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In the Name of God بسم الله

Humanism

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Just now, Cherub786 said:

This is a genuine grey area where Muslims themselves differ if they are sanctioned by the Revelation itself. For example, I believe the Revelation is clear that there isn't an Earthly punishment for apostasy. I think there is no problem in questioning matters that fall into this disputed, grey area, the problem is when the fundamental aspects of the Revelation are questioned, for example, the existence of God, the prophesy of Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم, the resurrection and afterlife, and the veracity of the Quran

I don't really believe in the existence of these grey areas. I mention it a lot, but the story of Al Khidr and Moses is precisely about this. Surrender. Nothing else is allowed in Islam.

That's why I recognize my position. I haven't reached that level of yaqeen which I think it's part of Islam, nor I believe I can. That leaves me in a position where I consider research an obligation for me. I don't want to die without holding a position of genuine desire to understand Revelation.

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This is a very interesting thread, I'm happy to share my views and position in public. There have been majorly three inspirations for me(among others): an humanist muslim scholar, Camus and definitely

Apparently, there are different types of humanism. But these days it usually means secular humanism. This is their common symbol Basically, they believe humans can be ethical without reli

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10 minutes ago, Reza said:

Humanism could be relatively neutral or positive terminology within a God-believing context, but has been co-opted to be synonymous with human supremacy and human exclusivity. It’s a rhetorical and insinuating term. 

Yeah, it tends to be used in these terms, but indeed, there is room for God in Humanism, and even for many beliefs. I see it as a standpoint contrary to Islamic concept of absolute surrender to God (which at times I think it's something for mystics and prophets, and not regular people).

I sometimes ask myself where the hell is the place for religion nowaday. Like, if absolute surrender is something not achievable by regular people because of the rythm of our lives, what shall we do. Pretend to surrender?

Back in the day, when I had plenty of time to pray and meditate, surrendering was a delightful experience and mental/spiritual state that I cannot reach again. I feel completely trapped in that sense...

Looking back at my former self, I consider I was an ignorant of many things, and somehow a lier to myself, if I knew the contradictions with my mentality and what I consider the orthodoxy of Islam. Yet I was way happier and probably a better person, morally speaking, than I am today.

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2 minutes ago, Bakir said:

I don't really believe in the existence of these grey areas. I mention it a lot, but the story of Al Khidr and Moses is precisely about this. Surrender. Nothing else is allowed in Islam.

That's not the lesson of the story of Khidr and Moses عليهما السلام either, at least not what I take from it.

It isn't meant to be taken literally either, since there is the inference that this was not an actual event, but a spiritual journey (odyssey) of Prophet Moses that is meant to serve as a parable

The black and white and literalist approach to Islam is what gives rise to both these extremes, the same narrative makes some into intolerant literalists and others into apostates and atheists

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1 minute ago, Cherub786 said:

That's not the lesson of the story of Khidr and Moses عليهما السلام either, at least not what I take from it.

It isn't meant to be taken literally either, since there is the inference that this was not an actual event, but a spiritual journey (odyssey) of Prophet Moses that is meant to serve as a parable

The black and white and literalist approach to Islam is what gives rise to both these extremes, the same narrative makes some into intolerant literalists and others into apostates and atheists

I would honestly love to hear your interpretation of it. It's one of the main reasons I have taken a significant distance from Islam.

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3 minutes ago, Bakir said:

Yeah, it tends to be used in these terms, but indeed, there is room for God in Humanism, and even for many beliefs. I see it as a standpoint contrary to Islamic concept of absolute surrender to God (which at times I think it's something for mystics and prophets, and not regular people).

Why keep the term and claim it for yourself when it has become as loaded as it is? It’s not an essential word to keep in your vocabulary. There are much better words out there. 

Absolute surrender to God is predicated on the idea that without the sustainment of God even for a moment, we would cease to exist. 

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3 minutes ago, Bakir said:

I would honestly love to hear your interpretation of it. It's one of the main reasons I have taken a significant distance from Islam.

So the objective of Prophet Moses meeting Khidr was to learn some spiritual wisdom:

And they found a servant from among Our servants to whom we had given mercy from us and had taught him from Us a [certain] knowledge. Moses said to him, "May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgement?"

There's no theme of "surrender" in this narrative. Yes, there's the theme of patience and not judging something by its outward reality, which is why Khidr kept telling Moses to have patience before making his determination on a matter. That is the lesson to be learned. Prophet Moses kept making assumptions on the acts of Khidr based on the outward reality, but Khidr enlightened him by introducing him to the idea that there is also an inner reality that is hidden from plain sight. The lesson is to try to discern the inner reality of things and not let the outer reality obscure your perception of it. That's the objective of this parable in a nutshell

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2 minutes ago, Reza said:

Why keep the term and claim it for yourself when it has become as loaded as it is?

Hmm, I believe I've never been taught about humanism in that sense, that's why for me it's not a term with those connotations. I was taught Humanism by a Muslim sheykh in fact, so I never assimilated it as something essentially understood as part of atheism or agnosticism.

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1 minute ago, Cherub786 said:

So the objective of Prophet Moses meeting Khidr was to learn some spiritual wisdom:

And they found a servant from among Our servants to whom we had given mercy from us and had taught him from Us a [certain] knowledge. Moses said to him, "May I follow you on [the condition] that you teach me from what you have been taught of sound judgement?"

There's no theme of "surrender" in this narrative. Yes, there's the theme of patience and not judging something by its outward reality, which is why Khidr kept telling Moses to have patience before making his determination on a matter. That is the lesson to be learned. Prophet Moses kept making assumptions on the acts of Khidr based on the outward reality, but Khidr enlightened him by introducing him to the idea that there is also an inner reality that is hidden from plain sight. The lesson is to try to discern the inner reality of things and not let the outer reality obscure your perception of it. That's the objective of this parable in a nutshell

Yeah, it makes sense for the case of the ship. Don't judge cause you don't really know much about it, have some patience and then judge after you have realized what's happening. But what about the killing of the kid who hasn't harmed his parents yet? Where is the inner reality of that, if it never happened?

