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Gray Watson - Definition of Self

In case I ever forget or in case you care, the following is my definition of self. I guess this is a cross between a internal CV and a personal psychoanalysis. In general I have written it down to remind myself of the things I hold dear, in case life pulls me away. Over time some of these may change but I hope not too much.

Commandments

I am sure I am forgetting some even more important substrates, these are some of my most important moral commandments.

Reality

I view the world through a collection of sensory input and neural stimuli as projected onto basic knowledge and extensive (although not necessarily relevant) experience. It is what I know. It is my truth and my universe. It is most certainly not all true but I must continue under the assumption that it is while understanding and taking into account that this may not be the case. Information that does not fit into this truth is usually doubted and sometimes ignored whether it is "true" or not (unfortunately). As for the world outside my consciousness, I can ponder its meaning and its existence and possibly even believe it, but I cannot know.

Politics

During the 1980s, I was a Liberal Democratic (yes the L word) probably mostly due to a profound distaste for the Reagan Era combined with a misunderstanding of the contributions of Congress and Democratic Party during that time. In the early 1990s, after joining the digital age, I found myself morally liberal and fiscally conservative and continue to be so to this day. In general, I tend to side with the Democrats most of the time because I would rather be fiscally liberal than morally conservative. But I am often disgusted by the Democratic party with its inability to consistently choose leaders who are able to cast the liberal beliefs in a language that catches the public's imagination.

I long for a 3rd party to compete with the dregs that we have to put up with these days. I dream of a party which is left-leaning on social issues but right-leaning on fiscal issues. One that believes strongly in the Bill of Rights and individual liberty and sees that long term investment in social programs, if done correctly, can pay for itself significantly in the end. One that is conservative when it should stay out of people's lives and leave it up to the states and localities to figure it out but liberal when it needs to take up the standard and lead the country out of the mud -- yes there are tensions between these two positions. A party which drives research and pushes initiatives to help the poor states and counties. A party which realizes that we need to work with corporations to ensure our long term economic success but also realize that companies need to be kept on a short leash to ensure competition, fairness, and who are not shafting the working class. A party which is not afraid to expose all of its inner workings. I could go on for hours.

Religion

I'm an atheist. Translation according to Webster's Dictionary is "one who denies the existence of God". Interesting phrasing. Sounds like Mr. and Mrs. Webster are sure there is a god and atheists are just denying it. I would define it rather as one who does not believe in the existence of a higher intelligence or power controlling or even watching over our existence. I especially do not believe in a bunch of folks in white on puffy clouds with wings. It's just too easy -- too contrived. I do understand that by pure definition I should be an agnostic because I cannot prove that there is not a god, but as religion is mostly faith, atheism is mine.

So what is the meaning of our existence if there is not a higher order? Good question and one for which I probably never will have an appropriate answer. I can only hope that future generations of humans will come to a greater understanding of our roll is this universe. I certainly believe that there are indeed other intelligences out there waiting for us to reach the rank of star travelers. I think it is naive of us to think otherwise given the scale of our little tiny world in comparison to all the other mass out there. I am sure that they too believe in a higher order -- their own set of deities. Maybe some of them have actually figured this all out and can explain it to us, if we only would listen.

I try to be understanding of the people "with faith" although I do fall short. There are certainly many men and women who passionately believe the teachings of various religions who I respect and admire. It is they more than any other force that makes me ponder my own beliefs. This said, I am becoming increasingly alarmed by the growing ranks of Christian Americans who think that everyone else is 2nd class citizens and who believe that by using political pressure we can baptize everyone and solve all of our problems. And I just don't understand the born again zealots who believe that just because someone doesn't worship Jesus they are going to hell -- Gandhi for instance. The modern Christian bible (old and new testaments) has been so marginalized by the exaggeration of the devout and the multiple language translations and interpretations. To the believers who hang on every word, I can encourage them to take some time to research the derivation of the document to put things into perspective. Fundamentalism in any religion, Muslim, Jewish, Hindi, Christian, etc. is a dangerous thing.

To look at the bible at some sort of perfect description of historical events is unfortunate. To think that an all powerful almighty being couldn't be more complicated than our puny human brains can understand or properly document seems contradictory. The Hebrew old testament, for example, mentions "days" of the creation but we know that higher numerical concepts (such as the concept of 0) were only introduced millennia afterwards. What if the dude that was writing it all down couldn't understand god's description of infinite time and so wrote "day" (yom) meaning more the first period of time. Is it so hard to believe that god's days are a bit different from ours -- that an almighty being's concept of space/time are outside of our understanding? People talk about science being god's test of our faith but I see nothing in science which should be contradictory. Maybe a omniscient creator set the big bang into place with the ultimate goal of infinite satient species scattered amoungst the stars -- complete with anaerobic lifeforms to simian to human development. Maybe the tests of faith are the inadequate, contradictory, and unfortunate writings of man -- even if they are done in their god's name.

I do not understand the silent majority of American Christians who support war in any form let alone unprovoked, unilateral imperialism. I'm pretty sure it doesn't read "You shall not kill except when the other guy does a bad bad thing". I often wonder about the "judgement day" and sometimes wish that there is such a time. I think that many people who think of themselves as good Christians would get a stern talking to by the judges and a trip to a less than comfortable eternity. If I appear before the powers that be to vet my life's actions, I fully understand that my skepticism and lack of religious faith may be counted against me, but I expect it to be taken into context with the rest of my life history. I'm not saying that I'm a saint and will go to heaven, I'm just hoping that I get a good hearing.

All this said, I also know that there are millions of decent, hard-working, and good people working to change this planet for the better from the pew and pulpit. I'm sure that many of them question their beliefs and wonder about our true place in this vastness of space and time as much as I do. If they find out what it all means I hope they take a minute and explain it to me -- I will listen. But to the people who have got it all figured out and who think it's as easy as the f-word (faith), I am afraid that I'm going to have to disappoint them.

Here are some of my quotes about religion:

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