About Alethianism

January 16, 2011 § 5 Comments

Ok, let’s get started. I already have some ideas about what the Alethian religion ought to look like. Obviously, I can’t do this all by myself, so I’m open to suggestions and discussion. But on the other hand, if we’re going to have a discussion, we need something to talk about, so let me describe my vision.

I see Alethianism as being founded on three principles: integrity, community, and purpose.

Integrity refers to the virtues we should pursue as individuals: as worshipers of the Truth, we ought to be true to ourselves and to those around us. We are only human, so of course we will be subject to superstitions, rationalizations, and other forms of self-deception. Our goal, however, is to strive to avoid such things, to confess them as sins, and repent (meaning “to turn away from,” not “to feel guilty about”).

Community refers to the virtues we pursue as a group, authentic family values such as tolerance, compassion, encouragement, education, and so on. And yes, I know some other religions use the phrase “family values” to mean different things, but unlike those other “values,” ours actually make a community stronger and healthier, because they’re not driven by irrational and superstitious fears.

And lastly, every good religion ought to offer its believers a sense of purpose in life. Our purpose is fairly simple: to make life better for ourselves and for those around us. We should see good works as a series of concentric circles, with ourselves at the center.

Right at the center, where we are, is where we can do the most good, and it’s only right and natural that we focus most of our energies there—after all, if we don’t look after ourselves, someone else is going to have to take care of us, and that’s a burden on them. Our “self-centeredness,” thus, is not self indulgence but personal responsibility: we start by taking care of ourselves, and then we’re in a good position to start the “ripples of goodness” moving out to those around us.

The same is true at the community level. A community of Alethian believers ought to strive to make life better for itself and for those around it, because that is our purpose, and because it means we’re helping to surround ourselves with a beneficial environment. This purpose comes to us from Alethea, who encourages it by rewarding us with consequences we find preferable to the alternatives. In other words, it’s a divine purpose as well as a personal one.

I think our society, and all societies, could benefit greatly from a community of believers who were dedicated to the three principles of integrity, community, and purpose, especially starting with the kind of personal integrity that renounces superstition and superstitious demands on other people. Alethea is the only True God, and Her demands are the only ones that ought to be respected. I mean, come on, life is hard enough already, eh?

That’s the theory, now what about the practice? We can practice individual integrity on our own, and follow some of the more personal aspects of our purpose. But we need the community as well. What would you like to see in an Alethian congregation? Do you think there is value in following the traditional sermon-and-hymn-centered weekly ritual, or would we be better off with an alternative, like, say, just a weekly common meal and fellowship time? Or something else?

The floor is open.

About these ads

§ 5 Responses to About Alethianism

  • Larry says:

    We already have such a group of people who believe in integrity, community and purpose, and who also seek truth without the supernatural mumbo-jumbo – they are called nontheists, agnostics, atheists, and several other names, most of which are used disparagingly in our society. I doubt, though, you can get them together as a group (certainly not a religion) because they are mostly of an individualistic nature and think for themselves. The weekly ‘coming together’ is good for any community – the ‘sermon-and-hymns’ is just falling back into the same old trap.

    • Hi Larry,

      I think there’s room for plenty of groups that pursue some or all of the 3 Alethian ideals. I don’t think the nontheists/agnostics/etc are my target audience though. My goal is to reach a larger audience who would be unlikely to identify with atheism/agnosticism, even if they became skeptical of mainstream religion(s). Consequently I’m looking to grow something that is suitable for non-atheists/non-agnostics (if that’s not a double negative).

      Thanks.

      • JohnMWhite says:

        I’m still unsure about this whole proposal. It seems like an enormous game of “let’s pretend”, wrapping rationality and atheism in the robe of religion. Obviously Alethea is not a conscious entity desiring worship, so gatherings and hymns and so on are purely symbolic. This is not the same thing as religions tend to do – largely they think their theatre is being watched by Someone. And religious people will surely know this isn’t the case with Alethianism (perhaps an alternative name could be the Church of Truthiness). I just do not see how clothing this movement in the image of religion will draw them without the substance. And there not being a substance, there not being a genuine god at the core of it all, is the entire point of the movement. It is a bit like asking gamers to come to a Dungeons and Dragons convention where, despite the name, despite the costumes, and despite the community spirit, everyone is really playing bridge.

  • Hunt says:

    It might be productive to imagine that you are an interstellar traveler and and have come upon an incredibly advanced alien civilization or perhaps that we are visited by such a race. What kind of routine civic gathering might they reveal that wouldn’t completely let us down as recognizably idiotic? Would it be one that primarily dealt with troubled individuals, those who are finding life within that civilization difficult? Or perhaps it might be a meeting where people volunteer a certain amount of intimacy into their personal lives, recounting their hopes and dreams and visions for the future. The real problem here is that there are fruitful possibilities that are already available in our society that seem (at least on first inspection) to be ridiculous in this context. For instance, would this community more or less constitute a large group-therapy session, or would it seem to be weekly science fairs? Neither of these are completely out of the question, but they can register in the absurd if examined in a frivolous way. It may simply be enough for people to gather for whom reality is enough, and the result may not be very predicable. Perhaps they would just eat their potluck and go home, and perhaps something more would happen.

  • Hunt says:

    I read this post on Pharyngula about the ongoing quasi-exchange between PZ Myers and Stephen Asma and thought about the idea behind this site:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/01/stephen_asma_responds.php#more

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading About Alethianism at Changing Religions.

meta

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: