My religious views will gradually spill out with the growth of this site. As an introduction, I am a Unitarian Universalist, and I embrace wholeheartedly the seven UU principals, which are:
1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and
7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Beyond that, everything that a UU believes is up to the individual. I wouldn’t have it otherwise. Neither myself nor any religious authority can know, for example, whether God exists or what God’s characteristics might be. It’s almost a semantics issue; there are many things that might exist that I could be willing to call “God,” and I know at least one of them does exist: the universe as a whole. Some days, depending on the exact hue of the leaves on the maple tree in my yard and the height of the clouds over the Willamette Valley, I feel like “God” is a good word for describing some aspect of reality… and other days, I don’t.
The idea that my conscious self ceases to exist after I die does not trouble me. I think this is the most likely possibility, but I am prepared to be pleasantly surprised should things turn out differently. I find inspiration in the truth that the matter and energy in my body, as well as the wisdom and love I share with the world, will continue after my death, an acceptable form of semi-immortality. I disagree with the sentiment that there are no atheists in foxholes. In a life or death situation, I’d like to think that I would not convert merely to take comfort in the belief that it wasn’t really all about to be over. If I knew I was going to die, I would not want to spend my final moments deluding myself; I would want to give thanks for my life and come peacefully to terms with my biological fate. However, having never been in such a predicament, I hesitate to emphasize this point very strongly. Likewise, I have never experienced the death of a very close loved one, and thus I am reluctant to get too arrogant over rejecting the traditional concept of an afterlife, given that the idea might seem much more appealing when someone I love could be there.
What I do believe is that, as Daniel Quinn puts it, “the world is a sacred place and a sacred process, and we’re part of it.” Of this I am absolutely certain. I do not need to seek the divine in some otherworldly being or paradise. I am spiritually satisfied with the gritty reality found right here, out of which springs purpose, value, morality, mystery, wonder, gratitude, beauty, and love. If there is a benevolent creator watching over me, if I will go to heaven when I die, if a savior has died for my sins… that would all be nice, I suppose. But I don’t have much evidence suggesting that such things are true, and I don’t need them to be true to find satisfaction or meaning. Life is its own meaning.