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The Independent Theist

Posted Aug. 29, 2013 by Ashok Malhotra in Open

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commented on Sept. 8, 2013
by dustproduction

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At the present time our world has various types of people based on their religious beliefs or disbelief. First there are the atheists who do not believe that there is any significant higher power in the world than that possessed by humans. There is another category of atheists that admit to the possibility that there might me more advanced life forms on other planets in the universe considering the immense vastness of the universe and some might be more powerful or intelligent, further ahead in evolution, but there is no God, although perhaps the very advanced life forms may be called god-like or gods.
Some affirm their faith in only what has been ascertained by science so far. However many of these latter persons are themselves not scientists and do not have a complete understanding of science or the extent of its present reach. As regards the scientists themselves, many are/were firm believers in God including Einstein. Theists or those who are not atheists are of several types. First, there are persons who belong to a religion, not just notionally because their parents belonged to that religion, but who have themselves affirmed faith in that religion as adults.
There are a variety of religions on our planet ranging from the mainstream religions of the majority to the fringe religions of a minority. Aside from followers of religions there are also theists i.e. those who believe in God, who do not belong to any religion at all i.e. they believe in God but do not conform to any one of the existing religions. They may however accept some parts of one or more religions and develop their own independent system of beliefs based on their personal experience and knowledge of different religions, philosophy and even science. These last may be called independent theists. I for one belong to this last category at heart although officially I am a Hindu. Fortunately Hinduism does permit much freedom and a wide variety of beliefs so that I am not a pariah when amongst the Hindus or when participating in any of their ceremonies or rituals.
An independent theist is like an independent professional. He may rise to great heights in the practice of his or her profession or sink into virtual nothingness. Another professional who belongs to an organization has the support and safety of his or her organization. It is so with independent theists too. Freed from the shackles of an organized system of beliefs they may attain a profound understanding of the universe, as did the founders of many religions on our planet, or they may sink into foolishness and ignorance.
There is an old saying in Buddhist literature (Dhammapada) as well as Christian one (the Ecclesiastes) that a fool is to that extent wise that he knows he is a fool, but a fool who considers himself wise and his knowledge complete is indeed a fool. Independent theists must always be on guard that they do not sink into this last category. On the other hand a person belonging to an organized religion may suffer some from the erroneous beliefs and practices of his religion but if he begins to disbelieve in some of them, while not walking out of his religion, he or she may miss the full spiritual benefit that faith or religion has to offer.
Independent theists who attained great heights in their spiritual quests are the founders of religions that exist on our planet. In my opinion they had a far greater understanding of spiritual matters than those who came after them to form religious organizations or to interpret the message and the words of the founder, and even when some of the messages of the founder are properly interpreted, there are mistakes at our end in further interpreting or understanding them That humans make errors in this process is without doubt a certainty. If they did not they would not be human as the old adage summarizes - to err is human. By definition there is only one power or being in the universe that is completely error free and that is God and the language of God is silence and everything else is at best an approximation.
After having written a blog post entitled the independent theist elsewhere- http://someitemshave.blogspot.com - some years ago, this author wondered what others may have thought on the subject and looked up the search terms ‘independent theism’ and ‘independent theist’ on google. Most results that turned up were of the blog post. It seems that terminology had not been used much. However another closely allied term was found called philosophical theism at wikipedia that meant nearly the same, although not quite because the former i.e. independent theism can function perhaps best with silence because that is what the language of God is but the latter functions with logic, debate and argument. You may read more about that definition at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_theism was:
“Philosophical theism is the belief that God exists (or must exist) independent of the teaching or revelation of any particular religion. It represents belief in a personal God entirely without doctrine. Some philosophical theists are persuaded of God's existence by philosophical arguments, while others consider themselves to have a religious faith that need not be supported by rational argument.”
And
“Philosophical theists may accept arguments or observations about the existence of God advanced by theologians working in some religious tradition, but reject the tradition itself. (For example, a philosophical theist might believe certain Christian arguments about God while rejecting Christianity.) Philosophical theism conceives of nature as the result of purposive activity and so as an intelligible system opens to human understanding, although possibly never completely understandable. It implies the belief that nature is ordered according to some sort of consistent plan and manifests a single purpose or intention, however incomprehensible or inexplicable.”
Independent theism is the belief that God exists independent of the teaching or revelation of any particular religion. It represents belief in one unique God of the universe. Some independent theists may be persuaded of God's existence by philosophical or scientific arguments, while others may consider themselves to have a religious faith that need not be supported by argument or tradition.
Independent theism may reject all or part of the tradition itself. It may accept the possibility of existence of God through scientific insights of scientists or merely through intuition in love and silence. Freed of the percepts of organized religion, by default, independent theism may view nature and universe as a visible facet of God and not just a creation of God. It implies love of all life and nature since that is a part of God. Independent theists are free to vary from this definition in details since that is what independent theism implies - being free of any prescribed dogma or preexisting definition while professing belief in God who has the limitless love, intelligence and power of the infinite universe.
Independent theism may view God in everything and everything in God, although individual life forms as distinct from the inanimate world have the freedom to harbor ego, desires, and ignorance too. Any part of the universe that does not have this individual freedom or free will is therefore not a life form but a part of the inanimate world.
Independent Theism frees a person from possible shortcomings and in some cases even exploitation that may enter a religion with the passage of time while permitting him or her to establish a relation with God or the Universal Consciousness, leaving him or her free to pursue what must be the most fundamental goal of religion best described in the words of Albert Einstein,
A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.

