This I Believe

Elizabeth - O Fallon, Missouri
Entered on October 23, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: humanism

I believe in dichotomies. I am the product of one. My mother raised me to be a good Methodist. I went to church every Sunday, read the Bible and learned what Jesus would do. My father raised me to be a good skeptic. He never identified himself as an atheist, but he did not believe in anything as empirically improvable as a higher being. He taught me to question, to use deductive reasoning and to live a life according to a strict code of personal ethics. And yet, I have found a harmony between these two disparate sides of me – the intellectual and the spiritual. I have become an Ethical Humanist.

I’m still discovering what it means to be an Ethical Humanist, a term that sounds pretty dry and cold and philosophical. But it’s not. It is everything I have learned from Jesus and my parents and the Bible and Science all rolled into one. It is my passion and my life’s guide. It is my religion.

I stumbled across this religion after listening to an ad on my local NPR station here in St. Louis. There was going to be a lecture by a renowned Washington University biologist on the case for Evolution sponsored by the Mid-Rivers Ethical Society. The lecture was of course fascinating, but it was the people I met – the people who believed as I did and came together as a community around those beliefs that opened my eyes to a religion that I did not know existed. It is a religion of “Deed before Creed” and “Love over Should.” It is a religion unencumbered by dogma, the riddles of antiquity and the scars of history. It is also not very popular or well understood.

Most of us are your typical white, middle-class bleeding-heart liberals, but we all ache for diversity in our little group. We instinctively know that opening our minds to a variety of viewpoints will keep us honest in challenging and reaffirming our own beliefs. I’m a little scared, though, of becoming too self-righteous and hypocritical. I believe so deeply in the core of Ethical Humanism – that every person has worth – that I’m in danger of not being able to find the value in someone who does not also believe that.

I wish religion were easy for me. I wish a man in a pulpit could just point me to the right verse and I’d be able to know what is right and what is not. But being the daughter of a passionate and spiritual mother and a skeptical and intellectual father keeps me from being satisfied with an easy answer. It’s going to be a lot of work to keep figuring out what I believe, but I’m eager for the challenge.