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1 minute ago, Bakir said:

But what about the killing of the kid who hasn't harmed his parents yet? Where is the inner reality of that, if it never happened?

In my opinion (and I am totally open to the possibility of being incorrect, or partially incorrect), it is to teach us that there is a wisdom behind why God may allow certain misfortunes to befall us - the idea usually known as "blessing in disguise". On the surface, the loss of a child is a great misfortune and tragedy, but since humans aren't omniscient and are seeing events from a limited perspective, not a bird's eye view, they can't appreciate the possibility that God decrees certain matters to actually be a means of ease and good for us, though the outer reality suggests it is a misfortune and bad thing

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11 minutes ago, Bakir said:

Hmm, I believe I've never been taught about humanism in that sense, that's why for me it's not a term with those connotations. I was taught Humanism by a Muslim sheykh in fact, so I never assimilated it as something essentially understood as part of atheism or agnosticism.

Atheists and agnostics have taken the word for themselves, and their definition is the predominant one. It’s a rather small concession for Muslims though. 

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Indeed, the death of the kid was a good thing, as it guaranteed him Heaven, and avoid misfortune for his surroundings and parents. And Allah gave them another kid who will grow up as a righteous person. But this all is what Revelation tells us. And I get your point, I believe it's important not to rush and judge an apparently unfortunate event as something necessarily bad. This idea is recurrent in many cultures and set of beliefs in fact, don't rush to judge. And I absolutely agree.

But what does Reason tell us? What he did is killing an innocent person. He was still not in the age of puberty. The fact is that a totally grown up man killed a kid who did nothing wrong, and there is no reason to judge the kid.

I can get the point of the ship, or the rebuilding of the wall. It makes sense. There was a hidden reality in the present, an unjust king and greedy people respectively. There was wisdom within those acts. But the case of the kid talks about the future. This blows up my mind, and I cannot accept it in any possible way. I even think my head cannot accept it, like it's not a possible choice for me, because I'm unable to think about future events as something totally deterministic and that we should judge the future in the present.

Dunno, I think it's going too far, and it's a matter that requires a type of faith I cannot have.

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10 minutes ago, Bakir said:

But what does Reason tell us? What he did is killing an innocent person. He was still not in the age of puberty. The fact is that a totally grown up man killed a kid who did nothing wrong, and there is no reason to judge the kid.

Once again, you interpreted it wrong. Perhaps you make the same mistake with regard to Abraham's vision in which he saw himself slaughtering his son Isaac عليهما السلام

It is not meant to be acted upon literally. The act of Khidr killing the boy represents or personifies God's taking away of innocent life in its childhood or infancy through the Angel of Death.

Indeed, it cannot be acted upon literally by "a totally grown up man", because we do not possess knowledge of the future, nor are we permitted to act contrary to the Shari'ah even if we did possess certain knowledge of the future.

This is why I said it has to be understood as a parable, and not a literal sequence of events that happened in our Earthly realm.

The narrative itself infers this. Moses was meant to meet Khidr at the junction of two seas, majma al-bahrain. In religious symbolism, sea refers to knowledge, as the Quran alludes to in its parable of the seas turned into ink. Therefore, Khidr is that personality in whom the two types of knowledge - knowledge of the zahir - the Shari'ah or exoteric law is combined with the inner, mystical knowledge known as irfan.

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Humanism is more aligned with secular philosophy, I find myself agreeing with its ideals more so than I do with Islamic teachings. Does that not make a muslim? Maybe, I guess that's for God to judge. But I'd be lying if I said executing people for apostasy and homosexuality is perfectly fine with me. I'm of the opinion that critical thinking should never be criminalized and ideas can and should be debated openly without fearing being killed. Islam obviously disagrees. 

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On 9/2/2020 at 7:01 AM, Cool said:

I thought you only don't believe in gods

Well one is plural while other is not. One is falsehood while other is truth etc...

Everybody treats his or her god as a God, his or her falsehood as a Truth, his or her one as a One.  
so what difference does it make?  

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3 hours ago, eThErEaL said:

Everybody treats his or her god as a God, his or her falsehood as a Truth, his or her one as a One.  
so what difference does it make?  

Truth is just one. Every falsehood stems from denying & moving ahead with that. And every truthfulness stems from accepting & moving ahead with that.

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On 8/23/2020 at 4:10 AM, HusseinAbbas said:

So If I use the defention you put forward saying that you are "a christian humanist" or "a muslim humanist" is a contradiction or they just beleive in God but they don't want God telling them what to do?

I would have thought all core religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism) would have humanism as a basis right? Isn't that the foundation? 

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4 hours ago, Cool said:

Truth is just one. Every falsehood stems from denying & moving ahead with that. And every truthfulness stems from accepting & moving ahead with that.

Falsehood can be accepted or it can be rejected.  But Truth cannot be (is not something to be) accepted nor can it be (is not something to be) rejected.  

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1 hour ago, eThErEaL said:

But Truth cannot be (is not something to be) accepted nor can it be (is not something to be) rejected.  

Truth which manifests in the.state of "Bil Haqq" can be accepted & rejected. That's why we have words like مُكَذِّبِينَ مُصَّدِّقِينَ 

For instance, the statement (kalima) la ilaha ilallah, kitab, rasool etc..

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6 hours ago, Cool said:

Truth which manifests in the.state of "Bil Haqq" can be accepted & rejected. That's why we have words like مُكَذِّبِينَ مُصَّدِّقِينَ 

For instance, the statement (kalima) la ilaha ilallah, kitab, rasool etc..

Boring

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17 hours ago, PhD said:

I would have thought all core religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism) would have humanism as a basis right? Isn't that the foundation? 

Depends what you mean by humanism. The humanist philosophy that first comes to mind which emphasizes this life over the afterlife is contrary to Islam

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On 9/3/2020 at 2:41 AM, Bakir said:

Indeed, humanism is belief built by yourself, and that's enough. That doesn't necessarily mean you are the good guy. I'm far from seeing myself like that, and do direct and indirect efforts to be a better human being, for myself and for others, and act according to principles worth following (justice, empathy, mercy, etc.).