  • 17 Comments  
  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Sep 08, 2013

    Back in April of this year the New York Review of Books published an except of what will be the last book by Ronald Dworkin, "Religion Without God." It starts off.

    "The familiar stark divide between people of religion and without religion is too crude. Many millions of people who count themselves atheists have convictions and experiences very like and just as profound as those that believers count as religious. They say that though they do not believe in a “personal” god, they nevertheless believe in a “force” in the universe “greater than we are.” They feel an inescapable responsibility to live their lives well, with due respect for the lives of others; they take pride in a life they think well lived and suffer sometimes inconsolable regret at a life they think, in retrospect, wasted."

    Dworkin even broadens the definition of religion further by noting,

    Judges often have to decide what “religion” means for legal purposes. For example, the American Supreme Court had to decide whether, when Congress provided a “conscientious objection” exemption from military service for men whose religion would not allow them to serve, an atheist whose moral convictions also prohibited service qualified for the objection. It decided that he did qualify.4 The Court, called upon to interpret the Constitution’s guarantee of “free exercise of religion” in another case, declared that many religions flourish in the United States that do not recognize a god, including something the Court called “secular humanism.”5 Ordinary people, moreover, have come to use “religion” in contexts having nothing to do with either gods or ineffable forces. They say that Americans make a religion of their Constitution, and that for some people baseball is a religion. These latter uses of “religion” are only metaphorical, to be sure, but they seem parasitic not on beliefs about God but rather on deep commitments more generally.

    So the phrase “religious atheism,” however surprising, is not an oxymoron; religion is not restricted to theism just as a matter of what words mean.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/apr/04/religion-without-god/

  • Ashok Malhotra Sep 04, 2013

    May I record my like to the last two comments here.

  • Billgreenjeans Sep 03, 2013

    No I am not Green Jeans Billy

    Peace of mind comes by knowing the truth of who we are why we are here and where we are going after we leave this planet. I have peace of mind and do not fear because I have learnt these things.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Sep 02, 2013

    Dear Mr. Ashok Malhotra,

    I have a growing appreciation for the concept that you are presenting here, in that you are stating your beliefs, and a reason for those beliefs, in a personal manner. You acknowledge that others have reasons for there beliefs and demonstrate respect for those reasons . In this way, you are implying that what is religious is a multi-coherence; there are many ways in which others who are on a path can find the "peace of mind" you refer to when you write, "He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind."

    This is an end unto itself, and that leaves little need to convert others to a certain thinking or behaving. There is something in all lessons if we chose to see it. But too often we all unsettled in our own mind, and need others to confirm our experience, share our thoughts and feeling, so that we are not so separate from the rest.

    In peace,

    tah

  • Ashok Malhotra Sep 02, 2013

    Are your Jeans Green Billy?

