Ideas on Modern Theology
Philosophy and Theology have demonstrated a tendency to move toward unification and synthesis as to establish a structured and consistent worldview; but I question whether or not human experience warrants such an ambition. Modern science suggests that the universe is indeed ordered and dependant upon natural law, and it is not ridiculous to ask where this order came from. If the universe is ordered and designed, then it would make sense that it was ordered and designed by a single maker. Though, it is not unimaginable that an architect would design an ordered universe and place responsibility for the management of that property in the hands of other beings as mystical as Itself. This line of reasoning leads us toward something like Aristotle’s unmoved mover. But what evidence is there that a creator is involved in the daily activities of the universe? How do we know that His investment was anything more than mere design? Unless we assume that this designer had some purpose, there is no way of making any assumption about the Designer’s character or form, other than that It is a designer and creator by nature.
Still, our assumptions about the purpose of God or of gods is dependant upon our own personal experience. We know, as a matter of fact, that different cultures have produced different theological interpretations of religious experience. Therefore, we must admit that our theological ideas are dependant upon our continued religious experience. This justifies the superstitions of both modern and antiquated pagan religions, and of the supremacy of monotheism in the modern world. Certainly, pagan religions draw their religious beliefs from human experience in as certain a manner as monotheistic religions draw their religious beliefs from theirs. Yet, if monotheism is the dominant theological attitude of the modern age, ought we to assume that it is more indicative of modern experience and therefore worthy of greater consideration?
I suspect that monotheism retains its current popularity based on its capacity for unity and synthesis, but I do not think it rules out the reality of polytheistic and pagan experience. These two ways of thinking are not necessarily at odds, for the wisdoms of the past are still wisdoms today. What has changed is our knowledge and our understanding of our terms, but natural law remains. Truth exists independently of our knowledge and understanding, and while we may continue to find new ways of unifying and synthesizing religious experience and theology, the individual truths of antiquity need not lose their value or significance. In the absence of objective knowledge, each individual is left to define the universe in terms of their own subjective experience, and it is impossible to expect all individuals to agree. It is the sincerity with which men pursue the truth that leads them toward wisdom, and not the modernity of their beliefs. Nevertheless, the further removed a theology is from the mainstream, the less it is capable of communicating wisdom to the majority and the less relevant it is to society. Eventually, a greater synthesis and unity will occur and will obliterate our dependence upon antagonistic theologies, setting dogmas aside and focusing on the objective consequences of each individual’s professed perspective.
Each individual belief is justified relative to its correspondence to and consistency with the truth, as it is understand in a given time and place. A kind of institutional agnosticism will develop in the absence of self-righteousness (which is the result of dogmatic faith). In the place of institutional dogma, each individual will feed upon the wisdom of his or hers age and will strive to demonstrate the fruits of most religious ideals: "salvation", love, character, and goodness. Without dogmas to criticize, we will know “the lost” by their slavery, their treachery, and their depravity. We will know “the saved” by their love, their character, and their goodness. No theology is necessary for salvation – only a sincere pursuit of truth is required. As long as theology holds sway over religion, we will continue to try to define religion in terms of greater unity and synthesis, because it creates greater clarity into our interpretation of our collective expeirences. Monotheism is the theology of the presen and of the future - to one day be overcome by Agnostic-Theism (I think).