None of the things you mention have a single definition and you will still find people who call justice what you call injustice, mercy what you call cruel, etc.

 

On 9/3/2020 at 2:41 AM, Bakir said:

The type of person you are describing is a self righteous individual who recognizes no fault within himself. I would rather think that person has some sort of psychological problem, to be honest, if he lacks empathy to acknowledge he has done harm to others, directly or indirectly. I must also say that I have seen self righteous people in religious communities too, who regardless of their despicable acts, they believe they do nothing wrong, or do much less wrong than they actually do.

Again, what you are saying comes down to the individuals definitions of the terms which justifies the actions. If we are to follow our individual understandings, then that is the results you will get, variation.

Following human rational and human definitions, you will never find balance in their actions.

 

On 9/3/2020 at 2:41 AM, Bakir said:

I honestly believe I did my job and worried to understand my religion enough to acknowledge its flaws and the rights of Reason over it.

You speak of reason as if what you personally find reasonable is the only way of seeing things reasonable. The fact is that what you personally consider reasonable is most definitely affected by your experiences throughout life. And you will never be able to be truly objective when your judging what is right and wrong on a personal level because you base it of personal experience and as you mentioned yourself, you are have seen very bad things and I believe that has affected your opinion of what is reasonable, meaning you have become jaded due to the bad things you have seen/experienced and now you base whats reasonable with a jaded lens. 

One could argue that you are not being reasonable by trying to be reasonable as ultimately humans will fail at finding perfect reason due to their nature and thuss what is reasonable is Gods definition of what is reasonable as He is objective and not jaded.

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2 hours ago, Soldiers and Saffron said:

None of the things you mention have a single definition and you will still find people who call justice what you call injustice, mercy what you call cruel, etc.

 

Again, what you are saying comes down to the individuals definitions of the terms which justifies the actions. If we are to follow our individual understandings, then that is the results you will get, variation.

Following human rational and human definitions, you will never find balance in their actions.

 

You speak of reason as if what you personally find reasonable is the only way of seeing things reasonable. The fact is that what you personally consider reasonable is most definitely affected by your experiences throughout life. And you will never be able to be truly objective when your judging what is right and wrong on a personal level because you base it of personal experience and as you mentioned yourself, you are have seen very bad things and I believe that has affected your opinion of what is reasonable, meaning you have become jaded due to the bad things you have seen/experienced and now you base whats reasonable with a jaded lens. 

One could argue that you are not being reasonable by trying to be reasonable as ultimately humans will fail at finding perfect reason due to their nature and thuss what is reasonable is Gods definition of what is reasonable as He is objective and not jaded.

There are two essential differences between a belief system of a specific religion and humanism, usually:

1: the amount of followers.

2: the accepted divine origin of the belief system, which inevitably needs you to believe at certain point, without proper reasoning to back up such beliefs (outside the religious paradigm). Thus, like maths, it only works when you accepted certain axioms.

These two points are just not enough, because the same flaws you point at Humanism can be found in Religion, except that for the latter, revision and change is way more difficult to take place. Let's get back to your own post, but this time we will see it with the opposite lens:

2 hours ago, Soldiers and Saffron said:

None of the things you mention have a single definition and you will still find people who call justice what you call injustice, mercy what you call cruel, etc.

In Islam it is just, in the sense that it's part of the sharia, to kill apostates. It's right to have slaves, and to have sex with them if you wish, because they are your slaves. For many people, and even for many so called Muslims, this is cruel and unjust. This is not a secret. Yet as much as you want to fix that, because that's what reason and empathy may tell you to do, you can't. It's dogma. Period.

In any case, I don't really care there are many people finding it cruel, because that's not what makes something cruel or not.

I don't expect to have the right definition of Justice, Mercy, etc. I think in these as attributes of divinity for which we have to dedicate our entire lives to comprehend a bit of them, and we will most likely die without knowing. We can, though, reflect upon those from an inclusive and universal lens to approach them as best as possible. And again, it's not about how many people believe in my idea of Justice, but how this idea treats all people. So, in the matter of slavery, if you believe freedom to be a human right, that's what matters, not how many people think slavery is right or wrong. And it's not just a matter of belief, it's also a matter of what rights you acknowledge to yourself. Do you think you deserve to be a free man instead of a slave? Then why don't you recognize the same right for others? For me, this is the most basic principle of morality. And I believe that we, humans, have the ability to properly think morally, and build solid moral arguments in favour of certain behaviours, a moral code on how to act. I don't expect to be infallible in my reasonings, rather I can acknowledge my flaws, and I do. But I'm not making a worse mistake, which is considering myself and my reasoning completely useless.

I realize that socially and politically, humanism may open the door to many ideological and social dangers. What religion does is uniting all people in a single imposed moral code alongside a culture (and probably a legal system) that will cast away anyone daring to act or think differently. Religion, in that sense, has obvious benefits. But I'm thinking, at what costs?

The best structure I can think of, in order to reconcile the benefits of religion and humanism in a specific community, is that of religion turning into a more cultural and moral reference rather than a dogmatic code and belief system.

I find religion a great cultural and moral reference, but I can't think of it positively as a set of dogmatic beliefs that leaves no room for humanism. In that sense, I honestly appreciate a lot, at a personal level, those Muslims who question their religion in matters such as slavery, mutah, apostasy, women rights, etc. Because I see both religion and humanism somehow reconciled.

* As a side note, I want to add that human agency is also used to get closed to God even in religion. Like, for instance, let's think of dua al Jawshan. This is my favourite dua, and I find it extremely spiritual. But in the end, this dua isn't really about doctrine by itself. It merely says names of Allah which, for someone who has not reflected upon them, they may mean nothing. In which way our soul develops its sensibility to the divine names? Can someone lacking empathy be able to reflect on the divine names at a human level? When we speak of God generosity, can we really understand it if not through the manifestation of generosity, both to us and to others? Can we know what is it to take care and protect others without reflecting on mothers, both human and animal? Can we think of mercy if not because we know of cases of mercy, where the powerful may pardon the weak who may have hurt them? We are using our human agency constantly to build our moral codes and sensibilities.

