Hello. I’m a Syntheist. This is what I believe

Dead sea scrolls

Dead sea scrolls

Few things make sceptics and scientifically inclined free thinkers nervous as the idea that they might be adhering to any kind of dogma. We all want to avoid the dreaded bane of group-think or risk turning into any kind of brain-washing cult. But any group of people have distinguishing features. That’s why we can identify it as a group. Idea-based groups share common ideas. This should be uncontroversial. We are not open to anybody. We are only open to those who share our beliefs and values. I hope this to is uncontroversial?

I set about trying to identify what these shared beliefs could be. Since these beliefs are intended to be universal for all Syntheists we needed to agree to them. As it happens, free thinking rationalist found it impossible to agree to such a list. Who would have thought?

A herd of cats

Cats resenting being herded

So I gave up on the idea to create a universally accepted Syntheist creed. But I still wanted some sort of a list that Syntheists could get behind. Not an authoritative list from above. But simply something we could point to and show as an example of the kinds of things Syntheists believe. Something tangible and concrete. So instead of our list I created my list:

A Syntheist…

– is a post-atheist. 1)

– is an ethicist 2)

– is a Monist

– accepts that Science is at present the best tool we have to understand reality. 3)

– believes that our understanding of reality is always inter-subjective, that we are individuals and that we can never separate ourselves from our experience of the world. 4 )

– thinks religion can be a positive force in the world.

-believe that religion is primarily about the sacredness of community. 5)

– understand that holiness and divinity is humanly created concepts to answer psychological needs as biological creatures with a symbolic brain.

– finds a personal approach and way through their spirituality, but understand the need for communal action and rites so shares values, direction and connection.

-is aware that each individual is free to join and leave, partake or disagree with any Syntheist group.

Science stand back

Notes:

1)      Post-atheism is an atheist in a world where all theistic belief has disappeared already. It’s a stance on the “Big Questions” that isn’t opposed to anything since there’s nothing for such a stance to oppose. If you don’t like the term post-atheist or you don’t think it’s accurate for you in your situation in life, then you are free to replace “post-atheist” with just “atheist”. You’ll be just as welcome.

2)  Philosophically speaking, Syntheists are ethicists: empowerment through knowledge, community building and creative activity. Ethics comes from logical thinking, rational discourse and inquiries into the human condition: intersubjectivity rather than objectivity.

http://syntheism.org/index.php/2013/05/syntheism-and-ethics/

3) That’s full on science with all the bells and whistles, applied scientific method. No pseudoscience or real science as a fig-leaf for some otherwise crazy beliefs. Furthermore, we are not scientistic. We acknowledge that there is plenty of valuable knowledge the scientific method has little or nothing to say about (ex. ethics)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

4)  A more fancy way of saying the same thing is:

We believe that our understanding of reality is always intersubjective, that we are dividuals rather than individuals, operating under the illusory but necessary experience of the isolated Self, and fundamentally unable to separate ourselves from the continuous and interactive process with the rest of existence.

5)  This belief renders the struggles over God (God vs God or theism vs atheism) an irrelevant conflict.

This list is not  complete and will never be. These are only the most fundamental beliefs that I think identify me as a Syntheist. It should also be pointed out that I received plenty of help from other Syntheists in compiling this list and finding the best formulations. It was, very much so, a group effort.

/Tom Knox,

member of the Stockholm congregation