Perhaps my search for truth in religion is coming to an end. I may have to
How can I find truth when my search is focused on religion, which is a
philosophy based on beliefs in the supernatural?
I do not expect to be satisfied with the definitions of religion except,
perhaps, that of William James who wrote that the word religion cannot stand for
any single principle or essence, but is, rather, a collective name.
Virtually all religions involve the mythical, unprovable supernatural.
Arguments for and against the supernatural have devolved into the
science/religion controversy. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Science gives us
major answers to minor questions while religion gives us minor answers to major
But science cannot prove or disprove that which does not exist. Whatever
names are given to Ultimate Reality, The Ground of Being, etc. are human
constructs, devised to fill a void in our knowledge which can only be filled by
facts, not myths.
James points out that “God, creation, the soul, etc. are properly
not objects of knowledge at all.”
Huston Smith agrees with James in that science has gone too far in the
direction of discounting religious sensibilities. For instance he says, “. . .
empirical studies are methodologically incapable of determining whether
extra-epiphenomenal invisibles do or do not figure in the workings of the
On the contrary, Abraham Maslow goes so far as to say that he has schematized
and generalized the descriptions of peak experiences so that they can be handled
as data for study (a study that is repeatable, confirmable and with data that is
quantifiable). Maslow further says, “This scientific skepticism of the
impersonal, even the impersonal realm, is unwarranted."
What is revealing in Maslow is “[The] same list of described characteristics
of reality, of the world, as seen at certain times, is just about the same as
what have been called the eternal values, the eternal verities. We see the old
familiar trinity of truth, beauty and goodness. This is to say, this list of
described characteristics is also simultaneously a list of values. These
characteristics are what the great religionists and philosophers have valued ,
and this is practically the same list that most serious thinkers of mankind have
agreed upon as the ultimate or highest value of life.”
Humanists have successfully developed moral and ethical systems that are
independent of divine revelation from a deity. They are based, but not
exclusively, upon belief that people will willingly follow humanistic codes
because they are effective; reasonable; lead to self esteem; are consistent with
one’s natural feelings of caring, compassion and sympathy; are accepted by
others, and do not lead to condemnation or rejection. No system of rewards and
punishment (as in the hope of Heaven and the threat of Hell) are needed to
Humans are social animals who can make the greatest achievements through
mutual cooperation. Religions with dogmatic principles are divisive.
Essentially, I find the moral and ethical values expressed in the Seven
Principles of our Unitarian Universalist Association all the guidelines I need
at this time.
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations
affirm and promote (see http://www.uua.org/visitors/6798.shtml):
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within
our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are