What is most impressing, in fact, is that God names by themselves may also mean nothing for a soul that is completely empty of empathy and reason.

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2 hours ago, Bakir said:

There are two essential differences between a belief system of a specific religion and humanism, usually:

1: the amount of followers.

2: the accepted divine origin of the belief system, which inevitably needs you to believe at certain point, without proper reasoning to back up such beliefs (outside the religious paradigm). Thus, like maths, it only works when you accepted certain axioms.

These two points are just not enough, because the same flaws you point at Humanism can be found in Religion, except that for the latter, revision and change is way more difficult to take place. Let's get back to your own post, but this time we will see it with the opposite lens:

In Islam it is just, in the sense that it's part of the sharia, to kill apostates. It's right to have slaves, and to have sex with them if you wish, because they are your slaves. For many people, and even for many so called Muslims, this is cruel and unjust. This is not a secret. Yet as much as you want to fix that, because that's what reason and empathy may tell you to do, you can't. It's dogma. Period.

In any case, I don't really care there are many people finding it cruel, because that's not what makes something cruel or not.

I don't expect to have the right definition of Justice, Mercy, etc. I think in these as attributes of divinity for which we have to dedicate our entire lives to comprehend a bit of them, and we will most likely die without knowing. We can, though, reflect upon those from an inclusive and universal lens to approach them as best as possible. And again, it's not about how many people believe in my idea of Justice, but how this idea treats all people. So, in the matter of slavery, if you believe freedom to be a human right, that's what matters, not how many people think slavery is right or wrong. And it's not just a matter of belief, it's also a matter of what rights you acknowledge to yourself. Do you think you deserve to be a free man instead of a slave? Then why don't you recognize the same right for others? For me, this is the most basic principle of morality. And I believe that we, humans, have the ability to properly think morally, and build solid moral arguments in favour of certain behaviours, a moral code on how to act. I don't expect to be infallible in my reasonings, rather I can acknowledge my flaws, and I do. But I'm not making a worse mistake, which is considering myself and my reasoning completely useless.

I realize that socially and politically, humanism may open the door to many ideological and social dangers. What religion does is uniting all people in a single imposed moral code alongside a culture (and probably a legal system) that will cast away anyone daring to act or think differently. Religion, in that sense, has obvious benefits. But I'm thinking, at what costs?

The best structure I can think of, in order to reconcile the benefits of religion and humanism in a specific community, is that of religion turning into a more cultural and moral reference rather than a dogmatic code and belief system.

I find religion a great cultural and moral reference, but I can't think of it positively as a set of dogmatic beliefs that leaves no room for humanism. In that sense, I honestly appreciate a lot, at a personal level, those Muslims who question their religion in matters such as slavery, mutah, apostasy, women rights, etc. Because I see both religion and humanism somehow reconciled.

* As a side note, I want to add that human agency is also used to get closed to God even in religion. Like, for instance, let's think of dua al Jawshan. This is my favourite dua, and I find it extremely spiritual. But in the end, this dua isn't really about doctrine by itself. It merely says names of Allah which, for someone who has not reflected upon them, they may mean nothing. In which way our soul develops its sensibility to the divine names? Can someone lacking empathy be able to reflect on the divine names at a human level? When we speak of God generosity, can we really understand it if not through the manifestation of generosity, both to us and to others? Can we know what is it to take care and protect others without reflecting on mothers, both human and animal? Can we think of mercy if not because we know of cases of mercy, where the powerful may pardon the weak who may have hurt them? We are using our human agency constantly to build our moral codes and sensibilities.

What is most impressing, in fact, is that God names by themselves may also mean nothing for a soul that is completely empty of empathy and reason.

Many of the discussions on SC these days have fallen into dark places, lost in dogma. Reading your post is like a breath of fresh air. Such a post has been long overdue here in SC.

The dilemmas you had mentioned, related to apostacy, women's rights, religious equality, slavery etc. These same topics riddle orthodox positions of Christianity with many issues. Issues that remain forever unresolved due to adherents unwillingness to critique dogmatic positions on morality. It is crippling.

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15 hours ago, Bakir said:

 

I think we should come to an agreement on some mutual points, I will mention them and you tell me if you agree:

  • Humans (sane ones) seek values that are "good".
  • Humans seek to act according to those "good" values in order to find self value.
  • The individuals life will affect what they consider is good and what is bad.
  • What one person consider to be good can be considered bad by another person.

If we can agree on these points then we can also agree that humans cannot completely define one single definition of what is good due to the many individuals who base it on their individual experiences and background. What each individual considers good will be highly subjective in the end. And for a society to function, there needs to be mutual moral grounds and you will not be able to achieve that with people making up their own laws of good and evil. I think we can both agree with that.

Even a man like Hitler, who is considered undoubtedly "evil" by the majority, would say he was a good man if you asked him. And I dont see justification for you to question his definitions of right and wrong if it is up to each individual to make up their own understandings of right and wrong. What is to say that he is wrong and you are right? Even taking a life can be justified in the right context.

I dont really like how you mention slavery without paying respect to the historic context as well as the time that the holy Quran was given in, nor to the many many ayahs who tell us to free the slaves over and over again.

Yes, its true we have dogmas in religion but we also have free choice/usage of our reason within those dogmas where you may show God who you are. You mention mutah as a morally questionable subject, but again, nobody is forcing you to act immoral with mutah, nor does anyone force you to force/use the rights you have over your wife, or the rights you have over a slave, etc. In these cases you may use your reason, your reason is not separate from Islam but very much connected to Islam, what sets one muslim apart from another muslim?

I dont believe it is as much of a merit to do that which God has permitted and to avoid that which God has prohibited as it is to chose the better of two choices within that which God has permitted. The best of actions within allowed actions, use your reason and show yourself.

