The Humanist Unitarian Meaning of God

    by the Reverend Joseph Abraham Ben-David

    In these days of great threat and urgency, when the world is moving towards global totalitarianism and with the possibility of the end of life as we know it, three areas of concern will be decisive: economics, science and religion. In this context, religious and secular beliefs will be all-important.


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  • 1
  • Nature of Worship
  • Meaning of Religion
  • Meaning of God
  • Validity of Truth
  • Bibliography

The Nature of Worship and Service

The primary purpose of worship in humanistic theology is to create heightened receptivity for awareness of ideal reality - God. It is designed to provide insights, inspire and awaken thoughts and sentiments having a direct bearing on how a person relates to oneself and others and to ultimate challenges and issues. The development of a loving, rational character is a prerequisite for a humanist personality. Humanist inspirational meetings and workshops attempt to fuse intellectual and emotional activity indispensable to the process of enlightenment. There are many forms of humanistic worship of God. The most effective ones include faith, awareness, devotion and work.

The Meaning of Religion

Religion is one's awareness of, and response to, the ultimate challenges of life and the answer to the perennial question: whom, or which forces in the world, do you serve with your life? What is your life causing in this world? Religion is the sum total of one's beliefs and feelings about that which determines destiny and the way one relates to oneself, society and the universe. It is also a person's readiness to strive for the realization of ultimate ideals in face of great adversity or danger.

The Meaning of God.

The concept of reality in its ideal or perfect state points to the meaning of the word God. The actualization of the divine is therefore a sacred act of life. Serving God, in this sense, means to devote one's time, space and energy to the highest good and the application of all creative human resources (science, art, literature and social action) to bring about a world of freedom, justice and peace. Serving God in the personal domain means the aspiration toward the fullest development of the human potential of any individual.

The Validity of Truth and Ethics

The concept of objective truth is essential to any ethical system. Without it, personal responsibility for cruel or destructive acts is reduced to a mere opinion. Many people, therefore, gladly accept only a relativistic concept of truth, because it allows them to rationalize their deeds. The reconstruction of the concept of truth is therefore crucial in the context of humanistic theology. As there is only one reality, there is only one truth, namely the statement and perception of this reality. Many people dichotomize this important issue, asserting that absolute and relative theories of truth are mutually exclusive. The following synthesis seems helpful in resolving this conflict: while an absolute or objective truth exists about anything, the same truth is also relative to other phenomena. Thus, the concept of truth is both, absolute and relative, and that without contradiction.

In humanistic theology we do not claim to possess or represent an absolute truth, nor do we attempt to impose it on others. We are concerned with the search for truth and living it. In moving closer to the truth we are coming closer to God and towards the good life for all.

Important Reading

These authors have influenced our understanding and appreciation of humanism. Please share your thoughts with us here.

Adler, Felix:An Ethical Philosophy of Life

Arendt, Hannah: The Origins of Totalitarianism

Bergman, Hugo Samuel: Faith and Reason

Berrigan, Daniel: To Dwell in Peace

Bernard, Walter: Spinoza and Brunner

Berne, Eric: Games People Play

Black, Algernon: Without Burnt Offerings

Blackham, H. J.: Reality, Man and Existence

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich: Ethics; The Cost of Discipleship

Boyd, Malcolm: The Underground Church

Breastead, James H.: The Dawn of Conscience

Brunner, Constantin: Science, Spirit, Superstition

Buber, Martin: I and Thou; Between Man and Man

Buehrens, John A., and F. Forrester Church:Our Chosen Faith

Camus, Albert: The Rebel

Capek, Norbert F., and Karel Haspl:Creative Religion

Cronbach, Abraham: The Realities of Religion

Dewey, John: A Common Faith; Philosophy in Reconstruction

Dunham, Barrows: Heroes and Heretics

Commoner, Barry: Science and Survival

Dietrich John: What I Believe; Thoughts on God

Einstein, Albert: The World As I See It; Out of My Later Years

Ellis, Albert: Sex Without Guilt

Ellis Albert, and R. A.Harper:A Guide to Rational Living

Emerson, Ralph Waldo: The Portable Emerson (edited by Mark Van Doren)

