This post is based on one i put on the WOW! website just now.
An idea struck me today as I answered an email from my son who is taking a fundamentalist position about a contentious family issue over his gay cousin banned from the christian grandparent’s 90th birthday celebration. I said,
“…let’s say it’s not written in stone or a priori self-evident that one set of laws carved in stone (and there are many, as you know!) is completely reliable and true. Then we need to question, dont we? IF there was no other form of reasoning than to deductively explore consequences of premises fixed by irreversible cultural trends
, then we would indeed be stuck.
But there is: charles peirce
showed there are three kinds of reasoning. the other two are induction and abduction(or ‘retroduction
‘, or hypothesis-formation
). It seems clear to me the only way to reliably approach truth in our beliefs is to form hypotheses and test them, including by deductive logic
, to explore their consequences and see if there’s an absurdity, an abhorrence or a conflict with observation of any kind.
…what is hard about fundamentalism is it does protect certain combinations of morality and ethics, so to let it go or challenge it does invite a fear reaction. But there is a sane, wise and godly alternative to fundamentalist acceptance of a set of laws written in stone thousands of years ago. What is it called? That’s one of the problems. All the labels are problematic. It’s not liberalism as commonly understood, or rationalism, or holism, theism deism or platonism… maybe we need a new term and a new manifesto? And write THAT in stone? Then maybe you would see it as an alternative to this bible-based fundamentalist morality. If i wrote a draft of such a credo or manifesto, would you look at it?”
So, I really felt moved to give it a go. Not to bow down and worship the stone tablets, but to have them there as a (family?) discussion document, a working map of the territory as I currently understand it. Labels are necessary. Anything not labelled conveniently has a kind of shadowy existence in our human minds. imagine if we had to say, ‘i’, taking the thing with four wheels and a motor on the blackish open strip to the usually four-walled structure where there are these things we like to eat usually squarish and put into transparent bags…’ etc., instead of ‘I’m taking the car to the dairy to buy some bread.’
So I suggest we all would all do well to jot down our own credo, to be as persuasive and clear as possible, to share and of course to edit, adapt or rip up as life (and other people) opens us to new understandings. Oh yes, and label it!
Let’s nail our colours to our masts!
I’d like to think that whole groups could take the manifestos
of all their members and order them around the most commonly accepted propositions, and make a kind of ‘Wisdom mindmap’
of their collective understanding as it is – for discussion and clarification, and conscious, considered evolution of their beliefs. It would go with the Wheel of Wisdom game perfectly…
We need to fight back against the well-labelled holy scriptures
taking the place of our hard-won freedoms and yes, ?liberal/rational/ethical wisdom
. Not by attacking their scriptures, but by creating our own, but with built-in amendment clauses and procedures for amendment. That is really what constitutions are. But we need them in our personal and group lives, not just in the national constitutions. The alternative is either a dangerous vagueness or appearance of ‘wishy-washy liberalism’ – or a return to some atavistic cultural ‘static latch’ – a fundamentalism and a scripure that says ‘he who alters or questions me shall be damned’.
To defend the True West we need a manifesto – or a convergence of manifestos. A wisdom mindmap.
There IS a Wisdom of the West, which must not be allowed to perish by default. We need to codify it, not as a new fundamentalism, but as a newly articulated state of the art reference point for our collective evolving wisdom here in the (relatively) Free West.