Degrees of Theistic or Religious Observation

I wrote this back in May 2013 on my old blog and whilst this does not really fit the Modern Father Online ethos, it is posted here so that when I close down The Squircle I have it published somewhere.

By no means is the article written by evolutionary psychologist Nigel Barber, Ph.D. on why religion will become redundant by 2035 a new article as it was written and published in July 2011, but early May 2013 social media and even well established and trusted media outlets were buzzing with this story.

After reading about two dozen comments on Twitter and comments on blogging sites I can tell that people who see themselves as religious in 2013 aren’t looking at giving this practice away in the next 22 years. I have plenty of friends, extended family and acquaintances who would see themselves as a 1, 2 or 3 on Richard Dawkins’ Spectrum of Theistic Probability scale; that is, to some extent, they believe in God, a god or gods (allowing for those who follow some of the Dharmic religions). Along with Richard Dawkins’ Spectrum of Theistic Probability scale, I have the belief there is a further scale in which those who call themselves religious fit; I want this to be known as Degrees of Theistic or Religious Observation. Whilst Dawkins focuses on a person’s mindset on their belief, my scale focuses more on the level in which the person observes their religion or belief system. And to differentiate my scale from Dawkins, instead of starting with the highest number as being the highest level of believing, I am starting at one as I am sure those who would see themselves as a one would say they are one with God.

1. Believes in God or gods – actively spreads the Word of God

a. includes those in “professional” roles within their religious organisations such as Priests, Popes, Abbesses, Abbots, Archbishops, Bishops, Christian Brothers, Cardinals, Christian Fathers, Monsignors, Pastors, Priors, Reverends, Venerables, Ayatollahs, Hajji, Imams, Shias, Sunnis, Rabbis, Rinpoches, Rōshis, Sris and Lamas.

b. Also includes Mormons, Seven Day Adventists, Missionaries, Monks and those who are “civilians” charged with encouraging outsiders to join in their religious organisation.

c. I hesitated to include them, but it would be incomplete with mentioning fundamentalist who would kill or harm people in the name of their religion, to promote their religion as the one true religion and to somehow think this is all to please their god.

2. Believes in God or gods – attends a place of worship such as a temple, church, synagogue or mosque religiously (excuse the intended pun); that is one or more days every week come hail, rain or shine.

3. Believes in God or gods – takes part in daily prayers and rituals (including the wearing of religious garments) and/or strictly observes those things their religion bans them from eating, drinking, watching or partaking in.

4. Believes in God or gods – attends a place of worship on special occasions only such a at Christmas, Easter, Yom Kippur, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha

5. Believes in God or gods – gets their children christened or baptised, marries in a place of worship, but otherwise doesn’t attend a place of worship

6. Believes in God or gods – celebrates or joins in on the major religious observations such as Christmas, Yom-Kippur, Easter but otherwise doesn’t partake in other religious observations

7. Believes in God or gods – but doesn’t celebrate or observe any religious celebration or observation

What you will notice with this scale is all seven degrees of my scale are based on the belief that there IS a God or gods. All of these people would have to answer that they are a 1, 2, or 3 on Dawkins’ scale with those who would see themselves as a 1 through to 4 being a 1 on Dawkins scale, whilst those being a 5, 6 or 7 on my scale would be a 2 or 3 on his.

1. Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: “I do not believe, I know.”

2. De facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. “I don’t know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.”

3. Leaning towards theism. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. “I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.”

Now, I added the last one on my scale as there has to be a lowest level in a scale like this even if in reality you wouldn’t find anyone who would say “I’m a big fat 7. Sure I believe in God, but I’m not going to celebrate any of the Holy Days associated with Him.” I would say nearly everyone enjoys the festive days that come as part of religious celebrations, even an Atheist like me.

And that got me thinking; if Atheism had a festive season or two where we exchanged gifts or chocolate, had a huge feast, and they gave you FIVE days off work or school instead of the three* or four Christian holidays, I think there would be a lot more Atheists in this world. *Some countries do not observe Boxing Day as a Christian holiday.