Erasmus of Rotterdam: In Praise of Folly

Erickson, Edward L.: The Free Mind through the Ages

Feinstein, David, and Stanley Krippner: Personal Mythology

Fischer, Louis: Gandhi - His Life and Message

Frankl, E. Viktor: Man's Search for Meaning

Fromm, Erich: Psychoanalysis and Religion; The Art of Loving; The Heart of Man; Revolution of Hope

Frothingham, Richard: John Dietrich's Theism

Greer, Germaine: The Female Eunuch

Havel, Vaclav: The Power of the Powerless

Hawton, Hector: The Humanist Revolution

Horney, Karen: The Neurotic Personality of Our Time; Our Inner Conflicts

Huxley, Aldous: The Perennial Philosophy; Brave New World

Huxley, Julian: Religion without Revelation; Knowledge, Morality and Destiny

James, William: Varieties of Religious Experience

Jefferson, Thomas: On Democracy (Edited by Saul K. Padover)

Kohn, Hans: Living in a World Revolution

Ketcham, Charles: The Search for Meaningful Existence

Keys, Donald: God and the H-Bomb

Korzybski, Alfred: Selections from Science and Sanity

Krippner, Stanley: The Song of the Siren

Laing, R. D.: The Politics of Experience; The Politics of the Family; The Divided Self

Leary, Timothy: The Politics of Ecstasy

Leshan, Lawrence: How to Meditate; The Medium the Mystic and the Physicist

Lowen, Alexander: The Betrayal of the Body

Marshall, George N.: Challenge of a Liberal Faith

Masaryk, Tomas Garrigue: Humanistic Ideals; Modern Man and Religion

Maslow, Abraham: Toward a Psychology of Being; Religions, Values and Peak Experiences; The Psychology of Science

May, Rollo: Love and Will

Meerloo, Joost A. H.: The Rape of the Mind

Merton Thomas: The Root of War

Milgram, Stanley: Obedience to Authority

Niebuhr, Reinhold: Christ and Culture

O'Hair, Madalyn Murray: What on Earth Is an Atheist?; Freedom under Siege

Orwell, George: 1984

Otto, Herbert, and John Mann: Ways of Growth

Otto, Max C.: Science and the Moral Life

Otto, Rudolf: The Idea of the Holy

Paine, Thomas: The Age of Reason

Patton, Kenneth L.: A Religion for One World

Perls, Frederick, Ralph F. Hefferline, and Paul Goodman:Gestalt Therapy

Potter, Charles Francis: The Preacher and I; Humanism: A New Religion

Reese, Curtis, W.: Humanist Religion; The Meaning of Humanism

Rieser, Oliver: Cosmic Humanism

Reich, Wilhelm: Character Analysis; Selected Writings; Mass Psychology of Fascism

Rogers, Carl R.: On Becoming a Person

Russell, Bertrand: Unpopular Essays; The Faith of a Humanist

Robinson, John A. T.: Honest to God

Schatzman, Morton: Soul Murder

Schutz, William C.: Joy

Schweitzer, Albert: The Philosophy of Civilization; Out of My Life and Thought

Sellars, Roy Wood: Religion Coming of Age

Sohrab, Ahmed: The Bible of Mankind

Szasz, Thomas: Law, Liberty and Psychiatry

Stevens, John O.: Awareness

Tillich, Paul: Dynamics of Faith; The Courage to Be; The Shaking of the Foundations

Wiener, Norbert: God and Golem

Weil, Simon: The Need for Roots

Wieman, Henry N.: The Source of Human Good; Religious Experience and Scientific Method

Zuckerman, William: Voice of Dissent