  • Billgreenjeans Sep 02, 2013

    http://rense.com/general50/james.htm

  • Ashok Malhotra Sep 02, 2013

    One of the things about the discussion threads posted here is that it is not possible to organise and edit the format much. That is much more easily done in blogs and nearly the same article is posted in my blogs too where the formatting is much clearer and neater e.g. at http://ashokmalhotra.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/independent-theism/

  • Ashok Malhotra Sep 02, 2013

    Noetic Science does not have a like button as in linkedin or facebook, if it did I would have clicked like on all of them. I am a scientist but I believe in God although what I define/regard/view as God is not be the same as many others. More on that is described in my blog post at

    http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2012/11/spirituality-and-evil_25.html

    I am also an independent theist and therefore can whole heartedly benefit from the wisdom of Sermon on the Mount as well as belief in reincarnation and the acceptance of souls in animals that are not very different from ours. It not just that the genes of rats and chimps are not very different from us but the souls as well. I think reincarnation was part of early christian belief but when it was denied that led to the denial of a soul in animals too ( because then one would have to explain where the animal soul goes when a physical death takes place)

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Sep 02, 2013

    Re: ....we can appreciate its works such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL8MDnuUsE4

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ12imRY0Og

  • Billgreenjeans Sep 01, 2013

    Looking at the failures and faults of religions is easy because they are made up of imperfect people. Recognising the good done by Religion is not too difficult if we have that intent. Charitable acts are a positive trait of Religion. While we may not be associated with any religious tradition we can appreciate its works such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta for example. There are many other disaster relief and humanitarian aid orginzations orginzed by religions. Human civilisation has made progress because people have orginized as a group to synergistically work together to advance everyone. Religion is part of that progress.

  • Anonymous Icon

    RealityOverScience Aug 31, 2013

    "Religion" is simply a journey, among many others (including the sciences themselves), whether individual or collective or organized, toward the realization of Universal Truth/Enlightenment.

    When people fall into comfort zones, organized religious groups, science disciplines, etc., isolate and segregate themselves from each other, and refuse to go further, those become the "places" in life from which wars are conceived (wars from within, projected without).

    When people let go of all those places of "stuckness" in life, of needing to control the outcome, they evolve further and further, until they ALL ultimately realize that the Answers they sought were each others' Answers, and they become One. This is why compassion is so synonymous with Enlightenment. This is also why all people have a responsibility, on behalf of ALL sentient life, to step out of themselves and their personal needs, to selfLESSly wake up!

    Religion is ONLY a journey. It is NEVER an end.

    There ARE, however, Conscious religions established around the Ultimate Truth, but turning that Truth into religion requires projection, which moves them away from the Core. Buddhism is very highly realized, and the Dalai Lama acknowledges its need to project, "enough to teach it!" Taoism is the most realized and least projecting, dissuading organized religion (though there are some) around itself in favor of the journey of one, because "the name that can be named is not the eternal Name, the tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao."

  • Anonymous Icon

    RealityOverScience Aug 31, 2013

    There IS an actual "presence" in the Universe, or "address," of what people call "God."

    People can, and can't really help but, sense that "presence," because it is an aspect of their own physics. Even people calling themselves "atheists" have to sense that aspect, even if in adamant denial.

    The problems/debates come from people Naming that "presence," establishing meaningful socio-cultural traditions around that, and refusing to accept anything else as an answer. Organized religion makes it extremely hard for those folks to journey further for themselves, because of their social dependency.

    The process of realizing that "presence" and clearly seeing it for exactly what and where it is, how and why and who it is, is like seeing something from a distance, and then at ever-decreasing distances, until it becomes clearer and clearer and clearer and clearer, eventually totally coming into view, to be unmistakably and inescapably realized for what/where/how/why/who it is, in Truth.

    The needed clarity comes with increasing superConsciousness/Enlightenment, where the Answer leaves no question.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Aug 31, 2013