And there is no issue with acting freely within that which God has allowed you to act freely within. The problem is when you take a God given concept and condemn/abandon it as a whole based on how some wish to act/use the concept. That is not fair, as you said yourself "And any case, I don't really care there are many people finding it cruel, because that's not what makes something cruel or not."

I am afraid that when you go outside the realm of what God has permitted instead of acting within the realm, in your search for what is "good" then you will, due to your nature, end up fooling yourself and it will only be a matter of time before one of the things you have personally found to be "good" is directly prohibited by your Creator and deemed not good. How long before you will start to deem the act of homosexuality as something "good"? Most certainly such conclusions will not be achieved based on objective reasoning. We can use our reason within the actions that are allowed to pick the best of actions and display the best of behaviors but I dont believe we are enough to completely define halal/haram on our own due to our nature. And God did not send the holy Quran to us if we were not in need of it. 

Finally I want you to really evaluate your intelligence, knowledge and wisdom and reflect. If you see yourself agreeing with 95 out of 100 laws of God, shouldnt you have faith and show submission (the definition of a muslim) towards God regarding the last 5 laws due to your self evaluation?

 

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You say ' The laws of God' but really these are the laws of humans. Moral codes and standards predate Gods and Goddesses. 

Human beings came into existence and act in the world toward survival and reproduction.

It is true that sometimes the things we do will be considered good by some people, sometimes bad, but overall people exist in the world and need to survive.

If you want to sum it up, human beings are genetically primed to be 'self interested', not good or bad. 'Self interested' is an objective description of human behaviour.

Humans have learnt through millennia of experience that it is cleverer to be cooperative rather than antagonistic, it is better to be honest than a thief.
We are political animals, we need to live within societies and feel respected by them. Otherwise it would be anarchy. We need to trade, interact and live with one another.
We have discovered with the passing of time that it is a superior 'life strategy' to have decent principles to regulate our interactions, that fairness and cooperation have higher value when dealing with people repeatedly.
It is self-evident that being good and moral is the more advantageous choice for our own selfish self-interest.

Here is a small sample of well understood codes:
 
The Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu 2100 BC
The Babylonian Code of Hammurabi 1760 BC
The Justinian Code 429 CE (mostly legal in nature, though)
The Tang Code 624 CE

 

16 hours ago, Soldiers and Saffron said:

I dont really like how you mention slavery without paying respect to the historic context as well as the time that the holy Quran was given in, nor to the many many ayahs who tell us to free the slaves over and over again.

The historical context argument is not available since the Quran is supposed  to be the eternal word of God, true and valid for always. 
 

16 hours ago, Soldiers and Saffron said:

If you see yourself agreeing with 95 out of 100 laws of God, shouldnt you have faith and show submission (the definition of a muslim) towards God regarding the last 5 laws due to your self evaluation?

 

Perhaps I am wrong, but it sounds a bit like an invitation to hypocrisy.

Wslm.

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Well the above is just it. 

We always hear this argument that without orthodox or fundamental religious code, that there would be moral anarchy. Men would start murdering and stealing and having sex with animals and things like this.

But this is not the reality of the akhlaq or the holy spirit of mankind. It isn't the reality of a naturalist Darwinian approach either. 

"Humans have learnt through millennia of experience that it is cleverer to be cooperative rather than antagonistic, it is better to be honest than a thief."

"we need to live within societies and feel respected by them"

"We need to trade, interact and live with one another."

And, this is why humanism Is significant. Religious orthodoxy can change (people's views of it, sectarian positions). But the ultimate moral code of God, exists eternally, even beyond mankind's efforts to confine this code in religious text (The Bible, Torah or Quran).

Which is why humanism can go hand-in-hand with religions, but it's more of a rejection of religious dogma that might overstep this moral code (ideas like death to apostates for example). 

It's more of a fundamental philosophy that underlies or exists prior to selection of a religion.

And I think I may be the only Christian in this topic, but for me, Jesus' final or great commandment also falls hand-in-hand with this. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Commandment#New_Testament_accounts

 

 

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@Quisant 

What you essentially did was describe the (fitra) innate disposition that is embedded within mankind, of course religions will coincide with such realities that pertain to the nature of the human being, however, when it comes to the perfection of these moral agents one cannot be free from divine instruction, otherwise it will all be subjective. You may perceive this as dogmatic, others can view this is faith which is oftentimes juxtaposed with dogmatism, albeit differing due to the credibility the divine entity has shown for you to believe in what one fails to reasonably reconcile, due to their lacking in the area of logic and the universal laws that have been set in place.

None of your assessments are fundamentally flawed, considering that they are concordant with the Islamic paradigm - the issue is that there is oftentimes baggage that is being carried into the area of discussion, or preconceived notions to what right and wrong is - this I believe is due to the thinking of those who seek to interpret the world through their own ego, looking at matters through an individual lens and avoiding the collective benefit of society. Even then how can you ensure the collective benefit to society when such benefit is drawn through a subjective lens?

That is why I am against this supposed blind curtain theory, because it argues that you should draw a just society based on what your ego thinks is right and wrong, Islam is very clear when it highlights to the individual that above all there is a need for submission, Socrates fundamentally believes in the importance of submission when it comes to rule and he argues that the masses should adhere to 'he who knows' - I ask you, how can we find 'he who knows' if not through the implementation of a divine (objective) scale of evaluation. The Islamic reality rectifies the Socratic and Aristotelian narratives when combined and also provides a nice Platonic remedy to the spirituality of the human being, be it through Gnosticism, or other means of actualizing the Lord within the self by unveiling the light within them which has been cascaded by the shadows of egoism. 

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On 9/8/2020 at 10:31 PM, iCenozoic said:

The dilemmas you had mentioned, related to apostacy, women's rights, religious equality, slavery etc. These same topics riddle orthodox positions of Christianity with many issues. Issues that remain forever unresolved due to adherents unwillingness to critique dogmatic positions on morality. It is crippling.

