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The Uncertain Legacy examines some of the debatable certainties held by the more extreme members of the religious and scientific communities when members of a family, with diametrically opposed points of view, meet to discuss a financial and philosophical legacy their father wants to pass on to them. The conversations of the characters bring into question not only the views of atheists like Richard Dawkins, and Victor Stenger at the one extreme but also garden-variety fundamentalists at the other, and proposes that entertaining a little doubt about both faith and reason may lead us to a better understanding of both, and, in so doing, create more useful methods for exploring the physical nature of the universe, and the moral nature of man.

TFailing

About the Author

Terry Failing
TFailing Saint Johnsville, N.Y., U.S.A.

Terry Failing, a graduate of Hamilton College and the State University of New York at Binghamton has been following the debate about the existence of God that has been raging between scientific atheists and fundamentalist theologians and has found that both sides’ arguments are not only unconvincing but strangely similar in their dogmatism and refusal to consider any truth other than their own. Armed only with curiosity and doubt, he has set out to explore and forge new understandings and definitions of God and of the other orthodoxies that dominate our lives. When not reading and thinking about this exploration, he tends a plum and cherry orchard in upstate New York. Comments about the book may be sent to the author at ardjuna@dishmail.net.

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focusoninfin

focusoninfin says

I was reared Episcopalian (still fond of it) and was confirmed as a child; my belief motivation then was primarily, "go along, to get along"; partly the easier path, but also for the most part, parents and responsible adults I put my trust in them both because I had no choice, and for the most part, they were trustworthy both secularly and spiritually. I simply trusted saying I believed in the "Holy Trinity", the power of prayer, the Ten Commandments, etc., were probably right, even though I was not certain of it. It was less I trusted in God per se; and more I trusted the adults confirmations, that I should trust in God per se. Yet, yes as even a child; if our priest trusted in God; why did he buy fire and other insurance just like people who did not "trust in God"?

The legal department counsel of a big tobacco company and members of several legal firms were church communicants. The secular press had heralded a week of world-wide floods, droughts, swarms of crop devouring insects, medical plagues and our priest in his sermon finished with a prayer; asking God to deliver those suffering such (the congregation suffered none of this, so it was not selfish prayer for us, but to help others so afflicted) to be delivered safely from these torments. I got to thinking; wasn't each and every one of those horrors what our communicant attorneys legally defined as "Acts of God"? It was as if the priest was praying God, don't Act like God; at leas not as lawyers define Him.

When I joined the Navy, age 17, 1961, I was a skeptic, though still wanting to be a true believer. My dog-tags read "Unitarian", but I never met a Unitarian chaplain in the Navy. Honorably out in 1964, I started attending Unitarian fellowships. There I met, also mostly good folks, who's extremes ran the opposite way. Some but their faith in Mankind; I guess that's "Humanism"? Some put their faith in Reasoning and "Logic" (as did many Episcopal priests, but when "Logic" failed them, then "Faith" saved the situation). As a child in the late1940's, early 1950's; though a lot of dad's fellow Bell Labs engineers seemed to really have traditional Christian beliefs, many were the others that worshiped at the alter "Science". "Science" would save Man; and it verily has, somewhat. Off-set by hurt Man too-somewhat?

Thus I lost faith in non-traditional religion variations as well. Though I would prefer a God of certainty, that rewards good and punishes evil; that's not the God I find. I believe that I as an individual, and Mankind collectively would do better off, with less harm to one another, even less harm to selves; with a God of swift , sure certainty. However that is not the God I find. Rather I find an Ambiguous God; and Man can not abide, an ambiguous God. None-the-less, I believe in, and trust in God. Why?

Partly because I'd rather live in a world with God, than live in a world without God. Since I'm not certain there is, or isn't God; why not live with, to me; the more comforting choice. Because a person chooses to be an atheist, that does not cause God to cease to exist; likewise my preferring to believe in God, does not cause God to exist.

To me, "religion" is Man's relationship to God. If a man's relationship is to deny the existence of God, then their religion is atheism. For some reason most atheist insist they have no religion though many atheists are more faithful, more devote in that belief, than some "true believer" Christians.

What is the correct standard of belief in God? I don;t know? But if the correct standard of in belief in God is "beyond a reasonable doubt"; then as I have had reasonable doubts; that would make me agnostic.

But, I believe the more reasonable standard, the better standard if not the one-and-only correct standard, the more practical standard; is "by the preponderance of the evidence". By that I believe there is more evidence in quantity, and/or in better evidence in quality; in that it is more likely God exists, than God does not exist. Again, that is also my prejudice.

Does your book address issues, such as these?

posted at 10:44pm Sep 21 PST

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