Religions tend to be divisive sources of conflict. That’s because they proclaim a god that is based on speculation and anecdotal experiences. This faith-based approach to truth is out of step with modern logic, and leads to disputes that can never be resolved. On the other hand, materialistic humanism and science have icy hearts that exclude the warmth of meaning in our existence.
Yet there is universal evidence of spirituality in each human. This spirituality transcends the physical world without being in conflict with it. It provides purpose and morality. It is the basis for a religion that embraces and unifies all people. This is a religion for the new century.
Traditional religion asks “Do you believe?” or “Are you saved?” This new religion asks only “Do you have free will?” Free will recognizes that you are limited by your physical time and place. It recognizes that you are influenced by your genes and experience. But it also asserts that every day you are faced with many true choices. Which choice you pick is under your control. You have the possibility of making the unexpected choice.
Think about what it means to say that you have free will. It means that some of your decisions are not controlled by the master plan of some god. It means that they are not pre-ordained by the laws of nature, nor randomized by the chaos of sub-atomic particles. We rely on predictable laws every time we board an airplane or microwave our popcorn. But we are not merely another machine; free will makes us different.
Free will is so deeply embedded in our everyday lives that it seems quite ordinary. But the implications are profound. Only humans have the self-awareness that allows us to contemplate our free will. Only humans can see that part of our reality is not controlled by mechanistic forces, and is therefore spiritual. At the same time, we recognize that we did nothing to earn our human spirits, that one person is not more deserving than another, because we all have received this gift. We recognize that ignoring a precious gift diminishes the potential of our life experience. And we recognize that humans, as social animals, can best celebrate and cultivate this gift as part of a community.
So here we have a religion that brings people together, a religion that can support them as they explore their own spirituality, without denigrating the explorations of others. It is a religion that accepts and is curious about the physical world and its laws. It is a religion based on respect for the gift of free will in others, and not on some rigid set of rules. It is a religion for our future.