With a history of colonialism and orientalism, and where Islamic discourse has been imposed on it issues of Eurocentric Christianity (as if it’s their own), where do you see the Islamic and Christian positions genuinely differ on these issues you describe, or are they both lumped together as “dogma”? Any nuances?

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8 hours ago, Quisant said:

You say ' The laws of God' but really these are the laws of humans. Moral codes and standards predate Gods and Goddesses. 

If you do not believe in God and believe that we are animals only here to sate our own interests, then there is no point discussing morals with you.

Unless we have the same fundamental understanding regarding our existence, then discussing the details of that existence is futile.

 

8 hours ago, Quisant said:

The historical context argument is not available since the Quran is supposed  to be the eternal word of God, true and valid for always. 

It most certainly is as times change, you might find yourself in a world with slaves once again, in fact, there are still slaves in the world.

Now answer this question: How many ayahs can you find that encourages one to take slaves in the holy Quran and how many ayahs can you find that encourages one to free the slave? Any society with slaves that adopt Islam will over time abandon the slave system due to the many many times the holy Quran tells us to free the slave (even as a compensation) and not only does Islam tell us to free the slaves but it also gives rights to the slaves, something unheard of previously.

https://www.al-islam.org/divine-perspective-rights/right-n-21-right-your-slave

 

9 hours ago, Quisant said:

Perhaps I am wrong, but it sounds a bit like an invitation to hypocrisy.

That depends, if your self evaluation ends up in you believing that you are all knowing and all wise, then following someone who you believe is right 95/100 times regarding the last 5 subjects due to your faith in Him would be called hypocrisy, otherwise it would be called self awareness, which leads to humbleness. 

 

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3 hours ago, Reza said:

With a history of colonialism and orientalism, and where Islamic discourse has been imposed on it issues of Eurocentric Christianity (as if it’s their own), where do you see the Islamic and Christian positions genuinely differ on these issues you describe, or are they both lumped together as “dogma”? Any nuances?

There are many different views of what Islam and Christianity truly are. Regarding apostasy, I suppose there may be places in the world where Christians might seek to kill apostates, and perhaps there are also places in the world where Muslims might seek to do the same. At the same time, we might find Muslims and Christians elsewhere who wouldn't want such a thing to happen.

There is a very diverse views of what makes a Christian and Muslim who they are. So, it's hard to say what differences these religions themselves have on these topics, beyond what people of these religions say that they believe.

But anytime a person takes a position that results in destruction of humanity, for the sake of preservation of a faith based idea, I'd say they've turned away from a humanist philosophy. A simple example that we could all agree on might be the recent actions of ISIS (killing non believers indiscriminately, based on a central dogma). Or, maybe things like crimes of Christian crusaders or witch burnings (again, destroying life based on a faith based principal). When really, faith based ideas should never be a determinant of whether or not we can destroy others. And this would apply to other concepts as well, like social freedoms, free speech, rights to own land, tax exemptions, who can hold positions of power etc.

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On 9/9/2020 at 6:45 PM, Soldiers and Saffron said:

If we can agree on these points then we can also agree that humans cannot completely define one single definition of what is good due to the many individuals who base it on their individual experiences and background. What each individual considers good will be highly subjective in the end. And for a society to function, there needs to be mutual moral grounds and you will not be able to achieve that with people making up their own laws of good and evil. I think we can both agree with that.

First of all, thanks for your post. I think it correctly summarizes many interesting points that are worthy of discussion. This is going to be a long post, but hopefully it is of benefit.

Regarding your first and quoted point, indeed, we agree. We both see the same problem. I obviously recognize the benefits of religion. Not just Islam. Socially speaking, religions united society in effective ways. Judaism made the poor good, and the rich bad, the weak and sick good, and the powerful bad. Islam united the Arab tribes. Religions have always been very effective. My point is that within orthodoxy, they lack revision. They can't change within those boundaries.

However, a society without religion isn't a society without a moral code where anarchy reigns. It can function without religion. Half of the world functions without religion. In this point we should talk about contractualism, which explores precisely how society agrees to certain moral code. Or that's what we could think it's about... But it really isn't!

On 9/9/2020 at 6:45 PM, Soldiers and Saffron said:
  • Humans (sane ones) seek values that are "good".
  • Humans seek to act according to those "good" values in order to find self value.
  • The individuals life will affect what they consider is good and what is bad.
  • What one person consider to be good can be considered bad by another person.

These four points are extremely valuable to understand what contractualism may be about for humans. Many think there is some sort of innate or cultural moral code and that brings the "agreement" that classical contractualism talks about. Religion sets that agreement in a moral code with divine origins. Well.

Contemporary contractualism talks about rules people can't reasonably reject. And these rules build morality, not the other way around. Morality is built after human agreement. Morality is, in many senses, socially built. Morality is experienced in a social sense. In this way, it's not just about agreeing not to kill or steal, because it could happen to you. It's not just about violence. When morality is built not just in personal desire, but in collective reason and social agreement, concepts such as social commitment, trust, empathy, obeying your oaths, helping others, etc. become part of your moral values, and enough reason for you to act morally. Not because of selfishness or self preservation. But because of principles. In this sense, human moral principles exist, and they aren't arbitrary, individual or divine. These are social agreements filtered by reason and turned into moral codes, and are always open for revision. In that sense, I disagree with Quisant (the quoted text), though I must admit this has been the classical view that justified social agreements:

15 hours ago, Quisant said:

If you want to sum it up, human beings are genetically primed to be 'self interested', not good or bad. 'Self interested' is an objective description of human behaviour.

I just disagree with the idea of self interest as a source for agreement, because we are able to question beyond that, even if it goes against our own self interest. In the sense that a community with slaves could decide to organize itself in different ways and free slaves even if it goes against their own interest, merely because they are able to reason about the authority of freedom (that they recognized to themselves and have no reasonable justification not to recognize it to their slaves).

Nonetheless, self interest does influence society and our ethical thinking a lot. Same goes for culture and religion which is still there, as well as personal experiences. But in the end, and back to my message for @Soldiers and Saffron all of these can be revised by reason, and I find their influences (good and bad) to be positive to the historical progress of humanity and the social identity of a given society. Because in the end, they bring examples which are hard to forget.

