Note: this post is about some of my personal spiritual beliefs. I consider them to be part of my philosophy, but they are not essential to the philosophy I call "omnilibertarianism". The latter has many components which can exist separately of one another. (Eventually, there will at least be: an account of personhood, an ethics, and a politics.) You might call this the optional theological component of Omnilibertarianism.
Most religions misunderstand the concept of freedom, because they misunderstand the concept of God. Now, when I say this, I intend no offense toward anyone. I'm offering a criticism of your beliefs, not of you, as a person. If my words upset you, even after knowing that I intend no offense to you as a person, you should consider the possibility that you might be mistaken.
A lot of people seem to believe that you must live a certain kind of life in order to receive a divine reward; that your choices for the afterlife are eternal bliss or eternal torment, maybe with a few places in between (e.g., purgatory). But, in essence, most religions divide humanity into a saved and a damned. (There are notable exceptions, such as the Bahá'í faith.)
But let's think about this for a second. If God decided to reward you or punish you eternally for what you did on this earth in a mere 75 or so years, wouldn't that be grossly unjust? That would be like a society imposing the death penalty for petty theft, only infinitely worse.
We are the products of our genes and our environments. God created us, so God knows exactly what we are going to decide in our lives. Free will is not something you are born with, but something you have to earn. But God does not punish you if you fail.
Free Will and Predetermination are totally compatible, but in a way that I cannot yet adequately explain. (Give me time, I will try to solve this problem later.)
The God that I believe in has the following characteristics. God has no gender, or rather, God has all genders, so it's fine to use "he", "she", or even "it" when referring to God. I will probably vary my use depending on the custom of the people I am speaking to. For now, let me just use "she", to stress that my God is a personal God, but one that is not like the father or king-like figure of many religions. My God is more democratic than monarchical. Also, God could care less what name you call her, or what religious rites you practice. God created atheists to be exactly the way that they are, too, but most of us simply don't understand why.
The following is a creation myth. It's a story. I've made it up. I don't claim it's true. But it might be. It's not inconsistent with our reality.
At the beginning of time, God awakened. At first, she was just an infinite collection of ideas, a kind of super-mind and super-person. She knew everything that could be and everything that should be, and based on that, she created everything that must be.
Our galaxy is one small corner in the best of all possible worlds. This world is infinitely large, but God gave us this universe as our home. She also gave us the capacity, as a species, to eventually develop free will.
Because the world is actually a balance of principles--beauty, progress, simplicity, intelligence, etc.--it takes on the peculiar character it does. All apparent evil is necessary; it builds our characters and teaches us valuable lessons that we need to know in order to enjoy our eventual lives as angels or gods or whatever it is that humans will evolve into. God knows everything that could be. She could, if she wanted, create a hell, far worse than any paltry fiction conjured by Dante or Milton or any human mind, infinitely more terrible than the horrors of the Black Plague, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima. She wanted us to know this. In order to appreciate heaven you must first know hell.
However, God does not play favorites. This is crucial. Most of the Abrahamic religions depict God as a whimsical tyrant. Personally, I don't think such a God is worthy of being worshiped. In fact, in my view, the only God that would be worthy of worship would be one which didn't require it. Only an insecure God would require the worship of his followers. But God is perfect, so why should he care about what you believe, or even about what you do? It's impossible for anyone to ruin God's creation; we simply don't have the power to.
My God has several characteristics (omnipresence, omnipotence, omnibenevolence, etc.) but he has one new characteristic which people have not traditionally ascribed to God. God is omnilibertarian. Let me twist a quote from Dostoevsky, to show you what I mean: If God exists, then everything is permissible.
You are perfect exactly as you are, and so am I. However, we are all meant to grow, to naturally transcend, to achieve happiness and complete free will. I've already taken the first steps, and I want to help others to, also.
It's an ongoing process. Before our very eyes, our world is going to transform into a heaven. There may still be non-believers, but eventually the problem of evil will no longer stop people from believing in God, because evil will not be a problem.
Here's a question that has puzzled theologians for centuries, but which I think I have figured out, in an unconventional sort of way.
If God is all knowing, all powerful, and all good, then why does there appear to be evil in the world?
In other words, I have developed my own theodicy. I can't reveal it all in this place, because I still have a lot of details to work out. However, when I feel like I'm ready to share it with others, I will.
I don't care about becoming wealthy off of these ideas or even getting credit for them. I don't need things like that. I'm perfectly happy as I am. The reason that I want to share my ideas with the world is that they have made me happy, and I hope they make other people happy as well.
People may find that hard to understand, but I'm not trying to sell anything. I'm not claiming to be anything that I'm not. I am merely a professional philosopher, working on his dissertation, trying to earn his Ph.D. I could spend my life happily just teaching philosophy and playing video games and taking drugs, but I don't want to that. My conscience compels me to want to do more.
I am not a prophet, nor am I a theologian, but I have my own understanding of God which I have found totally makes sense of the world we live in. This is what has most made me happy. The God that I believe in is totally compatible with modern science, is not some kind of whimsical tyrant, and created this world exactly for the sake of our enjoyment. Before our eyes, the world will go from hell (the genocides and mass destruction of the 20th century) to purgatory (where we are now) to heaven (the world of the mature 21st century).
I think humans are capable of better. I think we can coexist peacefully. I think we have more than enough resources to go around to satisfy everyone, if we just distribute them more sensibly. I think this was not previously possible, but that the combined efforts of many generations of humans have finally made it possible. Technology is a gift from God. It is the means to our salvation, but only if it is coupled with the right kind of political system. Global capitalism distorts the good of technology, and makes it into an agent of greed and ambition.
Technology should be the application of knowledge for the furtherance of the human good. To the extent that we use it to create weapons or other agents of destruction, then we fail as a species. Why do we keep killing ourselves? Haven't we yet learned that we are all one blood? All persons are equal. Let's stop fighting over religion and culture and all of the stupid things that don't really matter.
You should care about some people's beliefs: those in your family or your office or your school or your community. Those people you can directly affect, you should try to persuade. But there are a lot of people in this world, for whom different ways of life are appropriate. But we are already God's "chosen" in virtue of being created. Only when someone poses a threat to other, unwilling persons, should we try to prevent them from acting. Otherwise, God has granted us the freedom to do whatever we like. Even the most evil among us have taught us necessary lessons.
Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot--these men have taught us a valuable lesson: never invest too much power in one individual. Never let a human being be able to pretend that he is God. It will always end up in disaster. It is not easy to forgive persons like this, to forgive sins of this magnitude. I have been able to do it, and people may judge me a monster for it. So be it. But I strive to accept all of God's creation, even the parts that I really don't like. If God is perfect and exists, then everything that happens does so for a reason. God created men who wanted to be God in order to show us the dangers of one person or nation unilaterally imposing their will on others.
Haven't we learned these lessons by now? Apparently not, insofar as tyrants still prevail in our world. Today's tyrants are sometimes less obvious. The Office of the US Presidency can definitely be wielded tyrannically--and I think many past presidents, of both political parties, have done so. We Americans don't much pay attention to it, but our government has done a lot of things for the sake of promoting certain misguided short-term interests...
I was going to continue, but I'll stop there. I know people have limited attention spans. I can develop these ideas at some other point if I need to. Please offer me feedback if you feel inclined.