Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What is Millenarian Iconoclasm?

An Introduction

Millenarianism is the belief in a coming major transformation of society (usually on a 1000 year cycle but not exclusively). Christianity is a millenarian belief structure that is, in theory, looking for the return of Christ. They have, at times, believed this so strongly that they were willing to put others to torture and even death in order to "save them" before this return. That kind of extremism is obviously exceedingly harmful to society. And I somewhat apologize for the Christian focus that will undoubtedly unfold - but it is the counter force that I know the best. But fear not, dear Reader, for my comments generally apply to all the major and minor religions of the world. Please do not take my words to apply only to Christian beliefs, where applicable please also take similar offense if you belong to some other religion.

Iconoclasm on the other hand is the destruction of the icons of religion. In this case I mean it STRICTLY in the realm of IDEAS. I absolutely reject ANY attempt to outlaw religion. I absolutely reject ANY attempt to physically harm religious people OR property.

So, my goal is to tear down some of these millenarian ideas that lead to false beliefs and I hope the reader will comment and further my own education in such matters. I plan for this to be a far ranging blog as this subject touches on every aspect of our lives in some way or another. I will be rude, out-spoken, rambling and even wrong at times. I will have typos and grammatical errors (in my defense my brain is just not wired for English, I have always struggled with it, but feel free to extract amusement where you can find it). But hopefully I can be articulate enough to get my points across.

I do not hide the fact that I am fairly liberal-minded (I suppose I have the "novelty" seeking gene) although I subscribe to no specific ideology outside of Thomas Huxley's brand of Agnosticism (which means to say that I value Reason and Evidence). I reject the wishy-washy alternative brands of agnosticism that sloshed around after Huxley's passing. But I am not a Democrat nor am I a Republican. I am a thinking human being capable of making my own judgments based on the things I value.

I will attempt to be extremely clear on where I place value so that you can assess not just my ideas on any given subject but perhaps better understand the motivations behind them. I have a hope that liberals and conservatives alike place fairly similar values on most things but we just disagree on a path that will get us there (which I believe are due to differences in Secondary values, not primary values). I am a strong constitutionalist. I am FOR small government (especially when it comes to someones Personal life). But I am also for the right solutions for the right problems. One approach does not work for all types of problems, ideologists seem to forget that.

I hope that we all want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Agnosticism will be a recurring theme because I feel that many people who call themselves an Agnostic (noun) really mean that they are agnostic (adjective) in their beliefs. These are two Vastly different positions and I will attempt to distinguish them and support my position on Agnosticism as a Positive belief in Reason and Evidence.

I am not afraid of the term atheist and, similar to Bertrand Russell, I tend to identify myself as an Atheist outside of certain groups (those who have read something on Philosophy, Huxley, Russell, etc) and can make the finer distinction between being an Atheist because you don't believe in a god and being Agnostic because you believe in Reason and Evidence. I don't want to define myself relative to something I don't accept as an ontologically valid position. I don't call myself an aTeapotist either. There are indeed an infinite number positions that I lack, so, to me, it is better to list ones I value (Reason + Evidence) than the ones I do not.

So count me among those that lack a belief in any theistic god.

Please set aside your preconceived notions of Agnosticism for the moment and try to understand what I mean by the term:

Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle. That principle is of great antiquity; it is as old as Socrates; as old as the writer who said, "Try all things, hold fast by that which is good" it is the foundation of the Reformation, which simply illustrated the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him; it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science.

Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him.

Huxley coined a word for his position: "agnostic." Although this word is sometimes defined (as in the Oxford English Dictionary) as relating to the Unknowable, Huxley denied having that as source of the word.

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