    Can Religion Be Explained Without God?
    by Robert Lawrence Kuhn

    I want to believe in God, but “religion” stops me. I hope God has less to do with religion, and religion with God, than we usually think.
    Some claim that religion needs nothing supernatural, that religion, without God, can form and flourish. To others, the claim is blasphemous: God exists and religion is God’s revelation. All agree that religion affects humanity profoundly.
    Why is religion a force so powerful? Even those who believe in God should understand how personal psychology and group sociology drive religion.
    Philosopher Daniel Dennett’s book Breaking The Spell describes religion as a “natural phenomenon.” No one naturalizes religion better than Dennett, who defines it succinctly as “belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought.” He suggests that, “the question of whether God exists is actually of less importance to the modern world than maybe it once was.”
    Dennett encourages us “to think not just historically, but biologically or evolutionarily.” He says, “We have to realize that Homo sapiens—us—descended from earlier hominids; we share a common ancestry with chimpanzees going back about 6 million years. Can we see what religion adds to the mix that makes us so different from all other animals?”
    He thinks that we can. “I think we can discern religion's origins in superstition, which grew out of an overactive adoption of the intentional stance,” he says. “This is a mammalian feature that we share with, say, dogs. If your dog hears the thud of snow falling off the roof and jumps up and barks, the dog is in effect asking, ‘Who’s there?’ not, ‘What’s that?’ The dog is assuming there’s an agent causing the thud. It might be a dangerous agent. The assumption is that when something surprising, unexpected, puzzling happens, treat it as an agent until you learn otherwise. That’s the intentional stance. It’s instinctive.”

    http://www.closertotruth.com/blog-entry/Can-Religion-Be-Explained-Without-God-/18

  • Billgreenjeans Aug 31, 2013

    It is convenient that Einstein is not here to deny or agree with the idea that he was not Religious or believed in God or spiritual. It is of no importance.

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Aug 31, 2013

    One of the major issues that theists face is the question of what god is, and not "who is God". This attacks the very notion of all organized religions, and raises another debate over religion verse spirituality. Both are a social construct. Humans are the only animal that needs a god(s).

  • Anonymous Icon

    dustproduction Aug 31, 2013

    Re: "As regards the scientists themselves, many are/were firm believers in God including Einstein."

    This is a false assertion. Many will assume this to be the case due to repeated quote of Einsteins, such as, "Science without Religion Is Lame, Religion without Science Is Blind."

    "This is what Albert Einstein wrote in his letter to philosopher Eric Gutkind, in response to his receiving the book "Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt". The letter was written on January 3, 1954, in German, and explains Einstein's personal beliefs regarding religion and the Jewish people; it was put on sale one year later and remained into a personal collection ever since. Now the letter is again on auction in London and has a starting price of 8,000 sterling pounds.

    The letter states pretty clearly that Einstein was by no means a religious person - in fact, the greatphysicist saw religion as no more than a "childish superstition". "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this", Einstein wrote."

    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Science-Without-Religion-is-Lame-Religion-Without-Science-is-Blind-85550.shtml

  • Billgreenjeans Aug 30, 2013

    "Independent Theism" reminds me of the fellow who sought advise of a public accountant concerning his tax return preparation. He didn't really like the answers he got to his many questions. He then talk to a friend and he suggested another accountant. He then sought advise from that accountant which was different from the other. He then began searching out other accountants and always getting a different response to his questions. He then when to the taxing authority ( the horses mouth) and ask his questions and got even different answers from different individuals working for the taxing authority. Being more than confessed he finally began to study the law and pray and he got an answer to his questions from what we call ideas popping into his head like Jack Kilby said when ask how he came up with the idea of the micro chip.
    The idea that the language of God is silence is dependent on ones definition of who is God. God has spoken to people in the past. I thinks he is to busy creating universes to speak directly to people now, with only a few exceptions, as He has done is the past however he has not left us alone he sends ideas to our minds through our spirits. We are all connected with God at all times. We may do things or take actions that hurt our communication with him but that is our fault not His. The Scriptures give us the idea that we are made in the image of God so we must look like him in principle not exactly. In studying the Scriptures I get many ideas and answers to my questions. The ideas to me are revelations I need to understand who God is and what life is all about. To me God loves us and wants us to be happy and joyous and he gave us some guidelines to help us have happiness. When we follow his guidelines we are happy and our life's are free. When we deliberately don't follow His guidelines we make ourselves unhappy. The greatest gift God has given to us is the ability to chose what kind of life we want. Anytime in the history of the planet when people have been very unhappy is when someone else is attempting to take away their right to choose. Interfering with others choosing is what causes unhappiness. Not even God does that.
    An important realisation or idea I received from studying the Scriptures is that there is no such thing as something for nothing. Some price has to be paid for everything. When we make an error or mistake or fail to follow Gods guidelines we can't turn back the clock an have a " do over". So we are stuck with our fault unless there is a way to change the situation. God has provided a way.

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