I have been searching for a while for what I call the Non-Cultural Truth: The truth about the way that things really are, stripped of all human culture and bias. This has been a tough quest, believe me. However, I am willing now to at least propose the following as a first draft:
- The principle of doubt: I embrace doubt. Like Socrates, I accept that I know nothing. Doubt is good: Doubt keeps me humble. If I live in a state of doubt, I will not stubbornly and dogmatically assert the truth of unproven propositions. Faith is the opposite of doubt, and faith thus blinds me to the truth.
- The principle of proof: The burden lies with religion, politics, or any other movement within human culture, to prove the truth of facts which they assert to be true as a matter of faith. Thus, I cannot accept on faith any factual proposition for which the evidence is dubious at best. The virgin birth of Jesus is a good example: I have no direct evidence of the manner in which Jesus was conceived. I have the accounts in the gospels, nothing more. These accounts assert that Jesus was born of a virgin: That is true. I can accept the truth of the fact that these accounts exist. That says nothing about the truth of the accounts themselves. I must judge these claims separately, and in most cases, the evidence for the absolute truth of these propositions is dubious at best. Thus, for me to accept that Jesus was born of a virgin (especially to assert this passionately as a matter of faith) without any direct evidence on the matter is simply another way in which I delude myself.
- The principle of freedom: Sin is the idea that God is legalistic. Sin claims that God has some form of legal code with which I am expected to comply, or else face divine wrath. This is also a religious factual proposition for which the evidence is sorely lacking. It is impossible for me to know if God exists at all, so how shall I know that he has a divine code that I am obligated to follow? And what the content of that code is? I must reject this idea completely. Thus, I am not a sinner. I have not displeased God in any way. There is no divinely-prescribed law which I am bound to obey. I am empowered to live my own life in whatever manner pleases me. I am both responsible and free.
- The principle of the present: Given that, how shall I then live? Since I have no assurance of divine reward after death, what happens to me when I die? I have no idea. I accept that the only thing I have is this present moment, this breath. I do not even know if I will make it through my next breath. That is my state. Given my mortality, it falls to me to make the best of this present moment, because that is all I have.
- The principle of love: The only thing left to me is relationships. This is my purpose in being: To engage in relationships with my fellow creatures, to enhance their lives, and allow them to enhance mine, if they so choose. Thus, I seek to enlarge my empathy to include all of mankind, and to be at peace with my fellow men and women. I will strive to love everyone as well and as truly as I can.