Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Some thoughts on religion

I find religion and religious studies absolutely fascinating. Sometimes I wish I could have gotten an undergraduate minor in religion or theology but, alas, it was not offered at my university. No matter; religious meditations (I use the word meditation in the way Descartes used it, not in the way Indian religions) are more of a hobby for me anyway... I do it when I have the drive and motivation, which usually strikes me at the oddest of times.

For example, today I was biking home from work (well, technically I was biking home from Happy Hour irish coffee with Libby) and I started thinking about Pelagianism, which I was reading about last week. What is Pelagianism, you ask? From Wikipedia (though not a true scholarly source, I know, but I recently read an article, Nuclear Exaggeration: Is Radiation as Dangerous as We Thought?, in the English section of Spiegel Online that actually states, in the text!!, "According to Wikipedia," (see page two of the article, if you're reading it)... so...):
[Pelagianism] is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which, being created from God, was divine), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without Divine aid. Thus, Adam's sin was "to set a bad example" for his progeny, but his actions did not have the other consequences imputed to Original Sin. Pelagianism views the role of Jesus "setting a good example" for the rest of humanity (thus counteracting Adam's bad example). In short, humanity has full control, and thus full responsibility, for its own salvation in addition to full responsibility for every sin (the latter insisted upon by both proponents and opponents of Pelagianism). According to Pelagian doctrine, because humanity does not require God's grace for salvation (beyond the creation of will), Jesus' execution is therefore devoid of the redemptive quality ascribed to it by orthodox Christian theology.
Hmmm... I think this is interesting because it seems to work with a number of interesting theories. First, it works with the theory of God as an absentee landlord. This theory essentially states that God created the Universe, simultaneously setting the laws of nature in motion, and has since let it and, subsequently, human evolution proceed in a calculated yet "natural" way, given the laws that were set in place at the time of creation. The absentee landlord theory is one I feel some agnostics, like myself, can't seem to let go without a fight. (See my argument for agnosticism: On Agnosticism and the Meaning of Life) Second, Pelagianism interestingly complements the concept of "will" and, subsequently, "determinism," "free will," and what I like to call "determined free will," though I'm sure the latter has a more philosophical, contemplative term I have somehow missed.

I will elaborate more on this later... I'm hungry now.

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