I don’t have a problem having a extra long weekend sometime in March or April each year where we have hot crossed buns and chocolate. Actually, if we were going for a secular holiday I am sure we could shake of the Pagan shackles and lock it in to be a specific weekend; the same each year. My vote would be for Easter to be either the last weekend of March or the first weekend in April. Forget about Equinox throwing the dates around like all Hell giving Good Friday the chance of being as early as 20th March or as late as the 23rd April. That’s a five week window of opportunity we’re playing with there. Not on my watch I tells you.

I also don’t have a problem with having two days to organise the family, to cook a delicious dinner (that’s way too big to enjoy on a hot day in Australia). A day to bring undue stress about what to buy someone, who will hold the big day, whose family you’ll spend the day with (if you’re in a relationship). I love Christmas, I really do. I’m one of the Atheists like Tim Minchin who get all sentimental about it. In fact, I tear up at his beautiful song White Wine in the Sun which has been my favourite song for the season for a few years now (sadly I don’t think he’ll get to sing that at any of the televised Carols by Candlelight).

Look, I know that most of my Atheist peers would protest at the thought of this, but I like being part of this ‘religious organisation’ called Atheism. But I digress (just to put the wind up some of their sails). More on THAT topic in another blog, and that is for another time. And, seeing that I have a scale for those religious who DO believe in God or gods, there has to be a scale for the non-believers too. Those Theist amongst us would ask for one, wouldn’t they? And this scale would, as it is opposed to my Degrees of Theistic or Religious Observation scale, have to be called Degrees of Anti-Theist or Non-Religious Opinion. What I am basically saying is, there are those who do not believe in God or gods and are practicing Atheists, those who do not believe in God or gods and live their lives without really thinking about it, and those who do not believe in Gods or gods as they do not know they exist as no one has told them there is a God or gods.

1. Does not believe in God or gods – Practicing Atheist who is active online, gets into debates with religious people, follows Anti-Theist Facebook pages or Twitter accounts. Wouldn’t shy away from calling themselves at “big fat 7” on Dawkins’ scale

2. Does not believe in God or gods – Atheist who is happy with their life without the need for any spiritual or religious dogma. Doesn’t go seeking an argument but will happily disagree with a Theist if forced into a debate.

3. Does not believe in God or gods – Atheist who is happy with their life without the need for any spiritual or religious dogma. Doesn’t care if you are a Theist or Anti-Theist, just gets on with life knowing there is no God or gods.

4. Does not believe in God or gods – Would prefer to call themselves Agnostic so as not to offend those who don’t believe. Really is inclined to say there isn’t a God or gods and will always ask those sticky questions to a Theist (like “why doesn’t God save dying babies?”) to make the Theist realise why they cannot call themselves a true believer or have faith in a God or gods.

5. Does not believe in God or gods – Would prefer to call themselves Agnostic so as not to offend those who don’t believe. Really is inclined to say there isn’t a God or gods, but doesn’t like to get into debates about the topic.

6. Does not believe in God or gods – Could only be called (and for that matter, the only time I would accept this title) Non-Religious because they do not know about religion, have never been taught about God or gods, and is probably too young to know or have an opinion either way.

On this scale I just wrote, I am not going to add degrees that would state “does not believe in God or gods, but loves to celebrate Christmas” as that serves no purpose and where on the scale would you fit that degree? It couldn’t be below 6 and it couldn’t be just above 6 as that would have to lend itself to the bottom level of this scale, and if the person mentioned as being a 6 knew about Christmas or other religious celebrations, then they could not be Non-Religious to the full extent I am giving it here.

I am sure on a blog like this, those who would see themselves fit within the Degrees of Anti-Theist or Non-Religious Opinion scale would be happy to tell me which one they were (although, no-one could actually say that they are a 6 after reading thus far), but I wonder how far down the Degrees of Theistic or Religious Observation scale I could get someone to admit they are.

So that is the question for this post; which scale would you fit on and what number would apply to you?

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