On 9/9/2020 at 6:45 PM, Soldiers and Saffron said:

Even a man like Hitler, who is considered undoubtedly "evil" by the majority, would say he was a good man if you asked him. And I dont see justification for you to question his definitions of right and wrong if it is up to each individual to make up their own understandings of right and wrong. What is to say that he is wrong and you are right? Even taking a life can be justified in the right context.

I'm criticizing in this thread exclusion, prosecution, slavery, etc. How wouldn't I have reasons to criticize the Nazis? For God's sake. I'm not an immoral person, I'm questioning the divine origin of moral codes, its existence, and its lack of room for revision. Questioning that doesn't mean there aren't moral codes, or that anyone is valid. Of course not. In no way the Nazis political actions can be morally justified in anyway. In which possible way can someone not reject genocide or invasion at a moral level? And maybe the nazis could have found that justifiable (I have never met one, thankfully), but that doesn't mean other societies shall find it acceptable.

Problem with nationalism is that its social agreement is built on empty ideas of nation, ethnicity, and political alliegances to exclude groups and nations from the moral code that this agreement brings. Thus, if freedom, generosity, solidarity, justice, equality, etc become part of this social agreement (which is the most reasonable thing to happen), certain groups and nations are excluded. In order for this deception to continue, mechanisms such as manipulated media, fake news, militar authority, fear of poverty and a culture of selfishness and hate is necessary. Wasn't the Italian partisanos who hanged Mussolini after all? Wasn't the Spanish poet Lorca speaking against the nationalist dictatorship? The moral codes, by their nature, are global, because they are built globally. You can't legitimately include just a small group, because this idea, if not supported by deception or blind faith, is unreasonable. Isn't Sionism unreasonable, even for many Jewish people?

On 9/9/2020 at 6:45 PM, Soldiers and Saffron said:

dont really like how you mention slavery without paying respect to the historic context as well as the time that the holy Quran was given in, nor to the many many ayahs who tell us to free the slaves over and over again.

I do it for the sake of this debate (about the lack of revision in religion), not as a real critique. I understand Islam within its original context, what I don't understand it is its orthodoxy in its current context. We can make another topic about the value of Islam in the Middle Ages, but this is not the place. I just want to mention that Islam is, imo, very accurate and an ideal moral code for its time. It focused on universalism (God had no representation), avoided divinifying people (and thus promoting assabiyah to potential believers), united language through a written book, gave importance to the diversity of people and ethnicities and the fact that none was superior. It also took into consideration previous rules and traditions, such as slavery, included it yet paved the ground for its end. I'm aware of all this, my critique is not that of a brainwashed muslim kid educated and comfortably living in the West who is angry because someone told him Muslim had slaves. I consider Islam the best of Religions, but my critique on its dogmatism and orthodoxy is still there.

On 9/9/2020 at 6:45 PM, Soldiers and Saffron said:

Yes, its true we have dogmas in religion but we also have free choice/usage of our reason within those dogmas where you may show God who you are. You mention mutah as a morally questionable subject, but again, nobody is forcing you to act immoral with mutah, nor does anyone force you to force/use the rights you have over your wife, or the rights you have over a slave, etc. In these cases you may use your reason, your reason is not separate from Islam but very much connected to Islam, what sets one muslim apart from another muslim?

I agree there is room within Islam for moral thinking. Of course there is, there is plenty of room. Nobody forces you to have slaves, nor to have mutah with other women while married with one. We can always pardon the lives of apostates, or ignore the fact they are apostates. And a long etc. The problem, my friend, lies in contempt. I will develop this:

- Let's see your example. You are an orthodox Muslim who also morally thinks over his actions, and choose the best of them. You don't only follow Islam, but also have a moral code and principles about good or bad. You aren't a machine. And you probably question yourself, your actions and ideas frequently.

- I do the same, have principles, moral values, moral islamic references I follow, but I hold nothing as dogmatic. In reality, there probably aren't many differences in core issues.

- There is a group of people who may be religious or not, but don't question their morality. They socially inherit it and don't reflect upon it (thus do no revision). Unlike both of us, who are here in SC debating with long posts about morality (heh)

In your case, when you do revision, do it within the boundaries of Islam. And you probably can do so, because there is plenty of room in Islam for that. And because things like slaves or killing apostates aren't really part of regular Muslims' life. So usually these topics are skipped and seen as historical facts of Islam rather than an integral part of its moral code.

In my case, I take Islam with a pinch of salt, and believe it can fail or be outdated, and don't really worry too much about being against slavery, death penalty for apostates, adulterers, etc while having Islam as a religious and moral reference in my life. You won't see me discussing issues such as thighing, slavery, etc, because I'm not even questioning Islam and fiqhi interpretations about it. It's out of my interest to discuss something evident and clear to me. I guess something similar happens with orthodox muslims though.

Where does the problem arises in my opinion?

Well, as I previously said, moral codes are socially built, and they develop through social agreement, and not the other way around. Moral codes are also, for that reason, social in their nature, and apply in society. They are not followed merely for selfish or defensive reasons, they become an inherent part of our thinking and ethics.

In that sense, society in the current times, with its current circumstances, cannot eternally bear a moral code of the sixth century without any room for revision, as this will most likely create evident clashes. For people like you, who learnt to find their own space within religious boundaries, it's not a real problem, and I can agree to that to certain extent. Nonetheless, for the third group I mentioned, those who inherit their moral code and don't question it, they will end up with a crisis. Because socially, they are taught a moral code that becomes part of themselves. But internally, they inherited a religious code that cannot change. This may have many outcomes, lets consider a few:

- moral duality. Someone who follows a moral code that can only apply in a small group of people and himself. Moral is social yet he can't act on it at a social level. For instance, you may have noticed your moral values and principles gain more relevance and fit way better in private islamic environments than in public spaces (I assume you live in the west, not sure if you moved). In public spaces, another code may take place. These codes usually don't clash and each one have their own space, and apply in their own space. It fascinates me, but it happens.

