Personal Statement

I've put this on my Profile, as a statement of where I am now. My relgion and politics have evolved over the years and will probably continue to do so. If someone believes the same about everything as they did ten years ago, they probably aren't thinking. 


I am over sixty now, and the world has changed far more over the last twenty years than it did in the previous years of my life. 

After the end of the Cold War, Progress seemed to be inevitable. Internationalism was triumphing over Nationalism; Tolerance and Inclusivity were overcoming bigotry and tribalism. But then there were the Balkan Wars, and 9/11, and now Brexit and Trumpism. Many countries have gone backwards in terms of democracy - China, India, Russia, the United States. The UK is not exempt. The Covid pandemic hasn't helped, and if we don't sort out Climate Change nothing else will matter. 

I am still proud to be a Liberal (in the broad sense, not necessarily in voting for that party). and a Free-thinker. I am probably what the Daily Mail calls a Metropolitan Liberal. I prefer the term Classical Liberal, though that has become conflated with neo-liberalism which isn't really liberalism at all. 

I was a Christian until the age of 53 in 2012. Exclusive Brethren until the age of 11; regular Brethren until the age of 19, Charismatic Evangeilical until about 28, then slightly saner and increasingly more liberal evangelical. The loss of a Christian friend in a car crash in 2005 caused huge doubts to open up and the whole thing became more untenable the more I thought about it. Looking back, I had had niggling doubts for at least ten years before that. It took another seven years after the event to acknowledge that my attempts at constructing a looser framework of faith were failing. 

I am not going to substitute one dogma for another; Evangelicalism for atheism. There are certainties but we cannot always be sure what they are. The Argument from Design is not one that can easily be dismissed; maybe we just don't know enough science, but it seems that the more we know about how evolution might have occurred, the more complex life appears to be. But if there is a God, he, she or it exists in a very different paradigm to evangelicalism. 

I'm not keen on labels, but to roughly encapsulate my thinking: 

Worldview and ethical framework: Liberal Humanist

Epistemology: Scientific Rationalism

Spirituality: Somewhere between Agnostic Humanism and Unitarian Universalism. 

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  •  We are both very different to the two people that shared accomodation all those years ago at the University of Surrey. The one thing I remember about visiting your family was that they seemed very different to my family (who weren't religious at all), but they were very welcoming and hospitable. Wouldn't it have been great if we'd been able to have the insight we have now coupled with the enthusiasm, energy and stamina that we had then!

    As to your labels, if labels are helpful at all they are only signposts as people with different world views (or labels) are unlikely to interpret your labels in the same way you do.

    I often describe myself as an agnostic athiest (to try and avoid the pitfalls of subsituting one dogma for another that you mention). Many people don't seem to, or choose not to, acknowledge the qualification. I see no evidence for an involved God (and I wouldn't be able to see evidence for an univolved!), but cannot rule out the possibility.  What I can say is that many people do feel they are in touch with an involved God, however like all personal belief without shareable and testable evidence this cannot count as evidence at all to answer the objective question.

    The political compass identifies me as a left leaning libertarian (close to the boundary on both axes). I'm slightly worried this could label me as a fundamentalist, or extremist. At least it's the libertarian axis and not the authoritarian one!

    Like you, Humanism seems to express my worldview and ethical framework, although there are parts of me that still yearn for the vision set for in the ideas surrounding Shalom in the Jewish tradition. 

    In terms of epistemology I'm with you on scientific rationalism, with the caveat that I think it is impossible to know all things, as to know all things would require the ability to model the entire universe, which at present we cannot observe, not even in detail in our own solar system, but because our combined brains and computing power can only hold a microscopic number of the bits of information in the universe.

    I am of the view that a large part of us is driven by genetic starting point and life experience, so while we can and do change what we believe and know (providing as you say we think!), we remain largely the same personalities throughout our lifetimes unless something major happens to change it (trauma, physical or emotional, or indeed perhaps a ecstatic emotional experience1).

  • "If someone believes the same about everything as they did ten years ago, they probably aren't thinking." Well said!

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