Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spiritual ministry ideals

Religion of Rationality Ordains Ministers for Free

by: Crash Winfield
The Temple of Earth has recently announced that it will ordain anyone online (at ) for free. Of course, this is nothing new. Many online religious organizations offer free ordination. But the Temple of Earth aims to provide something qualitatively different from the others. "The TOE," as it is affectionately referred to by its adherents, is "The World's First Religion of Reason." That is, it aims to promote rationality and a type of humanist philosophy which embraces spiritual notions but stops short at offering pat explanations about life, the universe and everything. "This is not atheism," asserts the Deacon of the Temple, "We are not saying that there is no God. But the idea of God is so abstract and means so many things to so many people that questions about it are meaningless. Many people say God is nature. In that case, studying the laws of nature would be the same as trying to understand God. And this is what we do. But why call it God?

We just call it nature." According to the website, religious organizations have received untold benefits from their status as religions while rationalists have had no effective way to band together to offer support, camaraderie and spiritual inspiration. Which begs the question: can one be both rational and spiritual? The TOE says yes. "The great renaissance philosophers and scholars were equal parts scientist and artist," points out the Deacon, "They saw the spirituality inherent in systems. By which I mean the mystery of patterns beyond our present reckoning. The difference between a rationalist and a religionist is that the rationalist is actively trying to explore and make sense of those patterns. The religionist claims to have it pretty much figured out already. For this our society gives them special dispensation. We think that's unfair." To become ordained, one must merely visit the website, provide essential details: name, date and the desired religious title. Seconds later a colorful certificate appears announcing the ordination. From there it's up to the newly-ordained minister to decide what he or she wants to do with it. Many states will allow ministers of any religion to officiate wedding ceremonies. Resources on the TOE website provide suggestions on how to form a "TOE ring" - essentially a private congregation of like-minded ministers. Other certificates with the Temple seal are available for download - certificates of friendship, love, baby-naming and even pet-naming among them. They are all free. "We're not doing this for financial gain but to promote a rationality in the world," says the Deacon, "One could argue that every single atrocity that occurs among human beings is a direct result of the exaltation of irrationality. If we can encourage people to venerate rational thinking in the same way others do with religion, it could have a real, lasting and positive effect on the world." When questioned about atrocities resulting from the excesses of science, the Deacon replies, "Science is not to blame for the bad things people do.

Science provides pure information. It is up to us how we interpret and what we do with that information. The more rational we are, the better our choices will be." And what about feeling and intuition? According to the Temple of Earth these are crucial for human creativity, but reason must always be the final arbiter of truth. "Intuition without reason is the genesis of genocide," The Deacon insists. And love? Surely there's no place for love in a religion of rationality. But the Deacon replies, "On the contrary. Love is the most rational thing in the world. Without each other we are nothing. Love, affinity, friendship - this is the essence of humanity. Love is arguably what gave rise to language and the intellect and culture in the first place. The TOE is a religion of love as much as it is a religion of reason. And we avow that reason can help us love and embrace more of humanity than any ideology or traditional religion ever could." According to the Deacon a great deal of interest has been expressed and although he won't divulge how many ministers have already been ordained, he replies with a smile, "The response has been phenomenal."

About The AuthorCrash Winfield is a frequent contributor to many international magazines and journals.

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