society.
I was an atheist for ten years, in order to learn the lesson that everybody believes exactly what God wants them to believe. We step out of place if we try to interfere in people's exercise of their free will. We must trust God, which means, we must trust our own judgment.
In the past week, I have been living almost continuously in a state of mind that I can only describe as heavenly. I understand things now better than ever before, and have acquired an incredible capacity to learn from experience, to see the significance in events. In short, I have become happier than I ever even thought possible. And I want to spread this happiness (true happiness naturally wants to spread itself), but only to those who are willing to listen. I will not coerce anyone.
So, everything I've said before on here, I now see was something that I needed to believe at that point in my life, but now no longer need to believe. I needed to be in the darkness for a time, so I could more readily appreciate the light.
These are the key truths I've realized. There is no sin, no hell, no oblivion (except temporarily, and only as much as is necessary). God does not arbitrarily choose between some of his creations and others. No one religion or philosophy possesses exclusive truth. We need to stop killing each other over our beliefs. Instead, let's just reorganize society, so that all the people who believe one thing can share a community, and all those who believe another can share a different one, and we just redistribute the earth's resources to these "enclaves" that people set up, where they could be the ones to decide the laws. And if you didn't like the enclave you lived in, you'd be free to leave.
A truly democratic world, in which the free will of each individual was respected, would be like paradise. Do we not now believe that monarchies are tyrannical forms of government? Then why should we confuse God's power with the power of a king, of a premodern form of governance? I think that religions with monarchical conceptions of God contain many truths, but they turn their Gods into tyrants. And why should you submit to a tyrant, even if he did create you?
No, if God is truly all powerful and all good, then everything that exists is good. Evil is only temporary, a kind of tool for us to learn from. If we choose to be with God, it must truly be our choice.
If I stuck a gun to your head and told you to eat a bowl of worms, would you say you were free not to eat the worms? This is because this is a forced choice. If God said to you, "Love me or go to hell for eternity", he would not actually be giving us free will. Our will would be coerced. We our given free will, but we are obligated to respect the free will of others, and many of us have not been doing so. We interfere in places and times where we don't need to interfere. We can't let our natural sociability make us into busybodies who stick their noses into other people's business, and fight "culture wars" because they don't like the idea of other people living in different ways than them.
If anything is a sin, it is this: interfering in someone else's free choice. It is okay to educate children (they are not yet autonomous adult persons) and to try to persuade people, but we can never coerce them--neither as individuals, nor as states. (This means, among other things, the War on Drugs, a senseless battle that no one can ever win, must come to an end.)
I'm going to write this all in a book, eventually. But for now I just feel wonderful. I truly hope that my will is in harmony with God's--and I have faith, too, that this is so, for God will show me and correct me if I begin to stray from what is right.
I must always remember that I am finite, and therefore fallible. Perhaps humans can transcend the forms they currently have (and I think this will become possible with the right technology), but we are all just a part of Nature, a part of God. We are created in God's image (i.e., we are persons like he is), but no human being is, was, or ever will be God completely. (We might become what you could call lower-case g "gods", but those are very different.) Whenever people who have thought themselves to be God (or, equivalently, to be instruments of God's will) have come to possess great power, they almost inevitably do more harm than good.
But let us focus on the positive aspects of religion! Every worldview contains at least a kernel of truth. You just have to find that kernel and build from there.