Zeigen’s credo

Credo is Latin for “I believe.” These are my personal beliefs. Everyone has different perceptions and beliefs, and I do not offer my credo as an insult or to attack anyone else, but only as an exercise of putting my beliefs into words so that I can better understand myself.

[Photo of Sammy Mack at Stanford Mall, November 6, 2009]

I believe in my kids.

  • I believe that people should be treated with respect, no matter what beliefs they hold. I may disagree with certain beliefs, and even try to convince another person to change a belief, but I will always try to respect the individual, no matter how much I disagree with their beliefs. (There is an exception for believers in hatred or violence; I find it very difficult to respect holders of those beliefs.)
  • I believe in following a moral code, based on one’s understanding of right and wrong, and I believe in treating others as I would wish to be treated.
  • I believe in the scientific method, that theories and claims should be tested, and that beliefs should be based on testable and reproducible evidence. I believe there are no immutable truths and that everything should be up for debate.
  • I believe “faith” is defined as having a certain belief despite there being no evidence for that belief. Because of my skeptical world view and my requirement for evidence to support my beliefs, I believe that “faith” has little place in my life.
  • I believe that I am completely open to believing in the existence of God (or gods). If I were to find any proof that God exists, I would believe in God. I believe that the burden of proof of God’s existence should be on those who believe in God, not on those who don’t. By some definitions, this makes me an agnostic, but I don’t really believe in labels.
  • I believe that the more extraordinary the claim, the more rigorous should be the proof. Belief in a benevolent creator as a conscious entity who watches over us and influences events for us is an extraordinary claim, or so I believe.
  • There are several arguments for creator belief that I do not find persuasive.
    1. I am not persuaded by arguments along the lines that all things have a creator, therefore our universe was created. Who, then, created the creator? The same argument that others make to me that our universe must have had some “prime cause” I would return to them, and ask what was the prime cause for that prime cause.
    2. I am not persuaded by the extraordinary unlikelihood of life forming on our planet as proof that there was a creator of that life. Deal out a deck of cards. The odds of that particular hand being dealt were tiny. But it happened, and after it happened, the odds were 100%. Deal enough hands and you increase the likelihood of that hand being dealt to the point where it becomes likely. Well, I believe there are a lot of planets in our universe, and I believe that we happen to live on one where life happened to form.
    3. I am not persuaded by words in a book put down by human hands as any kind of absolute proof of anything in particular, especially when the book in question has had multiple authors and revisions and a long history of mistranslations. (If you are insulted by this, please don’t be. Maybe I’m not talking about YOUR holy book, maybe I’m talking about someone else’s.)
    4. I do not find persuasive any third party descriptions of impossible events or miracles, especially if they happened long ago, unless they have been credibly witnessed or recorded or reproduced.
    5. Because I have never seen a credible study proving that prayer has benefits (and I have seen many that disprove any benefits), I do not believe in the power of prayer. How does God choose which prayers to answer? If one person prays for one event to happen, while another person prays for that same event to not happen, how is that resolved?
  • I tend not to believe in absolutes or extremes, but instead look at life as a full spectrum of possibilities.
  • I believe our brains and perceptions are often deeply flawed, and we have unbelievable power to fool ourselves.
  • I believe that every individual is different, and do not expect my own beliefs to influence others or be persuasive. Other individuals have different beliefs based on their different values and world views, and I believe that that’s what makes life interesting. The world’s religions and varied cultural history hold enormous value and beauty.
  • I believe that a refusal to be tolerant of other people’s different beliefs is problematic. I respect people for strong-held beliefs, but some belief systems are incompatible with my world view, and I may choose to not have such people in my life, and I believe that some people with extreme beliefs should not hold positions of power or authority over others.
  • I fully believe in the separation of church and state.
  • I am by nature suspicious of most organizations, and that applies to organized religious organizations as well. I believe in “live and let live” and therefore do not care for extreme proselytizing, or dogma that dismisses or attacks other groups.
  • I do believe in groups that support each other and their community with acts of charity, whether those groups are religious or not.
  • I believe that I should try hard not to be a hypocrite. But I believe that I am a flawed individual, and that my actions may not always be consistent with my beliefs. But I believe I should always try to be consistent and try to improve myself.
  • I believe in kind actions and kind words. I believe in not taking oneself too seriously. I believe in love. I believe it’s time to eat.

One Response to “Zeigen’s credo”

  1. Geoff Mitchell Says:

    Stephen, fantastic post. I could not agree with you more and this was a refreshing statement and insight into a man I know more of now, through zeigen.com, than I ever had a clue about after 2 years of working together.

    I’m right there with you.

    Although I’m perhaps a bit less tolerant of other people’s beliefs when they’re belief systems that propagate, even slightly, bigotry or homophobia or racism or just plain ignorance of science on the whole. I find it irritating that we might have a vastly more advanced society, with greater harmony, fewer wars, evolutionary leaps in science and medical research and more, were it not for personal ‘faith based’ belief systems that ultimately block progress for the sake of a collective bodies own unfounded assumptions of ‘right and wrong’ born from a time of great ignorance.

    But I digress. Wonderful post. Bravo.

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