- moral outcast: a person who belongs to the group of people that don't do any revision. These people follow their inherited moral code (which can be the social one and/or the religious one). Some who live not very social lives may be left with mostly the religious one. This one does not update. Meanwhile the social one usually does. If this person doesn't do any revision, have mostly or only inherited the religious code (which doesn't update nor enourages revision), he's left without tools to comprehend the rules of society with his moral code, and how people feels and commit to each other. This is a serious personal problem which may end up in contempt. Accepting the fact you are a moral outcast, and feeling contempt because you are an outcast "for God's sake". This lead to real marginalization, which is a real social problem which in no way we should be justified with "but he will go to jannah because Islam is all what he needs". That person is, in fact, socially destroyed, and its not right to romanticise it. Nonetheless, the person will probably defend his position and his preference to be alone. This is something to expect.

- moral reconciliation: in this case, the person may just start "revisiting" Islam, or looking at it with other eyes. It takes into consideration Islamic laws and social morality, and articulates them both to fit in all possible ways (commonly by being flexible in the interpretations, or sugarcoating rules that could otherwise be seen as cruel by the social moral code). This is the case that many Muslims identify as "being brainwashed by the West". This happens a lot, though I find it an intellectually dishonest position that is somewhat necessary for someone's sanity. People fear Allah and Hell, after all. This is not a real revision, and that's why I included this group into the people who do no revision. There is no room for sugarcoating when there are clashes. Either you recognize the authority of faith and divinity as the origin of the only valid eternally perfect moral code, or its less romantic social origin which is constantly failing to be perfect.

On 9/9/2020 at 6:45 PM, Soldiers and Saffron said:

The problem is when you take a God given concept and condemn/abandon it as a whole based on how some wish to act/use the concept

Guess its evident after all the previous explanations, but just to make sure this is answered. I don't condemn concepts such as slavery or the abuse of mutah because of what others do or don't. I do it because I don't believe it's legitimate to have slaves or cheat on your wife. Others may find it legitimate. I don't. A religion should condemn what is wrong, and that is wrong for me. The fact islam in Islam eating a crab is haram but cheating on your wife (according to my morals) or having slaves is permitted, is enough reason to consider that religion shouldn't be the highest reference of anything. It has many good things, and may be an awesome moral reference, but in no way it deserves the highest place above reason.

On 9/9/2020 at 6:45 PM, Soldiers and Saffron said:

How long before you will start to deem the act of homosexuality as something "good"?

If I wanted sex, I wouldn't be writing this lengthy post on morality, but rather having sex. This has nothing to do with desires. Moreover, it's not desires what define what's good or bad, but rather the social agreement that builds moral principles that are related to trust, commitment, solidarity, etc. These are never built on a person's individual desires, but collective responsibility. I highly doubt that having gay sex is any of that. I can't imagine a society where having gay sex is a moral duty. Could be nice for a postapocalyptic dystopic anime, but nothing else.

On 9/9/2020 at 6:45 PM, Soldiers and Saffron said:

We can use our reason within the actions that are allowed to pick the best of actions and display the best of behaviors but I dont believe we are enough to completely define halal/haram on our own due to our nature.

LASTLY, this is what I was interested to quote. I completely agree, but I don't think religion is the valid alternative.

As a humanist, I have long acknowledged our limitations and inevitable failure to grasp any Truth. Yet I believe and value the journey. We will continue failing, always, but after each fail, there is a potential revision that can take place, and we can reflect upon the failures, and try to understand them better. It's like IA with the ability to learn. After millions of errors, it will come up with solutions that humans couldn't even start to guess, it's truly astonishing.

Many religious people tend to believe that the humanist stance leads to some sort of nihilism, and it's not necessarily like that. Acknowledging the concepts I have shared in this post may also bring you confidence that until now you have always been the person in charge of your life's meaning and moral thinking. You can still hold religious or cultural references, but from there it is reason which holds the highest authority in matters of beliefs and morality.

Sorry for the long post, hahah

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14 hours ago, Mohammad313Ali said:

@Quisant 

What you essentially did was describe the (fitra) innate disposition that is embedded within mankind, of course religions will coincide with such realities that pertain to the nature of the human being, however, when it comes to the perfection of these moral agents one cannot be free from divine instruction, otherwise it will all be subjective. You may perceive this as dogmatic, others can view this is faith which is oftentimes juxtaposed with dogmatism, albeit differing due to the credibility the divine entity has shown for you to believe in what one fails to reasonably reconcile, due to their lacking in the area of logic and the universal laws that have been set in place.

None of your assessments are fundamentally flawed, considering that they are concordant with the Islamic paradigm - the issue is that there is oftentimes baggage that is being carried into the area of discussion, or preconceived notions to what right and wrong is - this I believe is due to the thinking of those who seek to interpret the world through their own ego, looking at matters through an individual lens and avoiding the collective benefit of society. Even then how can you ensure the collective benefit to society when such benefit is drawn through a subjective lens?

That is why I am against this supposed blind curtain theory, because it argues that you should draw a just society based on what your ego thinks is right and wrong, Islam is very clear when it highlights to the individual that above all there is a need for submission, Socrates fundamentally believes in the importance of submission when it comes to rule and he argues that the masses should adhere to 'he who knows' - I ask you, how can we find 'he who knows' if not through the implementation of a divine (objective) scale of evaluation. The Islamic reality rectifies the Socratic and Aristotelian narratives when combined and also provides a nice Platonic remedy to the spirituality of the human being, be it through Gnosticism, or other means of actualizing the Lord within the self by unveiling the light within them which has been cascaded by the shadows of egoism. 

 

Thank you for your thoughtful post,I enjoyed reading it.

As I explained in my earlier post (first page of this thread) my model is different from yours.
I believe that Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to.

I am also aware that ultimately, everyone settles at some level of explanation based on one's personal preferences that fit the particular individual's psychological needs.

Best wishes.

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